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2020 Daily Trail Markers: McConnell takes victory lap and backs Trump's refusal to concede

In his first remarks on the Senate floor since Election Day, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that the presidential election is not yet over because none of the states have yet certified their results, and President Trump is within his right to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his options, reports CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson. Control of the Senate will not likely be decided until the two Senate runoffs in Georgia take place on January 5, but McConnell did mention in his remarks that, "Voters across the nation elected and reelected Republican senators to a degree that actually stunned prognosticators." Pre-election polls showed Republican senators like Susan Collins of Maine and Joni Ernst of Iowa were vulnerable, but they and many other targeted Republican incumbents won reelection.

After giving remarks on the floor, McConnell met with the newly-elected Republican senators: Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, Roger Marshall of Kansas, and Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming. Only Tuberville defeated a Democrat and put the seat in Republicans' hands instead of Democrats'. Democrats flipped two seats: Mark Kelly defeated Senator Martha McSally in Arizona and Governor John Hickenlooper ousted Senator Cory Gardner in Colorado. These newly elected Senators will be sworn in on January 3 by the Vice President when the Senate convenes after the holidays.

TRANSITION WATCH

PRESIDENT TRUMP

The Trump campaign is charging ahead with longshot legal challenges in a handful of key battleground states, filing a new lawsuit in Pennsylvania Monday alleging disparate treatment of voters in Democratic and Republican counties, reports CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga. "This election is not over. Far from it," Kayleigh McEnany said, speaking Monday in what she called her "personal capacity" during an RNC press conference. Probed about specific evidence of widespread voter fraud, McEnany told reporters, "What we are asking here for is patience."

Mr. Trump's challenges to the vote-counting process have been unsuccessful in the days since the election, but his campaign continues to raise money to fund the legal effort and repay campaign debts. The president did not appear in public on Monday, but tweeted several baseless claims regarding election results, which were immediately flagged by Twitter as "misleading."

Officials confirmed to CBS News that both Ben Carson, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and David Bossie, the longtime conservative activist and Trump adviser, have tested positive for the coronavirus. Both attended an election night event at the White House on Tuesday, with hundreds of other invited guests in close proximity. Bossie had recently been selected to coordinate the campaign's legal challenges to election practices in several states. "Secretary Carson is in good spirits and feels fortunate to have access to effective therapeutics which aid and markedly speed his recovery," said Carson's deputy chief of staff Coalter Baker.

JOE BIDEN

In his first day of business as president-elect, Mr. Biden called for the country to move on from the election, saying, "I will be a [president] for every American...the election is over, it is time to put aside the partisanship and the rhetoric designed to demonize one another." CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson reports that during a ten-minute speech from Delaware following his first meeting with VP-elect Harris and their COVID-19 advisory committee, Mr. Biden said the country can show unity now by wearing a face mask -- a "small act" to save lives. He also repeated that mask wearing is "not a political statement" but a tool that could save tens of thousands of lives. "The goal of mask wearing is not to make your life less comfortable...or take something away from you, it's to give something back to all of us: a normal life." Biden's 13-member COVID task force, comprised of all doctors and public health professionals, is expected to brief him regularly until the Inauguration. With the pandemic being Mr. Biden's first big focus of his transition, sources say the transition team is also kick starting the agency review process and will announce senior White House staff positions as soon as this week.

STATE-BY-STATE

ARIZONA

In Arizona, where Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump remain separated by less than 1 point, CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin says the Trump campaign has filed suit demanding a hand count of ballots they claim may have gone incorrectly uncounted.

GEORGIA

CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell reports that as of Monday afternoon, dozens of Georgia's 159 counties have certified its general election results. Still, as Georgia continues to count votes, Republican Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler have called on Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to resign. Raffensperger said in a statement Monday that he won't be resigning, saying the general election from an election administrative perspective was "a resounding success," and his office will investigate reports of illegal voting. Both Perdue and Loeffler are expected to advance to runoff elections on January 5.

MICHIGAN

Mr. Trump's campaign is looking to appeal a decision from a Michigan Court of Claims judge last week in Michigan, who rejected an attempt to stop vote counting in the state, according to CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster. The Trump campaign filed an appeal to the decision on Friday, but on Monday the Court of Appeals said the Trump campaign's request was "defective" because it lacked some of the necessary paperwork. The court said Mr. Trump's lawyers have 21 days to file those documents or the case will be dismissed. Even though vote counting is complete, the president's lawyers are asking for observers for both political parties be present while counties certify results. On Friday, CBS News saw Republicans and Democrats observing that process in Wayne County, home to Detroit.

NEVADA

Despite a defeat in federal court late last week and a widening lead for the president-elect in the state, the Trump campaign and their allies are continuing to raise complaints of alleged "irregularities" in Nevada's contest, including evidence of at least one Nevada voter who records show cast a ballot in the 2020 election but had died years ago, reports CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin.

NORTH CAROLINA

CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell reports that seven North Carolina counties were scheduled to meet on Monday to consider at least 3,200 additional absentee by-mail ballots, according to the North Carolina State Board of Elections. Pending approval, thousands of absentee ballots will be added to state's unofficial general election results.

CONGRESSIONAL COVERAGE

IN THE HOUSE

After a disappointing election night, CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro reports that Congresswoman Cheri Bustos of Illinois will forego her re-election as chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. In a letter sent to the Democratic House caucus, Bustos wrote, "I, too, hoped for better results last week. I am gutted at the losses we sustained. We lost tremendous colleagues and friends who will not return in January." Bustos narrowly won her own reelection by just over 3 points. At least seven House Democrat incumbents were unseated and CBS News has numerous close races still not called. Bustos adds in the letter that the DCCC will conduct "a transparent after-action-review to better understand why the national polling and modeling environment failed to materialize -- not just for House races, but also up and down the ballot." In a statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recognizes Bustos as a chair who brought "strategic thinking, political astuteness and boundless stamina to Hold The House, with the added challenge of the coronavirus."

The aftermath of election night was already being played out among House Democrats before Bustos' decision. Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Conor Lamb both had interviews with the New York Times, in which they trade blame for the losses on progressive ideals putting incumbents in danger, or on centrist incumbents not adapting their campaign's digital and field operations to the pandemic. Navarro wrote about some of the immediate reactions and explanations for the success of House Republicans, and the shrinking majority for Democrats, here.

CBS News counts at least 28 House races that are still not called as of Monday. Many are in states that are still counting significant amounts of absentee ballots such as California, Illinois and New York, while other races like Utah's 4th are just getting too close to call. Republicans are hoping to flip several more seats after surpassing expectations by unseating at least seven Democrats on election night. The races to watch for results this week are: New York's 11th and 22nd, Illinois' 14th, Utah's 4th, California's 25th, 39th and 48th.

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