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Bill Chizek/iStockBy LIBBY CATHEY and ADIA ROBINSON, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump is slated to hand over control of the White House to President-elect Joe Biden in 47 days.

Here is how the transition is unfolding. All times Eastern:

Dec 04, 1:30 pm
Biden speaks of 'grim' November jobs report but says he's 'encouraged' by bipartisan COVID-19 package


In a lengthy paper statement released Friday ahead of his afternoon speech, Biden lamented the "grim" November jobs report, saying it shows an economy "stalling" and confirms that the nation remains in "one of the worst economic and jobs crises in modern history."

Biden also cautioned that this report is just a snapshot of the economy prior to the deadly surge in cases the nation is seeing now, adding that the economic situation will get worse if Congress and Trump do not act in the coming weeks.

A $908 billion COVID-19 relief proposal advanced by a bipartisan group of Senators has gained momentum on Capitol Hill with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaking over the phone Thursday to discuss pandemic relief for the first time since the November election -- but the deal is not yet done as lawmakers work to craft the bill's final language.

Biden said in Friday's statement that while he is "encouraged" by the bipartisan $908 billion relief bill working its way through Congress, it is not nearly enough to stem the negative effects the pandemic has had on the American economy, calling it "just the start."

He reiterated that he and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are working on a plan they hope to get passed when they take office in January, encouraging the country to come together to beat back the virus.

-ABC News' John Verhovek

Dec 04, 12:52 pm
Biden pledges to bring 'most pro-equality' admin in history


Biden appeared before the 2020 International LGBTQ Leaders Conference Friday morning and in brief pre-recorded remarks to kick off the event pledged to bring the most “pro-equality” administration in history.

“A historic number of LGBTQ people ran for office this year, and they won, many of them. It's an honor to be an ally and have been on the ballot with all of you,” Biden said. “Vice President-elect Harris and I are committed to being the most pro-equality administration in history. But we can't do it without you.”

Biden also congratulated House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on her receiving the Victory Institute’s History Maker Award, which recognizes "change-makers" who have led the LGBTQ community as elected officials or other public servants.

“You're an American treasure. And I can't wait to work together again with you to continue to fight for full equality and to usher in a new era of LGBTQ rights and the entire movement,” he said.

To fulfill this promise, Biden has vowed to eliminate executive orders deemed discriminatory to LGBTQ Americans and enacted under the Trump administration, including a current ban on transgender Americans from serving in the military, and to bring back an Obama-era protection that allowed transgender students to use bathrooms based on their gender identity.

-ABC News' Molly Nagle


Dec 04, 11:04 am
Trump pushes dozens of 'midnight regulations'


As Trump keeps a lower profile during his final weeks in office, behind the scenes the administration is racing to solidify his legacy, fulfill campaign promises and overhaul federal regulations that could take Biden years to undo.

From immigration to environmental protections, the Trump administration is quietly pushing to finalize more than three-dozen rule changes that could have significant impact for years.

"We call them 'midnight regulations.' It's the last chance to put these rules on the books before the Trump administration changes to the Biden administration," said ProPublica investigative reporter Isaac Arnsdorf, who has created an online database tracking the pending regulations for the nonprofit news site. "They can be reversed, but not easily."

They include religious exemptions for federal contractors under employment discrimination laws; looser water efficiency standards for shower heads and washing machines; and stricter eligibility for food stamps, even as millions out of work in the pandemic look to the government for help.

Many of the most significant last-minute regulations are focused on environmental and scientific policy, including a controversial effort to ban EPA use of any scientific study that doesn't fully disclose all of the underlying raw data. Its defenders call it a step toward transparency, while critics call it censorship.

Some of Trump's final acts face challenges in court, and if Democrats win control of the Senate, there could be fast-track repeals of recently finalized regulations. But experts say most of the policy changes won't be easily undone.

-ABC News’ Devin Dwyer and Jon Schlosberg


Dec 04, 10:13 am
Overview: Trump behind closed doors, Biden pitches 100-day mask campaign


As the pandemic reaches its worst point yet, with the U.S. reporting its highest case count and death toll on Thursday, the president has said few words on COVD-19 since the election, focusing his energy instead on his own political fate.

Ahead of Trump holding his first rally since losing the election to campaign for GOP senators in Georgia on Saturday, some Republicans have expressed concerns that his rhetoric claiming the presidential election was "rigged" could suppress turnout for the January runoff election in races that will determine which party controls Congress' upper chamber.

The president has no public events on his schedule Friday. Vice President Mike Pence is headed to Georgia ahead of Trump's weekend rally there, while former President Barack Obama joins a virtual rally for the Democratic contenders Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.

Biden, meanwhile, is slated to deliver afternoon remarks from Wilmington, Delaware, on the final jobs report of 2020 out Friday morning.

Following remarks, the president-elect and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will meet virtually with the National Association of Counties Board of Directors. Biden will also appear at the 2020 International LGBTQ Leaders Conference at 12 p.m., according to a release from the organization.

The president-elect is reinforcing his message that “help is on the way” with a new campaign. In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper Thursday, Biden said that on Inauguration Day, he’s likely to ask members of the public to wear a mask for 100 days in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. He also said he’ll keep Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, in his administration and elevate his title to chief medical adviser.

This all comes as a coronavirus model from the University of Washington used by the White House has projected nearly 540,000 deaths by April 1.

Dec 04, 8:17 am
Trump deepens GOP rifts as Georgia races heat up: Analysis


If the Republican Party is at risk of a civil war, it's not clear what side Trump is on.
 
More specifically, he will be on his own side -- wherever that leaves his party. With action heating up in Georgia's run-off races Friday and through the weekend, the contradictions the president is leaving Republicans to sort out will be more urgent than ever.
 
Vice President Mike Pence will campaign in Georgia on Friday, while former President Barack Obama appears at a "virtual rally" with his party's Senate candidates and other prominent Democrats. Then, on Saturday, the president himself will be at his first major rally since the election, where he will make remarks his own allies can't guarantee will align with the GOP's broader goals.

About that election, the president has officially lost Georgia -- after his campaign requested another recount and despite Trump's efforts to rally his base against his own supporters who hold top offices in state government.
 
The president is now making noises about ousting his attorney general, William Barr, in his final weeks in office, after Barr said his office has not found evidence of criminal voter fraud. Some of those final weeks are being consumed by confrontations Trump is starting with his fellow Republicans on the annual defense bill and other year-ending legislation.

The private frustrations with the president are as real as they are predictable, particularly with control of the Senate on the line in Georgia.
 
Party leaders have long known their loyalty to Trump won't necessarily be rewarded. What's different now is that they know Trump won't be in office in a few weeks to deal with the consequences of his political actions.

-ABC News' Political Director Rick Klein


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ajansen/iStockBy JOHN PARKINSON, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- For the first time in congressional history, the House of Representatives voted to pass a measure that would decriminalize marijuana use at the federal level -- months after pulling the bill amid worries the controversial vote could cause some lawmakers to lose tight races in November.

The vote passed 228-164, mostly down party lines, with just five Republicans voting in favor of the measure. Six Democrats voted to oppose.

While the federal government continues to criminalize cannabis, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler stressed that 36 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical cannabis while 15 states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for adult recreational use. Nadler said the legislation "would reverse the failed policy of criminalizing marijuana on the federal level and would take steps to address the heavy toll this policy has taken across the country, particularly on communities of color."

"For far too long, we have treated marijuana as a criminal justice problem instead of as a matter of personal choice and public health. Whatever one's views are on the use of marijuana for recreational or medicinal use, the policy of arrests, prosecution, and incarceration at the Federal level has proven unwise and unjust," Nadler, D-N.Y., said during debate on the bill Friday morning. "I have long believed that the criminalization of marijuana has been a mistake, and the racially disparate enforcement of marijuana laws has only compounded this mistake, with serious consequences, particularly for communities of color."

Throughout the debate, Republicans spoke in opposition to the bill, blaming marijuana for increased traffic deaths and as a gateway drug.

"Marijuana is one of the most abused substances on this planet," Rep. Greg Murphy, R-N.C., argued. "Legalizing weed would create revenue from taxes, but at what cost? Do we then start legalizing cocaine? Marijuana is a gateway drug -- make no mistake about that. It undoubtably leads to further and much more dangerous drug use."

"It's not a gateway drug," Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, countered. "There is ample scientific evidence demonstrating that the use of marijuana does not cause the use of other illicit substances. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the majority of marijuana users do not use other harder substances."

Rep. Matt Gaetz, the only Republican co-sponsor of the bill, admitted the measure was "flawed" because it "uses cannabis policy to do a great deal of social engineering" to create new taxes, new programs and redistribution of assets. But Gaetz said he would still vote for the bill "because the federal government has lied to the people of this country about marijuana for a generation."

"My Republican colleagues today will make a number of arguments against this bill, but those arguments are overwhelmingly losing with the American people," Gaetz, R-Fla., said. "I'm going to vote for the MORE Act. It won't pass the Senate. It won't become law. We should come back in the 117th Congress and we should truly do more for our people."

Beyond decriminalizing cannabis, the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act would also mandate a reassessment of prior marijuana convictions, invest in services for people caught up in the war on drugs and open Small Business Administration funding for legitimate cannabis-related businesses.

Despite widespread support from Democrats in the House of Representatives, the bill stands almost no chance of becoming law in the current session of Congress due to a Republican firewall in the Senate and President Donald Trump still occupying the White House.

President-elect Joe Biden campaigned in favor of decriminalizing marijuana, but even after Biden is inaugurated in January, Democrats would have to pass the measure not just through the House again but also clear it through the Senate. The upper chamber's majority control is still up for grabs -- with two runoff elections in Georgia scheduled early next month -- but the legislation would be subject to a 60-vote threshold to advance through the Senate and on to the Resolute Desk.

Although the measure has collected dust since passing through the House Judiciary Committee last November, the timing of Friday's floor vote more than a year later allows many Democrats to celebrate a promise to pass the bill before the end of the current session of Congress.

Oregon Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer, one of the bill's original sponsors, presided over the House debate on the measure Thursday wearing a face mask featuring cannabis leaves.

 

I've been waiting for this moment for 47 years. To preside during this debate is a true honor. #EndCannabisProhibition pic.twitter.com/6lqiV09Dfn

— Earl Blumenauer (@repblumenauer) December 3, 2020

 

Across the aisle, Republicans continued to criticize Democratic priorities in the midst of a pandemic when floor time is limited and considered precious to lawmakers -- Democrats and Republicans alike.

"Democrats want to focus on cannabis and cats, not COVID relief," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters at a news conference in the Capitol on Thursday. "You'd think after a humiliating defeat at the ballot box this year, where Democrats didn't defeat one Republican incumbent, that Democrats would get the picture that Americans are demanding action on issues that matter to them."

 

Nancy Pelosi needs to get her priorities straight.

Millions of Americans are struggling to pay bills & small businesses are shutting their doors for good & all she cares about is marijuana & tigers.

Delivering aid to Americans in need should be our only priority right now.

— Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (@GReschenthaler) December 3, 2020

 

While the prolonged stalemate over the next phase of COVID-19 relief persists, lawmakers still haven't come together on other must-pass legislation on the agenda that will require bipartisan cooperation, including an agreement to fund the government. Congress has just five legislative days remaining on the schedule before a potential government shutdown on Dec. 11.

Still, Rep. Jim McGovern, chair of the House Rules Committee, called on lawmakers "to take a stand" for "restorative justice, to stand for racial justice, to stand for criminal justice reform, and to stand with the majority of Americans demanding reforms to our nation's cannabis policy."

"Some, particularly on the other side, have wondered why we are moving forward with these reforms now. We must soon fund the government for the next fiscal year and pass the annual defense bill," McGovern, D-Mass., said during debate on the bill Thursday. "We have a lot to do in the waning days of this Congress. I get that. But the answer is simple: This is not an either-or proposition. Congress can walk and chew gum at the same time."

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uschools/iStockBy BENJAMIN SIEGEL and KENDALL KARSON, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- Some of President Donald Trump's staunchest Republican allies on Capitol Hill, are preparing what could be one of the president's last long-shot opportunities to challenge the certification of the presidential election results in January, and disrupt the peaceful transfer of power before Biden's inauguration.

When Congress gathers to count the electoral votes on Jan. 6, at least one Republican House member, Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, will object to the slate of presidential electors from multiple states -- an effort that would likely only make a symbolic stand, and delay the certification of the presidential race results by hours, rather than alter the election results. With the support of a single senator, Brooks could disrupt the certification of the election by forcing both the House and Senate to debate and vote on the challenge -- turning the typically ceremonial proceeding on the House floor led by the vice president into another venue for disputing Trump's loss.

Under federal law, a member of the House or Senate can contest the Electoral College results from any state, forcing the House and Senate to separate for up to two hours of debate and vote on whether to accept a slate of electors. A majority of both chambers would have to support the motion to successfully challenge a given slate of electors, according to the Congressional Research Service.

"If the vote count was limited only to lawful votes cast by eligible American citizens, then Donald Trump won a majority of the Electoral College votes and was reelected to a second term," Brooks said in an interview, echoing the president's claims that have been rejected by experts and state officials from both parties.

Trump's efforts to cast doubt on the results of the election by alleging widespread fraud have been undercut by state leaders, election officials, courts across the country, the agency that led the Department of Homeland Security's efforts to secure the election, and just this week, by his own chief law enforcement officer. In an interview with The Associated Press, Attorney General Bill Barr acknowledged that the Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the outcome of the election.

Brooks has made a series of floor speeches disputing the election results, and unleashing false allegations that Biden's victory was attributed to noncitizens voting across the country and relaxed voter identification laws in critical states.

But election experts have dismissed his assertions altogether, pointing to a lack of proof of systemic illegal voting.

"That is extremely unlikely," said Lorraine Minnite, a professor of public policy at Rutgers University -- who has studied allegations of voter fraud for more than a decade -- of Brooks' claims about noncitizens swaying the election in Biden's favor. "The record of noncitizens voting is practically nonexistent."

Still, Brooks caught the attention of the president, who thanked him on Twitter Thursday.

Thank you to Representative Mo Brooks!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2020

Brooks told ABC News he has not discussed his plan with the White House or with Trump, but that the president has been briefed on the efforts by another elected official.

The potential move -- a day after the Georgia Senate runoffs -- could force Republicans made uneasy by Trump's post-election legal efforts to go on the record about whether they support the campaign -- and by extension, the president -- as he continues to undermine faith in the electoral process. It would also put Vice President Mike Pence, who would be presiding over any challenges, in an awkward position as well.

While no Republican senators have publicly backed the effort from some House Republicans, few have ruled it out.

"I think we need to wait for the pending litigation to be concluded," said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who competed against Trump in the 2016 Republican primary, adding that he believes the litigation will wrap up "expeditiously."

"I don't know enough about this process. ... I need to see ... procedurally what our role is and what we do. But I will get back to you on that," said Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., a possible presidential contender in four years.

Senate Majority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., said earlier this week he "can't imagine that would ever happen."

"Somebody could, but I doubt that goes anywhere. This is a process that's well established and has been used every election year -- or every four years in election years -- since 1793, and I suspect that will be a fairly routine process," he added.

Experts suggest any dispute would be resolved or dismissed without impacting the final results of the election.

"I would guess that all of those things would be resolved, if not on the 6th, by the next day," said Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute, during a call with reporters on Wednesday. "The likelihood of having a sizable number who would vote against a slate of electors making a difference in the outcome I think is extremely unlikely. It's just a question of how long it gets dragged out."

"It's Congress' responsibility to render the final verdict on all federal election contests, not the Supreme Court or any inferior court," Brooks said, downplaying the Trump campaign's floundering legal efforts to challenge the election results.

While rare, Brooks' maneuver wouldn't be unprecedented.

The House and Senate were last forced to debate on the certification of electors in 2005, when Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and the late Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, pushed their own challenge over concerns about voting procedures in Ohio that fall. That effort, though, was not aimed at overturning the results of the election, Boxer said at the time. In 2017, then-Vice President Biden, presiding over the joint session of Congress, dismissed a challenge from House Democrats because they lacked Senate support.

"It is over," Biden said as he gaveled down the challenge, to cheers from Republicans.

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Official White House Photo by Shealah CraigheadBy DEVIN DWYER and JON SCHLOSBERG, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- As President Donald Trump keeps a lower profile during his final weeks in office, behind the scenes the administration is racing to solidify his legacy, fulfill campaign promises and overhaul federal regulations that could take President-elect Joe Biden years to undo.

"I think that there will be a lot of things happening between now and the 20th of January, a lot of things," Trump asserted in an Oval Office appearance on Thanksgiving.

From immigration to environmental protections, the Trump administration is quietly pushing to finalize more than three dozen rule changes that could have significant impact for years.

"We call them 'midnight regulations.' It's the last chance to put these rules on the books before the Trump administration changes to the Biden administration," said ProPublica investigative reporter Isaac Arnsdorf who has created an online database tracking the pending regulations for the nonprofit news site. "They can be reversed, but not easily."

They include religious exemptions for federal contractors under employment discrimination laws; looser water efficiency standards for shower heads and washing machines; and stricter eligibility for food stamps, even as millions out of work in the pandemic look to the government for help.

"The final days of an administration are obviously hugely important, and it's just natural to want to get things done," said Carol Browner, former Environmental Protection Agency administrator during all eight years of the Clinton administration and also a former member of President Barack Obama's transition team and first climate czar.

"But you're not free to just do it willy nilly. There's the law, there's the science, there's the process," Browner said.

Experts said the raw number of 11th-hour regulatory changes appears, so far, to be on par with what occurred during the final weeks of the Obama administration. But some policy advocates and independent watchdogs worry the rushed process will compromise legality and public safety.

Many of the most significant last-minute regulations are focused on environmental and scientific policy, including a controversial effort to ban EPA use of any scientific study that doesn't fully disclose all of the underlying raw data. Its defenders call it a step toward transparency, while critics call it censorship.

Studies on the impact of pollution on human life, for example, often rely on sensitive personal medical data, which patients don't want publicly disclosed.

"You will simply not get the quality of science that EPA needs to make decisions, and this is a very, very intentional move on their part, on behalf of polluters, which is to limit the science and therefore limit the ability of EPA to make the smartest decision," said Browner.

The Trump administration is also racing to auction off drilling rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge -- a move strongly opposed by Biden -- with an aim of making it much more difficult for the next administration to turn back from expanded oil and gas development.

"The degree to which the leases have been entered into you might have to buy them back," said Browner. "But hopefully the reality is we can continue to protect these areas that have been protected for hundreds of years now."

The president is also attempting to further cement his crackdown on immigration. In his final weeks, he's added eight new questions to the citizenship test and tried to make it harder for high-skilled foreign workers to get visas.

"In this last-minute rush before the inauguration the Trump administration is doing everything they can to bring legal immigration closer and closer to the bare minimum," said Ali Noorani, president and CEO of the National Immigration Forum, a nonpartisan advocacy group. "It is ramping up enforcement actions, and really trying to do everything they can to finish checking those boxes and make it as hard as possible for the Biden administration to rebuild the nation's immigration system."

On foreign policy, Trump is abruptly and sharply reducing the number of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, with no more than 2,500 American service members expected in each country by the end of the year. While the pullout was a key 2016 campaign promise, experts said the late move puts Biden in the difficult spot of needing to decide whether to redeploy troops back into theater early in his first term.

Outgoing former President George W. Bush, in a similar situation, notably deferred to his successor, Obama, in late 2008 on whether to approve a troop surge in Afghanistan.

Trump has also taken steps to formally shut the door on a two-decade-old treaty he has long criticized, pulling out of the "Open Skies Treaty" last month which had allowed U.S. and Russia to conduct mutual surveillance flights to build trust. Critics say the move is a gift to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Russia didn't adhere to the treaty, so until they adhere, we will pull out," Trump said in May.

"The problem is if we don't abide by our own treaties, if we don't recognize and support our own treaties, then who in the international community is going to want to partner with us in the future?" said retired Adm. Bill McCraven, who oversaw the raid to kill Osama bin Laden in 2011.

Some of Trump's final executive actions will have permanent impact.

The Justice Department is rushing to execute as many federal death row inmates as possible before Biden has a chance to reimpose a death penalty moratorium.

Eight federal inmates have been executed so far this year -- the most in more than a century -- with five more slated for death before Inauguration Day next month.

"The pace of these federal executions has no historical precedent," said Robert Dunham, executive director of the independent, nonpartisan Death Penalty Information Center. "The last time more than one person was executed during a transition period takes us back to Grover Cleveland's first presidency in the end of the 1880s."

The Trump administration, in a late-term rule change, is also giving executioners greater flexibility in how they kill.

"The regulation will allow them, without challenge, to use whatever method of lethal injection that it wants to use," Dunham said.

Meanwhile, Trump continues with a record number of lifetime appointments to federal courts, breaking with 123 years of precedent by pursuing Senate confirmation of even more judges after losing reelection.

"Generally once an election occurs, confirmations stop until the next Congress," said Gabe Roth, executive director of Fix the Court, an independent judicial watchdog. "It's hard to know the impact right now exactly that these Trump-appointed judges will have, but we know it's going to be big, it's going to be huge, it's going to be generational."

Some of Trump's final acts face challenges in court, and if Democrats win control of the Senate, there could be fast-track repeals of recently finalized regulations. But experts say most of the policy changes won't be easily undone.

"You have to go through the whole rule-making process all over again, which takes multiple years and a lot of resources and is cumbersome by design," said Arnsdorf.

The process is a reminder that the power of the presidency can make a lasting impact on America up to the very last minute of a White House transition.

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Official White House Photo by Delano ScottBy QUINN SCANLAN, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- The president and vice president are heading to Georgia to headline rallies for the state's two senators as a growing number of Republicans express direct and indirect concerns that rhetoric coming from President Donald Trump and some allies claiming the presidential election was "rigged" could suppress GOP turnout for the runoff election in January. The runoff will determine which party controls Congress' upper chamber.

"So many Republicans live and die by what Trump says, and so if he says that the system's not to be trusted, the machines aren't registering the votes properly, then that'll increase the number of people who will believe it. And the logical next step is, OK, so why bother to go vote?" said Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia and an expert in Southern politics.

In the nearly four weeks since Joe Biden was projected to be the winner of the 2020 presidential election, Trump has refused to concede, peddling false claims and outright conspiracies of mass election fraud and voting switching, even as Republican elected officials who supported his reelection increasingly acknowledge that Trump lost, and that claims of widespread voter fraud that have been rejected in more than two dozen lawsuits in battleground states across the country are without merit.

But many of his allies in Georgia, including the state Republican Party's chairman and Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, have yet to come out against the president or knock down his false claims, even though both senators are facing another election on Jan. 5 that will be conducted under the same procedures and using the same equipment -- an election that Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and others in his office have defended as fair and accurate and certified for Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

Pence is headlining a rally for Loeffler, Perdue and Public Service Commission candidate Bubba McDonald, who is also competing in the runoff, that starts at 2:30 p.m. Friday. On Saturday, Trump will travel to Georgia for an airport hangar rally with Loeffler and Perdue, hosted by the Republican National Committee. Unlike the vice president, who has already campaigned in the Peach State for the senators, pushing a strong "get out the vote" message while praising the two senators and recycling his campaign stump speech, Trump is more of a wildcard.

"The president's visit could even be the decisive moment depending on which direction he goes. I'm sure the candidates themselves and other Republican leaders are saying, 'When you go down there, talk up Loeffler, talk up Perdue, tell those guys, you gotta be sure and go out and vote for them' ... but we know that the president often doesn't listen to these handlers -- indeed maybe usually doesn't listen to them," Bullock told ABC News.

The president continued peddling election misinformation in a 46-minute speech that was posted on his Twitter account on Wednesday. In the speech he said "may be the most important speech (he's) ever made," Trump falsely claimed that votes cast on Dominion Voting Systems machines, which are used in many states across the county, including in Georgia for all in-person voting, switched votes cast for Trump to votes cast for Biden. The conspiracy has been shot down by the company, a coalition of state and local election officials, and specifically in Georgia by the state conducting an audit of the presidential contest, which consisted of election officials counting -- by hand -- every single ballot cast in the race and found a variation of the original machine-counted results and the hand counted results was just 0.1053%. A typical variance is between 1% and 1.5%.

Trump's remarks came not long after two Trump-supporting attorneys, Lin Wood and Sidney Powell, who was once on the president's campaign legal team, held what they called a "Stop the Steal" rally north of Atlanta where they told the crowd to not vote in the runoff. Wood also said the two senators "have not earned your vote" and voters shouldn't turn out again to cast ballots for them.

"Why would you go back and vote in another rigged election?" Wood said, donning a red MAGA hat.

Powell, adding fuel to the fire, said, "There should not be a runoff -- at least on Dominion machines."

"Stop the Steal" is a pro-Trump group that quickly emerged following the 2020 election fueled by baseless claims of widespread voter fraud. It's led by popular pro-Trump social media activists and has been organizing rallies across the country calling for the results to be overturned.

"Lin Wood and Sidney Powell are totally destructive. Every Georgia conservative who cares about America MUST vote in the runoff. Their dont (sic) vote strategy will cripple America," tweeted former Speaker of the House and Georgian Newt Gingrich on Thursday.

Gingrich, one of the most prominent Republican politicians from Georgia, may have come to Twitter to urge GOP voter participation, but it was just over two weeks ago when he penned an op-ed for Fox News claiming this election was "focusing a spotlight on election law cheating on a scale which threatens the survival of our freedoms," and repeating the same false conspiracy theory about vote switching in battleground states, including Georgia. It also included other false claims about the state's process, such as that the rejection rate for absentee ballots for this election was suspiciously lower than previous elections. In actuality, Republicans have conflated rejection rates, comparing this year's rejection rate because of signatures only to previous total rejection rates, which include the biggest category of rejected ballots: the ones that arrive late.

On Wednesday, a group of 18 former elected officials and "longtime party activists," including Kemp and Loeffler's predecessors -- former Gov. Nathan Deal and former Sen. Johnny Isakson, respectively -- penned an open letter to their fellow Georgia Republicans urging them to stay focused on the runoffs and writing that they've "watched with increasing concern" as some Republicans weigh whether voting in the runoff election matters at all.

"We say today, without equivocation, that without every vote cast for President Trump and all our Republican candidates on November 3 also being cast in the U.S. Senate runoffs, the trajectory of our State and Nation will be irreparably altered on January 5th," they wrote.

While the signatories did not do so explicitly, the letter implies they're worried that continuing to harp on the last election -- and continuing to claim it was unfair -- will not be a winning tactic come January. They wrote that while they "must always act to ensure the integrity of the elections process," that effort can't "detract from a mission that only Georgia Republicans can accomplish: maintaining control of the U.S. Senate."

Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, a top Republican state official in Georgia, has been direct, saying in multiple television interviews that he worries the misinformation will not just negatively impact GOP turnout in the Senate runoff, but also the Republican Party down the road, urging Trump and others in the party "to refine their approach to how we handle this post-election process."

"There's two parts that really are concerning to me. One is the short term and the Senate election, and making sure we don't alienate any voters that we need to show up for Sen. Loeffler and Sen. Perdue," Duncan said in a CNN interview Monday night. "And I think, secondly, we run the risk of alienating voters longer term."

Gabriel Sterling, the voting system implementation manager in Raffensperger's office, told ABC News Live Prime anchor Linsey Davis Wednesday night that he wishes Loeffler and Perdue -- who both called for his boss' resignation "at Trump's urging," according to Sterling -- would come out and dispute the president's false claims, saying he thinks that "if they showed some leadership, they would get more votes, rather than less."

Sterling has been patiently answering reporters' questions -- often the same question multiple times -- in near-daily press conferences as the state conducted three counts of the votes in the presidential race. But on Tuesday afternoon, he unleashed at the podium in the Georgia State Capitol, his anger palpable as he made direct pleas to the president and both senators to condemn violent threats against election workers.

He said these threats have been born out of the troves of unsubstantiated claims about the election, which he directly accused Trump, the holder of the loudest megaphone spewing this narrative, of inspiring.

Even so, he said on ABC News Live Prime that he still plans to support Loeffler and Perdue in the runoff because, as a Republican, he wants to see his party maintain control in the Senate. But he believes the president has put Loeffler and Perdue in an untenable situation by refusing to admit that he lost.

"They don't want to lose the Trump supporters, but by acting this way they're going to lose another chunk of supporters, and so it's a box they can't get out of and the president -- it was unfair of him to put them in the situation. It's unfair of him to continue to question the outcome of this election, not just in Georgia, but in Arizona and Michigan and Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. There is no proof of any vast conspiracy. It's just not there," Sterling told Davis.

The Democratic candidates facing Loeffler and Perdue -- Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, respectively -- haven't weighed in on the conundrum impacting the GOP, which UGA professor Bullock said is "so counterproductive."

"If you didn't know better, you'd think it was a Democratic plot," he said.

Around the same time as Pence's rally in the state Friday, the Democratic Party, riding high off their presidential candidate winning Georgia's electoral votes for the first time since 1992, will whip out their not-so-secret weapon once more.

Former President Barack Obama, who headlined a drive-in rally for the Democrats in Atlanta the day before the general election, will participate in a virtual rally with both Senate candidates, 2018 gubernatorial candidate and Fair Fight founder Stacey Abrams and Democratic Party of Georgia Chairwoman Nikema Williams, who is also the congresswoman-elect for the state's 5th Congressional District.

While the pandemic-conscious event won't physically bring Georgians out, it will showcase Democrats' unified front, which is important because Democrats need to win both seats in order to control the Senate with Harris as the tie-breaking vote.

Historically, Democrats have done poorly in runoffs in Georgia, even losing when they were the leading candidate in the general. But Bullock said that the "potential abyss within the Republican Party" caused by Trump's election misinformation could help rewrite that history.

"The Democratic side, it looks like it is united ... even progressives who might prefer someone further left than either the Democratic candidates, nonetheless are sending in money, or if they're here in state, (are) ready to go out and work on behalf of the two Democrats, so there's no hesitancy on the part of the Democrats, no concerns about problems in trying to secure their election," Bullock said.

There is at least one super PAC, called Really American, that is trying to capitalize on the president's false election claims and calls from his allies to essentially boycott the runoff. The PAC, which is supporting the Democratic Senate candidates, launched a billboard campaign in Georgia that was met with swift rebuke from the Georgia GOP.

"Perdue/Loeffler Didn't Deliver For Trump, DON'T Deliver For Them," one billboard reads.

On Twitter Thursday, the group unveiled its next billboard, which features a quote from Wood, one of the lawyers at the "Stop the Steal" rally.

"Where's Loeffler? Where's Perdue? They have not earned your vote -- Lin Wood, pro-Trump Lawyer," the billboard reads.

According to the PAC's page on small-dollar Democratic fundraising platform ActBlue, 12 billboards are already up, another seven are currently being built and eight more have been purchased.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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Doug Mills/Pool/Getty ImagesBy BEN GITTLESON, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- A day after posting a 46-minute diatribe filled with falsehoods about the election he lost, President Donald Trump on Thursday continued to baselessly dispute the outcome.

It could be a preview of his first big political rally since being defeated -- when he campaigns Saturday in Georgia where runoff races will determine if the GOP can keep control of the Senate.

"It's massive fraud," he told reporters in the Oval Office, echoing his display in the video, "probably the most fraudulent election that anyone has ever seen."

On Wednesday, standing at a podium with the presidential seal, in the White House -- he unloaded a dizzying array of false claims about electoral fraud that amounted to a verbal assault on democracy.

Posted on Facebook, along with a condensed version on Twitter -- on which the social media platform quickly slapped a "disputed" label -- Trump called it maybe "the most important speech I've ever made." But it amounted mostly to a formal recitation of his tweets and retweets of the past month, in which he increasingly clung to debunked conspiracy theories to argue that he won the election.

Trump planned to travel to Georgia to speak at what has been billed as a "victory rally" for the two GOP senators competing in the runoffs – an attempt to sway voters and show he still commands considerable political influence.

But fellow Republicans worry if he keeps calling the voting system in the state illegitimate -- it could backfire by hurting GOP turnout.

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said Monday that what Trump says during his visit to the state "will probably matter more than what he has said up until now."

"I think it will help if the president goes and encourages turnout," Blunt said. "But I'm not very concerned about what others might be saying."

At a rally in Georgia Wednesday, Trump ally Sidney Powell -- until recently a member of the campaign's legal team -- told Georgians to make clear they would "not vote until you know your votes are secure."

Democrats are currently slated to hold 48 seats in the next Senate, and winning both run-offs could give them as many as Republicans -- with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, a Democrat, casting tie-breaking votes.

Georgia has typically sent Republicans to the Senate in recent history, but Democrats hope changing demographics will help them win an uphill battle. Former Vice President Joe Biden carried the state in the presidential vote last month.

While small cracks have emerged in national GOP support for Trump's quixotic endeavor, most Republican senators have held the president’s line in refusing to recognize Biden as the president-elect, despite his winning the election.

On Wednesday evening, through, one of Trump's closest allies in the Senate, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., addressed Trump's legal team during an interview with Fox News. "Doing a video is not proof," he said.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the country -- killing thousands of Americans -- Trump said in an interview with Fox News on Sunday that he would spend "125% of my energy" focused on proving fraud occurred. Courts and electoral bodies have over the past month repeatedly rejected such charges from his lawyers and allies.

Asked Thursday what, if anything, the president was doing that day to address the pandemic as he pursued his political claims, the White House did not offer any specifics.

"President Trump is briefed on the pandemic regularly and the Trump administration continues working around the clock to save lives and fight the coronavirus," White House deputy spokesman Brian Morgenstern said, although he declined to say if the president was briefed Thursday.

Rather than devote significant time to the surging virus, the president has instead held events at the White House that directly contradict federal guidance on how to slow its spread.

This week, he attended an indoor holiday reception with little mask-wearing or social distancing and hosted dozens of people in the Oval Office for a medal ceremony.

His Saturday rally appears to be styled after the dozens he held in the final days of his re-election campaign, when thousands of his supporters crammed together -- typical outdoors on airport tarmacs -- with most of the crowds typically not covering their faces.

MORE: Barr had 'intense' meeting with Trump after AG's interview undercutting voter fraud claims: Sources
The president has also in recent days turned his ire about alleged election fraud toward Attorney General Bill Barr, who on Tuesday told the Associated Press that the Department of Justice had not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the election results.

Trump met with Barr after the interview was published, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter. One source briefed on the meeting described the interaction as "intense."

Asked Thursday if he still had confidence in the attorney general, he demurred.

“Ask me that in a number of weeks from now," he told a reporters, after saying Barr should look into baseless allegations of voting fraud in Georgia, where Trump is headed this weekend.

ABC News' Allison Pecorin, Katherine Faulders, Alexander Mallin, Will Steakin and Olivia Rubin contributed to this report.

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Bet_Noire/iStockBy LIBBY CATHEY and ADIA ROBINSON, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump is slated to hand over control of the White House to President-elect Joe Biden in 48 days.

Here is how the transition is unfolding. All times Eastern:

Dec 03, 6:59 pm
Campaigns, outside groups spend more than $312M on ads in Ga. runoffs


As Georgia takes center stage at the end of the 2020 election cycle, campaigns and outside groups are slated to spend more than $312 million on ads in the two Senate runoffs that will decide the makeup of the upper chamber in the next Congress.
 
Across the two contests, Republicans are vastly outspending Democrats on television, radio and digital ads.

From Nov. 4 through Jan. 5, Republican incumbent Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler's campaigns and conservative groups supporting them have run or reserved $178 million worth of ads while Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock Raphael's campaigns and liberal groups supporting them have run or booked $134 million worth of ads, according to an analysis by AdImpact, which tracks ad purchase data.
 
More than $144 million has flowed into the rivalry between Perdue and Ossoff, including $82 million from Republicans and $62 million from Democrats. And in the contest between Loeffler and Warnock, $169 million has come in, including $97 million from Republicans and $72 million from Democrats.

With a little more than a month to go until the January election day, outside groups have already aired more than $69 million out of the upward of $300 million placements, according to an analysis of campaign disclosure data from the Center for Responsive Politics.
 
Among the top spenders from the Republican side are GOP-leadership-linked super PAC Senate Leadership Fund and Karl Rove's super PAC American Crossroads, which together account for 45% of all outside spending in the Georgia runoffs.

-ABC News' Soorin Kim

Dec 03, 6:53 pm
Biden concerned about 'precedent' of possible Trump pardons


Biden weighed in on reports that Trump is considering preemptive pardons for his adult children and possibly himself, saying in a clip released by CNN, that he is concerned by the "precedent" it could set and how it could affect how other nations view America's justice system.
 
"Well, it's -- it concerns me in terms of what kind of precedent it sets and how the rest of the world looks at us as a nation of laws and justice," Biden said of the pardons.

Biden also reiterated a pledge he made during the campaign to have a Justice Department that operates "independently" of political pressures, and adding that his DOJ will take a much different approach on the issue of pardons and will not make policy "by tweets," as Trump has.

"I'm not going to be telling them what they have to do and don't have to do," Biden said. "I'm not going to be saying go prosecute A, B or C. I'm not going to be telling them. That's not the role, it's not my Justice Department, it's the people's Justice Department."
 
"Now in terms of the pardons, you're not going to see in our administration that kind of approach to pardons," he added. "Nor are you going to see in our administration the approach to making policy by tweets."

The vice president-elect, in the same interview clip, walked back her comments during the primary about prosecuting Trump. During an interview with NPR in June 2019, Harris said her Justice Department "would have no choice but to prosecute" Trump.
 
"We will not tell the Justice Department how to do its job," Harris said.
 
"Any decision coming out of the Justice Department, in particular, the United States Department of Justice, should be based on facts, it should be based on the law, it should not be influenced by politics, period," she added later.

-ABC News' Molly Nagle, John Verhovek and Averi Harper

Dec 03, 6:22 pm
Biden says he’s likely to ask the country to wear a mask for 100 days


Biden revealed that on Inauguration Day he will ask the public to wear a mask for 100 days in order to slow the spread of COVID-19, he said in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper Thursday.

He added that he will impose a mask-wearing mandate in federal buildings and during interstate transportation.

"It is important that we in fact, the president and the vice president, we set the pattern by wearing masks," Biden said. "But beyond that, where the federal government has authority I'm going to issue a standing order that in federal buildings, you have to be masked and in transportation, interstate transportation, you must be masked, in airplanes and buses, etc."
 
"My inclination is, in the first day I'm inaugurated, to say I'm going to ask the public for 100 days to mask. Just 100 days to mask, not forever -- 100 days. And I think we'll see a significant reduction if that occurs with vaccinations and masking to drive down the numbers considerably," he added.

-ABC News' Molly Nagle and John Verhovek

Dec 03, 6:13 pm
Biden spoke with Fauci, asked him to stay on in current role


In the first clip of his interview with CNN, Biden said he spoke with Dr. Anthony Fauci Thursday afternoon, asking him to stay on in his role -- where he's served under several presidents.
 
"I asked him to be a chief medical adviser for me as well, and be part of the COVID team," Biden said.
 
The president-elect also weighed in on whether he'd take a COVID-19 vaccine and allow the public to view the process, saying he'd be "happy to do that," after Fauci says a vaccine is safe.
 
"When Dr. Fauci says we have a vaccine, that is safe, that's the moment in which I will stand before the public," Biden said.
 
"People have lost faith in the ability of the vaccine to work. Already the numbers are really staggeringly low. And it matters what a president and vice president do," he added.

-ABC News' Molly Nagle and John Verhovek

Dec 03, 4:58 pm
White House communications director resigns


White House communications director Alyssa Farah resigned from her role Thursday.

Her last day is Friday, ABC News has confirmed.

Farah had previously served as press secretary for both the vice president and the secretary of defense before her current position. The Washington Post was the first to report the news.

Dec 03, 4:39 pm
Wisconsin's Supreme Court declines to hear Trump campaign lawsuit


The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Thursday against hearing the Trump campaign’s recount appeal on procedural grounds, ruling that the campaign needed to first try to resolve its dispute with election officials in circuit court.
 
The court voted 4-3 against the campaign’s request, with a more moderate justice siding with three more liberal members of the court and three conservative justices dissenting. The majority agreed with the argument presented by the Democrats that Wisconsin law clearly requires any recount appeal go through the lower court first.

The Trump campaign sought and received a recount in two Wisconsin counties after losing the Nov. 3 election to Biden by over 20,000 votes. After paying $3 million for the recounting process, Biden's lead wound up growing by 87 votes.

In one of the dissenting opinions, Justice Rebecca Bradley said by declining to intervene, the court was “undermining the public's confidence in the integrity of Wisconsin's electoral processes not only during this election, but in every future election.”
 
Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, called the ruling a "good decision," adding that he was "amazed that it was not unanimous."

-ABC News' Cheyenne Haslett and Soo Rin Kim

Dec 03, 4:17 pm
Trump team pressures legislatures to flip election results

Trump and his legal team, as part of a continued effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election, are ramping up their apparent pressure campaign on Republican-controlled legislatures in key states to try to appoint pro-Trump electors to overturn election results.

At the end of a more than four-hour bipartisan hearing on the election in Michigan on Wednesday, Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani directly pleaded with state lawmakers to intervene and appoint Trump electors based on mostly debunked claims of fraud offered without evidence.

“I would never certify an election or have my name associated with anything that was false. Now it is your responsibility to do that. Not the governor, not the secretary of state. You were given that responsibility by our Founding Fathers,” he said, pushing the lawmakers to subvert the popular vote. “You can take that power back any time you want to -- anytime -- you can take it back tonight.”

Giuliani is at the Georgia State Capitol Thursday where the Republican-dominated Senate is holding two hearings on the election, the latest in a string of hearings requested by the Trump team and its allies before state lawmakers -- but not in courtrooms, where witnesses might face penalties for lying under oath.

Trump’s latest lawsuit, too, takes a similar approach -- breaking from those used in nearly three-dozen previous cases filed by Trump's campaign and his supporters, most of which have been rebuffed by judges because they failed to sufficiently document claims of fraud and never actually allege that fraud occurred in the state.

A federal lawsuit filed late Wednesday in Wisconsin says only that the risk of fraud was elevated by measures state officials took due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, such as expanding the use of drop boxes and mail-in ballots. The proposed remedy: throwing the outcome of the state's contest to the Republican-controlled state legislature.

Prior to this case, officials in the state told ABC News that they saw no way the legislature could overturn or invalidate the results of the election without a court ruling.

Only two weeks ago, Trump invited Michigan lawmakers to the White House ahead of the state’s certification deadline.

In Michigan, the legislature is not involved at all in the electoral process, and state law does not allow it to intervene at any point to circumvent the process and appoint their own slate of electors, regardless of the popular vote, but it could seek to intervene under Article II of the Constitution. This unprecedented move is also one that top state lawmakers have not embraced. Instead, they've said they will follow the law and the "normal process."

Anthony Michael Kreis, professor of constitutional law at Georgia State University, said Georgia lawmakers could "theoretically" try to appoint electors through legislation but that it would require calling a special session -- an idea which GOP Gov. Brian Kemp and top lawmakers in the state have previously shot down.

"I think the real goal is to try to delay certification so that the electoral votes don’t count at all, but I don’t think there’s any legal theory to support that. It is all smoke and mirrors," Kreis told ABC News.

-ABC News' Matthew Mosk, Olivia Rubin, Kendall Karson, Quinn Scanlan and Cheyenne Haslett

Dec 03, 2:28 pm
Governor rumored as potential Biden HHS Secretary pick says she won't be nominee


Gov. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island, who emerged as a potential selection to lead the Department of Health and Human Services in the incoming Biden administration, said Thursday she will not be the nominee.

“I am not going to be president elect Biden's nominee for HHS Secretary. My focus is right here in Rhode Island as I have said, I'm working 24 seven keeping islanders safe and keeping our economy moving. And I have nothing else to add on that,” Raimondo said at her weekly press conference on COVID-19.

The Harvard, Oxford and Yale-educated official was long been rumored as someone who could enter a Biden administration, after she was vetted as a possible pick for vice president.

Elected as Rhode Island's first female governor in 2014, she was seen ahead of the election as a possible nominee for Treasury or Commerce secretary, given her Wall Street background -- which had also made her a target for progressives hoping to influence Biden's incoming administration.

-ABC News' Luke Barr and Benjamin Siegel

Dec 03, 12:34 pm
Biden appoints his director of the National Economic Council


The Biden transition formally announced Brian Deese as director of the National Economic Council on Thursday.

Deese previously served as a deputy director of the National Economic Council, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget and senior adviser to former President Barack Obama. He played a role in the auto industry bailout in 2009, working alongside then-Vice President Biden.

“Brian is among the most tested and accomplished public servants in the country -- a trusted voice I can count on to help us end the ongoing economic crisis, build a better economy that deals everybody in, and take on the existential threat of climate change in a way that creates good-paying American jobs,” Biden said in a release announcing the pick.

Larry Kudlow currently serves in the position for the Trump adminstration.

-ABC News' Molly Nagle


Dec 03, 10:56 am
Georgia Senate holds hearings on presidential election


The Republican-dominated Georgia State Senate is holding two hearings Thursday on the state's election following persistent and unsubstantiated claims from Trump and his supporters that Georgia’s electoral process was manipulated.

Election officials in the state, including Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, have repeatedly rejected these claims, saying there is no evidence of widespread fraud that would overturn the election results nor evidence of a concerted effort to change Georgia's vote. They have also warned the conspiracy theories have prompted death threats to election workers.

The first of the two hearings kicked off at 9:30 a.m. and is being held by the Senate Government Oversight Committee to "evaluate the election process to ensure the integrity of Georgia's voting process," according to a release.

The second hearing, being held by a Senate Judiciary subcommittee, is scheduled for 1 p.m. and will include "testimony of elections improprieties" and will "evaluate the election process to ensure the integrity of Georgia's voting process."

Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani was spotted by reporters arriving at the Georgia State Capitol Thursday morning.

-ABC News' Quinn Scanlan


Dec 03, 10:45 am
Overview: Biden meets with transition advisers as Trump continues to make baseless claims


Pressing forward with their transition with less than 50 days until the inauguration, Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala will receive the President’s Daily Brief, meet with transition advisers and participate in a joint CNN interview on Thursday.
 
Harris announced a slate of incoming senior staff Thursday morning. She's tapped Tina Flournoy, former President Bill Clinton’s current chief of staff, as her chief of staff, adding to her so far all-female team of which four out of five are women of color.
 
Biden is expected to announce more Cabinet picks in the coming days.

Trump, meanwhile, is continuing to contest the results of the election and showing no signs of backing down after posting a 46-minute video on Facebook Wednesday filled with falsehoods and conspiracy theories, despite his legal team and its allies having not been victorious in more than 30 court cases.
 
In the video, the president made no mention of Attorney General William Barr’s comments in which he said the Justice Department hasn’t found evidence of voter fraud that would change the outcome of the election.

ABC News has learned Barr met with Trump at the White House Tuesday, with one source briefed on the meeting describing Barr's interaction with the president as "intense," but not elaborating with any additional details about the content of their discussion.

Trump on Thursday is slated to present the Medal of Freedom to Lou Holtz ahead of an afternoon signing ceremony of an executive order promoting the use of artificial intelligence in government. The White House on Wednesday wouldn’t divulge whether Trump still has confidence in Barr to lead the Justice Department.

Dec 03, 10:15 am
Harris announces new picks, including chief of staff


Vice President-elect Kamala Harris rolled out key members of her incoming staff Thursday morning, adding to her so far all-female team of which four out of five are women of color.

Hartina "Tina" Flournoy, who is currently serving as chief of staff to former President Bill Clinton, has been tapped as Harris’ chief of staff. She previously served as chief counsel in the White House Office of Presidential Personnel under Bill Clinton and as an assistant to the president for public policy at the American Federation of Teachers.

"Tina brings a strong commitment to serving the American people, and her leadership will be critical as we work to overcome the unprecedented challenges facing our nation," Harris said in a statement announcing the picks.

Rohini Kosoglu, who previously served as a senior adviser to Harris on the campaign and on the transition, has been selected as Harris' domestic policy adviser. She was Harris’ chief of staff in the Senate and was the first South Asian woman to serve in that role.

Nancy McEldowney, a former ambassador to Bulgaria with more than 30 years of experience in the U.S. Foreign Service, will serve as Harris’ national security adviser.

The announcement follows Ashley Etienne being named as Harris’ communications director and Symone Sanders as her chief spokeswoman.

-ABC News' Averi Harper


Dec 02, 11:06 pm
Raimondo may be chosen to lead Biden's HHS department


With President-elect Joe Biden preparing to unveil his picks to lead agencies on the front lines of the fight against the coronavirus, Gov. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island has emerged as a potential selection to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, sources tell ABC News.

The Harvard, Oxford and Yale-educated governor has long been rumored as someone who could enter a Biden administration after she was vetted for vice president. Raimondo, who was elected in 2014, was seen ahead of the election as a possible nominee for Treasury or Commerce secretary, given a Wall Street background that has made her a target for progressives hoping to influence Biden’s incoming administration.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who was also vetted for vice president, is seen as another leading contender for HHS secretary, given her work leading a state during the pandemic, and serving as New Mexico's health secretary earlier in her career. She has also been boosted by Latino Democrats and advocates who want Biden's cabinet to reflect the diversity of the coalition that helped him win the White House.

Biden's pick for HHS secretary, and other coronavirus and health-related roles, could be unveiled as early as next week, sources told ABC News.

A transition spokesman did not immediately respond to questions about Biden's consideration of the governors or the timing of any announcements. Raimondo and Lujan Grisham's offices did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

-ABC News' Luke Barr, Ben Siegel, John Santucci, Katherine Faulders, Molly Nagle


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Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesBy ALLISON PECORIN, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- A $908 billion COVID-19 relief proposal advanced by a bipartisan group of senators was gaining momentum on Capitol Hill, with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaking over the phone Thursday to discuss pandemic relief for the first time since the November election.

The phone call follows Wednesday's announcement that Pelosi and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer endorsed the bipartisan framework, worth $1 trillion less than the most recent Democratic relief proposal.

The proposal includes funds for small businesses, state and local government and additional funds for unemployment, but does not include another round of direct checks to Americans.

While this marked progress in negotiations, there remains a long road ahead.

"Compromise is in reach," McConnell said on the Senate floor Thursday morning, though the path forward that he charted admonished Democratic priorities and highlighted how far apart the two parties remain with just days left to secure a deal.

For months, Democrats have urged McConnell to meet Pelosi for negotiations. McConnell has now stepped into the role previously filled by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who negotiated with Democrats on behalf of the administration.

Pelosi said she is "hopeful" an agreement is within reach, but McConnell's position on the $908 billion bipartisan proposal remains unclear.

Earlier this week McConnell shopped around a separate proposal that was $400 billion less than the bipartisan framework.

That proposal, crafted in consultation with Mnuchin, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was meant to advance a bill President Donald Trump might "actually sign."

But on Thursday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., met with Trump and said a $908 billion proposal was "well within the ballpark of what (Trump) would support."

"I've talked extensively to the president about this," said Graham who announced his own support for the bipartisan deal though said he wanted tweaks to the liability protections portion. "The number is not the problem. ... It's policy differences. I think the president's of the mindset a bill would be good for the country, he would like to see it happen, but it's got to have the right policy."

The president on Thursday afternoon told reporters that he would "absolutely" support some sort of COVID-19 relief, though it is unclear if he was endorsing a specific proposal

Trump tweeted in favor of a bipartisan agreement in November, calling for a "big and focused" relief package.

McConnell also met Thursday, behind closed doors, with members of the bipartisan group, Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Bill Cassidy, R-La., Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Mitt Romney, R-Utah.

"What we were able to do was just kind of present the whole proposal," Murkowski said. "So no commitments back and forth, but just kind of an explanation and walkthrough as to where we are."

The members declined to characterize how McConnell received their pitch.

"I'm not going to talk about what he's doing," Romney said. "I can only talk about what we're doing."

"We've spent more time with them than I have my family," Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said of the bipartisan group.

The group met Thursday morning and was meeting again Thursday evening and then continuing through the weekend in hopes of presenting bill text for consideration early next week.

The proposal is getting "more and more support from Republicans and Democrats," Romney said.

"I like the effort," said Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., a staunch Trump ally. "It strikes the right balance of compromise and it's a number that's doable."

But there remain sticking points for both parties in the bipartisan package.

"We need to make progress, but there are issues, in particular the size of state aid and the liability relief where there's no language and I'm waiting for language," said Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del.

Liability protections for small businesses, universities, health care providers and others have been a key focus for McConnell. For some Democrats it is a poison pill.

Republicans meanwhile will face challenges from some members who find the overall cost of the bipartisan plan unpalatable.

Cassidy said he doesn't believe the price tag will prove an insurmountable challenge. The package is worth $908 billion but would repurpose leftover funds from the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed in March. It would require $348 billion in new funds.

Asked if the price tag might be an issue for some GOP members, Cassidy said, "it might be."

"But I think it's not a problem for more of them," he added. "They recognize that things are getting worse."

Graham said that if Trump gets behind the bipartisan package, both parties will fall in line.

"Here's what I believe: that there's a bipartisan package for $908 billion that will really help people. It's got to have the right policy and that if the president came out for it, you'd have a large number of Republicans and Democrats vote for it."

But if lawmakers are going to vote on anything, it needs to happen soon.

The House is expected to leave town until January at the end of next week. Government funding expires in eight days and some senators have said that elements of COVID-19 relief could be attached to the must-pass bill, setting the stage for a large partisan battle just days before a possible government shutdown.

Romney said he's sure some members would like "to take the pieces of what we've done and perhaps apply it to an omnibus bill or a continuing resolution."

"That's an option, but we're continuing to negotiate a full package," he added.

ABC News' Trish Turner, John Parkinson and Ben Gittleson contributed to this report.

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wachiwit/iStockBy CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- The Justice Department announced Thursday that it has filed a lawsuit against Facebook, alleging the social media giant discriminated against U.S. workers in favor of temporary visa holders.

The lawsuit argues that Facebook refused to recruit or hire qualified U.S. workers for more than 2,600 roles in the company and instead opted for temporary visa holders it sponsored for green cards.

The average salaries for the positions Facebook allegedly passed up American workers for was approximately $156,000, according to the DOJ.

"The Department of Justice's lawsuit alleges that Facebook engaged in intentional and widespread violations of the law, by setting aside positions for temporary visa holders instead of considering interested and qualified U.S. workers," Assistant Attorney General Eric S. Dreiband of the DOJ's Civil Rights Division said in a statement.

Dreiband added that the lawsuit follows a nearly two-year investigation into Facebook's hiring and recruiting practices.

"Our message to workers is clear: if companies deny employment opportunities by illegally preferring temporary visa holders, the Department of Justice will hold them accountable," Dreiband said. "Our message to all employers -- including those in the technology sector -- is clear: you cannot illegally prefer to recruit, consider, or hire temporary visa holders over U.S. workers."

Facebook said it has been cooperating with the Justice Department, but could not comment further.

"Facebook has been cooperating with the DOJ in its review of this issue and while we dispute the allegations in the complaint, we cannot comment further on pending litigation," the company told ABC News in an emailed statement.

The lawsuit argues that between Jan. 1, 2018, and at least Sept. 18, 2019, Facebook routinely preferred temporary visa holders for jobs in connection with the PERM process, a Department of Labor process that allows employers to offer permanent positions to temporary visa holders by converting them into permanent residents. The PERM process, however, requires an employer to demonstrate that there are no qualified and available U.S. workers, according to the DOJ.

Rather than conducting a search for available American workers for permanent positions, the DOJ alleges Facebook reserved the positions for temporary visa holders because of their immigration status.

The complaint argues Facebook did not advertise these jobs on its usual recruiting website, required applicants to apply by physical mail only, and refused to consider U.S. workers who applied for those positions. The agency argues the hiring for these positions was in contrast with Facebook's usual hiring process.

The lawsuit seeks civil penalties, back pay on behalf of U.S. workers denied employment at Facebook and other relief to prevent the same thing form happening in the future.

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Official White House Photo by Andrea HanksBy CONOR FINNEGAN, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- Despite warnings by top health officials to avoid large gatherings as the coronavirus spread worsens, the State Department is planning to host several holiday parties with hundreds of guests invited, according to a source familiar with the planning.

One event is to be hosted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife Susan in the Ben Franklin room, State’s gilded reception space, with approximately several hundred people invited, per the source, confirming a Washington Post report.

But while the Post reports 900 people have been invited -- the source cautioned that like in previous years, far fewer than that are expected to attend. This particular reception is for the families of U.S. diplomats in “unaccompanied” posts, meaning their families are prohibited from living with them. Because not all the families are in the DC area, there’s a “high flake rake,” the source said.

Still, the event usually hosts around 300 people -- making social distancing nearly impossible, even in such a large space, and the spread of COVID-19 more likely, given the eating, drinking, and socializing that comes with a holiday party.

The Pompeos are scheduled to host a second reception, inviting foreign ambassadors and chiefs of mission and their spouses, along with some other senior U.S. officials, to the Ben Franklin room for a reception with food and drink. The source said roughly 350 to 400 people are usually expected to attend.

A third event, hosted by the Chief of Protocol Cam Henderson, welcomes diplomatic guests for a “Holiday Open House and Tour,” according to an invitation obtained by ABC News, followed by a “Holiday Cheer” reception at the Blair House, the president’s guesthouse across the street where heads of state often stay.

In addition to those three marquee events, Pompeo and Henderson are scheduled to host smaller receptions over the next three weeks as well, the source added.

A State Department spokesperson defended the planned receptions in a lengthy statement to ABC News, saying in part, “All attendees will be required to wear masks, and social distancing guidelines will be implemented to ensure space between attendees.”

Catering services and staff will wear gloves and masks, they added, and there will be temperature checks at the entrances and “numerous hand-sanitizing towers throughout the spaces”-- even though neither would necessarily stymie the spread of the airborne virus, particularly from an asymptomatic person.

“We’ve taken every precaution to thin out the number of individuals in all spaces at one time,” the spokesperson added -- including splitting the Diplomatic Corps party into two rooms and the the White House tour and Blair House reception into three blocks of time.

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Alex Wong/Getty ImagesBy BENJAMIN SIEGEL and LUKE BARR, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- With President-elect Joe Biden preparing to unveil his picks to lead agencies on the front lines of the coronavirus fight, he's eyeing Democratic governors for at least one key Cabinet position

Gov. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island has emerged as a potential selection to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, sources tell ABC News. The Harvard, Oxford and Yale-educated official has long been rumored as someone who could enter a Biden administration, after she was vetted as a possible pick for vice president.

Raimondo, who was elected as Rhode Island's first female governor in 2014, was seen ahead of the election as a possible nominee for Treasury or Commerce secretary, given her Wall Street background -- which has also made her a target for progressives hoping to influence Biden's incoming administration.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who was also vetted for vice president, is seen as another leading contender for HHS secretary, given her work leading a state during the pandemic, and serving as New Mexico's health secretary earlier in her career.

Lujan Grisham has also been boosted by Latino Democrats and advocates who want Biden's cabinet to reflect the diversity of the coalition that helped win the White House.

Biden's pick for HHS secretary, and other coronavirus and health-related roles, could be unveiled as early as next week, sources tell ABC News.

A transition spokesman did not immediately respond to questions about Biden's consideration of the governors or the timing of any announcements. Raimondo and Lujan Grisham's offices did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

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artisteer/iStockBy OLIVIA RUBIN and MATTHEW MOSK, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump continued to try and litigate his way out of his loss in the 2020 presidential contest with a new federal lawsuit filed late Wednesday in Wisconsin, the latest in a blizzard of suits around the country that have so far been met with a resounding string of defeats.

The president called on the courts to respond within 48 hours to the case, which takes exception to the broad availability of mail-in voting for the state's residents -- latitude granted because of the risks associated with the coronavirus pandemic.

"Today's federal lawsuit in Wisconsin reveals an apparently coordinated effort to push a new form of balloting upon Wisconsin voters," said Jenna Ellis, one of the president's attorneys, adding that "the rules of the election were changed at the last minute and guardrails against fraud were simultaneously lowered."

Attorneys for Trump have yet to demonstrate that any fraud occurred. Wisconsin was one of many states to expand mail-in voting during the 2020 election to address widespread health concerns regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

Democrats have not yet responded to Wednesday's filing, but one of the lead lawyers combatting the Trump legal barrage, Marc Elias, tweeted late Wednesday night that he was "tired of the repeated filings of frivolous lawsuits that are clogging the courts and misleading the public. It must stop."

Republicans in Washington have defended the president's right to exhaust every legal avenue before accepting defeat, but experts said the sustained legal push is unprecedented.

Myrna Pérez, director of the Brennan Center for Justice's Voting Rights and Elections Program at the NYU School of Law, has questioned how much tolerance the courts will show for Trump's continued efforts to re-fight the 2020 election in the courts.

"The president and his sympathizers have abused the presumption of good faith to the point where the courts are responding swiftly and clearly and the lawyers don't want to be involved anymore," she said.

In reaction to one recent case, Judge Stephanos Bibas, a former member of the Federalist Society whom Trump nominated to the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017, wrote that "voters, not lawyers, choose the President. Ballots, not briefs, decide elections."

The latest lawsuit takes a different approach than the one used in nearly three dozen previous cases filed by Trump's campaign and his supporters, most of which have been rebuffed by judges because they failed to sufficiently document claims of fraud.

This latest legal action never alleges that fraud occurred in Wisconsin -- only that the risk of fraud was elevated by measures that state officials took to account for the global pandemic, such as the expanded use of drop boxes and mail-in ballots. The suit alleges that the election was marred by "the purposeful disregard of thoughtful legislative safeguards meant to prevent absentee ballot fraud."

The lawsuit also brings a new proposed remedy: throwing the outcome of the state's contest to the Republican-controlled state legislature. The suit asks the court to "immediately remand this matter to the Wisconsin Legislature to review … and determine the appropriate remedy for the constitutional violation(s) established, including any impact upon the allocation of Presidential electors for the State of Wisconsin."

The suit argues that voters were afforded access to absentee ballots beyond what the law allowed, saying that the global coronavirus pandemic was not a sufficient reason.

"There could be no reasonable or lawful contention that the COVID-19 pandemic provided an excuse to avoid Wisconsin's election laws," it states.

The suit says these "outright usurpations" allowed "thousands of ballots to be accepted based on the improper and inaccurate claim that the COVID-19 pandemic continued to justify a wide scale failure to apply Wisconsin voting laws."

After losing the state to Democrat Joe Biden by over 20,000 votes, the Trump campaign ordered recounts in two Wisconsin counties. After paying $3 million for the recounting process, Biden's lead grew by 87 votes.

Prior to this case, officials in the state told ABC News that they saw no way the legislature could overturn or invalidate the results of the election without a court ruling.

"I'm not aware of there being any possibility for that," said Meagan Wolfe, chief elections official at the Wisconsin Election Commission. "I think that would require court's intervention for anything like that to occur."

But some Republican state lawmakers have already indicated a willingness to investigate the complaints about the way the election was conducted.

"I think it is unlikely we would find enough cases of fraud to overturn the election," Wisconsin State Assembly Speaker Rep. Robin Vos told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I think it's unlikely, but I don't know that. That's why you have an investigation."

Jeff Mandell, a lawyer who runs Law Forward, a nonpartisan, nonprofit impact litigation firm in Wisconsin, said he saw no path for the Wisconsin State Legislature to overturn the state's vote.

"Under Wisconsin law, and under federal law, Biden won the most votes in the state of Wisconsin and he's entitled to -- and is going to get -- the 10 electoral votes from the state of Wisconsin," Mandell said. "And that's what the law provides for pretty clearly. And there's not an avenue around that."

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Official White House Photo by Shealah CraigheadBy KATHERINE FAULDERS and ALEXANDER MALLIN, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- While at the White House for meetings Tuesday, Attorney General Bill Barr had a meeting with President Donald Trump following an interview with the Associated Press in which Barr disclosed that the Department of Justice has not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the election results, multiple sources familiar with the matter tell ABC News.

Barr spent roughly two and a half hours on White House grounds on Tuesday for what White House and Department of Justice officials previously said was a pre-planned meeting with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

However, sources told ABC News that once Barr was in the building for meetings, Trump wanted to see him.

One source briefed on the meeting described Barr's interaction with the president as "intense," but would not elaborate on any additional details about the content of their discussion.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany in a press briefing Wednesday afternoon declined to answer whether the two had spoken since Barr's interview, and also declined to say directly whether Trump still had confidence in Barr.

Soon after Barr departed the White House Tuesday, a DOJ spokesperson sent reporters a statement hitting back at what the official described as inaccurate characterizations by some in the media of Barr's comments.

"Some media outlets have incorrectly reported that the Department has concluded its investigation of election fraud and announced an affirmative finding of no fraud in the election," the spokesperson said. "That is not what the Associated Press reported nor what the Attorney General stated. The Department will continue to receive and vigorously pursue all specific and credible allegations of fraud as expeditiously as possible."

Sources say the president has privately expressed his anger toward Barr and has even floated the possibility of removing him. Those claims were first reported by the Washington Post.

The White House didn't immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment. A spokesperson for the Department of Justice declined to comment further.

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Official White House Photo by Shealah CraigheadBy TRISH TURNER, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- Congressional Republicans rarely buck President Donald Trump, but his Tuesday night veto threat of a highly popular, must-pass defense bill -- which includes a 3% pay raise for U.S. troops -- has been met with GOP defiance.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has passed Congress every year for 59 years, but the president announced that he intends to veto the measure unless lawmakers repeal a law that gives social media companies broad legal protections from lawsuits -- based on their users' posts -- and unchallenged latitude to police user content.

"(I)f the very dangerous & unfair Section 230 is not completely terminated as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill when sent to the very beautiful Resolute desk," Trump wrote on Twitter, a platform that has censored his tweets that it deems false or misleading.

But the House and Senate Armed Services Committees were unbowed, approving on Wednesday a massive, bicameral NDAA compromise bill that panel members said included no such repeal of Section 230. The measure now heads to both chambers for certain approval.

Senate Armed Services Chair Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., told reporters that while he supports the call for tech services reforms, the provision "has nothing to do with the military."

"You can't do it in this bill. That's not a part of the bill," said Inhofe who added that he had conveyed that sentiment to the president.

"For 59 straight years, the NDAA has passed because Members of Congress and Presidents of both parties have set aside their own policy objectives and partisan preferences and put the needs of our military personnel and America's security first. The time has come to do that again," House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., and Ranking Member Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said in a joint statement.

The bill appears to be headed for near-certain passage in both chambers.

The Senate's second-most senior Republican, John Thune of South Dakota, said the fight over Section 230 reform, while supported by lawmakers in both parties, has no place on the defense bill and predicted the bill would pass despite the presidential threat.

"I think there's a lot of interest in reforming section 230. It's a Commerce Committee jurisdiction issue, and I hope that we have an opportunity to take that up -- but I don't think that the defense bill is a place to litigate that," Thune told ABC News. "But one way or the other, we have to pass the defense authorization bill."

The NDAA contains not only a pay raise for troops, but many other popular measures, like body armor improvements for women, coronavirus relief, military housing improvements and national security measures.

But frustration has been building for years among conservatives -- led by Trump -- who allege that social media giants are unfairly targeting their voices for censorship. Democrats, for their part, have cried foul when these same tech companies fail to take down or rein in false information and potentially harmful posts. President-elect Joe Biden has expressed a desire to repeal the law, a rare alignment with his campaign foe.

These companies say they're merely trying to fight misinformation while protecting a platform for free speech.

Still, lawmakers of all stripes said the defense bill is not the place to mount that fight.

Both chambers passed their respective defense measures with veto-proof majorities, the House by a vote of 295 to 125 and the Senate by 86 to 14.

"It passed out of here with 84 votes, you know, when it left the Senate," said Thune. "So my assumption is that it would have broad bipartisan support when it returns."

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said he is actively in talks with the White House on reforms for Silicon Valley, adding that he did not think the president would ultimately follow through with his veto threat.

The Tuesday night threat was not Trump's first against the NDAA, though. Months ago, Trump said he would slap a veto on the bill if a provision authored by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., remained in the final House-Senate version of the bill. That amendment -- which is in the final bill, according to Inhofe -- gives the defense secretary three years to "remove all names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia that honor or commemorate the Confederate States of America and anyone who voluntarily served it from all military bases and other assets of the Department of Defense," according to a Warren news release.

Despite the backlash from Congress, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Wednesday doubled down on the president's threat to veto the bill if it doesn't repeal the liability shield.

"There are real, grave concerns here and the president stands by that. And it also is worth noting that the president will always defend our military," said McEnany.

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Heidi Gutman/ABC NewsBy MOLLY NAGLE, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- With fewer than 50 days until President-elect Joe Biden takes his oath of office, Biden's team has been laying the groundwork for the upcoming inauguration -- a task further complicated this year by the growing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We're going to work with Congress to have an inaugural that is safe, that does not put anybody in jeopardy to the extent we can control that, and that is appropriate for the middle of a pandemic," Anita Dunn, senior adviser for Biden's transition, said during an appearance on ABC's "Powerhouse Politics" podcast Wednesday.

"So what that ends up looking like hasn't been quite settled yet, but I think it is fair to say that, as was the case with our convention, as was the case with our election night, it will not look like a traditional inaugural in all aspects," she added.

On Monday, Biden's transition team officially launched its presidential inaugural committee, the team in charge of spearheading the quadrennial event. It's the latest official step the transition team has taken since Biden was ascertained president-elect by General Services Administration Administrator Emily Murphy last week -- 21 days after Election Day.

Dunn told ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and Political Director Rick Klein that despite the delayed start, the team is moving ahead on schedule with their preparations to enter the White House on Jan. 20.

"President-elect Biden is someone who is going to be ready, day one, and is putting together a team that is going to be ready day one. So, we didn't feel we lost as much time as some others might have because we were ready to go with the transition," Dunn said.

"He's spending time on policy briefings, he's spending time on personnel briefings and he's spending time preparing to hit the ground running -- even with the boot," she added, joking about Biden's recently fractured foot, sustained while playing with his dog.

The pandemic is expected to consume Biden's focus through the early days of his administration, tasked with ensuring an equitable distribution of the pending COVID-19 vaccine, and helping the country recover economically.

Throughout his campaign, Biden touted his ability to work across the aisle -- a point that has continued to draw criticism as the majority of congressional Republicans have still not acknowledged Biden as the president-elect, and he faces a Republican-controlled Senate. Dunn argued Biden is clear-eyed about the challenges he will face.

"I think that his legislative background and his level of trust and relationships that he has still, and the respect he has for members of the Senate, members of the House, is a critical aspect of how he's going to approach being able to deal with Congress. But he's very realistic," Dunn said.

"There are issues where they're not going to agree and they will not be able to find common ground, but he also believes that you've got to try," she continued. "You have to try and the American people need to see that you have tried. And that is his intention, and he thinks he can do it. And he has a track record of being able to do it both in the Senate and then as vice president."

Dunn, who served as one of the highest-ranking women on Biden's winning campaign, is not expected to join the administration, but has served in a key advisory role during the transition.

Earlier this week, Biden announced the leadership for his White House communications staff -- a historic, all-female group including incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki, whom Dunn praised for her decision to "suit up and take the playing field."

"She's an excellent spokesperson, but she also shares President-elect Biden's belief that this is now part of the face of America to the world, and that we have to have someone who believes in transparency and credibility," she said.

Asked if Biden's return to the White House would also mean the return of a daily press briefing, Dunn said there would be "some kind of briefing," but noted that they could be "improved," suggesting Biden's team may undertake "some innovations."

"We're committed to making sure that what you hear, and what the American people hear in that White House press room, that it reflects what President-elect Biden wants to do as president, which is restore our credibility, both with the people, the United States and around the world," she said.

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This Morning 12/1/20 Carroll Broadcasting picked a random winner from all our  Rifle Season entries! That winner was Marcus Doan of Tawas City.  He bagged his 7 point buck in Gratiot County!  Congratulations Marcus,

You win a Savage Lightweight Varminter 204 Ruger Rifle from Clouse Family Ace Hardware, a Ameristep Silent Brickhouse Ground Blind from Jay's Sporting Goods, a $50.00 Gift Certificate from Fairview Hardware, a $100 Gift Certificate from M-65 Bait Shop, A World Class Tassco Gun Scope from Bob's Gun Shoppe in Alpena,a Night Scout Hunter Cap from Winjammer Gifts and a Buddy Heater w/propane, Gloves, Attractants, Deer Cam, three legged Seat A Hunter Bucket from Tawas Hardware Store!.

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This Morning 11/16/20 Carroll Broadcasting picked a random winner from all our bow hunter entries! That winner was Donna Nowak of Rogers City.  She bagged her 6 point buck in Presque Isle!  Congratulations Donna!  Donna won lots of prizes including a new  Darton Archery Toxin 100 crossbow package and a Predator traditional bow.  We still Have lots of hunting left in Firearm Season and we have lots more prizes to give away.  To Register or to get more information just fiollow the link below.

 

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