Presidential Transition Live Updates: Georgia Senate Runoffs Seen as Factor in G.O.P.’s Reluctance to Accept Biden Win
A pair of Senate runoffs in Georgia that will determine which party controls the chamber has reordered the political universe in the days since the election, influencing nearly every decision by members of both parties, including the refusal of most Republicans to recognize President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.
Senators are lining up day trips to Atlanta to campaign. Party leaders are carefully calibrating their postelection messages to frame the fight on the ground. And Mr. Biden’s transition team is tailoring its plans to two drastically different outcomes, preparing an ambitious agenda in case Democrats are able to win both races and take control of the Senate, and a more pared-back one in case they fall short.
The most jarring consequence has been Republicans’ refusal to challenge Mr. Trump’s false claims that he won the election. Though most leading Republicans have not repeated his claims, they have also declined to acknowledge Mr. Biden’s clear victory, fearing that doing so would enrage the president and his loyal base of supporters ahead of January.
“We need his voters,” Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the second-ranking Republican, told reporters on Wednesday. “Right now, he’s trying to get through the final stages of his election and determine the outcome there. But when that’s all said and done, however it comes out, we want him helping in Georgia.”
The stakes are staggeringly high for both sides. With Republicans on track to control 50 Senate seats and Democrats 48, the twin runoffs on Jan. 5 will determine how much power Mr. Biden can wield in a post-Trump Washington.
The contests pit two Republican senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, against the Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock. But they are quickly becoming nationalized into referendums on Mr. Biden’s victory and the direction of the country.
The impact was apparent throughout the Capitol. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, privately warned House members to watch their words in the coming weeks to deny Republicans any new ammunition to caricature the Democrats as extremists.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, bucked up Mr. Trump and expressed outrage over Democrats insisting the president concede.
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida was on the ground Wednesday in the Atlanta suburbs rallying with Ms. Loeffler at a Save Our Majority Rally, an indoor event at which many attendees did not wear masks. Senator Rick Scott, the newly elected chairman of Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, is scheduled to hold a fund-raiser in the state on Thursday.
And Vice President Mike Pence told senators privately on Tuesday that he planned to jet down to Georgia next week to campaign.
Democrats were seeking to rally their own voters and donors in a long-shot bid to win both races in a historically conservative state where their party has often fallen short in runoff contests.
“When it comes to the Senate, it’s not over, at all,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, said on Wednesday. “Georgia is close.”
Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, authorized a hand recount of the state’s election on Wednesday — a move championed by President Trump but one officials have said was unlikely to erase President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s narrow but significant lead there.
The recount, which will use the paper printouts created under Georgia’s new electronic voting system and goes further than the “scan” recount required by law, will apply to only the presidential election. It will not affect the outcome of the state’s two Senate races, which will be decided in runoffs on Jan. 5 and will determine Senate control.
Mr. Biden currently leads Mr. Trump in Georgia by more than 14,000 votes, with almost all of the absentee and in-person ballots counted.
“With the margin being so close, it will require a full by-hand recount in each county,” Mr. Raffensperger told reporters in Atlanta, saying he made the decision because of the “national significance” of the outcome in a state with 16 electoral votes.
“It will be a heavy lift,” he said, but added that the hand recount would give skeptics an indisputable accounting by the Nov. 20 deadline for officially certifying the election of the nearly five million ballots cast in the state.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Tim Murtaugh, a Trump campaign spokesman, said the recount would take time.
“If everyone is looking for one single action that will be the silver bullet that overturns the entire election — it’s going to be a process,” he said.
Even if Mr. Trump were to win Georgia, Mr. Biden, who currently has 279 electoral votes, has already won the national election.
Observers from both parties will be present at every step of the recount, Mr. Raffensperger said. To free up the manpower, the state is pushing back local elections, scheduled for December, to coincide with the Senate runoffs.
Mr. Raffensperger’s decision drew the ire of some Georgia Democratic officials. Michael L. Thurmond, the chief executive of DeKalb County, the state’s third-most populous, called the order “stunning” and said that county officials had spent the morning discussing how to come up with the money to conduct a hand recount.
“It’s a total about face from what was said the previous day,” Mr. Thurmond said. “The expectation was there would be a recanvass of the vote, but a hand count is totally different.”
Mr. Raffensperger has been under heavy pressure from Mr. Trump and his allies, who have claimed, without evidence, that Mr. Biden won through massive fraud.
“Anecdotes and stories doesn’t work; we need something we can investigate,” said Mr. Raffensperger, who asked anyone with evidence of fraud to step forward immediately.
State officials, including Mr. Raffensperger, have previously said they saw no preliminary evidence of widespread fraud.
Representative Doug Collins, a Republican who is representing Mr. Trump’s team in Georgia, sent a letter to Mr. Raffensperger on Tuesday requesting a hand recount, a more intensive process than doing a typical recount with a computer scanner.
(The electoral fate of Mr. Collins, on the other hand, is already sealed: In January he will give up his House seat after unsuccessfully challenging Senator Kelly Loeffler, who will instead face the Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat who finished first, in one of the two runoffs.)
The move comes days after Ms. Loeffler and Senator David Perdue, Georgia’s two Republican incumbents, called for Mr. Raffensperger’s resignation. He said he had no intention of resigning, and defended the work of his staff at the news conference.
Mr. Raffensperger said the letter had no influence on his decision to authorize the hand recount.
With vote-counting continuing in parts of the country, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s popular-vote margin over President Trump is widening substantially.
As of late Wednesday morning, Mr. Biden, with nearly 77.4 million votes, led Mr. Trump, who had 72.3 million, by 5.1 million votes and 3.4 percentage points. That’s up from his lead on Friday of four million votes and 2.8 percentage points. (In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2.8 million but lost the election to Mr. Trump by 77 electoral votes.)
Mr. Biden, who shattered his old boss Barack Obama’s 2008 record for the most votes received in a presidential election (Mr. Obama had 69.5 million), has now also drawn the support of a larger slice of the population than Mr. Obama did that year. Mr. Biden has won the votes of 23.4 percent of the American population, compared to the 22.8 percent Mr. Obama won in 2008, when there were 25 million fewer Americans.
Millions of votes remain to be counted, possibly as many as five million. But whatever the final tally is, Mr. Biden, who already has earned 279 electoral votes — nine more than the 270-vote threshold — will remain the winner of the election.
President Trump participated in a brief, silent Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery and President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. made a 15-minute visit to the Philadelphia Korean War Memorial, a morning of somber reflection for both men even as Mr. Trump continued to falsely accuse Mr. Biden of stealing the election from him.
Mr. Trump’s visit — a tradition for the occupant of the White House — was his first public appearance since a news conference last Thursday where he lied about the vote count and attempted to undermine the integrity of the electoral system.
Since then, as the coronavirus pandemic has surged across the country to record levels, Mr. Trump has made little effort to continue governing, raging on Twitter about baseless claims of voter fraud. The president has been seen traveling back and forth from his Virginia golf course. His official schedule has been empty all week.
Mr. Biden has made several speeches in that time, including one on Tuesday in which he assailed attempts by the president and his Republican allies to invalidate the Affordable Care Act in the Supreme Court.
In a statement on Wednesday, he recalled the stress of his son Beau’s military deployment and reiterated some of the veterans’ policies he proposed during the campaign, including ones that would expand health care — with an emphasis on women and L.G.B.T.Q. veterans — and address veterans’ mental health.
“For many years, I have said that we as a nation have many obligations, but we have only one truly sacred obligation: to prepare and equip our troops we send into harm’s way, and to care for them and their families when they return home,” Mr. Biden said in the statement. “Fulfilling our promises to our veterans and military families, caregivers and survivors is critical to our national security, because it is how we will ensure that future generations continue to volunteer to serve.”
The president-elect visited the black marble memorial on Wednesday with his wife, Jill Biden, and the mayor of Philadelphia, Jim Kenney. Mr. Biden did not make public remarks, but he took pictures with a few groups of people after the presentation of the colors and a brief ceremony that was presided over by a local judge. The Bidens placed a wreath of flowers at the memorial before departing.
Both Mr. Biden and Dr. Biden wore masks while at the memorial.
Mr. Trump emerged from the White House for Veterans Day without a mask, and he did not wear one at the military cemetery, in an apparent violation of its coronavirus guidelines. All visitors to Arlington are required to “wear face coverings while on cemetery grounds,” according to its official Twitter account. “Anyone not having a face covering in their possession at cemetery entry points will not be granted access to the cemetery.”
At the cemetery, Mr. Trump stood next to Vice President Mike Pence, who also did not wear a mask. The president looked uncomfortable in the rain but played his role: he approached a wreath and stood for a moment of silence before retreating and saluting as a lone trumpeter played TAPS.
Last year, Mr. Trump returned to New York for the holiday, participating in the city’s 100th annual Veterans Day Parade.
WASHINGTON — As the scandal over President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine unfolded in Washington last fall and prompted his impeachment, public corruption prosecutors in the Justice Department were stewing.
They had examined Mr. Trump’s actions and found no campaign finance violations, and were initially given the green light to pursue a potentially explosive inquiry into whether he had broken any other laws.
But Attorney General William P. Barr and other top officials held them back while Congress investigated the same matter during impeachment hearings. After the Senate acquitted the president in February, Mr. Barr in effect took the case away from the Public Integrity Section, sending all Ukraine-related inquiries to the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn, according to six people familiar with the matter.
Compounding the prosecutors’ dissatisfaction was a stalled case around that time against a member of Mr. Trump’s cabinet, the former interior secretary Ryan Zinke. The deputy attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, told the section’s lawyers that they needed a stronger case.
The details of their case are not public, making it difficult to evaluate its strength, but the response from Mr. Rosen exacerbated a sense inside the Public Integrity Section that top department officials would hinder investigations into Mr. Trump and his officials, according to several people familiar with the inquiry who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the investigations.
The boiling frustration was a critical moment in the long-running tensions between the Public Integrity Section and the Trump administration that began under Jeff Sessions, the attorney general at the time. They spilled into the open this week when Mr. Barr issued a memo authorizing prosecutors to investigate voter fraud claims before the results of the presidential race were certified, prompting Richard Pilger, the section’s lawyer who oversees voter fraud investigations, to step down in protest.
The encounters were the latest example of Trump appointees at the top of the Justice Department overruling career prosecutors, drawing criticism that the administration was eroding the department’s typical separation from politics. Critics have also accused Mr. Barr of using the department to protect Mr. Trump and further his interests.
“All of these incidents coming to light show that Barr has been single-minded in his efforts to end the longstanding norm that the Justice Department be independent from politics,” said Vanita Gupta, a former department official under President Obama who is now the president and chief executive of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
Facebook said on Wednesday that it plans to continue a moratorium on political advertising for another month, a move that may affect Democrats and Republicans as they continue vying against each other in key Senate races in Georgia.
“The temporary pause for ads about politics and social issues in the U.S. continues to be in place as part of our ongoing efforts to protect the election,” Facebook said in an update to its government and policy blog. “Advertisers can expect this to last another month, though there may be an opportunity to resume these ads sooner.”
Facebook initially said in October that it would ban all political advertising on the site after polls closed on Nov. 3, an attempt to minimize the spread of election-related misinformation. At the time, Facebook did not commit to when it would resume running the ads, though it estimated the ban would last a week after the election.
But that timeline changed after President Trump refused to concede to President-Elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. Facebook sent a private note to its advertisers earlier this week announcing the ban’s extension, which was earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal.
The advertising ban is contentious among Democratic and Republican campaign staffers and strategists since political candidates often rely on Facebook to raise funds and spread the word. In Georgia, two Senate races are headed to a runoff between the Democratic and Republican candidates on Jan. 5.
Last week, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, said in an interview with The New York Times that Facebook was crucial for politicians.
“I’ve looked through a lot of these campaigns that lost, and the fact of the matter is, if you’re not spending $200,000 on Facebook with fund-raising, persuasion, volunteer recruitment, get-out-the-vote the week before the election, you are not firing on all cylinders,” she said.
Election officials in dozens of states representing both political parties said that there was no evidence that fraud or other irregularities played a role in the outcome of the presidential race, amounting to a forceful rebuke of President Trump’s claims of a fraudulent election.
Over the past several days, the president, members of his administration, congressional Republicans and right-wing allies have falsely claimed that the election was stolen from Mr. Trump and refused to accept results that showed President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the winner.
But top election officials across the country said in interviews and statements that the process had been a remarkable success despite record turnout and the complications of a dangerous pandemic.
“There’s a great human capacity for inventing things that aren’t true about elections,” said Frank LaRose, a Republican and Ohio’s secretary of state. “The conspiracy theories and rumors and all those things run rampant. For some reason, elections breed that type of mythology.”
In Georgia, where Mr. Trump trails by less than 15,000 votes and the election has not been called yet, the Trump campaign and the two Republican senators have complained about transparency, a charge that the state’s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger called “laughable.”
“We were literally putting releases of results up at a minimum hourly,” he said in a statement. “I and my office have been holding daily or twice-daily briefings for the press to walk them through all the numbers.”
He added that while there were likely small instances of fraud, he did not expect them to be significant enough to affect the outcome.
The Trump campaign has made some of its loudest fraud complaints about Pennsylvania, the state that put Mr. Biden over the 270-electoral-vote threshold, where Mr. Trump trails by more than 45,000 votes as counting continues.
Jacklin Rhoads, a spokeswoman for Josh Shapiro, the state’s Democratic attorney general, said that the election in the state was “fair and secure,” and added, “No active lawsuit even alleges, and no evidence presented so far has shown, widespread problems.”
The New York Times contacted the offices of the top election officials in every state on Monday and Tuesday to ask whether they suspected or had evidence of illegal voting. Officials in 45 states responded directly to The Times. For four of the remaining states, The Times spoke to other statewide officials or found public comments from secretaries of state; none reported any major voting issues.
Officials in Texas did not respond to repeated inquiries. But a spokeswoman for the top elections official in Harris County, the largest county in Texas, with a population greater than those of many states, said that there were only a few minor issues and that “we had a very seamless election.”
Senator Dan Sullivan, Republican of Alaska, won re-election on Wednesday after a tougher-than-expected race against an independent candidate who ran with the backing of Democrats threatened to cost him a second term and imperil his party’s chance of holding its majority.
President Trump on Wednesday also won the state and its three electoral votes, which will have no effect on President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.
Mr. Sullivan’s victory, which came on the heels of the apparent win of Senator Thom Tillis in North Carolina, put Republicans a step closer to keeping control of the Senate. The fate of the Senate now hinges entirely on two runoff elections in Georgia on Jan. 5; if Republicans win either one, they keep their majority.
The race in conservative-leaning Alaska was not on the national map of competitive contests at the start of the election cycle. But Al Gross — a commercial fisherman, former orthopedic surgeon and political newcomer who said he would align himself with Democrats in the Senate — mounted an aggressive challenge. That, along with Mr. Trump’s sagging approval ratings in the state, helped attract national financial support.
The contest tightened, placing Mr. Sullivan, like other Senate Republicans elected in 2014 who were regarded as up-and-comers in the party, at unexpected risk as Democrats looked to widen their path to winning back the majority.
Yet Democrats’ hoped-for wave did not materialize. Mr. Tillis was on track to win in North Carolina, according to results tabulated by Edison Research, and his Democratic opponent conceded on Tuesday.
Dr. Gross accused Mr. Sullivan during the campaign of failing to recognize how bad Alaska’s economy had grown amid the coronavirus pandemic and failing to act aggressively enough to turn it around. He pledged to use his medical background to take a leading role on health care in Congress and hammered Mr. Sullivan for voting repeatedly to overturn the Affordable Care Act.
Mr. Sullivan painted Dr. Gross, whose father was a highly regarded attorney general in Alaska, as too liberal for the state. He warned that if Democrats took control of the White House and Congress, they would pursue an “anti-Alaska” agenda that would further damage the state’s economy and put new restrictions on the energy production that is critical to its financial health.
Mr. Sullivan also stressed his efforts on behalf of military installations in the state and his work persuading Mr. Trump to sign off on opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to energy exploration — a long-sought goal in Alaska. In a last-minute appeal to Alaska voters, Mr. Trump also lifted restrictions that had long prevented logging in the state’s Tongass National Forest.
WILMINGTON, Del. — Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, has decided to permanently leave his law firm in the next several weeks as his wife prepares to assume the nation’s second-highest office on Jan. 20, a Biden transition team official said on Wednesday.
It is not clear what Mr. Emhoff will do as the country’s first husband of a vice president. The transition official, who declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly about Mr. Emhoff’s employment, said he was working with the rest of the transition team to support President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s agenda.
Mr. Emhoff has served for more than a decade as a corporate lawyer representing large companies, including the pharmaceutical giant Merck and Dolarian Capital, an arms dealer, in a case related to the sale of weapons in Afghanistan.
His ties to DLA Piper, a firm he joined in 2017 that has an active lobbying practice in Washington, might have become an issue for Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris, who have pledged to impose strict ethics limitations on people who serve in their administration.
Mr. Emhoff took a leave of absence from his firm when Ms. Harris joined Mr. Biden as his running mate. The transition official said on Wednesday that Mr. Emhoff would sever all ties with DLA Piper before the inauguration.
Ms. Harris and Mr. Emhoff will move into the vice president’s residence at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, not far from the White House. During the time that Mr. Biden’s wife, Jill, served as second lady, she continued to work as a professor at Northern Virginia Community College.
As the country enters what may be the most intense stage of the pandemic yet, the Trump administration remains largely disengaged.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is trying to assume a leadership mantle, with the appointment of a coronavirus advisory board and a call for all Americans to wear masks. But until his inauguration on Jan. 20, he lacks the authority to mobilize a federal response.
An average of more than 1,000 people per day have died of the virus in the past week, putting the country on track to lose 70,000 more people before the inauguration. The number of Covid-19 hospitalizations hit an all-time high yesterday, and the daily number of new cases — nearly 140,000 — hit a new high for the fourth time in a week.
A White House spokesman, Brian Morgenstern, said that President Trump and his administration “remain focused on saving lives,” citing their efforts to produce a vaccine and therapeutics. He added that the White House virus task force “is in constant contact with state and local officials” to provide help.
But Mr. Trump continues to wage war with his own health officials. He was said to have been furious after the drug maker Pfizer announced Monday that early clinical trial data suggested its coronavirus vaccine was more than 90 percent effective. In a conversation with Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, the head of the Food and Drug Administration, a senior administration official said, the president accused the company and the F.D.A. of conspiring to delay news that could have bolstered his chances of re-election.
Trump aides said the president believed that Pfizer could have announced the success of its clinical trial before Nov. 3 but deliberately chose to hold it up, possibly not to taint the company’s vaccine as a last-minute effort to save Mr. Trump’s re-election bid. White House aides were particularly incensed that Mr. Biden publicly said his health advisers knew of Pfizer’s results on Sunday, before aides said the news had reached the White House.
Beyond Mr. Trump’s Twitter feed, the federal bully pulpit — an essential component of an effective infectious disease response — has largely gone silent. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said in an interview on Tuesday that the vaccine would be “a game changer” over time.
Two prominent progressive groups, the Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats, urged President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Wednesday to name left-leaning allies, including Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, to top government posts, firing an opening salvo in the left’s campaign to exert influence over Mr. Biden’s agenda.
Underscoring one of their most significant priorities, the groups also called on Mr. Biden to create a new office dedicated to climate change that reports directly to the president.
The public appeals from the Sunrise Movement, a group of young climate organizers, and Justice Democrats, a grass-roots organization that has helped elect people like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, signal the beginning of the left’s intense efforts to pressure Mr. Biden over the makeup of his executive branch and his administration’s immediate priorities.
And the move represents the end of a truce between Mr. Biden and progressives, who had united behind his candidacy during the presidential campaign with the mission of defeating President Trump, but who have deep ideological and generational differences.
The recommendations amount to something of a moon shot, and Mr. Biden, a longtime moderate, is very unlikely to choose many of the names put forward, if he picks any at all. Some of the recommendations are also unlikely to go anywhere with Democratic Party leaders if the appointments could possibly put Senate seats at risk; Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren come from states with Republican governors, and it is not clear who would fill their seats if they became vacant.
Many of the names appear intended to serve more as a message to Mr. Biden and Senate Democrats that progressive groups are serious about pushing him and his administration leftward and will not be content with strictly moderate nominees who might have an easier time getting confirmed if Republicans hold the Senate majority.
Already, some liberal activist groups have warned Mr. Biden about backsliding on his commitment to progressive policies since he was declared the winner of the election on Saturday. And with control of the Senate still unclear, progressives have shifted their focus to figuring out how they can persuade Mr. Biden to enact progressive policies through the executive branch, by using executive orders and appointing leaders to positions that act, in effect, as gatekeepers for policy.
“President-elect Biden must embrace this historic moment by keeping the party united and appointing progressive leaders who will help him usher in the most progressive Democratic administration in generations,” Alexandra Rojas, the executive director of Justice Democrats, said in a statement.
Pushing forward with its effort to overturn the results of the election, President Trump’s campaign filed a federal lawsuit in Michigan on Wednesday alleging widespread improprieties and asking a judge not to let local officials certify “fraudulently or unlawfully cast ballots.”
The suit, filed in Federal District Court in Grand Rapids, claims that Wayne County election officials refused to let Republican observers watch the processing of ballots at the TCF Convention Center in Detroit. It also claims that officials illegally backdated an untold number of ballots in order to make them eligible for counting.
Lawyers for Democrats in a similar case the Trump campaign filed in state court have said that about 100 Republican observers were in fact allowed in to watch the count in Detroit. The reason some observers were kept out, the lawyers said, is that the room had already reached its limit under state law.
The Trump campaign or their Republican proxies have filed about a dozen suits since Election Day, in Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Michigan, leveling a host of mainly small-bore accusations that the counting of votes has been tainted. Some suits have claimed — without much evidence — that Republican observers have been kept from monitoring the count.
Other suits have accused poll workers of sneaking illegal ballots into counting rooms or of improperly using automated vote machines to verify signatures. Another suit was filed on Tuesday in Federal District Court in Williamsport, Pa. The suit, filed on behalf of four ordinary votes in Pennsylvania, rehashed several allegations made in previous legal actions in the state.
In each case, emergency requests to stop the count or to invalidate votes have been denied by judges, some of whom have treated the campaign’s lawyers to scathing commentary from the bench.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. leads Mr. Trump in Michigan by more than 148,000 votes. Even if the new suit succeeds, it is unlikely to overturn enough ballots to change the outcome of the race.
In support of their suit, Trump campaign lawyers filed a 234-page dossier of grievances by about 100 people, many of them Republican observers, who made untested claims that they were treated unfairly by poll workers in Detroit.
Several Republican observers complained that people in the counting room were wearing “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts. One observer said that an election worker called her “Karen,” a slang reference to white women who make unfounded complaints.
Lawyers for Wayne County and for Michigan’s secretary of state have not yet responded to the suit.
Marc Elias, a lawyer who has represented Democrats in election-related suits across the country, said on Wednesday morning that the Trump campaign and local Republicans had lost all 12 suits they have filed so far.
During a call with reporters hosted by the nonpartisan Voter Protection Project, Nevada’s Democratic attorney general, Aaron Ford, slammed Mr. Trump’s team — including Mr. Ford’s predecessor, Adam Laxalt — for “sowing doubt” about the election. “Those who are pursuing these tactics, I’ll call them what they are and that’s saboteurs,” Mr. Ford said.
Michigan’s attorney general, Dana Nessel, also a Democrat, said she thought the campaign’s baseless allegations of voter fraud had followed a racial pattern.
“Really the themes that we see, that persist, are this: Black people are corrupt, Black people are incompetent and Black people can’t be trusted,” Ms. Nessel said on the call, which also included Thomas D. Rath, the former Republican attorney general of New Hampshire.
“That’s the narrative that is continually espoused by the Trump campaign and their allies in these lawsuits,” she added.
When President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. thanked Black voters in his victory speech Saturday night for rescuing his campaign at its lowest point and declared, “You’ve always had my back, and I’ll have yours,” Kourtney Neloms did not cheer like the hundreds of others in attendance.
Instead, as she listened to Mr. Biden speak in Wilmington, Del., from her hometown, Detroit, she felt somewhat skeptical.
“OK, let’s see if he’s really being honest about this,” Ms. Neloms, 42, who is Black, recalled thinking. “My prayer is that it’s not just lip service.”
While Black voters across the country celebrated the election of Mr. Biden and his vice president, Senator Kamala Harris of California, many said in recent days that the administration would have to prove its sincerity when it came to addressing the country’s vast inequalities and systemic barriers.
Mr. Biden attracted about 87 percent of the Black vote in the election this year. At the same time, President Trump, despite being widely viewed as inflaming racial hatred, drew a bigger share of the Black vote than he did in 2016, especially among men, according to exit polls.
In two dozen interviews, some African-American voters echoed a longstanding political concern that they were underappreciated, particularly within the Democratic Party they have staunchly supported for decades.
In his presidential bid, Mr. Biden’s political identity was shaped largely by the fact that he served as the vice president to Barack Obama, the country’s first African-American president. He leveraged that experience to garner Black support, and it was Black voters in South Carolina who rescued his primary campaign.
He also addressed an issue that might have affected Black support, acknowledging that parts of his signature legislation as a longtime U.S. senator, the 1994 crime bill, were a mistake. Much of his campaign pitch, too, centered on addressing racial disparities: the coronavirus pandemic that is disproportionately harming Black and Latino communities and episodes of police violence leading to one of the largest protest movements in the nation’s history.
Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris — the first Black woman on a successful presidential ticket — accumulated huge margins over Mr. Trump in Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Atlanta, cities with large or majority Black populations that significantly helped the president-elect in tightly contested swing states.
“It does create a situation where there is more pressure to provide for the Black community,” said Isaiah Thomas, a Black city councilman in Philadelphia. “I don’t think that we can recreate this moment right here. So we have to get as much as we can for poor people and people of color.”
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. should, immediately upon being sworn in, implement the Supreme Court’s order prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, according to the Human Rights Campaign, one of the nation’s largest advocacy organizations for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people.
The demand is part of a 24-page blueprint for administrative action the Human Rights Campaign is releasing today. The centerpiece is a call for applying the Supreme Court’s June ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, Ga. across the federal government. The Trump administration has not yet implemented workplace protections for L.G.B.T.Q. federal employees that the Bostock decision requires.
The campaign’s document also includes requests that Mr. Biden appoint the nation’s first openly-L.G.B.T. cabinet officials; name the first lesbian, bisexual or transgender ambassador; order the collection of data about L.G.B.T.Q. people in the census; rescind the Trump administration ban on transgender people in the military;end conversion therapy; and terminate the prohibition on gay and bisexual men donating blood.
“Were looking for the administration to make good on their promises,” said Alphonso David, the Human Rights Campaign’s president. “This blueprint is a step forward from where we were before Trump.”
The document asks the Biden administration to establish an executive-branch task force to address anti-transgender violence and to end the Mexico City Policy, which bars U.S. aid to foreign nongovernmental organizations that provide abortion services.
It also includes dozens of requests of federal agencies, including asking the Department of Health and Human Services to create a national bullying standard, asking the Labor Department to ensure that gender transition treatments qualify for the Family and Medical Leave Act, and asking the State Department to include a nonbinary gender marker on passport applications.
Mr. David said he did not expect much pushback from the incoming Biden administration.
“I believe that we will work collaboratively to implement these recommendations, and I believe that they will be our partners,” he said. “I don’t believe we will need to strong-arm Joe Biden into believing that L.G.B.T.Q. people need to be treated with dignity.”
Senior officials for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. raised the possibility this week of legal action that could force a top Trump administration official to allow Mr. Biden’s transition to formally begin.
But some legal experts warned that such a move could easily backfire on Mr. Biden if he files a lawsuit in federal court and loses, handing Mr. Trump a ruling that he could use to support his false claim that the election was stolen.
Emily Murphy, the administrator of the General Services Administration, has the authority to declare when Mr. Biden’s transition gets money, office space and permission to interact with agency employees across the government. So far, she has refused to grant those abilities, saying the results of the election are not clear.
On Monday night, transition officials for Mr. Biden said they were considering “legal actions” to force Ms. Murphy’s hand. Cameron French, a spokesman for the Biden transition, declined to elaborate on Tuesday on whether the team might take legal action or what that might look like.
Two lawyers who worked in the White House Counsel’s Office under Democratic presidents said that it would be a mistake for the Biden team to try to get a federal court judge to force an official to act. Such orders, known as writs of mandamus, are extremely rare and the bid would probably fail, the lawyers said.
A judge’s ruling also would likely be subject to appeal, which could take weeks or months, leading to a decision well after the transition period ends on Inauguration Day in January.
The two lawyers declined to be named because they did not want to be seen second-guessing Mr. Biden’s team. But Bruce Green, a law professor and the director of the Louis Stein Center for Law and Ethics at Fordham University, expressed similar concerns.
“The likelihood of prevailing is low and the likelihood of taking a political hit is high,” Mr. Green said, adding that federal judges were not inclined to impose judgments on executive-branch officials. “It’s incredibly rare. They don’t tell prosecutors what to do. They are not going to tell the G.S.A. what to do.”
Mr. Green said that if a judge ruled against Mr. Biden, the result would be a misunderstanding among many Americans, who would interpret the judge’s decision as a validation of Mr. Trump’s claims.
“The appearance to the public would be that a court has said he’s not the likely president,” Mr. Green said, “when they are really saying they don’t have the power to make the G.S.A. administrator do her job.”
Other lawyers offered a more optimistic view of Mr. Biden’s chances of success if he were to file a lawsuit in federal court to try and compel Ms. Murphy to act. In that view, federal judges would be sympathetic to the argument that Congress never envisioned the G.S.A. administrator holding up an entire transition of power.
If a judge did agree with the transition team, a ruling could send a powerful political message to Mr. Trump and the Republicans who have rallied to his side that it is time to concede.
It is unclear which view of the chances of success Mr. Biden’s team accepts.
In the week since Election Day, any hope that the results would end the tumult that has characterized President Trump’s almost four years in office is long gone. And on Tuesday, Republicans clung tighter to Mr. Trump’s false claim that he won the election as the extent of the harm done by the Trump administration’s refusal to cooperate with transition efforts came into clearer focus.
The White House Office of Management and Budget was planning budget proposals for next year as if Mr. Trump would still be president. The head of the General Services Administration, a Trump appointee, still refused to formally recognize Mr. Biden’s victory, which she must do before he can begin important steps of the transition. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo predicted “a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.”
At the same time, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., the winner of the election, continued to push forward with transition efforts despite the impediments created by the president he will succeed.
Mr. Biden’s transition team on Tuesday named the people who will lead the selection processes for top officials in his administration. Mr. Biden is expected to meet with transition advisers on Wednesday.
He spoke on Tuesday with four European leaders — Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, President Emmanuel Macron of France, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Taoiseach Micheál Martin of Ireland — all of whom acknowledged his victory and discussed what cooperation between the United States and those countries might look like under the Biden administration.
As all this continued to play out, the composition of the new Congress came into clearer view, with Democrats clinching a narrower House majority and Republicans edging closer to keeping their Senate majority. The stakes were also vividly apparent at the Supreme Court, where the new 6-3 conservative majority heard arguments in a case that could overturn the Affordable Care Act just as Mr. Biden reiterated his pledge to expand that law.
The internal Republican divisions over the fate of Gina Haspel’s tenure as C.I.A. director have come tumbling into view, with some of the party’s senior Senate leaders showing support while President Trump’s allies, including his son, push for her ouster.
For weeks Mr. Trump has been mulling whether to fire Ms. Haspel, the C.I.A.’s first female director.
Much of the fury among the president’s allies toward Ms. Haspel stems from her opposition to declassifying documents related to Russia’s 2016 election interference. Though some Republicans believe the documents include information that will undermine established facts about the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, outside investigators, including some who reviewed them for a bipartisan Senate report, say the documents support the C.I.A.’s conclusions that Russia favored Mr. Trump in 2016.
Tensions over Ms. Haspel’s fate intensified after Mr. Trump ordered a string of firings at the Pentagon that began with the ouster of Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Monday and continued Tuesday with the removal of other key Pentagon officials, including the head of intelligence and the leader of the influential policy shop. The White House then installed loyalists in several top defense posts.
Top Republicans came subtly to Ms. Haspel’s defense on Tuesday. Senator Mitch McConnell invited her for a conspicuous meeting in his office.
That prompted Arthur Schwartz, an informal adviser to Donald Trump Jr., to accuse top Republicans of trying to manipulate Mr. Trump into keeping Ms. Haspel, who Mr. Schwartz said “undermines Trump and subverts his agenda at every turn.” Making reference to Ms. Haspel’s previous clandestine work overseas managing C.I.A. informants, Mr. Schwartz said Republicans “are getting played by a master case officer.”
Senator John Cornyn of Texas responded on Twitter, saying intelligence should not be partisan and is “about preserving impartial, nonpartisan information necessary to inform policy makers.”
That invited a response from Donald Trump Jr., the president’s oldest son, who asked whether the senators had discussed Ms. Haspel with members of the administration. “Or,” he concluded in an apparent swipe at Ms. Haspel, “are you just taking a trained liar’s word for it on everything?”