Summary

Here’s a recap of today, from me and Joan E Greve:

  • Pfizer announced its coronavirus vaccine was shown to be 90% effective. US stock markets jumped after the Pfizer announcement was made, although it will likely take several months before a vaccine is widely available to the American public.
  • The US Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency use of Eli Lilly’s experimental Covid-19 antibody treatment for some patients. Per the FDA, clinical trials found that the treatment, bamlanivimab, reduced the need for hospitalization or emergency room visits for older and high-risk Covid-19 patients.
  • President-elect Joe Biden announced the formation of his coronavirus advisory board. Speaking in Delaware today, Biden celebrated the Pfizer news but warned the coming months would still be very difficult for the country. “We’re still facing a very dark winter,” the president-elect said. “The challenge before us right now is still immense and growing.”
  • Donald Trump fired the defense secretary, Mark Esper, by tweet. In recent months, the president and Esper had publicly clashed over proposals to rename military bases named after Confederate generals.
  • Mitch McConnell defended Trump’s legal challenges in battleground states after being declared the loser in the presidential election. “President Trump is 100% within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options,” the Senate majority leader said. It’s important to remember that Trump’s team has produced no evidence of election fraud.
  • Georgia’s two Republican senators called on the state’s Republican secretary of state to resign. “The Secretary of State has failed to deliver honest and transparent elections. He has failed the people of Georgia, and he should step down immediately,” David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler said in a joint statement. Brad Raffensperger, the secretary of state, has fiercely defended the integrity of the Georgia vote count, and his office has provided multiple updates a day on the remaining number of ballots to be counted.
  • The Trump campaign filed another meritless lawsuit against Pennsylvania’s secretary of state, reviving disproven claims that haven’t held up in the courts so far. The lawsuit baselessly alleges that voters who mailed-in ballots were subject to less rigorous verification standards than those who voted in person. Like the president’s other attempts to dispute his clear loss, it’s unlikely to get him anywhere.
  • The attorney general also sent a memo to prosecutors, asking them to investigate election “irregularities” despite no evidence of irregularities. The move has little practical, legal implications, but it erodes norms and policies that typically prohibit the justice department from intervening before election results are confirmed by the electoral college, and it serves to sow confusion and distrust in the elections system.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are planning to “hold briefings with transition advisors” tomorrow, per the team.

They will also deliver remarks in Wilmington, Delaware on the Trump administration lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act, as well as their own healthcare plans.

Read more on Biden’s plans for tackling the coronavirus crisis:

Once again, Donald Trump’s schedule is clear.

Trump waves to media across the Potomac River as he plays a round of golf at the Trump National Golf Club, on 8 November 2020 in Sterling, Virginia.
Trump waves to media across the Potomac River as he plays a round of golf at the Trump National Golf Club, on 8 November 2020 in Sterling, Virginia. Photograph: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

He has no public events planned for tomorrow. The last time he spoke publicly was Thursday when he delivered a lie-filled press conference that several TV networks cut away from after Trump illegitimately declared victory.

Updated

FDA authorized emergency use of Eli Lilly’s experimental treatment for Covid

The US Food and Drug Administration on Monday authorized emergency use of Eli Lilly and Co’s experimental Covid-19 antibody treatment for non-hospitalized patients older than 65 or who have certain chronic medical conditions.

The FDA said its emergency use authorization (EUA) was based on clinical trials showing that the treatment, bamlanivimab, reduced the need for hospitalization or emergency room visits in Covid-19 patients at high risk of disease progression.

It can now be used for treating mild-to-moderate Covid-19 in adults and pediatric patients over the age of 12, the FDA said.

The antibody is not authorized for patients who are hospitalized due to Covid-19 or require oxygen therapy due to Covid-19. The FDA said the drug, which U.S. President Donald Trump has praised, had not been shown to benefit such patients and could worsen their clinical status.

A US government-sponsored study of the treatment in hospitalized Covid-19 patients was recently abandoned because the treatment was not shown to be helping.

Catch up on global coronavirus news:

The US is expected to fly Cameroonian asylum seekers back to their home country on Tuesday despite fears that their lives will be at risk and reports that deportees repatriated last month are now missing.

Some of the deportees are activists from the country’s anglophone minority, who face arrest warrants for their political activities from government forces with a well documented record of extrajudicial killings. They and their lawyers refer to Tuesday’s flight as the “death plane”.

Lawyers, human rights groups and Democratic senator Chris Van Hollen have appealed to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to halt deportation flights to Cameroon while political violence is still widespread there and while at least some of the detainees have cases pending or motions to reopen cases before the Board of Immigration Appeals.

They expressed concern that the deportations were being rushed to clear African asylum-seekers out of the country by the end of the Trump presidency, as part of a scorched earth policy in the administration’s final weeks.

There are also allegations of systematic abuse by agents of the DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), often to force the asylum seekers to sign their own deportation orders, and waive their right to pending immigration hearings. In one case, detainees were allegedly put under showers and then tasered by ICE agents, leaving some in need of hospital care.

The deportations are taking place despite a finding last year by the US government that the Cameroon government “engages in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights”.

About 38 men and 10 women are scheduled to be on Tuesday’s flight, 37 of them Cameroonian, but also six Angolan and three Congolese asylum seekers. In recent days they have been moved from prisons across the south to Prairieland Detention Centre in Alvarado, Texas, in preparation for a charter flight out of Fort Worth.

Read more:

Will Trump accept defeat and leave the White House? Yes, experts say

Alexandra Villarreal reports:

Donald Trump may never concede that he legitimately lost the 2020 election and the US presidency.

That in itself will probably not matter too much, but he may use his final months in office before Joe Biden takes office in January, 2021 to push the divisive politics that have become his calling card. He may even boycott Biden’s inauguration ceremony.

But even if Trump and his colleagues sow a sloppy, chaotic and vindictive transition of power, it’s still unfathomable that the one-term president would belligerently barricade himself inside the Oval Office and refuse to leave, says Lawrence Douglas, a professor of law, jurisprudence and social thought at Amherst College.

“I do not see that happening,” says Douglas, whose book Will He Go? considers the aftermath of the 2020 election. “I think at some point, Donald Trump will submit to defeat.”

After flirting with the idea of rejecting unfavorable election results for years, Trump has stoked fears of worst-case scenarios: civil war, a weaponized supreme court, and even the end to American democracy. With only 10% of Trump’s supporters initially believing Biden won the presidential contest, many Americans are also concerned about an outburst of violence, even as the rancorous commander-in-chief paints a baseless picture of rigged, fraudulent results.

“I had such a big lead in all of these states late into election night, only to see the leads miraculously disappear as the days went by. Perhaps these leads will return as our legal proceedings move forward!” Trump tweeted on Friday.

In a last-ditch effort for Republicans to hold onto the executive branch, Trump and his allies have already begun filing a firestorm of lawsuits around the election. But they’ve made little headway thus far.

“If the number of contested ballots are not greater than the margin, courts are not eager to tear open an election,” although judicial scrutiny could actually address a “lingering cloud of illegitimacy” around the vote counts, said Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University Law School.

Read more:

Updated

Vanita Gupta, a civil rights attorney who served in the Justice Department during the Obama administration, called the attorney general’s memo a “scare tactic”:

Totally predictable – more DOJ scare tactics. Some points:
-Voters decided election & overwhelmingly picked Biden
-States in charge of elections, not fed govt
-Election was secure & fair. No factual basis for memo
-Scaremongering about opening investigations doesn't change result https://t.co/ez4pgmwzSU

— Vanita Gupta (@vanitaguptaCR) November 10, 2020

In September, when the justice department publicized an investigation into whether nine mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania – including seven marked for Donald Trump – were allegedly “discarded”, elections experts warned that William Barr was using his department to provide fodder for the president’s baseless claims of fraud.

The justice department had a longstanding policy against interfering in elections, and an earlier memo from Barr himself – obtained by ProPublica – directed department employees to be “particularly sensitive to safeguarding the Department’s reputation for fairness, neutrality, and non-partisanship” when it came to the elections.

Updated

It’s unclear that the attorney general’s memo will have any practical implications.

After all, there is zero evidence of widespread voter fraud – so it’s unlikely US attorneys will find anything credible to prosecute. Ellen Weintraub, the Federal Election Commissioner, told CNN on Saturday that “there really has been no evidence of fraud” in this election. “Very few substantiated complaints, let me put it that way. There is no evidence of any kind of voter fraud,” she said. “There is no evidence of illegal votes being cast.”

But in Barr’s memo, the attorney general tells prosecutors that, “although the States have the primary responsibility to conduct and supervise elections under our constitution and the laws enacted by Congress, the United States Department of Justice has an obligation to ensure that federal elections are conducted in such a way that the American people can have full confidence in their electoral process and their government”.

“Given this, and given that voting in our current elections has now concluded, I authorize you to pursue substantial allegations of voting and vote tabulation irregularities prior to the certification of elections in your jurisdictions in certain cases,” he continues.

The memo primarily functions to erode norms and policies that typically prohibit the justice department from intervening before election results are confirmed by the electoral college, and it serves to sow confusion and distrust in the elections system.

Updated

Another Trump press conference on unsubstantiated voter fraud allegations

A hastily called Trump campaign press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington today recycled unproven claims of voter fraud but offered no specific proof.

“Do you know that fraudulent votes were actually cast?” a reported asked. “Or are you simply saying we don’t know because we couldn’t see it?”

Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, could offer only: “What we are asking for here is patience.”

Journalists crammed into the lobby of the Republican National Committee headquarters after taking temperature checks and heard first from McEnany, who has recently been blurring the line between federal government activity and political campaigning.

“This election is not over – far from it,” declared Trump’s spokesperson, who at her first White House briefing promised never to lie from the podium.

McEnany speaks during a press conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters.
McEnany speaks during a press conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters. Photograph: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Without evidence, McEnany said: “There is only one party in America trying to keep observers out of the count room. And that party, my friends, is the Democrat party. You take these positions because you are welcoming fraud and you are welcoming illegal voting.”

As she went on to claim that Republicans want “maximum sunlight” and “maximum transparency”, the baseless charge prompted the conservative Fox News network to cut away from briefing. Host Neil Cavuto said: “Whoa, whoa, whoa... Unless she has more details to back that up, I can’t in good countenance continue showing this.”

Meanwhile Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, claimed the party had “thousands of reports of poll watchers being intimidated” in Michigan and highlighted a “whistleblower” allegation in Detroit about ballots being nefariously backdated. This has been debunked by fact checkers.

Biden leads by more than 4m votes but McDaniel urged: “If it were this close the other way, if Trump was in the lead in all these states, the media’d be screaming, ‘This isn’t over ... We need more time to count and make sure it’s right.’”

Challenged as to how there could be a conspiracy in “red counties” when in fact Republicans picked up House seats and performed well in the Senate, McDaniel failed to answer. And as McEnany left, a reporter shouted, “Is the president being a sore loser?” Again there was silence.

Updated

House speaker Nancy Pelosi condemned the president’s sacking of defense secretary Mark Esper:

“The abrupt firing of Secretary Esper is disturbing evidence that President Trump is intent on using his final days in office to sow chaos in our American Democracy and around the world,” she said in a statement. “Continuity and stability are always important during a presidential transition; they are absolutely imperative at this moment, as this historically erratic Administration prepares for its departure.”

After Trump fired Esper via a tweet, several Democrats have said the move would leave the US vulnerable. House armed services committee chair Adam Smith, a Democrat of Washington state, said the dismissal “is a destabilizing move that will only embolden our adversaries”.

“President Trump’s decision to fire Secretary Esper out of spite is not just childish, it’s also reckless,” he said.

Updated

Barr tells prosecutors to pursue claims of irregularities despite lack of evidence

William Barr, the US attorney general, has told prosecutors across the country to pursue “clear and apparently-credible allegations of irregularities” in the voting system, despite a lack of evidence that such fraud is occurring.

In a memo obtained by the Associated Press, Barr – who has not shied away from violating norms in his efforts to prop up Donald Trump – told attorneys that investigations “may be conducted if there are clear and apparently-credible allegations of irregularities that, if true, could potentially impact the outcome of a federal election in an individual State”, the AP reports.

States have another month to resolve election disputes before members of the electoral college finalize the outcome on 14 December.

Updated

Cheri Bustos, House Democratic campaign chief, said today that she will not seek re-election to that position in the wake of the string of losses House Democrats faced during the election last week.

Republicans gained five seats in the House last week. Though Democrats still hold the majority with 215 seats, their influence in the chamber will likely be weakened over the next two years. Bustos herself had a closer-than-expected race against her Republican opponent for her Illinois House district seat. The results were a sting to Democrats after they gained their majority in the House in 2018.

Battleground Democrats have argued that Bustos’ team did little to defend them from Republican attacks and that her most aggressive strategies were used in districts in states like Texas and Arkansas that were harder to win, according to Politico.

In a statement, Bustos said that she will be focusing her work “on exciting legislative possibilities” and that she is “well-positioned to turn my focus to strengthening infrastructure and health care in the cities, small towns and rural areas I serve”.

https://twitter.com/kirk_bado/status/1325898443840233474

I’m signing off for now and will be handing the blog over to my Guardian colleague Maanvi Singh. Stay tuned for more live updates.

Updated

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany spoke at a Republican National Committee press conference earlier this evening, repeating Donald Trump’s refusal to accept Joe Biden as the winner of the presidential election and making false claims about voter fraud.

At Trump campaign press conference at Republican National Committee. Kayleigh McEnany: “This election is not over. Far from it... Unlike our opponents, we have nothing to hide.” pic.twitter.com/x5PSF1Yoq4

— David Smith (@SmithInAmerica) November 9, 2020

McEnany said that she is at the press conference, which is a campaign event as opposed to a White House event, in her “personal capacity”.

Fox News apparently cut away from the press conference saying that they could not air McEnany’s false claims in good conscience.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa – I just think we have to be very clear. She’s charging the other side as welcoming fraud and welcoming illegal voting. Unless she has more details to back that up, I can’t in good countenance show you this,” Fox News host Neil Cavuto told viewers as McEnany continued to talk.

Watch Fox News cut away from Press Sec. McEnany: pic.twitter.com/SwW9cq9bJI

— The Recount (@therecount) November 9, 2020

Updated

Lawyers that have been working to reunite children who were separated from their families at the border say that the number of children still separated from their parents is higher than previously reported. According to an NBC News story, the lawyers say they still have not been able to find the parents of 666 children.

The children were separated from their parents between April and June 2018, when Donald Trump had his “zero tolerance” policy at the US-Mexico border.

Here’s more from NBC News:

Lawyers working to reunite migrant families separated by the Trump administration before and during its “zero tolerance” policy at the border now believe the number of separated children for whom they have not been able to find parents is 666, higher than they told a federal judge last month, according to an email obtained by NBC News.

Nearly 20 percent of those children were under 5 at the time of the separation, according to a source familiar with the data.

In the email, Steven Herzog, the attorney leading efforts to reunite the families, explains that the number is higher because the new group includes those “for whom the government did not provide any phone number.” Previously, the lawyers said they could not find the parents of 545 children after they had tried to make contact but had been unsuccessful.

Updated

The Guardian’s voting rights reporter Sam Levine:

Donald Trump’s campaign filed another longshot lawsuit in Pennsylvania on Monday, rehashing many of the already disproven claims that haven’t succeeded so far in both federal and state courts.

Trump has refused to concede the election and instead has backed a number of legally meritless lawsuits aimed at casting doubt on the legitimacy of the election.

The theory of the new case, filed in federal court, is that voters were treated different depending on whether they voted by mail or in person. The campaign says that while in-person voters had to go through numerous steps to ensure the integrity of the election, those were lacking among those who voted by mail.

But the campaign, again, offered no new hard evidence. It claimed that ballots were counted in Philadelphia and Allegheny county, Democratic strongholds, without observers present, a claim that has already been repeatedly debunked. The campaign also again took issue with the fact that election officials in some places reportedly contacted voters before who had technical deficiencies with their absentee ballots to correct them ahead of election day. Other judges in the state have looked skeptically at similar claims.

The Trump campaign is requesting an order blocking the state from certifying the election results and from tallying ballots counted that weren’t properly observed. The campaign also wants to block the state from tallying the ballots where voters were given a chance to fix the deficiencies.

Updated

Trump campaign files lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania election results

The Trump campaign just announced it filed a lawsuit against Kathy Boockvar, Pennsylvania’s secretary of state, alleging that people voting by mail in the state were met with less rigorous standards than those who voted in-person. The campaign is calling this a “two-tracked system” and says that it is a constitutional violation.

BREAKING: Trump campaign files PA lawsuit, alleges “'two-track' system resulted in voters being held to different standards depending on how they chose to exercise their right to vote." Read filing here: https://t.co/Iiml27lJUv pic.twitter.com/5SdkCiDqTp

— Carrie Sheffield (@carriesheffield) November 9, 2020

Joe Biden took the presidency when Pennsylvania was called for him on Saturday, with a lead of about 45,000 votes. The Trump campaign has been filing lawsuits challenging votes in close races, but it will be hard to convince judges that voter fraud occurred given how rare it is in the US. There have been no reports of widespread voter fraud in this election, despite claims Donald Trump has made for months in an attempt to delegitimize election results.

By evoking the constitution, the Trump campaign is likely trying to get a case that could go in front of the supreme court, which has a conservative majority that includes three judges that were appointed by Trump. Experts say that the supreme court, even if given a case, is unlikely to overturn the results of an election.

For those dreading, or hoping, that a conservative 6-3 Supreme Court with three appointees of Donald Trump will overturn the results of the election and deem him to be re-elected: there is absolutely no chance of that happening, whatsoever. None.

— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) November 6, 2020

Updated

This is Lauren Aratani taking over for Joan E Greve.

It appears that Donald Trump’s rhetoric about voter fraud – despite there being little evidence that fraud was a problem for the election – has influenced the way his base views the election.

A Politico/Morning Consult poll published today revealed that 70% of Republicans don’t believe the election was free and fair, compared to 35% of Republican voters in previous elections. Among these Republicans, 78% said they believe mail-in voting led to widespread fraud and 72% believed that ballots were tampered with. The vast majority of these Republicans believe this was in favor of Joe Biden.

Meanwhile, 90% said the election was free and fair, compared to 52% of Democrats who were polled before Election Day.

Voter fraud is extremely rare in the US, but that hasn’t stopped Trump making unfounded claims that fraud would take place during the election. The Trump campaign has filed lawsuits challenging votes, but it is unlikely that they will be able to change the results of the election before it is finalized in December.

Georgia secretary of state won't step down and says Trump unlikely to be awarded the state's electoral votes

Georgia’s secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, is standing solidly against calls from his own side to step down.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger: “Earlier today Senators Loeffler and Perdue called for my resignation. Let me start by saying that is not going to happen. The voters of Georgia hired me, and the voters will be the one to fire me.”

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) November 9, 2020

Earlier today David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, the two Republican senators from Georgia, released a scathing statement criticizing Raffensperger.

“The Secretary of State has failed to deliver honest and transparent elections. He has failed the people of Georgia, and he should step down immediately,” Perdue and Loeffler said in a joint statement.

Almost a week after election day, Joe Biden leads Donald Trump in the state, where there will be a recount because the race is so close, and his lead is creeping up slowly.

Reuters just reported that the lead is now 11,596, up more than 1,000 since yesterday afternoon.

Raffensperger was further reported by CNN’s Manu Raju as saying at this rate, Trump is unlikely to win Georgia’s 16 electoral college votes, which if confirmed, would further consolidate Biden’s victory over the president, which was called on Saturday morning after Pennsylvania was called for Biden and he crossed the necessary 270-electoral college vote threshold.

“Was there illegal voting? I am sure there was. And my office is investigating all of it. Does it rise to the numbers or margin necessary to change the outcome to where President Trump is given Georgia’s electoral votes? That is unlikely,” Raffensperger said

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) November 9, 2020

Updated

Major powers, including allies, criticized the United States for its human rights record today during a United Nations review, citing the use of the death penalty, police violence against African Americans and the separation of migrant children from their families at the US-Mexico border.

Activists also said that the UN Human Rights Council’s examination of the US, the first since May 2015, amounted to an indictment of the Trump administration’s policies and called for president-elect Joe Biden to usher in reforms, Reuters reports from Geneva, Switzerland.

Dozens of delegations took the floor at the half-day session to voice concerns and make recommendations.

“What we saw today was unsurprising condemnation by many countries around the world of the United States’ human rights record,” Jamil Dakwar, director of the human rights program at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told a news briefing.

“We’ve heard country after country...calling and urging the United States to take serious measures to address structural racism and police violence,” he said.

The Trump administration, which quit the Geneva forum in June 2018 accusing it of an anti-Israel bias, defended US policies.
“Our presence in this process demonstrates our nation’s commitment to human rights,” Robert Destro, US assistant secretary of state, told the talks.

The case of George Floyd, a Black American man who was killed in Minneapolis in May after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, ignited massive protests across the United States and the world, putting the country’s human rights record in the global spotlight once again.

Demonstrators hold signs depicting George Floyd, who was killed by police in Minneapolis in May.
Demonstrators hold signs depicting George Floyd, who was killed by police in Minneapolis in May. Photograph: Caitlin Ochs/Reuters

China and Russia called on the United States to root out racism and police violence, while Cuba and Venezuela said it must provide equal access to health care during the Covid-19 pandemic.

France called on US authorities to halt executions at the federal level, close Guantanamo Bay detention facility, and “guarantee women and girls access to their rights and sexual and reproductive health.”

Britain called for “ensuring access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services.”

Joshua Cooper of the US Human Rights Network, a national network of campaigners, said that more than a dozen countries voiced concern at the U.S. position on family planning.

“The United States made clear that they don’t see abortion as a human right,” said Denice Labertew of the Women LEAD network, an advocacy group based in Los Angeles.

Today so far

That’s it from me today. My Guardian colleagues will take over the blog for the next few hours.

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Pfizer announced its coronavirus vaccine was shown to be 90% effective. US stock markets jumped after the Pfizer announcement was made, although it will likely take several months before a vaccine is widely available to the American public.
  • President-elect Joe Biden announced the formation of his coronavirus advisory board. Speaking in Delaware today, Biden celebrated the Pfizer news but warned the coming months would still be very difficult for the country. “We’re still facing a very dark winter,” the president-elect said. “The challenge before us right now is still immense and growing.”
  • Donald Trump fired defense secretary Mark Esper by tweet. In recent months, the president and Esper had publicly clashed over proposals to rename military bases named after Confederate generals.
  • Mitch McConnell defended Trump’s legal challenges in battleground states after being declared the loser in the presidential election. “President Trump is 100% within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options,” the Senate majority leader said. It’s important to remember that Trump’s team has produced no evidence of election fraud.
  • Georgia’s two Republican senators called on the state’s Republican secretary of state to resign. “The Secretary of State has failed to deliver honest and transparent elections. He has failed the people of Georgia, and he should step down immediately,” David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler said in a joint statement. Brad Raffensperger, the secretary of state, has fiercely defended the integrity of the Georgia vote count, and his office has provided multiple updates a day on the remaining number of ballots to be counted.

The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell took no questions from reporters, as he participated in a photo-op with newly elected Republican senators on Capitol Hill.

No questions were taken at McConnell’s very brief photo-op w/ incoming GOP senators: Cynthia Lummis (WY), Rep. Roger Marshall (KS), Bill Hagerty (TN), Tommy Tuberville (AL) pic.twitter.com/J4cO40aaan

— Ali Zaslav (@alizaslav) November 9, 2020

Speaking this afternoon on the Senate floor, McConnell defended Donald Trump’s legal challenges in key battleground states, after Joe Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election.

“President Trump is 100% within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options,” McConnell said.

While speaking on the Senate floor, majority leader Mitch McConnell also argued American democracy could withstand Donald Trump’s legal challenges in key battleground states.

McConnell said “a few legal inquiries from the president” would not lead to “the end of the republic.”

That argument produced this rather extraordinary chyron on Fox News:

“Not the end of the republic” is quite the chyron from Fox pic.twitter.com/CHWPJKJXh7

— Harry Siegel (@harrysiegel) November 9, 2020

Georgia's Republican senators call on Republican secretary of state to resign

David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, the two Republican senators from Georgia, released a scathing statement criticizing the Georgia secretary of state, who is also Republican.

“The Secretary of State has failed to deliver honest and transparent elections. He has failed the people of Georgia, and he should step down immediately,” Perdue and Loeffler said in a joint statement.

Joint statement from @Perduesenate and myself. #gapol #gasen pic.twitter.com/E8nQ5R9yOm

— Kelly Loeffler (@KLoeffler) November 9, 2020

Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, and his team have fiercely defended the integrity of their vote-counting process, as Joe Biden leads in the state by about 10,000 votes.

Raffensperger’s office has also been notably transparent about their vote-counting process, providing multiple updates a day on how many outstanding ballots are left to be counted. The secretary of state has already said a recount will take place because of how close the race is.

Donald Trump and his team have pushed claims of election fraud in the state, but they have failed to produce any evidence to support those allegations.

Perdue and Loeffler are both headed to January runoffs to keep their seats, which will likely determine control of the Senate.

McConnell: Trump is '100% within his rights' to pursue legal challenges

The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, defended Donald Trump’s legal challenges in key battleground states after being declared the loser of the presidential race.

“President Trump is 100% within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options,” McConnell said on the Senate floor moments ago.

It’s important to remember that Trump’s team has produced no evidence of widespread fraud, and several of the campaign’s lawsuits have already been dismissed in court.

“All legal ballots must be counted. Any illegal ballots must not be counted. The process should be transparent or observable by all sides,” McConnell said.

Trump’s advisers have been allowed to observe the vote-counting process in several battleground states, and there is no evidence of election officials trying to count invalid ballots.

Updated

Esper defends his efforts to push back against Trump after firing

Mark Esper, the now former defense secretary after being fired by Donald Trump in a tweet today, defended his job performance in an interview with Military Times.

Mark Esper pauses as he speaks during a press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, DC.
Mark Esper pauses as he speaks during a press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington DC. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

“My frustration is I sit here and say, ‘Hm, 18 Cabinet members. Who’s pushed back more than anybody?’ Name another Cabinet secretary that’s pushed back,” Esper said. “Have you seen me on a stage saying, ‘Under the exceptional leadership of blah-blah-blah, we have blah-blah-blah-blah?’”

It’s worth noting Esper did defend Trump in September, after a report emerged that the president had referred to fallen US soldiers as “losers” and “suckers”.

Esper said at the time: “President Trump has the highest respect and admiration for our nation’s military members, veterans and families.”

But Esper insisted today that he had done a good job walking the line between criticizing the president when necessary while trying to stay in his good graces.

“At the end of the day, it’s as I said – you’ve got to pick your fights,” Esper said. “I could have a fight over anything, and I could make it a big fight, and I could live with that – why? Who’s going to come in behind me? It’s going to be a real ‘yes man’. And then God help us.”

Updated

Donald Trump is still spreading baseless claims about election fraud, despite producing no evidence for those allegations.

“Nevada is turning out to be a cesspool of Fake Votes. @mschlapp & @AdamLaxalt are finding things that, when released, will be absolutely shocking!” Trump said in a new tweet.

The words “when released” seems to be doing a lot of work in that tweet. It’s also important to note that Joe Biden currently leads Trump by 36,186 votes in Nevada, or 2.7% of the state’s total vote.

And even if Biden were to lose Nevada (which is not going to happen), the president-elect would still have more than the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.

Another adviser to Donald Trump has reportedly tested positive for coronavirus, amid an apparent outbreak among the president’s team.

According to Bloomberg News, David Bossie has now tested positive for the virus.

BREAKING: Trump outside adviser David Bossie tested positive for coronavirus on Sunday, sources tell me.

— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) November 9, 2020

Bossie is an external adviser to the president, and he has been tapped to lead the Trump campaign’s legal challenges in key battleground states, even though he is not a lawyer.

The news comes four days after it was first reported the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, had tested positive for coronavirus. The housing and urban development secretary, Ben Carson, also tested positive today. Both men attended an election night party at the White House.

Updated

Susan Collins congratulates Biden

Susan Collins has become one of the few Republican lawmakers to congratulate Joe Biden on his victory in the presidential election.

“First, I would offer my congratulations to President-elect Biden on his apparent victory – he loves this country, and I wish him every success. Presidential transitions are important, and the President-elect and the Vice-President-elect should be given every opportunity to ensure that they are ready to govern on January 20th,” Collins said in a new statement.

My statement on the 2020 Presidential election results: pic.twitter.com/8NY1WpaJpC

— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) November 9, 2020

The Republican senator, who won her own reelection bid last week, encouraged Americans to be “patient” amid Donald Trump’s legal challenges in key battleground states.

“I understand that the President and others have questions about the results in certain states. There is a process in place to challenge those results and, consistent with that process, the President should be afforded the opportunity to do so,” Collins said.

“I know that many are eager to have certainty right now. While we have a clear direction, we should continue to respect that process. I urge people to be patient. The process has not failed our country in more than 200 years, and it is not going to fail our country this year.”

It’s worth noting that every major news outlet has declared Biden to be the winner of the presidential race, and several of the Trump campaign’s lawsuits have already been dismissed.

While Joanie takes a well-earned break, and Washington accustoms itself to Donald Trump’s lame duck firing of the defense secretary, Mark Esper, readers may wish to spend some time with the final film in this year’s Anywhere But Washington series, by the top team of Oliver Laughland, Tom Silverstone, Nicolas Pollock, Noah Payne-Frank, Katie Lamborn and Charlie Phillips.

In the final episode, Oliver and Tom return to Florida, the crucial swing state Trump won last week, a victory that paved the way for his baseless attacks on the election process.

In Palm Beach county, home to the president’s private club Mar-a-Lago election night turns into election week, in a story of hope and joy … but also division and lies:

Updated

The governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, has just announced some new restrictions in the state as it sees rising Covid case numbers:

NEW: We’re taking action to stop the spread of #COVID19.

Effective Thursday, November 12th:
☑️No indoor dining between 10:00 PM – 5:00 AM at restaurants, bars, clubs, and lounges
☑️Outdoor dining, takeout, and delivery services may continue past 10:00 PM

— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) November 9, 2020

Murphy’s moves are not so dramatic as those announced on Sunday by his Republican counterpart in Utah, Gary Herbert. He announced a mask mandate until further notice and said casual social gatherings were being limited to household-only for the next two weeks. All extracurricular activities were being put on hold, he said.

According to Johns Hopkins University, Utah has had 132,621 total confirmed cases and 659 deaths. New Jersey’s numbers are 254,595 and 16,429.

Here’s our current Covid news report:

Today so far

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Pfizer announced its coronavirus vaccine was shown to be 90% effective. US stock markets jumped after the Pfizer announcement was made, although it will probably take several months before a vaccine is widely available to the American public.
  • President-elect Joe Biden announced the formation of his coronavirus taskforce. Speaking in Delaware today, Biden celebrated the Pfizer news but warned the coming months would still be very difficult for the country. “We’re still facing a very dark winter,” the president-elect said. “The challenge before us right now is still immense and growing.”
  • Donald Trump fired the defense secretary, Mark Esper, by tweet. In recent months, the president and Esper had publicly clashed over proposals to rename military bases named after Confederate generals.

The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

Updated

Donald Trump said Christopher Miller, who currently serves as the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, would become acting defense secretary now that Mark Esper has been fired.

Miller will be the fifth defense secretary to serve under Trump over the president’s four years in office.

After former defense James Mattis left office in January of last year, Patrick Shanahan, Richard Spencer and Esper served as acting secretaries, before Esper was confirmed by the Senate.

In contrast, Barack Obama had four defense secretaries over eight years. George W Bush had two defense secretaries over eight years.

It’s important to remember that defense secretary Mark Esper would have been out of office anyway once Joe Biden was inaugurated.

Reports also indicated Esper had already drafted a letter of resignation, as is typical before presidential elections, in order to give incumbents the option to nominate someone else for their second term.

The fact that Donald Trump fired Esper anyway underscores how desperately he wanted to get rid of the defense secretary.

The firing of the defense secretary, Mark Esper, seems to be an effort by Donald Trump to emphasize his presidential powers, as president-elect Joe Biden launches his transition.

In the days before the election, reports indicated Trump was considering firing senior officials he had previously criticized.

In addition to Esper, the FBI director, Christopher Wray, is considered vulnerable to a lame-duck firing.

Updated

Donald Trump and the defense secretary, Mark Esper, have publicly disagreed over the renaming of military bases named after Confederate generals.

While Esper has expressed openness to the idea, Trump has repeatedly insisted the bases should not be renamed.

NBC News reported last week that Esper was working with members of Congress on legislation to rename the bases:

Esper has prepared a letter of resignation, according to three current defense officials.

It’s not uncommon for Cabinet secretaries to prepare undated letters of resignation during a presidential transition, giving the commander in chief the chance to replace them for a second term. The president decides whether to accept the resignation letters, and the process usually occurs after the election results are clear.

But defense officials say Esper prepared his letter because he is one of the Cabinet officials long expected to be pushed out after the election.

As his tenure may be coming to an end, Esper is helping members of Congress draft legislation that will strip names of Confederate leaders from military bases in a move that could put him further at odds with [Trump].

Updated

Trump fires defense secretary Mark Esper

Donald Trump just announced he has fired the defense secretary, Mark Esper, naming Christopher C Miller, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, as acting secretary.

...Chris will do a GREAT job! Mark Esper has been terminated. I would like to thank him for his service.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 9, 2020

Updated

Although Donald Trump has reportedly discussed a potential 2024 presidential campaign, some of his advisers are skeptical he would actually run, according to Bloomberg News.

Some advisers have told me they think Trump will repeatedly tease a 2024 presidential bid during the next couple years as a way to aggravate the left, and as a way to stay in the news--even if he never actually runs. https://t.co/yKQJY3pa6C

— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) November 9, 2020

Trump already discussing 2024 run – report

Donald Trump has already discussed a possible 2024 presidential campaign with some of his top advisers, according to Axios.

Axios reports:

This is the clearest indication yet that Trump understands he has lost the 2020 election to Joe Biden – even as the president continues to falsely insist that he is the true winner, that there has been election fraud and that his team will fight to the end in the courts ...

Aides advising Republicans who are likely to run in 2024 are dreading the prospect of a Trump run given the extraordinary sway he holds over millions of GOP voters.

The US constitution limits presidents to two terms, but they do not need to be consecutive. The last president to serve non-consecutive terms was Grover Cleveland, who was elected in 1884 and 1892.

Speaking to Fox News Radio earlier today, Lindsey Graham said: “Grover Cleveland came back. Donald Trump should think about it, if he falls short.”

Updated

Programming note: the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, will hold a photo-op with newly elected Republican senators at 4pm ET today.

McConnell has not yet weighed in on Joe Biden’s win in the presidential race, and reporters will almost certainly try to get him to comment on it this afternoon, as Donald Trump refuses to concede.

Control of the Senate remains up for grabs, with Georgia’s two races headed to runoffs, but Republicans are likely to maintain control of the chamber.

Updated

Carson adviser confirms his coronavirus diagnosis

A former adviser to Ben Carson confirmed the housing and urban development secretary has tested positive for coronavirus.

“Spoke with my brother Dr Carson earlier and he is doing extraordinarily well,” said Armstrong Williams, who advised Carson’s 2016 presidential campaign.

“He is so grateful to have access to powerful therapeutics. We also pray for the millions who celebrated over the weekend and may have exposed themselves to Covid-19.”

Spoke with my brother Dr. Carson earlier and he is doing extraordinarily well. He is so grateful to have access to powerful therapeutics. We also pray for the millions who celebrated over the weekend and may have exposed themselves to COVID19.

— Armstrong Williams (@Arightside) November 9, 2020

The news of Carson’s diagnosis comes four days after it was first reported that the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, had tested positive for the virus. Several other White House staffers have also since tested positive.

Both Meadows and Carson attended an election night party at the White House, where few attendees wore face masks.

The news also comes a little over a month after the president and the first lady tested positive for the virus. Some of the vice-president’s top advisers contracted the virus last month as well.

Updated

Speaking as president-elect, Joe Biden once again urged all Americans to wear face masks to limit the spread of coronavirus.

“A mask is not a political statement,” Biden said. “But it is a good way to start pulling the country together.”

The Democratic president-elect emphasized masks would be essential in efforts to return to a sense of normalcy in the country, with the ultimate aim of allowing Americans to safely celebrate birthdays and holidays together.

“The goal is to get back to normal as fast as possible, and masks are critical to doing that,” Biden said. “We can get this virus under control, I promise you.”

The president-elect wrapped up his remarks without taking questions from reporters.

Biden on coronavirus: 'We’re still facing a very dark winter'

Joe Biden said the months ahead would still be very difficult for the US, despite the encouraging news about Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine.

“We’re still facing a very dark winter,” Biden said. “The challenge before us right now is still immense and growing.”

The president-elect said it would be “many months” before the vaccine is “widely available”, noting that another 200,000 Americans could die of coronavirus in the coming months.

Biden announced the formation of his coronavirus taskforce earlier today, and he said the group’s expertise would allow him to hit the ground running on the pandemic response once he takes office in January.

“This group will advise on detailed plans built on a bedrock of science,” Biden said.

Updated

Biden delivers remarks on coronavirus pandemic

President-elect Joe Biden is now delivering remarks on the coronavirus pandemic in Wilmington, Delaware.

The speech comes after Biden met with his newly announced coronavirus taskforce.

President-elect Biden just met with his newly formed COVID-19 advisory board.

Tune in for a debrief: https://t.co/fVLhCn6adH

— Biden-Harris Presidential Transition (@Transition46) November 9, 2020

Biden opened his remarks by celebrating the news that Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine is 90% effective.

However, the president-elect emphasized that the country was still months away from the end of the pandemic.

Updated

BuzzFeed News reported late last month that Ben Carson, who gained fame as a renowned pediatric surgeon, had attended an indoor fundraiser where most attendees were maskless.

BuzzFeed reports:

The private event was held in Fauquier County, Virginia, for the benefit of Bob Good, a Republican running for office in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District. Press was denied access, but Good posted several pictures on Facebook of Carson mingling among maskless attendees at the indoor event.

Attendees, including Carson, flouted the guidelines from both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Virginia’s health department. The Virginia Department of Health recommended face coverings during the early days of the pandemic — but as of May 29, it now ‘requires people wear masks when spending time in indoor public settings.’ It was not immediately clear if the fundraiser took place inside a private residence or another location.

Ben Carson tests positive for coronavirus – report

Ben Carson, US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, has tested positive for coronavirus.
Ben Carson, US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, has tested positive for coronavirus. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Housing and urban development secretary Ben Carson has tested positive for coronavirus, according to ABC News.

NEWS: Sec. Ben Carson tested positive for COVID-19 this morning. His deputy chief of staff says he's "in good spirits & feels fortunate to have access to effective therapeutics which aid and markedly speed his recovery." Carson attended the election night party at the White House

— Katherine Faulders (@KFaulders) November 9, 2020

Carson attended the election night party at the White House, where few attendees wore face masks.

The news comes four days after it was first reported that the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, who also attended the election night party, had tested positive.

This is the third cluster of coronavirus cases in the Trump White House. The president, the first lady and a few top aides tested positive early last month, followed weeks later by some of the vice-president’s senior advisers.

Updated

Donald Trump’s re-election campaign reportedly held an all-staff meeting this morning, where the president’s campaign manager insisted he was “still in this fight”.

Trump's top campaign officials have summoned all staff for a meeting currently underway at campaign headquarters, a source says. Campaign manager Bill Stepien & his deputy Justin Clark say President Trump is "still in this fight," even as Biden moves forward w/ his transition.

— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) November 9, 2020

As a reminder, every major news outlet has called the presidential election for Joe Biden, and Trump trails in major battleground states – including Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania – by tens of thousands of votes.

Updated

Joe Biden’s victory speech on Saturday night was written by well-known historian Jon Meacham, according to the New York Times.

The Times reports:

Jon Meacham, the presidential historian and biographer, has been helping to craft President-elect Joseph R. Biden, Jr.’s speeches, according to multiple sources involved, including writing the acceptance speech that Mr. Biden that he delivered Saturday night from Wilmington.

In that address, Mr. Biden spoke of a mission ‘to rebuild the soul of America, to rebuild the backbone of this nation, the middle class and to make America respected around the world again.’ Mr. Meacham’s 2018 book, ‘The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels,’ has long served as a touchstone for Mr. Biden, who read it and has reached out to Mr. Meacham in the past to discuss passages he liked.

Mr. Biden’s speech-writing process is run by Mike Donilon, the president-elect’s longtime adviser. But behind the scenes, Mr. Meacham has been playing a larger role than was previously known, both writing drafts of speeches and offering edits on many of Mr. Biden’s big addresses, including one he gave at Gettysburg last month and his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in August.

Meacham has been a frequent commentator on MSNBC during this election cycle.

In his Fox News Radio interview, Lindsey Graham also indicated Republicans would be targeting voting by mail in the months to come, after mail-in ballots helped Joe Biden carry key swing states.

“If we keep the Senate, we need to do a joint committee in the Senate to analyze mail-in balloting and how it worked in 2020,” the Republican senator said.

Republicans are likely to keep the Senate, but Democrats could flip control of the chamber if they win both of the Georgia runoff races in January.

Lindsey Graham, one of the president’s closest Senate allies, would not call on the president to concede today, during a Fox News Radio interview.

However, the South Carolina Republican seemed to signal he knew the presidential race was over.

While encouraging Donald Trump to continue his legal challenges in key battleground states, Graham also urged the president to “not let this movement die” and to “consider running again”.

Graham noted: “Grover Cleveland came back. Donald Trump should think about it, if he falls short.”

Updated

There have been reports that Donald Trump would hold campaign-style rallies to push his baseless claims of widespread voter fraud in the presidential election.

But according to Bloomberg News, that is not the president’s plan.

No Trump rallies featuring the president himself are being planned, sources tell me, @justinsink and @MarioDParker.

Any events will be pop-up ones, like boat parades. But no big campaign-style Trump rallies are being scheduled right now.

— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) November 9, 2020

Trump’s campaign continues to file lawsuits in major battleground states where Joe Biden leads, but several of them have already been dismissed.

However, Trump still does not seem ready to concede the race anytime soon.

Updated

A man featured at Rudy Giuliani’s Philadelphia press conference this weekend, focused on pushing baseless allegations of voter fraud, is a convicted sex offender who has repeatedly run for office in New Jersey.

Politico has the story:

‘It’s such a shame. This is a democracy,’ Daryl Brooks, who said he was a GOP poll watcher, said at the press conference, held at Four Seasons Total Landscaping in Northeast Philadelphia. ‘They did not allow us to see anything. Was it corrupt or not? But give us an opportunity as poll watchers to view all the documents — all of the ballots.’

Trenton political insiders watched with bemusement as Brooks took the podium.

Brooks was incarcerated in the 1990s on charges of sexual assault, lewdness and endangering the welfare of a minor for exposing himself to two girls ages 7 and 11, according to news accounts.

Brooks has run for various offices, including U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives.

During the press conference, Brooks, who ran for a New Jersey Senate seat in 2012 as a Reform candidate, claimed he had moved to Philadelphia two years ago.

Donald Trump’s allies are issuing ... a range of responses to the news that Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine is 90% effective.

Some of them, like Mike Pence, are crediting Trump with the breakthrough, even though Pfizer has said it did not participate in Operation Warp Speed and did not receive any money from the federal government.

HUGE NEWS: Thanks to the public-private partnership forged by President @realDonaldTrump, @pfizer announced its Coronavirus Vaccine trial is EFFECTIVE, preventing infection in 90% of its volunteers.

— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) November 9, 2020

Other allies, like the president’s eldest son, are questioning the timing of Pfizer’s announcement, seeming to imply that the company sat on the news to prevent Trump from winning re-election. (There is obviously no evidence to suggest that.)

The timing of this is pretty amazing. Nothing nefarious about the timing of this at all right? 🙄 https://t.co/nS5rkywKXT

— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) November 9, 2020

Updated

Dow Jones jumps 1,500 points following Pfizer news

The Dow Jones is up more than 1,500 points, in response to the news of Joe Biden’s victory and the effectiveness of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.

The Guardian’s Graeme Wearden reports:

Excitement over Pfizer’s vaccine trial results have sent shares soaring in New York, adding to relief that US election uncertainty has diminished.

The Dow Jones industrial average jumped by 1,523 points, or 5.3%, at the open to 29,846 points -- over its previous record high set in February.

The S&P 500 index, has also hit a new peak - jumping by 3.6% or 127 points to 3,636 points.

For more updates and analysis, follow Graeme on the Guardian’s business live blog:

This is Joan Greve in Washington, taking over for Martin Belam.

Joe Biden will receive a briefing from his public health advisers today, before delivering a speech on limiting the spread of coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump continues to raise baseless concerns about the legitimacy of the presidential election, without providing any evidence of widespread fraud.

The blog will be keeping an eye on both of them today, so stay tuned.

Updated

On a more light-hearted front for a second, one of the changes coming to the White House is absolutely “paw-some” news – Biden’s win means the White House will get two dogs-in-chief. Amanda Holpuch brings us this vital report:

The Biden family includes two German shepherds: Major, a young rescue dog, and Champ, who lived at One Observatory Circle in Washington with them during Barack Obama’s administration, when Biden served as vice-president.

“Of all of us, Champ is going to have the hardest time leaving this place,” Jill Biden told the Washington Post as she prepared to leave the vice-presidential residence in 2017. “Champ has a built-in family here 24 hours a day with all the staff and security guards that keep little dog biscuits on hand for him.”

Champ has been in the Biden family since late 2008, when Biden bought him from a breeder in Pennsylvania as a three-month-old pup. The Bidens adopted Major, a German Shepherd, in November 2018 from the Delaware Humane Association (DHA) after fostering him for about eight months.

Champ at the vice president’s residence in 2012.
Champ at the vice president’s residence in 2012. Photograph: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Read more of Amanda’s report here: Ruff life – with Biden’s win the White House will get two dogs-in-chief

And on that important note, I’m heading off. Joan Greve will be along shortly to guide you through the rest of the day. Take care, stay safe, see you tomorrow…

Updated

This one is going to rumble on. There’s a lot of people associated with the Trump administration eager to claim a share of the credit for the news that Pfizer/BioNTech say their Covid-19 vaccine candidate is 90% effective.

However …

“We were never part of the Warp Speed,” Kathrin Jansen, a senior vice president and the head of vaccine research and development at Pfizer, said in an interview. “We have never taken any money from the U.S. government, or from anyone.”

— Adam Goldman (@adamgoldmanNYT) November 9, 2020

Which is leading to some awkward questions.

Mr. Vice President was Pfizer part of Operation Warp Speed? Yes or no will suffice and clear things up. https://t.co/7RYnhJ8MxZ

— Amanda Carpenter (@amandacarpenter) November 9, 2020

The only thing that is Warp Speed is the pace at which Pfizer is distancing itself from anything having to do with Trump’s failed #COVID19 response https://t.co/9h0vOXv99p

— Jorge A. Caballero, MD (@DataDrivenMD) November 9, 2020

Updated

Here’s a full list of the 12 members making up Joe Biden’s new transition Covid board:

Dr David Kessler, co-chair. Professor of paediatrics and epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco. He was US Food and Drug Administration commissioner from 1990 to 1997.

Dr Vivek Murthy, co-chair. US surgeon general from 2014-17, who commanded the public health force that dealt with the Ebola, Zika and Flint water crises.

Dr Marcella Nunez-Smith, co-chair. Associate professor of internal medicine, public health and management at Yale University and associate dean for health equity research at Yale’s medical school, specialising in health care for marginalised populations.

Dr Rick Bright. Immunologist, virologist. He was ousted as head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority after criticising the federal government’s response to the coronavirus under Donald Trump. Bright filed a whistleblower complaint alleging he was reassigned to a lesser job because he resisted political pressure to allow widespread use of hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug Trump pushed as a Covid-19 treatment.

Dr Luciana Borio. Vice-president of technical staff at the In-Q-Tel strategic investment firm who until last year was a biodefense specialist on the Nnational security council.

Dr Ezekiel Emanuel. Oncologist and chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania who since 1997 has served as chair of the Department of Bioethics at the Clinical Center of the National Institutes of Health.

Dr Atul Gawande. Professor of surgery at Brigham and Women’s hospital and at Harvard Medical School. Served as a senior adviser in the Department of Health and Human Services in the Clinton administration.

Dr Celine Gounder. Clinical assistant professor at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine who served as assistant commissioner and director of the Bureau of Tuberculosis Control at New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Dr Julie Morita. Executive vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation who helped lead Chicago’s Department of Public Health for nearly 20 years.

Dr Michael Osterholm. Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, former science envoy for health security for the State Department.

Ms Loyce Pace. Executive director and president of the Global Health Council, who previously served in leadership positions at the American Cancer Society.

Dr Robert Rodriguez. Professor of emergency medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine.

Dr Eric Goosby. Infectious disease expert and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine who during the Clinton administration was the founding director of the largest federally funded HIV/Aids program.

Updated

The inhabitants of Jill Biden’s ancestral village in Sicily turned out to celebrate her husband’s triumph in America’s presidential election. Jill Biden’s family is originally from a tiny town, with 600 inhabitants, called Gesso, in the province of Messina.

The paternal grandfather of the new American first lady was born here, on 12 August 1898. His name was Domenico Giacoppo, which was later changed to Dominic Jacobs after his arrival in the United States in 1900, when he was one and a half years old.

The inhabitants of Gesso anxiously followed the American elections and rejoiced the victory of Biden and the “Sicilian first lady”.

‘’I’m excited!’’ Caterina Giacoppo, distant cousin of Jill Biden, told the Italian press agency Adnkronos. “I’m really happy for the new first lady. I’d like to invite her to Gesso, to meet us in person. I’d make her meatballs with gravy and baked pasta.”

The first lady probably wouldn’t mind that, given that in a 2008 interview for Vogue, Jill Biden said: ‘’I grew up eating one Italian meal on Sunday, with the wedding soup and the braciole and homemade pasta.’’

Caterina Giacoppo, a distant cousin of America’s new first lady.
Caterina Giacoppo, a distant cousin of America’s new first lady. Photograph: Carmelo Imbesi/EPA

‘’It is as if the whole village won the American elections,’’ Antonino Macrì, president of a cultural association, in Gesso, told the Guardian. ‘’The decision to leave was taken by the first lady’s great-grandfather, Placido Giacoppo, a Sicilian farmer, who, like so many Italians at that time, chose to emigrate to the United States in search of fortune.

“Now we are already working on officially inviting the first lady here, in Gesso,’’ added Macrì. ‘’We want to show her her origins and this enchanting place. We are ready to organise a nice party.’’

Lorenzo Tondo was reporting from Palermo

Updated

Throughout the election campaign Donald Trump promised that a coronavirus vaccine was coming soon. In September, for example, Trump said that a vaccine may be available as early as “mid-October”. The president even went as far as announcing that the US would have 100m doses of an approved coronavirus vaccine manufactured by the end of 2020.

Now that one appears to be on the horizon … it’s a conspiracy. At least according to Don Jr anyway. It’s just shameless really.

The timing of this is pretty amazing. Nothing nefarious about the timing of this at all right? 🙄 https://t.co/nS5rkywKXT

— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) November 9, 2020

Updated

Back on this Republican legal opposition to the election results business for a moment, here are four things worth bearing in mind while the Trump campaign continues to insist that he has been robbed of victory.

Mail-in ballots are perfectly legal: while the number of mail-in ballots in the 2020 election were at a much larger scale than previously, due to the coronavirus pandemic, mail-in ballots have been part of the US election system for years. It has also always been the case that some states will allow ballots to arrive and be counted after the election provided that they are postmarked and dated on or before election day. Trump’s contention that these are automatically somehow illegal ballots is completely false.

The scale of Donald Trump’s defeat: in order for the election to have been ‘stolen’, there would have to have been widespread voter fraud running into the tens of thousands of ballots across multiple states in the US. Trump’s team have been able to produce no such evidence. And some of the evidence they have produced, for example people who voted in Nevada but apparently don’t live in the state, have turned out to be military personnel who were perfectly entitled to vote.

Down-ticket Republicans are not disputing their results: Republicans have so far held every Senate seat they were contesting, and expanded their representation in the House. There are no demands for these votes to be recounted or investigated. They were all on the same ballots as the election of the president.

‘Russian hoax’: after calling it a hoax for four years, conservative talking heads have argued that if it was easy enough for the Russians to ‘fix’ the election, then it must have been possible for Democrats to ‘fix’ it this time. This deliberately misrepresents the Russian interference in the 2016 election, which was about the selective leaking of hacked and stolen information to damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign. There is no suggestion or any evidence that Russia tampered with voting machines or mail-in ballots in 2016.

Joe Biden has spoken about the latest Covid vaccine development news.

NEW: @JoeBiden says he was informed of Pfizer vaccine development last night. "I congratulate the brilliant women and men who helped produce this breakthrough and to give us such cause for hope."

— Mike Memoli (@mikememoli) November 9, 2020

Biden's statement on the news that Pfizer is getting closer to an effective coronavirus vaccine.

He starts off by saying he already knew the news last night.

And says it'll be months before there's widespread vaccination. pic.twitter.com/ReWa1nIniL

— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) November 9, 2020

Here’s our story on it:

Updated

Axios’ Mike Allen is claiming a scoop this morning, saying that Republicans are gearing up for a “30 days war” over the election result. He writes:

GOP leaders and confidants of President Trump tell Axios his legal fight to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory – which they admit is likely doomed – could last a month or more, possibly pushing the 2020 political wars toward Christmastime.

Most top Republicans have followed Trump’s orders not to accept the Biden victory, and to allow all legal options to be exhausted. That could mean weeks of drama – and, more importantly, distractions from the vital work of transitioning government for a change of power.

Axios is told an internal effort is underway to dissuade Trump from pursuing a blitz (with Rudy Giuliani as the tip of the spear) that could mean three to six weeks of legal challenges, discovery and rulings – at the same time that Biden is talking daily about a message of healing.

A senior Republican who talks often to Trump said the president is “angry … volatile … disconsolate.”

He also claims a source has told Axios that Trump plans to hold rallies focused on the litigation, and brandish obituaries of people who were recorded as voting but are dead.

Read more here: Axios – Trump allies brace for 30-day legal war

Updated

One thing that might end up being very urgent in Joe Biden’s in-tray is what to do about healthcare if Obamacare has been unravelled between now and when he takes office. The New York Times sets up tomorrow’s crucial supreme court intervention:

Eight years ago, the Affordable Care Act barely survived its first encounter with the supreme court. On Tuesday, a significantly more conservative court will hear arguments in a case brought by Republican state officials, backed by the Trump administration, seeking to destroy it.

At stake are health insurance for millions of people, protections for pre-existing conditions for millions more and the fate of President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement

On the surface, events since the first decision would seem to place the health care law in real peril. Not only is the federal government itself now arguing for striking it down, but President Trump has named three justices to the court. The newest one, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, has written critically of the chief justice’s reasoning in the 2012 case.

But there are reasons to think the law, or at least most of it, may survive.

To win, the Republican challengers would have to run the table on three separate legal arguments. And they would have to persuade the justices that the law, which is popular and whose unraveling could cause chaos in the health care system, should be wiped out based on a highly formalistic argument. During a pandemic.

It’s worth getting yourself up to speed with the background here: New York Times – The Affordable Care Act faces another supreme court test

Sahil Kapur at NBC News offers this somewhat sobering appraisal of what Joe Biden will be facing when he eventually gets his feet under the table in the Oval office in January. Kapur sees him as “surrounded on all sides”.

As he begins to roll out his transition plans, Biden can expect to feel the heat from the left wing of his party quickly.

“There’s not going to be a honeymoon because there was no wedding,” said Ezra Levin, the co-founder of the progressive group Indivisible. “This is a partnership. It’s a partnership to save democracy. Nobody is under any illusions that the reforms we want to see are just automatically going to happen.”

“The reason there can be no honeymoon period is we don’t have much time,” he added. “We’ve got to hit the ground running.”

Biden campaigned on bringing the country together. He will face major hurdles

He identifies the three biggest hurdles as:

  • Unless Democrats flip two outstanding seats in Georgia, Republicans will control the Senate and have a veto on his legislative agenda, cabinet picks and judicial nominees.
  • Democrats have a shrunken House majority that will limit their runway.
  • The new 6-3 majority conservative supreme court could restrain the executive actions Biden may pursue without Congress.

Read more of Sahil Kapur’s assesment here: NBC News – ‘No honeymoon’: Biden surrounded on all sides when he gets to the White House

Updated

If you are feeling a little bit nerdy about the results and what they all mean, we’ve got an interactive visual guide to how Joe Biden won the presidency that is well worth five minutes of your time.

Donald Trump is up and tweeting and for once it’s not the usual baseless refrains about his election defeat. Instead it is about the vaccine news.

STOCK MARKET UP BIG, VACCINE COMING SOON. REPORT 90% EFFECTIVE. SUCH GREAT NEWS!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 9, 2020

Steve Cortes, the Trump campaign senior advisor for strategy, is also excited about the vaccine, hailing it as a “huge achievement for the scientists and Operation Warp Speed under President Trump’s leadership”.

Amazing vaccine news! Huge achievement for the scientists and Operation Warp Speed under President Trump’s leadership. https://t.co/B3vfWneXvR

— Steve Cortes (@CortesSteve) November 9, 2020

Sadly for Steve, the Washington Post reports this small detail:

Pfizer, unlike its competitors, did not join Operation Warp Speed, the government initiative designed to erase the financial risk of vaccine and therapeutics development by providing funding to companies and helping coordinate the trials. Instead, Pfizer plowed $2 billion of its own money into the project.

Oh.

Updated

Rebecca Solnit has filed her latest column for us, saying that victory is only the prelude. What happens now is up to us…

Yes, this election victory may be time to pause and sigh with relief, but it’s no finish line. It’s only the starting line for the next round of work. If people who worked so hard to win, go home, and go to sleep, the Biden administration will accomplish little, and the right will have its usual opportunity to get back what it lost. We can’t allow that.

The clear and pressing danger is a repeat of the last few election cycles in which, when Democrats won, too many people who’d been the backbone of the resistance relaxed and assumed the government would do the right thing. They didn’t bother to participate much because they thought power rests in elected officials rather than the electorate. The fierce effort to push Donald Trump out of power, the unprecedented scale of this summer’s Black Lives Matter demonstrations, and the many forms of resistance that took place when Trump won should remind us that it is not so.

I’ve often contemplated how we are fired up by threat and opposition and how we often check out when the danger is no longer immediate, even go back to the old ways that allowed the catastrophe to happen. It’s one of the conundrums of human nature: how do we remain awake, engaged, committed not just to prevent the worst but pursue the best? The answer, as best as I’ve been able to figure it out, is partly about discipline, and not just individual, but collective discipline: a culture of commitment.

Read it in full here: Rebecca Solnit – Victory is only the prelude. What happens now is up to us

Angela Merkel has offered her heartfelt congratulations to US president elect, Joe Biden, and his vice-president elect, Kamala Harris, saying she looked forward to working together with them on common goals including fighting the pandemic, the climate emergency and economic recovery.

She also pledged that Germany and the European Union would in future take more responsibility on key issues – in particular defence – than they have in the past.

She did not make one mention of Donald Trump in her speech, but acknowledged that Biden and Harris had been elected in a highly conflict ridden time.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to the media following Joe Biden’s election victory.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to the media following Joe Biden’s election victory. Photograph: Action Press/REX/Shutterstock

She offered them “God’s blessing” which she would not have done addressing a German audience, but it shows she was speaking to the American people as much as to Biden and Harris.

The German chancellor said:

I heartily congratulate Joe Biden on his election as 46th president of the United States of America. Joe Biden brings with him decades of experience in both domestic and foreign policy. He knows Germany and Europe well. I recall very good meetings and discussions with him.

I also heartily congratulate Kamala Harris as the new vice president. As the first woman in this office and as a child of two immigrants she is an inspiration for many people and an example for the possibilities of America. I look forward to getting to know her.

The friendship of our two countries has been fortified over many decades. The US and Germany as part of the European Union must stand together in order to tackle the big challenges of our time: side by side in the difficult test of the pandemic, in the battle against global warming and its global consequences, in the fight against terrorism, and for an open world economy and free trade.

It is a conflict ridden time in which the voters have conferred huge responsibility on Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. I look forward to working with them and wish them strength, success and God’s blessing.

Updated

Recorded coronavirus numbers are usually lower on a Sunday, because not all regions of the US report data over the weekend, however yesterday they still remained about 100,000 for the fifth day in a row.

According to the Johns Hopkins University figures, on Sunday there were 105,927 new Covid cases, and 457 new deaths.

The New York Times reports one in 441 Americans have tested positive for the virus just in the last week. Twenty-nine states have set new weekly case records, and nationwide, hospitalizations have nearly doubled since mid-September.

On the outlook for the new administration, the Washington Post says:

Biden will inherit the worst crisis since the Great Depression, made more difficult by President Trump’s refusal to concede the election and commit to a peaceful transition of power. The Trump administration has not put forward national plans for testing, contact tracing and resolving shortages in personal protective equipment that hospitals and health-care facilities are experiencing again as the nation enters its third surge of the virus.

In a statement announcing his new Covid board, Joe Biden said: “Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most important battles our administration will face, and I will be informed by science and by experts. The advisory board will help shape my approach to managing the surge in reported infections; ensuring vaccines are safe, effective and distributed efficiently, equitably, and free; and protecting at-risk populations.”

There has been some good news on the Covid vaccine front today though. An interim analysis of vaccine by Pfizer/BioNTech has found it far exceeds the expectations of most experts and is claimed to be 90% effective.

Updated

Biden Covid taskforce to feature Trump administration whistleblower Rick Bright

One thing that Joe Biden has been able to get underway is his plans for combatting coronavirus. CNN report:

President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team announced the group of public health experts that will make up his coronavirus advisory board, which includes Rick Bright, a whistleblower from the Trump administration who alleged that his early warnings about the pandemic were ignored and ultimately led to his removal.

Revealing the members of the pandemic task force is the transition’s first major announcement, highlighting how important the president-elect finds combating the deadly virus.

The task force is chaired by former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, former Food and Drug Administration commissioner David Kessler and Yale University’s Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith. Among the other thirteen members are Dr. Luciana Borio, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations and Dr. Zeke Emanuel, one of the architects of the Affordable Care Act and an ex-Obama health adviser.

Both Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris will receive a briefing from the transition coronavirus advisory board this afternoon. Biden will then deliver remarks on his plans to combat the virus and to rebuild the American economy.

Read more here: CNN – Biden transition team announces coronavirus advisers, including whistleblower Rick Bright

Updated

If you are just waking up in the US, well first of all good morning, and secondly, can I recommend to you the latest episode of our award-winning Today in Focus podcast series?

In it, our Washington DC bureau chief, David Smith, explains to host Anushka Asthana that when Biden formally takes charge in January he will be beset by some of the biggest crises the country has faced in recent history. A pandemic that has killed more than 230,000 Americans, an economy devastated, a climate rapidly overheating and a population divided. It’s a task that would be difficult at the best of times, but he must face the prospect of having to navigate it without a majority in the Senate.

Incidentally, if – like me – you are in the UK, there’s nothing to stop you listening to it over lunch. It doesn’t have to be a breakfast thing.

Having said all of that, about Trump not being able to stop the transition of power, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility for him to throw some spanners into those works. Tom McCarthy reports:

Donald Trump’s refusal to acknowledge his loss in the 2020 presidential election has fed concerns that the presidential transition would be sabotaged, as a Trump appointee refused to sign off on funding for the transition and the Trump campaign announced an expanded legal strategy in a quest to reverse the election result.

The Center for Presidential Transition, a nonpartisan advisory board, urged the Trump administration on Sunday to begin the handoff to staff supporting Joe Biden.

“We urge the Trump administration to immediately begin the post-election transition process and the Biden team to take full advantage of the resources available under the presidential transition act,” the transition center said in a letter Sunday.

Neither Trump nor his campaign nor political appointees has the power to stop the transition, and there was no sign that the basic steps toward Biden’s installation as president were at risk of interruption.

Non-cooperation by the Trump administration in the transition could slow the ability of some agencies to act on directives by Biden in essential areas such as pandemic response and the reinstatement of environmental regulations, protections for migrants and international accords.

Action by Trump administration officials to initiate the transition seemed unlikely without the assent of Trump himself, who has made no in-person public statement in the days since the election was called but who has tweeted false accusations of fraud and pressured campaign staff to expand challenges to the election.

Read more from Tom McCarthy here: Donald Trump’s refusal to concede sparks transition sabotage fears

Jan Wolfe at Reuters has put this together looking at whether Joe Biden can transition into power despite Donald Trump’s objections. Somewhat reassuringly, he says the answer is yes.

He writes that the Presidential Transition Act of 1963 makes career civil servants vital to the transfer of power. They face deadlines for providing data and access to incoming officials.

Government officials take an oath to uphold the US constitution. This oath would require recognising Biden as the incoming president if he wins the Electoral College, regardless of what Trump says, said Robert Chesney, a professor of national security law at the University of Texas.

“I find it very hard to believe the military, the Secret Service, the FBI, or any other relevant part of the bureaucracy would go along with Trump if the Electoral College or a court says otherwise,” said Chesney.

Despite the animosity between Trump and Biden on the campaign trail, the Trump administration earlier this year complied with statutory requirements for providing federal office space and government resources to the Biden campaign.

Might the military get involved to crowbar Trump out of the White House if he refuses to budge?

Two veterans had raised the possibility in an “open letter” to top US general, Mark Milley, in August.

“If Donald Trump refuses to leave office at the expiration of his constitutional term, the United States military must remove him by force, and you must give that order,” stated the letter, published in Defense One and written by John Nagl, a retired Army officer, and Paul Yingling, a retired US army lieutenant colonel.

But others have said such a move would be better left to the Secret Service, citing a bedrock legal principle that military personnel should stay out of domestic law enforcement matters.

“We have constitutional processes for dealing with this, and the military is nowhere in that equation,” said Kori Schake, a director of foreign and defence policy at the American Enterprise Institute.

If Trump truly refused to leave the White House, on 20 January he would become a “trespasser”, Chesney said. “The Secret Service would come and escort him out,” he said.

Alexandra Villarreal has an in-depth look for us at what some experts have said about the prospects for the transition here: Will Trump accept defeat and leave the White House? Yes, experts say

Updated

The US is expected to fly Cameroonian asylum seekers back to their home country on Tuesday despite fears that their lives will be at risk and reports that deportees repatriated last month are now missing.

Some of the deportees are activists from the country’s anglophone minority, who face arrest warrants for their political activities from government forces with a well documented record of extrajudicial killings. They and their lawyers refer to Tuesday’s flight as the “death plane”.

Lawyers, human rights groups and Democratic senator Chris Van Hollen have appealed to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to halt deportation flights to Cameroon while political violence is still widespread there and while at least some of the detainees have cases pending or motions to reopen cases before the Board of Immigration Appeals.

They expressed concern that the deportations were being rushed to clear African asylum-seekers out of the country by the end of the Trump presidency, as part of a scorched earth policy in the administration’s final weeks.

There are also reports of systematic abuse by agents of the DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), often to force the asylum seekers to sign their own deportation orders, and waive their right to pending immigration hearings. In one case, detainees were allegedly put under showers and then tasered by ICE agents, leaving some in need of hospital care.

The deportations are taking place despite a finding last year by the US government that the Cameroon government “engages in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights”. The state department deferred questions about the upcoming deportations to ICE, which did not respond to a request for comment over the weekend.

Read more of Julian Borger’s report here: US to send asylum seekers home to Cameroon despite ‘death plane’ warnings

In a slightly more serious look at things in Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Inquirer over the weekend had this interesting drill down into where Joe Biden got the votes that flipped the state back into the Democrats column.

He held his first big event at a Teamsters union hall in Pittsburgh and staged an early rally in Philadelphia. He campaigned in Pennsylvania more than any other state, visiting not just the deeply Democratic cities, but also post-industrial areas around Johnstown and his native Scranton, where white working-class voters had shunned Democrats for Donald Trump. It was close, but it paid off.

Biden rebounded, compared with Hillary Clinton, in coal and steel country, often keeping pace with Trump’s rising support there. Trump modestly improved his performance in Philadelphia. But the city still cast more than 550,000 votes for Biden as a mix of voters from the full spectrum of racial identities and economic classes stood in lines to defeat a president who had stoked racial divisions and downplayed the coronavirus – each of which had scarred the city.

But the suburbs delivered Biden’s biggest gains.

The four Philadelphia collar counties gave Biden a 283,000-vote advantage, a 50% increase from Clinton’s four years ago, and more than double the margin President Barack Obama enjoyed in 2012. Allegheny County, home to Pittsburgh and its affluent suburbs, boosted Biden’s margin by 30,000 votes compared with Clinton’s, a 28% increase, with votes still being counted.

Read more here: Philadelphia Inquirer – How Joe Biden won Pennsylvania

Updated

You may have been worried that I might not mention Four Seasons Total Landscaping in today’s live blog. Never fear. There is an update. As they promised in a Facebook post yesterday, they’ve this morning launched a merchandise line.

Four Seasons Total Landscaping merchandise.
Four Seasons Total Landscaping merchandise. Photograph: Four Seasons Total Landscaping

They’ve also posted to say:

For those of you looking for more options, we hear you and we’re working on it! We are using the same small philly business that has always printed our shirts and coordinating this has taken some time. 36 hours ago, we could not have imagined we’d be the center of attention. We appreciate your patience as we work to get more merchandise options.

I can’t work out quite at the moment whether the target market is people who want to support them because they are now associated with the Trump campaign, or people who want a souvenir so that they never, ever, ever forget that this happened 👇

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani addresses the media at Four Seasons Total Landscaping in Philadelphia.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani addresses the media at Four Seasons Total Landscaping in Philadelphia. Photograph: Mark Makela/Reuters

In the meantime, this is by far the best analysis I’ve seen yet on social media of what actually went down at the weekend with that press event. I recommend you put the sound up.

Finally someone grasps the full ineptitude of “Four seasons landscape gardening”😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/KQVG0BBW9U

— Simon Ashworth (@DrSimonAshworth) November 8, 2020

It seemed like it took ages to get a result, and with Donald Trump dragging his heels over conceding, it might feel like the US election has gone on forever. And it hasn’t really finished yet. The actual process of appointing a new president has still got a few more steps to go. Here’s a reminder of the deadlines coming up …

8 December: The deadline for resolving election disputes at the state level. All state recounts and court contests over presidential election results are to be completed by this date.

14 December: Electors vote by paper ballot in their respective state capitols and also in the District of Columbia. The votes for president and vice-president are counted and the electors sign six “certificates of the vote”. The certificates, along with other official papers, are sent by registered mail to various officials, including the president of the Senate.

23 December: The certificates must be delivered to the designated officials.

6 January 2021: The House and Senate hold a joint session to count the electoral votes. The president of the Senate, vice-president Mike Pence, announces the results.

20 January 2021: The president-elect is sworn into office on inauguration day. The outgoing president welcomes the president-elect to the White House. Then in a ceremony traditionally attended by all living former presidents, the new president swears the oath of office. This is presided over by the chief justice of the supreme court, which is John Roberts.

Updated

In the final episode of Anywhere but Washington, Oliver Laughland and Tom Silverstone return to Florida, the crucial swing state that Donald Trump won last week. His victory there paved the way for his baseless attacks on the election process. From Palm Beach county, home to the president’s private club Mar-a-Lago, election night turns into election week, in a story of hope and joy but also division and lies.

Sports and politics have always existed at a very public intersection in American life, but never was the illusory firewall keeping them apart more nakedly exposed than over the past four years. Donald Trump’s political alchemy has always relied on his uncanny skill at leveraging the fault lines that divide us.

From the earliest days of his administration Trump has found fertile ground in taking this fight to America’s last unifying arena: co-opting US sports as not merely a proxy battle in the culture wars that reflect a country’s deep divides, but the primary theatre. He’s always recognized sports as an inextricable stripe of the American experience, but it wasn’t until a rally in Alabama nine months into his presidency that he first seized on what became his favorite fountainhead of easy political points.

His sensational broadside on Colin Kaepernick was only the start. Before long Trump was jousting with NBA stars Stephen Curry and LeBron James over his decision to rescind the Golden State Warriors’ unaccepted invitation for the White House visit traditionally extended to championship-winning teams. He picked a fight with Megan Rapinoe. He launched a baseless attack on Bubba Wallace over an incident this summer in which a noose was found in the team garage of Nascar’s only black driver.

For the first few years it was a cost-free enterprise. But a funny thing happened on the way to a re-election that for years felt like a fait accompli given the historical power of the incumbency. With the sports world at a standstill due to the coronavirus pandemic and amid nationwide unrest over the police killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, the calculus changed.

Read more of Bryan Armen Graham’s report here: Donald Trump wanted a fight with athletes. They may well have doomed him

Away from the election for a moment, beaches and coronavirus testing sites were closed, public transportation shut down and some evacuations in place early today after Tropical Storm Eta made landfall in the Florida Keys, bringing heavy rains to already flooded city streets

Eta hit land late Sunday on Lower Matecumbe Key, Florida. The system’s slow speed and heavy rains posed an enormous threat to South Florida, an area already drenched from more than 14 inches (350 millimeters) of rain last month. Eta could dump an additional 6 to 12in (150-300mm), forecasters said.

“In some areas, the water isn’t pumping out as fast as it’s coming in,” warned Miami Dade commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz.

People walk in floodwaters caused by Storm Eta in Fort Lauderdale.
People walk in floodwaters caused by Storm Eta in Fort Lauderdale. Photograph: Morgan Shattuck/Reuters

Associated Press report that Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said he was in frequent contact with county water officials about the struggle to drain the flooded waters, which has stalled vehicles, whitewashed some intersections and even crept into some homes.

Flash flood warnings are in place in some areas.

FLASH FLOOD WARNING in effect for portions of Broward county. Water may rise quickly cutting off access to streets & neighborhoods. Avoid roads covered by water of unknown depth. pic.twitter.com/HoUAcQUhWv

— CBS4 Miami (@CBSMiami) November 9, 2020

On Sunday night, authorities in Lauderhill, Florida, responded to a report of a car that had driven into a canal. Photos taken by fire units on the scene about 30 miles (48km) north of Miami showed rescuers searching high waters near a parking lot.

Firefighters pulled one person from a car and took the patient to a hospital in critical condition, according to a statement from Lauderhill Fire.

A couple walks along the beach during a downpour on Sunday in Miami.
A couple walks along the beach during a downpour on Sunday in Miami. Photograph: Wilfredo Lee/AP

The US National Hurricane Center in Miami said a tropical storm warning was in place for the Keys from Ocean Reef to the Dry Tortugas, including Florida Bay.

Eta was expected to move out into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico and intensify into a hurricane late Monday or Tuesday.

In the Florida Keys, the mayor ordered mandatory evacuations for mobile home parks, campgrounds and RV parks and those in low-lying areas.

Several schools districts closed, saying the roads were already too flooded and the winds could be too gusty for buses to transport students. Several shelters also opened in Miami and the Florida Keys.

“Please take this storm seriously,” urged Palm Beach County emergency management director Bill Johnson. “Please don’t drive through flooded roadways.”

Updated

You want to know the latest on the vote counting, don’t you?

In Pennsylvania, Biden’s lead is now 45,727. He’s won 49.8% of the vote compared to Trump’s 49.1%.

Arizona has Biden in front by 16,985 votes. That is the state that was called early for Biden by Associated Press and – much to the president’s annoyance – Fox News. The Trump campaign have maintained for days they would overhaul that lead. As yet, they have not.

Biden’s lead in Nevada is 34,283. Mail-in ballots can still arrive up until 12 November in the state, so there won’t be a final result there for some time.

Georgia is tightest, and is guaranteed to head to a recount. Biden leads by 10,353. In the last twenty years the outcome of an election has only been over-turned by a recount in the US three times, and in each case the change was in the low hundreds, not the thousands.

Trump is in the lead in North Carolina, with a shade over 50% of the vote at 75,371.

Overall Joe Biden has 75,404,182 votes to Donald Trump’s 70,903,094. That’s a lead of 4.5m, and those numbers represent the two highest popular votes of all time in a US presidential election.

It also marks the second time that Donald Trump, the first president to fail to be re-elected since 1992, has lost the popular vote.

Here’s some of that Washington Post report that the Trump administration is not playing ball already when it comes to the peaceful transition of power to the Biden-Harris team:

A Trump administration appointee is refusing to sign a letter allowing Joe Biden’s transition team to formally begin its work this week, in another sign the incumbent president has not acknowledged Biden’s victory and could disrupt the transfer of power.

The administrator of the General Services Administration, the low-profile agency in charge of federal buildings, has a little-known role when a new president is elected: to sign paperwork officially turning over millions of dollars, as well as give access to government officials, office space in agencies and equipment authorized for the taxpayer-funded transition teams of the winner.

It amounts to a formal declaration by the federal government, outside of the media, of the winner of the presidential race.

But by Sunday evening, almost 36 hours after media outlets projected Biden as the winner, GSA Administrator Emily Murphy had written no such letter. And the Trump administration, in keeping with the president’s failure to concede the election, has no immediate plans to sign one.

Read more here: Washington Post – A little-known Trump appointee is in charge of handing transition resources to Biden — and she isn’t budging

With one election barely behind us – and the final tally of Joe Biden’s victory still to be fully counted, we can already look ahead to the next – on 5 January in Georgia, when two run-offs give the Democrats hopes that they can flip the Senate. We’ve got a profile piece today on Stacey Abrams, who has been so vital to turning the state blue in the presidential election last week.

Though it is poised for a recount, Georgia surprised America and the world when – on the basis of the first count –the Democrats outpolled the Republicans last week. If the result survives the recount then Joe Biden will become the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Georgia in 28 years.

He could not have done it without Stacey Abrams.

Voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams in Atlanta.
Voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams in Atlanta. Photograph: Erik S Lesser/EPA

In 2018, the race for governor in Georgia was a highly contested one. The final tally said Abrams lost by just 55,000 votes. But Abrams, who had earned endorsements from Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama, wouldn’t accept the result.

More than 1 million Georgians had been purged from voter rolls, with nearly 670,000 cancelled from the roles in 2017. An Associated Press analysis revealed that 70% of the cancelled voters were Black – a stark racial disparity since only 32% of Georgia’s population is Black. This would cut deeply into Abrams voter base.

Meanwhile, the person in charge of maintaining the voter rolls was her opponent. At the time of the race, Brian Kemp was serving as Georgia secretary of state, a position that oversees the state’s elections – a clear conflict of interest.

The New Yorker said of Kemp: “His tenure as secretary of state has been marred by a record of voter suppression and intimidation tactics. In general, it’s impossible to talk about these actions without talking about how they hurt minority turnout.”

Abrams didn’t concede. But she also didn’t stop working.

Read more here: How Georgia’s Senate run-offs could finally hand Stacey Abrams her victory

Updated

As America grapples with record-breaking surges in Covid-19 infections and no meaningful federal response, some state and local governments are implementing new restrictions to combat the surging virus.

Other hard--hit areas, however, are taking little to no action against a pandemic that has claimed more than 200,000 lives and sent the US economy into a tailspin.

Oregon, which saw a state record-breaking 805 new cases Thursday and 769 Friday, will implement new restrictions in at least five counties to stop Covid-19 from spreading. These regulations halt visits to care homes, and limit indoor dining at restaurants to 50 people.

Authorities are also urging businesses to require work-from-home. Officials are also asking Oregon residents not to gather with people they don’t live with, but to limit any non-household gathering to six people, the AP reported.

In New York, Andrew Cuomo, the governor, said Friday that officials were weighing additional restrictions to combat the surge in western and central New York and would announce details on Monday. Cuomo also said that officials would ramp up enforcement of new quarantine requirements for out-of-state travelers.

Those coming to New York from states other than New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts must take a Covid-19 test within three days of arriving, show proof that it’s negative, and then have another negative test the fourth day after arrival.

Read more of Victoria Bekiempis’ report here: New restrictions announced in US states seeing Covid-19 surges

Updated

Welcome to our live coverage of US politics today. Here’s a quick catch-up on where we are, and a little of what we might expect to see later on.

I’m Martin Belam, I’ll be with you for the next few hours. If you want to have a scroll back through the last couple of hours of live coverage, you can find that at the live blog we just closed: Biden and Harris release first public schedule as they begin transition – as it happened

And here’s our full report to set you up:

Updated

Contributors

Maanvi Singh, Lauren Aratani, Joan E Greve and Martin Belam

The GuardianTramp

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