December 4, 2020

Biden, Trump in transition standoff: Live news – Al Jazeera English
  • President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday is set to give a speech on the Affordable Care Act, as a challenge to the legislation is heard by the 6-3 conservative majority Supreme Court.
  • President Donald Trump, who has not conceded, has reportedly ordered agencies to, for the time being, block the transition to the Biden administration, again bucking election norms.
  • The Biden team has threatened legal action if the government agency that can unlock transition funds and office access continues to not recognise his victory.
  • There are 71 days until Trump’s term ends on January 20, and 34 days until the Electoral College officially votes on the president based on state results.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the US elections. This is Joseph Stepansky.

33 mins ago (16:25 GMT)

Only 180 ballots in question in Trump Arizona election challenge: Report

The Trump campaign filed a lawsuit in Maricopa County in Arizona last week alleging that poll workers ignored procedures designed to give voters a chance to correct ballot mistakes.

The lawsuit specifically targets “over votes”, or instances where voters mark more candidate options than is allowed. Voters can either correct their ballots or submit them as is. The lawsuit alleges that voters who chose the latter option were denied a subsequent manual inspection of their ballots that they are entitled to.

However, a lawyer for the county on Monday said that, of 155,860 votes cast, only 180 were identified as “potential over votes”, a paltry amount that is extremely unlikely to change the result in the state, the Arizona Republic reported.

The lawyer added that it was also unclear how many of those ballots were wrongly tabulated, but that it was highly unlikely that that all those that needed correction would favour Republicans.

46 mins ago (16:12 GMT)
Trump plans political action committee: Report

Trump is planning to launch a leadership political action committee (PAC) that will raise funds for federal elections and help him keep influence on the Republican party after he leaves office, officials told the New York Times.

The newspaper reported that Trump is expected to make an announcement later this week. The leadership PAC would only be able to accept donations of $5,000 per individual, but can accept those donations from an unlimited number of people and other political action networks, the Times reported.

Trump campaign spokesman told the newspaper that Trump had “always planned to do this, win or lose…so he can support candidates and issues he cares about, such as combating voter fraud”.

1 hour ago (15:56 GMT)

Turkey’s Erdogan congratulates Biden after days of silence

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan congratulated  Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their victory in the 2020 presidential election, a day after saying he would wait to comment until the result is finalised.

In his message, Erdogan reiterated Ankara’s “determination to work closely with the US Administration” in the coming period, adding that “the strong cooperation and alliance” between the two countries would continue to contribute to world peace.

Read more about what Biden’s victory means to Turkey here.

1 hour ago (15:40 GMT)

Supreme Court begins to hear challenge to Obamacare

The conservative-majority Supreme Court has begun to hear arguments in a challenge by Republican-governed states backed by President Donald Trump’s administration aiming to invalidate a foundational component of the so-called “Obamacare” healthcare law.

President-elect Biden has criticised Republican efforts to throw out the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as the law is formally known, amid the coronavirus pandemic and hopes to buttress legislation after taking office on January 20.

In 2018, Texas-based US District Court Judge Reed O’Connor ruled that the legislation was unconstitutional as currently structured in light of a Republican-backed change made by Congress in 2017. In 2019, the New Orleans-based 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals partially upheld that ruling, saying the law’s “individual mandate,” which required people to obtain insurance or pay a financial penalty, ran afoul of the Constitution. The ruling stopped short of striking down the law.

The case represents the latest Republican legal attack on the 2010 law, which was the signature domestic policy achievement of former President Barack Obama, under whom Biden served as vice president. The Supreme Court in 2012 and 2015 ruled against previous Republican challenges to it.

Read more about what’s at stake here.

2 hours ago (14:44 GMT)

Top DOJ lawyer resigns after Barr directive

A top lawyer at the Justice Department has resigned in protest after Attorney General William Barr gave a directive to prosecutors to “pursue substantial allegations” of irregularities of voting and the counting of ballots, which critics say fuels the flames of Trump so-far unfounded claims of widespread fraud.

Barr told prosecutors in a letter on Monday that “fanciful or far-fetched claims” should not be a basis for investigation. His letter did not indicate the Justice Department had uncovered voting irregularities affecting the outcome of the election.

The directive prompted Richard Pilger, who for years has served as director of the Election Crimes Branch, to resign from his post, citing in an internal email “the new policy and its ramifications”.

The previous Justice Department policy, designed to avoid interjecting the federal government into election campaigns, had discouraged overt investigations “until the election in question has been concluded, its results certified, and all recounts and election contests concluded”.

3 hours ago (14:15 GMT)

White House instructs agencies to block Biden transition: Report

The White House has instructed officials at government agencies to block cooperation with Biden’s transition team, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

News organisations called the election for Biden on Saturday, but Trump has refused to concede. The General Services Administration, which can give access to transition funds and office space to Biden’s team, has so far not recognised Biden’s victory as the Trump campaign launches a raft of long-shot legal challenges to state vote counts.

Government officials told The Washington Post that they were instructed by the White House on Monday not to cooperate with Biden’s team until the election results were made official by the government.

In the US, it is the norm for media outlets to declare a victor in the election after it is clear one candidate no longer has a path to victory. The winner is not officially decided until electors from each state, who in most cases pledge to vote for the winner of the popular vote in their state, vote on December 14 and those votes are approved by Congress on January 6.

It is common for the GSA to recognise a candidate after they are projected the winner and for the outgoing administration to coordinate with the incoming administration in the months before the January 20 inauguration.

Read all the updates from yesterday (November 9) here.