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Biden forges ahead with transition despite Trump’s efforts to overturn state results

President Donald Trump shows no signs of conceding the election despite vote counts showing President-elect Joe Biden leading by millions of votes. Judy Woodruff, Yamiche Alcindor, and Lisa Desjardins discuss the latest on Trump’s continuing legal challenges and growing impatience from lawmakers and the incoming Biden administration about the resistance to accepting the election results.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    President-elect Joe Biden is nearing 80 million votes in the presidential election count tonight, nearly six million more than President Trump, but Mr. Trump still shows no signs of conceding.

    Instead, he is pressing lower-level Republicans to try to overturn the results.

    Lisa Desjardins reports.

  • President-Elect Joseph Biden:

    Welcome to Wilmington.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    In Wilmington, Delaware, a show of unity and talk of governing, as president-elect Joe Biden spent part of his 78th birthday meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer, among their topics, coronavirus relief.

  • President-Elect Joseph Biden:

    In my Oval Office, your — mi casa, you casa.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • President-Elect Joseph Biden:

    I hope we're going to spend a lot of time together.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    At the White House today, President Trump was in policy mode, too, with his first public remarks in a week, this time at an event about drug prices, but which he pivoted to the election.

  • President Donald Trump:

    Big pharma ran millions of dollars of negative advertisements against me during the campaign — which I won, by the way. But we'll find that out.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Yet another note in the president's operetta of denial, as outside officials plainly affirm that Mr. Trump has lost his bid for a second term.

    After a six day hand-tally of ballots, the state of Georgia certified its election results, that president-elect Biden won the Peach State and its 16 Electoral College votes.

    Georgia's Republican secretary of state defended the vote count last night.

  • Brad Raffensperger:

    As secretary of state, I believe that the numbers that we have presented today are correct. The numbers reflect the verdict of the people, not a decision by the secretary of state's office or of courts or of either campaigns.

  • Question:

    Will you let Trump intimidate you into changing your mind?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    This as Republicans in Michigan are being singled out by the White House and by protesters. Michigan State Senate Leader Mike Shirkey passed a handful of demonstrators at the airport after President Trump personally asked him to come to the White House.

    The state is scheduled to certify Monday, and the Trump campaign has openly raised the idea of subverting popular vote results it disputes by getting GOP legislatures, like Michigan's, to overturn them.

    White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany also didn't dismiss the idea of the president asking individual electors to break with their state and vote for him.

  • Kayleigh McEnany:

    The president, again, is pursuing ongoing litigation, taking it day by day. And we will wait for that litigation to play out. There is an entire constitutional process of electors casting their ballots. And I will leave that to the president.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Michigan Congresswoman Debbie Dingell condemned the idea.

  • Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich.:

    Clearly an attempt by the president to change the results of the elections.

    Let me be very clear. This goes beyond partisan politics and it's an attempt to subvert our democracy and undermine the will of Michigan voters. If they do not certify the results on Monday, they are breaking the law.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Outrage is coming from a few members of the president's own party, too. Utah Senator Mitt Romney tweeted: "It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American president."

    In a statement, Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse wrote: "Trump campaign lawyers have stood before courts under oath. They have repeatedly refused to actually allege grand fraud, because there are legal consequences for lying to judges."

    Now nearly two weeks from Biden being declared the winner, it is still unclear when any formal White House transition will begin.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And Lisa joins me now, along with Yamiche Alcindor.

    So, Yamiche, to you first.

    As we just heard in Lisa's report, the president is meeting with these Michigan state officials today, on the same day Georgia certifies its results for Joe Biden.

    Tell us what the president's strategy is here.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, we end this week much like we began it, with the president insisting that he won the 2020 election, without providing any evidence to prove that.

    And he's continuing to not acknowledge that Joe Biden is the president-elect. And he's doing all this while having a strategy that is becoming more brazen and more bold, and as people in his inner circle continue to get sicker and sicker.

    So, now, tonight, we have reports that Donald Trump Jr., his son, has COVID-19. That adds to a long list of people, including the White House chief of staff, including the White House press secretary, the president himself, and a number of others who have had the virus as they have continued to keep up this fight.

    Critics of the president say what we're witnessing here with President Trump is someone who is trying to subvert American democracy, someone is trying to undo the very foundation of America.

    Now, tonight, the president had two top Michigan officials at the White House. I'm told they were here this afternoon, that they left short — a short time ago. It's not clear what exactly was said in that meeting.

    But what we do know is the president has been openly saying that Michigan officials and other officials should be trying to overturn the results and that these states should, in fact, be given to him as a winner.

    Now, Joe Biden won the state of Michigan by 150,000 votes. And when the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, was questioned about this meeting that just took place, she said — quote — "This is not an advocacy meeting and there are no campaign officials in that meeting."

    Of course, Judy, what we both know is that the candidate was in that meeting President Trump. So, he, of course, was advocating for himself.

    Another thing that's happening here is the White House continues to be on defense. The president today came to the White House podium to talk about lowering prescription drug prices. But, in that, he slid in there, "I won the election."

    So that's the president continuing to double down. Now, as we're continuing to follow this, all eyes continue to be on the GSA, Emily Murphy, someone who's supposed to be signing off on the transition officially. As of now, that process remains frozen.

    And we have to continue to watch that space to see if anything changes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The General Services Administration.

    Yamiche, thank you for that.

    And, Lisa, what is the Biden team saying about all this? How concerned are they?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Well, two fronts.

    Let's talk first about the idea of governing. The Biden transition spokesperson, Jen Psaki, today told reporters that patience, in her words, is starting to run out. There's a shared running out of patience.

    Now, this is the week where the Biden transition team is — some of them moving their e-mails over from the campaign to the transition. And those 500 people that are on agency review teams that the Biden staff has set up, they were hoping to reach out to their agency counterparts. That's not happening.

    Let's talk about the other front. That's the legal front. This is where we heard some very sharp words and pushback from the Biden team today.

    Bob Bauer speaking for them, their attorney, said no state legislature in the country's history has done what President Trump seems to be asking the Michigan state legislators to do, which is overturn the certified results that we expect to be certified Monday of a popular election.

    The Biden campaign basically is saying this is not legal, and it doesn't have any historical precedent. They say they're not concerned about their election being overturned, nor have they ever been. But they also say it's dangerous.

    And they point out one other thing. They say that the Trump campaign has shown a discriminatory pattern, that they're particularly going after challenges in African American areas, cities, that they think shows a very serious bias problem, and that's something that they say they will continue to raise in court to every Trump filing.

  • Judy Wodruff:

    These are heavily Democratic cities.

    Lisa Desjardins, Yamiche Alcindor, reporting on today's extraordinary events, thank you both.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    You're welcome.

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