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Highlights From the Transition: Trump, Refusing to Concede, Cheers On Supporters

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Trump Waves to Supporters Protesting Election Results

Demonstrators gathered in Washington on Saturday, echoing President Trump’s unfounded claims of election fraud. He waved to some of them from his motorcade as he was en route to his private golf club in Virginia.

[chanting] “U-S-A!” [cheering] [chanting] “We love Trump!” [chanting] “Four more years!” [drumming] [chanting] “Stop the steal!”

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Demonstrators gathered in Washington on Saturday, echoing President Trump’s unfounded claims of election fraud. He waved to some of them from his motorcade as he was en route to his private golf club in Virginia.CreditCredit…Kenny Holston for The New York Times

Thousands of supporters of President Trump protesting the outcome of the election rallied in Washington on Saturday, earning a brief drive-by visit from the president himself, in a day of orderly demonstrations that devolved into violence as the night wore on.

The police made 20 arrests, including four on gun charges, as counterprotesters and Trump supporters clashed in the streets throughout the evening. One person was stabbed, but his condition was unknown late Saturday.

For most of the day, however, the crowds were under control, if boisterous, and many greeted the president with applause and cheers when he passed by in his motorcade, waving through the window as he headed to his private golf club in Sterling, Va.

By early afternoon, demonstrators had fanned out for several blocks around Freedom Plaza.

On Twitter, the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, offered an exaggerated assessment of the event, called the Million MAGA March, claiming that a million supporters had turned out.

Accounts on the ground suggested that her estimate was wildly inflated.

“It’s not like the Fourth of July or anything,” said a police officer who was stationed near Freedom Plaza at 13th and G Streets. He declined to give his name because he was not authorized to speak to the news media. “But yeah,” he added, “there’s a crowd down there.”

Even if short on numbers, the crowd was not lacking in enthusiasm for the president or outrage over the grievances he has raised over the past four years.

Zenaida Ochoa, 46, a Virginia resident originally from Arizona, said she had been “following Trump since I was a kid.”

“He’s not perfect,” said Ms. Ochoa, who added that she supported Mr. Trump partly because of his immigration policies.

Mr. Trump’s brief visit on Saturday came one day after the last two states of the election were called. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. won Georgia to finish with a total of 306 electoral votes — the same number that Mr. Trump won in 2016 and called a landslide — and Mr. Trump won North Carolina, for a total of 232 electoral votes.

Mr. Trump has refused to concede the race to Mr. Biden, and he continues to falsely insist he would have won if not for what he has claimed were widespread voter irregularities. (In fact, top election officials across the country have said that there is no evidence that fraud or other irregularities played a role in the outcome.)

In addition to the Million MAGA March, demonstrations of the Trump faithful in Washington on Saturday included a Stop the Steal rally and a Women for Trump event.

Supporters of the president traveled from across the country to participate.

“I’m blown away,” said Rachel Williams, a county worker from Jasper, Ala., who got in a car with three friends at 5:30 Friday morning to attend the march in Washington. “I’m encouraged that America is not going to just lie down.”

Ms. Williams said there had been no fraud in her county — she registers voters as part of her job — but voiced suspicion over the election results and suggested that there might have been fraud elsewhere. A group of federal, state and local election officials declared flatly this week that the election “was the most secure in American history” and that there was “no evidence” any voting systems had been compromised.

By about noon, demonstrators began marching toward the Capitol, streaming down Pennsylvania Avenue for over an hour, and rallying again in the area around the Capitol building and outside the Supreme Court.

“We want Trump to know that we love everything that he did, especially for Hispanic people,” said Anthony Cabassa, 33, who was clutching a flag that read “Defiant.”

“He woke us up,” said Mr. Cabassa, who had flown in from Los Angeles. “Whether you were on the left or on the right, he woke a lot of people up.”

Later in the day, as many Trump supporters began trickling toward Union Station, more than 40 men who identified themselves as members of the Proud Boys, an extremist organization, began to march back toward Freedom Plaza.

The men, dressed in yellow and black, pumped their fists in the air and chanted “Trump 2020.” Some wore ballistic vests.

Credit…Samuel Corum/Getty Images

As the night unfolded, videos on social media showed fistfights breaking out, the police trying to keep the groups apart by forming barricades with their bikes, and protesters massing near Freedom Plaza, where people lit small fires.

In the evening, at the P.J. Clarke’s restaurant near the White House, counterprotesters threw bottles and fireworks at a group of Trump supporters, a USA Today reporter said.

Shortly before 9 p.m., a group of Trump supporters outside a hotel less than a mile from the White House said an altercation had broken out between Trump supporters and others they described as antifa. News reports indicated that a man had been stabbed, and the police officers on site shortly after the incident said they could not confirm how severe the injuries were.

Some Trump supporters, standing outside the Embassy Suites Hotel, said the two groups had converged on the corner of 10th Street and New York Avenue in Northwest Washington.

They said the melee had broken up quickly after the police intervened.

“You could feel the intensity,” said Damien Courtney, 24, a Trump supporter from Tennessee. “It was nerve-racking.”

Blocks away, hundreds of Trump supporters carried a large “Blue Lives Matter” flag emblazoned with the words “Trump” and “Law and Order.” Moments of tension punctuated an otherwise largely peaceful demonstration.

Shortly before midnight, the group passed by Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House, as other Trump supporters ripped multiple Black Lives Matters signs off a building before trampling on them.

The police quickly dispersed the group, angering a number of Mr. Trump’s supporters, who shouted at the officers and called them “cowards.”

Tracey Gardner, 54, from upstate New York, said the night-time demonstration was meant to send a message that Mr. Trump is “still our president.” She believes Mr. Trump will win re-election, she said, adding that any loss could be blamed on the news media. “Fox News sold out,” she said, referring to the network’s decision to call Arizona for Mr. Biden the night of the election.

Credit…Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

Even after winning a race in which he secured a larger share of the popular vote than any challenger since 1932, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. faces a transition unlike anything he may have expected.

Towering before him is a wall of Republican resistance, starting with President Trump’s refusal to concede, extending to G.O.P. lawmakers’ reluctance to acknowledge his victory and stretching, perhaps most significantly for American politics in the long term, to ordinary voters who steadfastly deny the election’s outcome.

It is all a far cry from how Mr. Biden framed this election, preaching unity between parties from the Democratic primary race through his victory speech one week ago.

Democratic dreams of a landslide were thwarted as Republicans notched surprise victories in the House and emerged as the favorite to retain control of the Senate. In the days since, thousands of Mr. Trump’s most fervent supporters have gathered across the country, from Texas to Washington, to protest Mr. Biden’s triumph as illegitimate.

The feeling that Mr. Trump’s refusal to concede is justified, and that Mr. Biden’s rise to the presidency should not be recognized, is not universal for Republicans. A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found that nearly 80 percent of Americans believe Mr. Biden won, including about 60 percent of Republicans.

But the sense that scores of Republican voters and their elected representatives will continue to reject Mr. Biden’s presidency may haunt him for some time, casting doubt on his promises to mend the divided country he aims to lead.

“The relationships have already been jeopardized,” said Mark Lehmberg, a parishioner at a Lutheran church in Texas whose pastor prayed recently for a peaceful transition. “It’s going be hard — impossible — to get people to come together.”

Credit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. demanded on Friday that President Trump do more to confront the coronavirus infections exploding across the country, calling the federal response “woefully lacking” even as Mr. Trump broke a 10-day silence on the pandemic to threaten to withhold a vaccine from New York.

In a blistering statement, Mr. Biden said that the recent surge, which is killing more than 1,000 Americans every day and hospitalizing almost 70,000 in total, required a “robust and immediate federal response.”

“I will not be president until next year,” Mr. Biden said. “The crisis does not respect dates on the calendar, it is accelerating right now. Urgent action is needed today, now, by the current administration — starting with an acknowledgment of how serious the current situation is.”

Mr. Biden released his statement less than an hour before the president appeared in the Rose Garden at the White House on Friday evening, where he announced no new measures to slow the long-anticipated autumn surge of the virus, which he hardly acknowledged.

Mr. Trump hailed the news from Monday that a vaccine under development by Pfizer appeared to be 90 percent effective. But he vowed not to order widespread lockdowns as long as he remained in office and threatened to withhold distribution of the vaccine to New York because its governor, Andrew M. Cuomo, said the state intended to conduct its own review of the vaccine’s approval by the federal government.

“He doesn’t trust the fact that it’s this White House, this administration, so we won’t be delivering it to New York until we have authorization to do so,” Mr. Trump told reporters in only his second public remarks since Election Day. “So the governor will let us know when he’s ready. He’s had some very bad editorials recently about this.”

It is not clear whether Mr. Trump would be able to follow through on that threat before he leaves office. Health care workers, older adults and other vulnerable populations could get access to a vaccine by mid-December, well before Mr. Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.

Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Eleven days after the election, the results are increasingly clear: Joseph R. Biden Jr. won the presidency by a significant margin, growing his Electoral College lead with wins in Georgia and Arizona. Democrats kept control of the House but with a smaller majority, and control of the Senate will hinge on runoffs in January for Georgia’s two seats.

But 12 House contests remain uncalled. Here’s an overview of the vote counts in the House races as of Saturday morning.

  • California, 21st District: Republican David Valadao is leading Representative T.J. Cox, a Democrat, by 1.4 percentage points with over 98 percent of estimated votes reported.

  • California, 25th District: Representative Mike Garcia, a Republican, is leading Christy Smith, a Democrat, by just three-hundredths of a percentage point — 104 votes — with more than 98 percent of estimated votes reported.

  • Iowa, Second District: Mariannette Miller-Meeks, a Republican, is leading Rita Hart, a Democrat, by two-hundredths of a percentage point — just 48 votes — with 89 percent of estimated votes reported.

  • New Jersey, Seventh District: Representative Tom Malinowski, a Democrat, is leading Thomas Kean, a Republican, by one percentage point with 96 percent of estimated votes counted. The Associated Press called this race for Mr. Malinowski days ago, but the race has tightened since then, and The Times has withdrawn its call.

  • New York, First District: Representative Lee Zeldin, a Republican, is leading Nancy Goroff, a Democrat, by more than 20 percentage points with 77 percent of estimated votes reported.

  • New York, Second District: Andrew Garbarino, a Republican, is leading Jackie Gordon, a Democrat, by more than 16 percentage points with 79 percent of estimated votes reported.

  • New York, Third District: George Santos, a Republican, is leading Representative Tom Suozzi, a Democrat, by three-hundreths of a percentage point — just 918 votes — with 74 percent of estimated votes reported.

  • New York, 11th District: Nicole Malliotakis, a Republican, is leading Representative Max Rose, a Democrat, by more than 15 percentage points with 85 percent of estimated votes reported.

  • New York, 18th District: Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democrat, is leading Chele Farley, a Republican, by four percentage points with 79 percent of estimated votes reported.

  • New York, 19th District: Representative Antonio Delgado, a Democrat, is leading Kyle Van De Water, a Republican, by four percentage points with 83 percent of estimated votes reported.

  • New York, 22nd District: Claudia Tenney, a Republican, is leading Representative Anthony Brindisi, a Democrat, by 11 percentage points with 80 percent of estimated votes reported.

  • Utah, Fourth District: Burgess Owens, Republican, is leading Representative Ben McAdams, a Democrat, by about half a percentage point with more than 98 percent of estimated votes counted.

Credit…Zach Gibson for The New York Times

For four years, Wall Street has benefited from the Trump administration’s push to loosen bank rules and weaken post-crisis financial regulations. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. appears ready to shift things in the opposite direction, bringing back stricter oversight of the financial industry.

The transition teams that Mr. Biden selected to review finance-related agencies are filled with proponents of stronger regulation, jarring industry groups that are suddenly fearful the moderate Democrat is preparing for an unexpected onslaught of corporate oversight. The burst of anxiety reflects the uncertainty surrounding Mr. Biden’s approach and worries of a sharp reversal from President Trump’s steady rollback of regulations across the federal government.

Among those selected for the financial regulatory transition teams are Gary Gensler, who led the Commodity Futures Trading Commission during the Obama administration. He pushed through dozens of tough rules in the wake of the 2010 Dodd Frank law, including some that the Trump administration has watered down.

Also on the teams are Leandra English, a former deputy director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Dennis Kelleher, a co-founder of Better Markets, a prominent financial reform advocacy group. Ms. English tried, unsuccessfully, to prevent Mr. Trump from installing a critic of her bureau, Mick Mulvaney, as its acting director three years ago.

The teams do not set policy or make final selections on personnel at the various agencies, but they can provide recommendations.

The overall Biden transition team said the groups would be “responsible for understanding the operations of each agency, ensuring a smooth transfer of power.” However, their work has been delayed because of Mr. Trump’s refusal to concede defeat and grant Mr. Biden’s staff access to the departments.

Financial industry lobbyists remain hopeful that Republicans will retain control of the Senate by winning both runoff elections in Georgia in January. That could force Mr. Biden to select more moderate nominees for key regulatory posts.

Credit…Lynsey Weatherspoon for The New York Times

For many voters in Georgia, the twin runoffs for the state’s two Senate seats on Jan. 5 will be more than a contest to determine whether Republicans or Democrats control the upper chamber, along with the ability for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. to advance much of his agenda over the next two years.

Particularly for Black voters, the races are the latest iteration of a power struggle steeped in segregationist history and efforts by white lawmakers to dilute Black voting power and empower the largely white, rural segments of the state.

Georgia’s runoff system, in which candidates must gain a majority of the vote to win, grew out of efforts by some white Georgians in the 1960s to keep control of the state’s political apparatus — even after the Supreme Court struck down a more repressive system giving sparsely populated, heavily white rural counties more voting weight than dense urban areas that had large numbers of Black voters.

But the advantage that the runoff model bestows on Republicans has continued to tilt races in favor of Republicans in the decades since. In 1992, Senator Wyche Fowler Jr., a Democrat, lost in a runoff even after amassing a plurality of votes in the general election, but failing to capture at least 50 percent of the vote, as required by state law to prevent a runoff.

Given the unusually high stakes in this year’s runoffs, Democrats hope the energy they have gathered by winning the presidential race in Georgia for the first time in 28 years — and the shifting demographics that made that possible — will help them overcome these systemic disadvantages.

“I have told my Republican colleagues that Democrats are fired up going into the race, and with Biden winning Georgia, I assume that gives them momentum,” said Saxby Chambliss, the former Republican senator of Georgia who won a second term in a 2008 runoff.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The acting defense secretary, Christopher C. Miller, called in a letter this week for American troops to “come home.”

Mr. Miller, who was abruptly installed on Monday to succeed Mark T. Esper as the Pentagon chief, appeared to be staking himself solidly behind President Trump, who has made clear that he wants to be able to say that he brought American troops home from Afghanistan by the end of his term. Both Mr. Esper and the Pentagon’s uniformed leadership have been uneasy about a complete withdrawal.

Mr. Miller’s memo, which was dated Friday but which many Defense Department employees received around 12:45 a.m. Saturday, called for the United States to “transition our efforts from a leadership to supporting role.” That so many Pentagon employees received it after midnight added to the feeling of siege at the department, where Mr. Esper’s dismissal by Mr. Trump this week was followed by a purge of senior officials. “Let’s talk about why this came out at midnight?” one Defense Department official asked.

Mr. Miller, a former Army Green Beret officer who has steadily risen in the ranks of Mr. Trump’s national security team as the president has fired one official after another, made no mention specifically of Afghanistan — or any country, for that matter — when he pressed for troops to return home. He even appeared to contradict himself when he noted, “We remain committed to finishing the war that Al Qaeda brought to our shores in 2001.”

“This war isn’t over,” Mr. Miller wrote. “We are on the verge of defeating Al Qaeda and its associates, but we must avoid our past strategic error of failing to see the fight through to the finish.”

Nonetheless, Mr. Miller said, “We are not a people of perpetual war.”

Mr. Miller would have two months to withdraw the roughly 4,500 American troops in Afghanistan. Defense Department officials said that logistically that would be difficult, and that while the Pentagon could do so, getting the equipment and contractors out would be another matter.

Besides Mr. Esper, Mr. Miller’s predecessors at the Pentagon under Mr. Trump include the acting defense secretary Patrick M. Shanahan and the defense secretary Jim Mattis.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

President Trump’s string of losses in court in recent days extended beyond his effort to challenge the outcome of the election: Defamation lawsuits he filed against two news organizations were also dismissed this week.

Throughout his presidency, Mr. Trump has used his campaign funds as a legal piggy bank of sorts to finance a broad array of lawsuits, including at least against four news organizations that he and his campaign accused of publishing “false and defamatory statements.”

Two of those lawsuits were filed against CNN and an NBC affiliate in Wisconsin.

Mr. Trump’s campaign had alleged that an advertisement this year by the Wisconsin station WJFW-NBC — which illustrated the rising number of Covid-19 cases juxtaposed with Mr. Trump’s statement playing down the threat — was “verifiably false.”

In the CNN case, Mr. Trump’s campaign claimed that an opinion article published on CNN’s website by the former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission with the headline “Soliciting dirt on your opponents from a foreign government is a crime” was defamatory.

Judge Michael L. Brown of the United States District Court in the Northern District of Atlanta, dismissed the CNN case on Thursday. He concluded that the opinion article did not publish “false facts in reckless disregard of the truth.”

The case against the NBC affiliate ended on Friday, after the lawyers working on behalf of the channel claimed that Mr. Trump lost his standing in the matter after President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. won by 20,000 votes in Wisconsin.

“This suit no longer presents a live controversy because no decision of this court, however favorable, could redress the ‘injury’ that the challenged advertisement allegedly inflicted,” lawyers for the television station argued on Nov. 9, given that Mr. Trump had lost the election there.

The president’s lawyers and the lawyers for the television station then submitted a motion on Friday to the court agreeing to dismiss the matter. A judge may still act to formalize the request.

The Trump campaign has two additional defamation lawsuits that are pending against The New York Times and The Washington Post, court records show.



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