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2020 election "most secure in history," security officials say

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Biden names chief of staff and looks to fill other top Cabinet positions 01:16

Federal election infrastructure officials said in a joint statement on Thursday that the 2020 election was the "most secure in American history." Meanwhile, President-elect Biden picked up 11 more Electoral College votes as CBS News projected he had won Arizona, giving him a 73 vote margin over President Trump and putting him well over the 270 electoral vote threshold with a total of 290 projected votes. 

President Trump continued to spread baseless claims of widespread voter fraud in key battleground states. Mr. Trump on Thursday had still not conceded, and advisers confirmed to CBS News that he has openly discussed running for president again in 2024. While no decisions have been made, one Trump adviser familiar with conversations with the president told CBS News that his allies were working to keep his options open as they plot his political future.

High-ranking Republican senators said Thursday that Mr. Biden should begin receiving intelligence briefings. GOP Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the most senior GOP senator, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a close ally of Mr. Trump's, separately told reporters on Capitol Hill that they believe Mr. Biden should be receiving the high-level briefings. South Dakota Senator John Thune, the second highest-ranking Republican in the upper chamber, said it "makes sense" for the president-elect to be briefed on the nation's most sensitive intelligence.

"As these election challenges play out in court, I don't have a problem with, and I think it's important from a national security standpoint, continuity," Thune said. "And you've seen other members suggesting that."

Texas Senator John Cornyn told reporters he believes the information "needs to be communicated in some way."

"I just don't know of any justification for withholding the briefing," he said, adding that if Mr. Biden "does win in the end, I think they need to be able to hit the ground running."


Biden wins Arizona's 11 Electoral College votes, CBS News projects

CBS News projected Thursday night that Biden had won Arizona's 11 Electoral College votes. That puts Mr. Biden's total at 290. 

Mr. Biden and former President Bill Clinton, who won the state in 1996, are the only two Democrats to have won Arizona since 1952. The Democrats also managed to flip the senate seat, with Senator-elect Mark Kelly defeating incumbent Republican Senator Martha McSally.

By Caroline Linton

Biden takes deliberate approach to foreign calls during transition

President-elect Joe Biden and his team have been extremely cautious about his contact with foreign governments since the election, continuing the careful approach his campaign took. 

Because the Trump State Department has refused to facilitate official contact with the president-elect's team, foreign governments wishing to place congratulatory calls to Mr. Biden have been reaching out directly to adviser Antony Blinken, a former deputy secretary of state, and his team to arrange the phone conversations. The calls are taking place over unsecured telephone lines and without the usual assistance of an official translator or the State Department operations center.

Blinken, who sometimes remains on the line, according to a person familiar with the calls, is widely considered to be a front runner for the position of either secretary of state or national security adviser. 

Read more here

Margaret Brennan, Bo Erickson, Camilla Schick, Christina Ruffini


Top Republicans call for Biden to receive classified briefings

Top Republicans call for Biden to receive classified briefings 02:25

A growing number of Republicans say President-elect Biden should get the classified intel reports that are normally provided to an incoming commander in chief. This comes as President Trump continues to force out administration officials. Ben Tracy reports.  


Election infrastructure officials: 2020 election was "most secure in American history"

 In a joint statement, members of the Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council, CISA Assistant Director, the National Secretaries of State, and others called the 2020 election the "most secure in American history"

 CISA, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and the Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council are under the umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security. 

The statement from the agencies said there is "there is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised."

"While we know there are many unfounded claims and opportunities for misinformation about the process of our elections, we can assure you we have the utmost confidence in the security and integrity of our elections, and you should too," the statement said. "When you have questions, turn to elections officials as trusted voices as they administer elections."

By Sara Cook

Trump advisers say president has openly discussed running in 2024

Advisers to President Trump tell CBS News the president has openly discussed the possibility of running in 2024 with his top advisers. While no decisions have been made, one Trump adviser familiar with conversations with the president tells CBS News that Trump allies are actively working to keep his options open as they begin to plot his political future. 

As CBS News has previously reported, Mr. Trump has created "Save America" leadership PAC, which was registered with the Federal Election Commission on Monday by Trump campaign treasurer Bradley Crate.

Mr. Trump has given no indication to top brass at the White House or campaign that he will concede the race, though advisers increasingly admit it would be nearly impossible for Mr. Trump to contest the 2020 election. 

Read more here

 — Nicole Sganga, Ben Tracy and Paula Reid 


Biden campaign asks supporters for funds to cover legal costs

Mr. Biden may have raised record funds during the campaign, but the campaign is still calling on supporters for help. According to the latest fundraising email, his legal team estimates it needs $30 million to cover lawsuits by Mr. Trump and Republicans. They're still $26 million from goal.

The first $142,000 an individual contributes will go to the Democratic National Committee, then $2,800 to the Biden for President Recount Fund and any additional funds again going to the DNC.

By Sarah Ewall-Wice

Max Rose concedes congressional race, becoming 10th seat flipped for House GOP

While absentee ballots are still being counted, Congressman Max Rose has conceded in New York's 11th Congressional District. CBS News has not yet called the race.

Rose, a Democrat, defeated a Republican incumbent in 2018. He has now conceded to Republican Nicole Malliotakis, a state assemblywoman.

"As we continue to count every ballot and are on track to dramatically narrow the gap by tens of thousands of votes to a 4-5 point margin, it is now clear that we will fall short of 50.1%," Rose said in a statement. "I have called to congratulate Congresswoman-elect Malliotakis on her win and concede the race. I promise every resident of the 11th Congressional District that we will ensure a smooth transition."

The latest tally shows Malliotakis leading by around 36,000 votes. With Rose's concession, House Republicans have now flipped 10 seats held by Democrats.

By Grace Segers

Biden adviser floats possible 6-week lockdown to slow spread of COVID-19

A top adviser to Mr. Biden floated the possibility of shutting down the U.S. economy for several weeks to help contain the coronavirus.

Dr. Michael Osterholm, an infectious-disease specialist and a member of Mr. Biden's recently appointed COVID-19 advisory team, spoke with Yahoo! Finance on Wednesday about measures the U.S. could take to curtail the virus' spread. One option he said is worth considering: Imposing a four-to-six week shutdown of the country while providing workers, small business owners and local governments with hundreds of billions in financial aid to tide them over, he noted. 

"We have a big pool of money out there that we could borrow, at historic low interest rates by the federal government. We could pay for a package right now to cover all of the lost wages for individual workers, losses to small companies and medium-sized companies, for cities, states, county governments," Osterholm said in the interview.

He continued: "If we did that then we could lock down for four to six weeks, and if we did that, we could drive the numbers down, like they did in Asia, like they did in New Zealand and Australia."

Read more here.

By Irina Ivanova

Pennsylvania judge rules for Trump in dispute over missing identification on ballots

A Pennsylvania appellate court judge handed a win to the Trump campaign in its challenge to guidance issued by Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar that extended the deadline for absentee and mail-in voters to provide missing proof of identification.

President Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania ruled Boockvar lacked statutory authority to issue her guidance that gave voters until November 12 to provide proof of identification. While Pennsylvania's election code sets the original deadline as "the sixth day following the election," November 9, Boockvar extended that deadline for mail-in ballots received between November 4 and November 6, which are being segregated under an existing legal challenge to the mail-in ballot deadline.

Leavitt blocked Pennsylvania's 67 county boards of elections from counting any ballots from voters who provided proof of identification after November 9.

It's unclear how many ballots are impacted by Leavitt's ruling, though it's unlikely to have an impact on current vote tallies in Pennsylvania, as they were not being included in the counts.

Melissa Quinn and Zak Hudak


How Trump's refusal to cooperate hinders Biden's transition

Mr. Trump's failure to concede — and the General Services administrator's failure to "ascertain" the election winner in order to formally begin the transition — is complicating Mr. Biden's preparations to assume the presidency in January. 

Mr. Biden this week shrugged off the administration's failure to turn over $6.3 million in funding designated for the transition and dedicated office space, and said that the lack of classified briefings won't significantly hinder him. 

"We are already beginning the transition. We're well underway," Biden said. "And the ability for the administration in any way by failure to recognize our win does not change the dynamic at all and what we're able to do."

Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service and an expert on presidential transitions, said the Biden team has "done really an exceptional job preparing for this moment," and has been readying for the transition since spring. But he said "there are limits" to what an incoming administration can do without the cooperation of the GSA. 

Read the full story here.

By Kathryn Watson

Biden speaks with Schumer and Pelosi, stressing need for COVID bill

Mr. Biden spoke with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday, the president-elect's transition team announced. The three spoke about the need to pass coronavirus relief legislation, which has been stalled in Congress.

"They discussed the urgent need for the Congress to come together in the lame duck session on a bipartisan basis to pass a bill that provides resources to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, relief for working families and small businesses, support for state and local governments trying to keep frontline workers on the payroll, expanded unemployment insurance, and affordable health care for millions of families," Mr. Biden's transition team said in a statement.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has expressed opposition to the Democrats' $2 trillion relief bill, and negotiations have stalled, signaling that a deal is unlikely.

In a joint press conference with Schumer on Thursday, Pelosi said congressional Republicans are "engaged in an absurd circus right now, refusing to accept reality" by denying that Mr. Biden had won the election.

By Grace Segers

Trump advisers see no viable path to victory

Advisers to Mr. Trump continue to tell CBS News that there is no viable legal path to overturning the election results, yet the legal fight continues. They do not expect the Supreme Court to intervene. Mr. Trump, they say, is increasingly aware the legal battle is unlikely to succeed, but likes to be seen as a fighter, and the legal challenges rile up the base. 

The campaign was running low on cash heading into Election Day, and final Federal Election Commission filings are expected to show it incurred significant debt. Campaign solicitations for donations to the legal fund can also be used to retire campaign debt. 

Major Garrett, Paula Reid, Ben Tracy, Sara Cook


Biden speaks with Pope Francis

Mr. Biden, who will be the second Catholic to serve a president after President John F. Kennedy, spoke Thursday morning with Pope Francis, his transition team said. During the call, Mr. Biden thanked the pope for "extending blessings and congratulations and noted his appreciation for His Holiness' leadership in promoting peace, reconciliation, and the common bonds of humanity around the world."

Mr. Biden "expressed his desire to work together on the basis of a shared belief in the dignity and equality of all humankind on issues such as caring for the marginalized and the poor, addressing the crisis of climate change, and welcoming and integrating immigrants and refugees into our communities," according to the transition team.

Pope Francis joins a growing list of world leaders who have spoken with the president-elect to offer congratulations and discuss shared priorities, even as Mr. Trump continues to amplify claims he won a second term in the White House and allege without evidence the election was rife with fraud.

By Melissa Quinn

Trump campaign adviser Corey Lewandowski tests positive for COVID-19

Corey Lewandowski, a senior adviser for the Trump campaign, tested positive for the coronavirus Wednesday, he confirmed to CBS News. Lewandowski has been working on the legal fights mounted by the campaign in Pennsylvania as part of its efforts to halt certification of election results. Lewandowski said he believes he was infected with the coronavirus while working in Philadelphia.

His diagnosis with COVID-19 was first reported by The New York Times.

Lewandowski is the latest person in Mr. Trump's orbit to test positive for the coronavirus. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said Monday he became infected with the virus, as did White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and conservative activist David Bossie, who was leading Mr. Trump's post-election legal battles.

Read more here.

By Sara Cook

Grassley: "Yes," Biden should have intelligence briefings

Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the Senate's most senior Republican, told reporters on Capitol Hill he believes the president-elect should be receiving classified intelligence briefings to prepare for his transition into the White House.

"I would think especially on classified briefing, the answer is yes," Grassley said when asked whether Mr. Biden should have access to high-level briefings.

Pressed on whether the GSA should make its ascertainment determining Mr. Biden is the likely winner of the presidential race, Grassley pointed to the 2000 election, saying "we ought to do exactly what we did for Gore" two decades ago when the outcome of the presidential race went to the Supreme Court, delaying the transition process.

By Melissa Quinn

Ted Cruz: "Very reasonable" for Biden to receive intelligence briefings

GOP Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said in radio interview it's "very reasonable" for Mr. Biden to start getting daily high-level intelligence briefings, which he has not yet been allowed because the General Services Agency hasn't yet ascertained he won the presidential election.

"I think that's very reasonable," Cruz said in an interview with radio host Mark Davis, "and one of the things that happens in this process is that both of the major-party nominees start to get security briefings even before the election, because for the sake of protecting the country you want whoever is going to assume that office to be aware of the significant threats because the first responsibility of any president is to keep the American people safe."

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence said Tuesday that it has not yet begun providing high-level intelligence briefings to the president-elect and would not begin doing so until it has been notified by the head of the GSA.

By Melissa Quinn

Pelosi says Republicans are "refusing to accept reality" of Biden victory

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slammed congressional Republicans for "refusing to accept reality" by declining to acknowledge Mr. Biden's victory and said their focus on propping up Mr. Trump is distracting them from addressing the coronavirus pandemic.

"They're engaged in an absurd circus right now, refusing to accept reality," Pelosi said in a joint press conference with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday. "Stop the circus and get to work on what really matters to the American people — their health and their economic security."

Schumer characterized Republicans' refusal to accept the election results as a performance intended to please an "audience of one" — Mr. Trump. He urged Republicans to "stop their shenanigans."

"The election is over. It wasn't close. President Trump lost. Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States," Schumer said. "Senate Republicans: Stop denying reality. Stop deliberately and recklessly sowing doubt about our democratic process. And start focusing on COVID."

Read more here.

By Grace Segers

How Biden and Trump are spending Thursday

As pressure builds for Mr. Trump to formally begin the transition process, unlocking access to federal funding and services for Mr. Biden and his team, the president is slated to again spend his day out of the public eye.

Mr. Trump is scheduled to have lunch with Vice President Mike Pence at the White House at 12:30 p.m. The president will then meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in the Oval Office at 4 p.m.

Mr. Biden, meanwhile, is meeting with transition advisers.

By Melissa Quinn

Obama: "I'm not yet ready to abandon the possibility of America"

In an excerpt of his new book published by The Atlantic, former President Barack Obama expressed his hope for a better future, despite the ongoing struggles presented by the coronavirus pandemic and political divisions.

"I'm not yet ready to abandon the possibility of America — not just for the sake of future generations of Americans but for all of humankind," Mr. Obama wrote. "The world watches America — the only great power in history made up of people from every corner of the planet, comprising every race and faith and cultural practice — to see if our experiment in democracy can work."

Mr. Obama is sitting down for interviews airing Sunday on "60 Minutes" and "CBS Sunday Morning," in what will be his first television interviews following the 2020 presidential election. The book — "A Promised Land" — comes out November 17.

By Grace Segers

When do states certify election results?

President Trump has not yet conceded the presidential election, even though President-elect Joe Biden is projected to have secured the electoral college votes needed to win the presidency. Most congressional Republicans have been withholding their acknowledgment of Mr. Biden's victory, too — until the states make it official.

On election night, the results reported are unofficial and must undergo canvassing — that is, ensuring that all the valid votes have been counted. Each state utilizes its own processes to double-check vote totals and make sure that each vote was properly counted. Then, the states certify the votes, which makes those results official; each state also has its own deadline to certify the results. Certification is typically done by a state's governor, chief election official or board of canvassers. 

The states must formally certify their election results on December 8, six days before the Electoral College members meet in their respective states to cast their votes for president.

Here is a rundown of when states certify their election results.

By Grace Segers
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