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The stark difference between Trump’s and Biden’s responses to vote counting

The outcome of the presidential race is still unknown, as a handful of states continue counting ballots. In the meantime, legal challenges to the electoral process and protests are being mounted. Lisa Desjardins reports, and Yamiche Alcindor and John Yang join Judy Woodruff to discuss President Trump’s “misinformation machine” and how the Biden campaign is responding to Trump’s court action.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The presidential election now hangs on a dwindling handful of states, as the world waits for a decision.

    Around the country, vote tallies are taking place against a backdrop of legal battles and protests.

    Lisa Desjardins begins our coverage.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Across the country, states of flux, counting and waiting for full results from key states, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Nevada, Georgia.

    Former Vice President Biden remains in the presidential lead, both with the popular vote and the Electoral College. He projected confidence this afternoon in Wilmington.

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden:

    We continue to feel very good about where things stand. We have no doubt that, when the count is finished, Senator Harris and I will be declared the winners.

    So, I ask everyone to stay calm, all the people to stay calm. The process is working. The count is being completed. And we will know very soon.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    President Trump made no appearance today, but the two campaigns showed a glaring contrast, as the president tweeted unsubstantiated claims of illegal voting, and at one point wrote, "Stop the count."

  • Jen O’Malley Dillon:

    We expected it all along to be close.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    In their daily briefing of results, Biden campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon urged the count to continue.

  • Jen O’Malley Dillon:

    Counting votes and counting every vote is a fundamental tenet of our democracy.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    The counting does roll on. In Arizona, with more than half-a-million votes left, President Trump has gained some ground, but still lags. And the Associated Press has stood by its call of the state for Biden.

    In Pennsylvania, the opposite, as Mr. Trump held onto a lead, but team Biden was quickly cutting the margin, this as the Trump campaign is pushing an unprecedented strategy of legally and rhetorically casting doubt on election integrity in places the president is behind.

    There are no credible reports from officials or independent observers of significant irregularities with voting practices. Still, in Nevada this morning, the president announced a fourth lawsuit there, claiming that people voted from outside Nevada.

  • Richard Grenell:

    We are filing this federal lawsuit to protect legal voters.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    The state Supreme Court denied the campaign's request to stop counting some mail-in ballots. And officials overseeing the pivotal Las Vegas-area tally matter-of-factly stressed they are being meticulous.

  • Joe Gloria:

    We are not aware of any improper ballots that are being processed.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    In Pennsylvania, a court ruled in favor of the Trump campaign on a logistical issue, allowing them more access to observe the count.

  • Corey Lewandowski:

    We're not leaving until we witness every single vote that transpires in there.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Election officials are making progress. In Allegheny County, home to Pittsburgh, officials say the first big round is done, and they are leaving roughly 30,000 harder-to-process ballots until Friday.

  • Rich Fitzgerald:

    What I will say is, Allegheny County probably processed them faster than just about anybody. I'm proud of the fact that they did. Certainly, in the spring, we did, and even during the other night, doing the 300,000 that got finished last night.

    They will work as fast as they can and as accurately as they can. We want to make sure it's an accurate count.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    In Michigan, in a virtual hearing, Judge Cynthia Stephens rejected a quickly filed Trump request to stop counting absentee ballots. She adjourned with a reminder of the big picture.

  • Cynthia Stephens:

    I have no basis to find that there is a substantial likelihood of success on the merits. I believe everyone here, at their best, seeks to have a full and fair election process.

    Thank you.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    The legal fights led to a few dozen protests around the country, both from voters demanding counting continue, and that it stop.

    Elizabeth Fohey joined a group of pro-Trump voters in Detroit.

  • Elizabeth Fohey:

    The reason I'm here is to state that it wasn't a proper election result and that we need to look at every single vote.

    Every American deserves the right to vote, and a right to have their vote counted properly. It's clear that there have been illegal things happening in this state.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    In nearby Macomb County, Biden voters Carol and Fred Varney believe the process is working, and that Biden's win in Michigan is a good sign.

  • Carol Varney:

    I think it went well. It went better than I thought it would, because of all the threats and the stuff you hear going on at these polling places.

  • Fred Varney:

    Trump is for Trump, and for his 1 percent. And so that's why I voted for Biden.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Two days after the election, more voting numbers are coming into view, but the future for Washington is still not known.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Lisa Desjardins.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The president is now expected to speak tonight.

    And we turn now to you to Yamiche Alcindor. She is outside the White House. And our John Yang is again in Wilmington, Delaware, near the Biden campaign.

    Hello to both of you.

    So, Yamiche, with all of these lawsuits being filed by the Trump campaign, what is their legal strategy?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, the president, as well as his legal advisers, are really employing a strategy that we have seen the president use for years, and that is flooding the zone with information, misinformation, as well as lawsuits and accusations.

    We're seeing either accusations or lawsuits being filed in several states, including in Arizona, Pennsylvania, Michigan, as well as in Nevada. All of this to say that they are really making a grab bag of accusations here, including that dead people are voting, that people are not being allowed to see the votes that are connected to the president or who are Republicans who want to make sure that the counts are being voted — are being — that the votes are being counted accurately.

    They're also saying that people who maybe didn't meet the residency requirements voted.

    Critics of the president say their legal strategy comes down to this. They want votes that are favorable of the president to be counted, and they don't want the votes that are favorable to Joe Biden to be counted.

    Now, the Trump campaign is pushing back on that. There are also some legal actions that are looking bad for the president, including a judge in Georgia today saying that he is going to be dismissing a case where the Trump campaign was saying that absentee ballots are being mishandled.

    That being said, legal advisers to the Trump campaign are leaning in on the Supreme Court. A legal adviser said just in the last few hours that they're hoping Amy Coney Barrett — quote — "comes through," saying that they think that the Supreme Court, where the president has nominated or confirmed three people, that they — that they will be able to step in and help the president win this.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, John Yang, how, at this point, is the Biden campaign responding to all this?

  • John Yang:

    Well, as you might imagine, they don't think much of the arguments.

    Bob Bauer, who's heading the legal team for the Biden campaign, calls it a strategy that's destined for failure. He says it's all political theater, that it is — that it's just intended to rile up the president's base. He says it's political rhetoric, and the message of the campaign, the Biden campaign, is that the campaign is over, the time for political rhetoric is over, it's time to count the votes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, Yamiche, back to you.

    You mentioned misinformation, a lot of focus on that. What are you seeing, what are you hearing that helps us understand what kind of things — or what kind of things are being pushed out?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, the president and the Trump campaign have really activated a misinformation campaign, a misinformation machine, where you see people that are close to the president saying things that are simply not true, Judy, including his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, as well as former acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell.

    For example, in Nevada today, they brought out a voter who said that her mail-in ballot had been stolen. Clark County officials, election officials in Nevada said, one, they had no evidence of voter fraud. And, two, they investigated that specific case. And that voter actually did not challenge, did not choose to challenge the mail-in ballot when they showed her the signature.

    Another thing, we're seeing allies from the president, including Lou Dobbs, encouraging people to go to the places where the votes are being counted and surround them, Judy. There are a lot of people worried about that kind of language.

    And Rudy Giuliani has also been on a Kremlin-backed news organization, R.T., making claims that Joe Biden has some sort of mental problems. Of course, those are unfounded. But all sorts of things are being said. Most of them, Judy, are false.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And we should point out Lou Dobbs of — one of the hosts on Fox Business, on the Fox Business Channel.

    So, John, coming back to you, just how divergent are the messages coming out of these two campaigns at this point?

  • John Yang:

    They really are poles apart.

    I mean, the president tweeting, stop the vote — "Stop the count," rather, stop the fraud. He pledges to go to courts to try to turn this election around and challenge Joe Biden's wins in a number of states, trying to win in the courts.

    On the other hand, as you heard, Vice President Biden saying it's the will of the voter that's important here, so all votes have to be cast. You heard in Lisa's tape the vice president urging people, stay calm, the process is working.

    The campaign is firm in its belief that, once all the votes are counted, they will end up as victorious, that Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States. They also point out that he has already, in the votes that have already been counted, gotten more votes than any other presidential candidate in history.

    They're cautioning, be patient, be calm, things will work out.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yes, we're looking at that total. It's over 70 million votes.

    All right, John Yang.

    And, as we pointed out, Joe Biden did speak today. President Trump will be speaking sometime after 6:30 Eastern.

    Yamiche and John, thank you.

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