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Biden says he told foreign leaders "America is back"

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Biden starts transition without GSA sign-off
Biden-Harris team begins transition without President Trump's concession 02:59

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President-elect Joe Biden fielded calls from foreign leaders who offered their congratulations on his projected victory in the presidential election, an acknowledgement that key U.S. allies are preparing for a new administration even as President Trump refuses to concede defeat.

The Biden transition office said the president-elect on Tuesday spoke to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Mr. Biden spoke to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday.

"I'm letting them know that America is back. We're going to be back in the game," Mr. Biden said on Tuesday in Delaware, taking questions for the first time as president-elect after delivering remarks on health care.

Mr. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are forging ahead with the transition to the White House with 71 days until Inauguration Day, despite the Trump administration's refusal to take the formal steps necessary to ensure a smooth transfer of power.

Under the law, the Biden-Harris transition teams cannot start formal meetings with current officials across the government or access secure facilities to work with classified information before the head of the little-known General Services Administration (GSA) determines that the pair are likely the next president and vice president. The GSA administrator has declined to make that determination.

"We believe that the time has come for the GSA administrator to promptly ascertain Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as president-elect and vice president-elect," an unidentified Biden-Harris transition official said Monday night on a telephone briefing with reporters, adding that the transition could pursue legal options if the administration continues to stall.

One consequence of the GSA's unwillingness to "ascertain" a winner is that the congratulatory phone calls Mr. Biden is receiving from world leaders are happening without the help of the State Department, according to a transition official. 

Mr. Biden himself said the delay in formally recognizing the presidential outcome is "not of much consequence."

"We're already beginning the transition. We're well underway," Mr. Biden said. But he also called Mr. Trump's refusal to concede "an embarrassment" and suggested that "it will not help the president's legacy."

Mr. Trump has refused to concede the election since Mr. Biden was projected to be the winner on Saturday, and his campaign is pursuing lawsuits in a handful of states challenging the results. The campaign has not produced evidence of widespread voter fraud on a scale that would change the election results.


State Department taking no role in Biden's congratulatory calls with foreign leaders

One consequence of the General Services Administration's (GSA) unwillingness to "ascertain" a winner of the presidential election is that the congratulatory phone calls Mr. Biden is receiving from world leaders are happening without the help of the State Department, according to a transition official. 

The GSA is the federal government agency that provides the president-elect's transition team access to federal agencies to aid in planning policy changes with current administration officials. But the current GSA administrator, Emily Murphy, refuses to acknowledge that Mr. Biden is the next president, so that the transition process can formally begin.

In past transitions, the State Department has facilitated the logistics of the calls and provided translation services, possible talking points, and even taken notes, if needed. In the first month of his presidential transition, former President Barack Obama spoke with 44 foreign leaders, according to a count by the center.

In the past two days, Mr. Biden has spoken with the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom, according to readouts from the transition team.

The lack of GSA ascertainment means that the Biden-Harris transition team is being denied State Department-facilitated calls with foreign leaders as they reach out to express their congratulations, a transition official told CBS News.

Read more here.


Democrat Cal Cunningham concedes North Carolina Senate race

Democratic candidate Cal Cunningham conceded the North Carolina Senate race to Republican Senator Thom Tillis, saying in a statement that he called Tillis to congratulate him on his victory.

"The voters have spoken and I respect their decision. While the results of this election suggest there remain deep political divisions in our state and nation, the more complete story of our country lies in what unites us: our faith and sense of confidence in our democracy, our civic values and common humanity, our shared aspiration to care for one another, and our belief that we live in a country that does exceptional things," Cunningham said in a statement.

Although Cunningham and Tillis appeared to be neck-and-neck in polls leading up to the election, Cunningham's campaign was embroiled in scandal amid revelations of an extramarital affair. Tillis' campaign also had an October surprise, as the senator contracted coronavirus early in the month.

Cunningham's concession means that the balance of the Senate is now 49 Republicans to 48 Democrats. There are two Georgia Senate races which have advanced to runoff elections in January, and will determine which party holds the majority. CBS News has not projected a winner in the Alaska Senate race, but it leans Republican, with incumbent Senator Dan Sullivan holding a 57,540 vote lead.

By Grace Segers

Biden transition announces teams tasked with reviewing federal agencies

The president-elect's transition team rolled out its initial list of "key members" of its agency review teams, which serve to ensure the new Biden administration is poised to begin governing across all departments once Mr. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are sworn into office.

The agency review teams are largely composed of volunteers, though some include full-time employees of the transition team, and vary in size depending on the agency.

"Our nation is grappling with a pandemic, an economic crisis, urgent calls for racial justice, and the existential threat of climate change. We must be prepared for a seamless transfer of knowledge to the incoming administration to protect our interests at home and abroad," former Senator Ted Kaufman, co-chair of the transition team, said in a statement. "The agency review process will help lay the foundation for meeting these challenges on Day One."

The teams will begin by meeting with former agency officials and experts, as well as representatives from think tanks, labor groups, trade associations and other organizations. Once the General Services Administration recognizes Mr. Biden is the winner of the election, the teams will work directly with agency staff.

Those tapped to serve on the agency review teams come from a variety of sectors, including state government, universities and think tanks. Others are alumni of the Obama administration or have worked on Capitol Hill.

Among those selected to lead their respective agency review teams are Leandra English, the former deputy director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau who is heading up that agency's team, and Chris Lu, former deputy secretary of labor who is leading that department's group.

The Biden transition team noted that of the agency review team members that will be announced, more than half are women and roughly 40% "represent communities historically underrepresented in the federal government, including people of color, people who identify as LGBTQ+, and people with disabilities."

By Melissa Quinn

Biden says Trump's refusal to concede is "an embarrassment"

Biden says his transition is moving ahead with or without assistance from Trump administration 12:11

Taking questions after a speech in Wilmington, the president-elect said the current administration's refusal to acknowledge his victory "is not of much consequence" for ensuring a smooth transition, but said Mr. Trump's continued denial of the outcome would hurt his legacy.

"I just think it's an embarrassment, quite frankly," he said. "I think it will not help the president's legacy. I know from my discussions with foreign leaders thus far that they are hopeful that the United States' democratic institutions are being viewed, once again, as being strong and enduring. But I think at the end of the day, it's all going to come to fruition on January 20."

Between now and Inauguration Day, he continued, "my hope and expectation is that the American people do know and do understand that there has been a transition."

By Stefan Becket

Biden speaks with leaders of France, Germany, Ireland and U.K.

Mr. Biden held several calls with the leaders of the United States' closest and oldest allies, France, Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom, after receiving congratulatory messages from them after he was projected the winner of the presidential race Saturday.

According to readouts of the calls from Biden's transition team, the president-elect expressed gratitude to each of the leaders for their well wishes and said he looks forward to strengthening the relationships between the U.S. and each nation.

In his call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Biden "noted his interest in working closely with Chancellor Merkel on common interests and challenges, including containing COVID-19; addressing the climate crisis, and working toward a sustainable global economic recovery. He also welcomed the opportunity to cooperate on a shared agenda with the EU."

During a call with French President Emmanuel Macron, Mr. Biden "conveyed his interest in reinvigorating bilateral and trans-Atlantic ties, including through NATO and the" European Union and "expressed his readiness to work together on global challenges, including security and development in Africa, the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, and Iran's nuclear program."

"They discussed cooperating on a range of shared interests, such as containing COVID-19 and building global health security; tackling the threat of climate change; strengthening human rights, and laying the foundations for a sustainable global economic recovery," Mr. Biden's team said.

The president-elect, who is of Irish descent, also spoke with Taoiseach Micheál Martin of Ireland and said he looks "forward to working with the Taoiseach to address shared challenges such as controlling COVID-19; building a sustainable economic recovery, and tackling climate change. He also reaffirmed his support for the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process in Northern Ireland."

During a call with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the two discussed "containing COVID-19 and promoting global health security; pursuing a sustainable economic recovery; combating climate change; strengthening democracy, and working together on issues such as the Western Balkans and Ukraine. The president-elect expressed his interest in cooperating with the UK, NATO, and the EU on shared trans-Atlantic priorities, and reaffirmed his support for the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland."

His team also said the president-elect said he looks forward to working with Johnson on "global challenges" ahead of the 2021 G-7 and the United Nations Climate Change Conference, both of which the United Kingdom is hosting.

By Melissa Quinn

Doug Emhoff, incoming second gentleman, to leave law firm

Doug Emhoff, who will serve as the nation's first "second gentleman," plans to "sever all ties" with his law firm DLA Piper before Inauguration Day and will "transition his client practice" in the coming weeks, a campaign spokesperson confirmed to CBS News. The Associated Press first reported Emhoff will depart the firm.

"Mr. Emhoff is working with the Biden-Harris transition team to develop the portfolio he will focus on to support the work of the administration," the spokesperson said.

Emhoff took a leave of absence from DLA Piper in August, and the campaign said he has been "completely focused on supporting the Biden-Harris campaign since Kamala Harris joined the ticket, and he is not resuming his private law practice at the firm."

He joined DLA Piper in 2017 and is a partner at the firm, representing clients in business, real estate and intellectual property disputes, according to its website.

Melissa Quinn and Tim Perry


Senate Republicans decline to acknowledge Biden's win

Several Senate Republicans declined to acknowledge Mr. Biden's victory, telling reporters on Capitol Hill that the election results had not yet been certified.

When asked if he had congratulated the president-elect, Senator Ron Johnson replied that there is "nothing to congratulate him about yet." Senator Mike Rounds told reporters that Republican senators "expect that President Trump will continue as long as he believes there's a problem with the election, to follow his legal recourse, which he has every right to do and which he owes his followers."

GOP senators also declined to comment on whether they believed there was widespread voter fraud, as Mr. Trump has alleged without evidence. Rounds said Mr. Trump should "present and show us the evidence" of any fraud and then allow the process to go through the courts. When asked if she believed there was voter fraud in her state of Iowa, newly reelected Senator Joni Ernst replied that there was not. But when asked if there was voter fraud anywhere else in the country, Ernst said, "I can't speak to that."

Senator Pat Roberts was asked whether he believed that Republican refusal to acknowledge Mr. Biden's win would fuel conspiracy theories about the election.

"No, I think it'll be fine. I know Joe Biden, I served with him, it'll be fine," Roberts replied.

By Grace Segers

Pompeo: "There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration"

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined to acknowledge Mr. Biden's victory or commit to a peaceful transfer of power on Tuesday. When asked by reporters whether the State Department would cooperate with Mr. Biden's transition team, the top U.S. diplomat replied, "There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration."

"The world is watching what is taking place here. We're going to count all the votes. When the process is complete there will be an elector selected," Pompeo said. "There's a process. The construction lays it out pretty clearly. And the world should have every confidence that the transition that is necessary to make sure the State Department is functional today, successful today and successful with the president who is in office on January 20 a minute after noon will also be successful."

Despite Pompeo's prediction of a second Trump administration, several foreign leaders have already congratulated Biden upon his victory, and a few have spoken to Biden directly, including the leaders of Canada, the U.K., Germany and Ireland.

Pompeo also bristled at a question about the State Department's frequent statements encouraging free and fair elections aboard, and whether the administration's refusal to accept the results "discredit[s] those efforts."

"That's ridiculous. And you know it's ridiculous and you asked it because it's ridiculous," he said. "Your question — that is ridiculous. This department cares deeply to make sure elections around the world are safe and secure and free and fair, and my officers risk their lives to ensure that happens, they work diligently on that. We also uncover situations where it's not clear on a particular election."

By Grace Segers

Donations to Trump's election defense now go to new leadership PAC

The majority of each contribution purportedly made to Mr. Trump's election defense solicited by his reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee (RNC) now will be directed to the president's new leadership PAC, "Save America," according to disclaimers on fundraising pages from the campaign's joint fundraising committee with the RNC.

The president has been seeking to bolster his campaign's coffers as he vows to continue challenging the outcome of the presidential election, urging supporters to donate money to protect the integrity of the election.

But the fine print detailing how contributions will be allocated shows 60% of each will go first to Save America, up to $5,000, and then to the Trump campaign's recount account. Forty percent of each contribution will then go to the Republican National Committee's operating account, up to $35,000. Any additional money will be deposited in the party's legal proceeding account or headquarters account.

The fundraising solicitations state money that ends up in the recount account "will be used in connection with any post-election recounts aand election contests and not for the purpose of influencing any federal election."

Save America was registered with the Federal Election Commission on Monday by Bradley Crate and lists affiliations with the Trump campaign and the joint fundraising committee between the campaign and the RNC.

The allocation formula appears to be a change in language in earlier disclaimers, which indicated at least half of each donation would go toward paying off the Trump campaign's debts.

Nicole Sganga and Melissa Quinn


Biden not yet receiving high-level intelligence briefings

Mr. Biden has not begun receiving the type of high-level intelligence briefings that are typically given to the president-elect, a spokesperson for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in a statement.

"ODNI follows the statutory direction provided in the Presidential Transition Act, which requires ascertainment of the candidate by the administrator of GSA prior to supporting a potential presidential transition," the spokesperson said, referring to the General Services Administration, which has yet to recognize Mr. Biden as the likely winner. "ODNI would not have contact with any transition team until notified by the GSA Administrator."

An intelligence official familiar with the matter says the president-elect is not receiving the Presidential Daily Brief, the intelligence community's most sensitive product. Mr. Biden has received lower-level intelligence briefings since he was formally nominated for president in August. In 2016, Mr. Trump received two intelligence briefings after becoming the president-elect, but then largely spurned the sessions in later weeks. 

By Stefan Becket

Biden speaks with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson, the prime minister of the U.K., said he spoke to the president-elect on Tuesday to offer congratulations to Mr. Biden and Harris on their projected victory.

10 Downing Street said the two discussed "the close and longstanding relationship between our countries and committed to building on this partnership in the years ahead, in areas such as trade and security — including through NATO." The prime minister also invited Mr. Biden to attend a climate summit in Glasgow in 2021.

The acknowledgment of Mr. Biden's victory is significant, given the importance of the U.S.-U.K. relationship and Johnson's status as the leader of the country's Conservative Party.

Foreign leaders have slowly began congratulating Mr. Biden since he was projected the winner of the election on Saturday, with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and King Salman of Saudi Arabia acknowledging the president-elect's victory even as President Trump continues to contest the election results.

Mr. Biden and Trudeau spoke Monday to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic, economics, climate change and security matters, according to president-elect's office.

The president-elect is scheduled to speak with French President Emmanuel Macron in a phone call later Tuesday, Macron's office said.

By Stefan Becket

Pandemic heading into "darkest days," Biden coronavirus adviser warns

Biden COVID-19 advisory board member Michael Osterholm on pandemic response challenges 06:13

Top epidemiologist Michael Osterholm, a member of Mr. Biden's new coronavirus advisory board, is warning Americans of a "perfect storm" forming amid surging coronavirus cases in parts of the country. Osterholm told "CBS This Morning" Tuesday that hospitals are "about to be overrun" with new cases. 

"You know, on Labor Day we were 32,000 cases a day in this country, now we're running in the 120 to 130,000 cases a day," Osterholm said. "Do not be at all surprised when we hit 200,000 cases a day." 

Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, is one of 13 public health experts Mr. Biden named to his task force Monday. The advisory board's overall aim will be to advise the incoming president on the best courses of action regarding the pandemic. 

Though he said it was too early to list any of the board's specific goals, Osterholm said he was "encouraged" by his colleagues' credentials as well as Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' commitment to "critical issues."

"I think that that has been clear for months, in terms of listening to the discussion about this, is that science has to run the day. I think that that's what's going to happen here," he said. 

Read more here.

By Elizabeth Elkind

McConnell and Schumer reelected as caucus leaders

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have both been reelected as leaders of their respective caucuses.

McConnell was unanimously reelected as leader of the Republican caucus on Tuesday morning, after winning his reelection race in Kentucky last week. 

It remains unclear whether Republicans will retain control of the Senate or be relegated to the minority when the new Senate convenes in January. The balance of power in the Senate is currently 48 Republicans to 48 Democrats after last week's election. A Senate race in North Carolina has yet to be called, and two Senate races in Georgia have proceeded to runoff elections in early January. A party needs 51 seats to have a majority in the Senate.

Senator Chuck Schumer was also reelected to be the Senate Democratic caucus leader by a voice vote, a Democratic source confirmed to CBS News.

Schumer added Senators Cory Booker and Catherine Cortez Masto to the team as vice chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee and vice chair of outreach, respectively.

By Grace Segers

Trump to launch political action committee

Mr. Trump is planning to announce in the coming days he is forming a political action committee, a spokesman said. The new fundraising apparatus was first reported by the New York Times.

"The president always planned to do this, win or lose, so he can support candidates and issues he cares about, such as combating voter fraud," Tim Murtaugh, spokesman for the Trump campaign, said in a statement.

By Nicole Sganga

How Trump and Biden are spending Tuesday

It's been a full week since Election Day, and Mr. Trump still has not conceded the election to Mr. Biden, with his campaign and the Republican National Committee continuing to make claims of widespread election fraud in several key states despite scant evidence to bolster their allegations.

The president-elect, meanwhile, is moving forward with preparations to take over the federal government in 71 days. 

Joined by Harris, Mr. Biden will deliver remarks on the Affordable Care Act from Wilmington, Delaware, at 2 p.m., after the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in a GOP-led challenge to the landmark health care law. The president-elect has vowed to expand Obamacare once in office.

He and the vice president-elect will also hold briefings with transition advisers.

Mr. Trump again has no public events on his schedule, according to the White House. He has, however, fired off several tweets making unsupported claims he will win the election.

By Melissa Quinn

Biden team considering legal options if Trump administration keeps stalling

The Biden-Harris transition team is considering pursuing legal action if the head of the federal agency overseeing the mechanics of a transfer of power doesn't move in the coming days to free up funding and access to agencies.

"We believe that the time has come for the GSA administrator to promptly ascertain Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as president-elect and vice president-elect," an unidentified Biden-Harris transition official said Monday night on a telephone briefing with reporters.

When asked if the transition team would possibly consider legal action to hasten the mechanics of the transition, the official replied: "There are a number of options on the table, legal action is certainly a possibility, but there are other options as well that we're considering,"

Read more here

By Ed O'Keefe
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