US Presidential Election & covid-19: Trump, Biden, transition, cases, results | November 24

US Presidential Election & covid-19 updates: Trump, Biden, transition, results, cases, latest news

US election 2020 and covid-19 live updates

News summary:

Electoral college votes (270 needed to win) 

Joe Biden: 306
Donald Trump: 232

US covid-19 cases: 12.54 million

US covid-19 deaths: 259,256 (Source: JHU)

- President Trump pardons Michael Flynn, former national security advisor who lied to FBI

- Trump: GSA to "do what needs to be done" to facilitate presidential transition

- Emily Murphy, administrator of GSA, will make transition funds available to Biden's team

- President insists his legal team "will keep up the good fight" in the courts

- President-elect Biden announces a number of cabinet picks, revealing his national security and foreign policy team

- Michigan lawmakers certify the state's 16 Electoral College votes for Joe Biden

General Motors has dropped its support for Trump administration's fuel economy lawsuit

- Dr. Moncef Slaoui, chief scientific advisor on Operation Warp Speed, believes that the US could achieve herd immunity by mid-May

- President's legal team publicly distances itself from "Trump Campaign Lawyer" Sidney Powell

- 100 former Republican national security officials demand GOP leaders denounce Trump's refusal to concede

- Medical experts warn thousands of US hospitals are currently understaffed

- Team Trump's Pennsylvania lawsuit is dismissed by Judge Brann as "strained legal argument without merit."

- President-elect's team begins fundraising after being denied access to transition funding by the GSA

- Former House Democrat calls for stimulus checks to be reserved for those willing to be vaccinated against covid-19, to help the US reach herd immunity

FDA could approve Pfizer coronavirus vaccine "within weeks", Americans could start to receive it by mid-December

Pandemic-record number of air passengers in US on Sunday, despite CDC pleading with Americans to avoid Thanksgiving travel amid skyrocketing covid cases

Browse the latest stories on the US election:

Biden makes Thanksgiving appeal to the American people

Speaking from Wilmington, Delaware President-elect Joe Biden called for Americans to work together to combat the coronavirus. He said that he accepted that the path ahead would be difficult but presented it as an opportunity for the country to came together in a common cause: "This is our moment, ours together, to write a newer, bolder, more compassionate chapter in the life of a nation."

The US has now recorded over 260,000 deaths due to covid-19, by far the most of any nation. The vaccine developments in recent weeks have given cause for celebration but with even the most optimistic predictions suggesting that it will be months before it is widely available, Biden will be desperate to keep the infection rate to a minimum. 

Pennsylvania sends emergency alert as hospitals fill with covid patients

Officials in Pennsylvania have just utilised the state's emergency alert system to warn residents that hospitals are nearly full with coronavirus patients. The alert, generally sent by SMS text to people's phones, comes with a loud warning noise and is used to inform the whole population in the event of an emergency. 

Coming on Thanksgiving eve it seems like local authorities are making a last push to persuade people not to congregate in large numbers this holiday season as case numbers continue to rise. During November Pennsylvania has set 12 records for daily covid-19 case numbers, and has recorded over 10,000 deaths in total.

The situation is so serious that new rules were introduced to ban alcohol sales on the evening on the 25 November, to curb fears that many would be out socialising tonight. 

UK satirists take aim at Trump's Scotland golf resort

'Led By Donkeys' are a British political campaign group who usually focus on Brexit issues but pride themselves on confronting what they call "thermonuclear hypocrisy". They are known for their big audio visual projects and rocked up at the President's Trump Turnberry golf resort in Scotland to give him a taste of his campaign music. 

Parodying Trump's campaign song 'YMCA' by the Village People, the word 'LOSER' was projected onto the grass in front of the resort as the President continues to deny the result of the 2020 election. 

California Rep. Schiff hits out at "crooked" Trump

Democrat Representative for California, Adam Schiff, has accused the President of protecting those who lied for him after Trump pardons his former national security advisor Michael Flynn. As Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Schiff has had run-ins with Flynn in the past, notably when he refused to cooperate with an investigation. 

Schiff said at the time: “Notwithstanding repeated efforts by committee staff to engage with your counsel and accommodate your adjournment requests, you have, to date, failed to comply with the committee’s subpoena or cooperate with the committee’s efforts to secure your compliance." 

On hearing the news that Flynn was in line for a pardon, Schiff told CNN that Trump was "acting like an organized crime figure". He added: "But this is who Donald Trump is. It's who he was on his way into the presidency, it will be exactly who he is on his last days of the presidency."

Trump pardons Michael Flynn after lying over Russia contacts

President Trump has announced that he has issued a full pardon to his former national security advisor, Michael Flynn, who pleaded guily of lying to Vice President Mike Pence and the FBI over his links to Russia. Flynn was fired by Trump after just 24 days after he admitted telling Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak that Moscow should not adhere to sanctions imposed by the Obama admiistration. 

This could be one of many presidential pardons before Trump leaves office, have already commuted the sentence of longtime advisor Roger Stone. A presidential pardon will see them escape further punishment but it is not a statement of innocence. The Department of Justice states that a pardon is “granted in recognition of the applicant’s acceptance of responsibility for the crime... It does not signify innocence.”

Republicans move to block Wisconsin vote certification  

On Tuesday Republicans filed a lawsuit similar to others they have filed in Michigan and Pennsylvania in an attempt to have thousands of ballots thrown out, primarily in Democrat strongholds.  They hope that if they are successful then the Republican-led Legislature can appoint the electors for the Electoral College going against the results of the vote which Biden won by over 20,000 votes in the state.  

Currently there is a recount in process in Dane and Milwaukee counties where Republican observes have made numerous ridiculous complaints including that the paper ballots (from mail-in ballots) were folded. Former Governor Walker early on said that the results from any recount would not be significant enough to change the fact that Biden won the state. 

Trumps plans to pardon Michael Flynn 

President Trump’s first National Security Advisor, and the shortest serving one in the 63-year history of the post at just 24 days, Michael Flynn pled guilty twice to lying to the FBI about conversations he had with Russian contacts.

He cooperated with the Mueller investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 but when the judge in his case did not show signs that he would be lenient; Flynn made an about course and changed his legal team.  He then tried to withdraw his guilty plea more than two years after admitting to his crime.

Did Pfizer get a sweetheart deal for its vaccine? 

There are worries that Pfizer’s contract with the US government as part of the Operation Warp Speed didn’t include important clauses. The clauses give the government leverage designed to protect taxpayers from the company raising the price per dose dramatically once the contract ends. Pfizer received one of the largest supply contracts under the program.

Lawmakers in Congress shouldn’t get hopes up about a job in the Biden administration 

President-elect Joe Biden is busy picking out members of his new administration but there are some who probably shouldn’t expect a call, members of the House and Senate. The Democrats have a slimmer majority in the House of Representatives this term and control of the Senate still hasn’t been decided. Biden will need all the top Democrats in place in Congress to pass his progressive agenda to “rebuild America.” There is still a chance some may be called up to serve as Biden has said “nothing is off the table.” 

Will the US have a “baby bust” in 2021? 

Looking at data from past crises researchers are predicting that the US may have a “baby bust” in the hundreds of thousands starting in the coming months. Predicting the exact number is difficult because the coronavirus pandemic is a two-in-one crisis compared to past events. But there should be no need to worry about an overall decline in births as past disasters have led to “baby booms.” 

2020 keeps on giving, strange object found in Utah 

Public safety officers out counting sheep in southeastern Utah stumbled across a 2001 Space Odyssey-like metal monolith.

Did you get your stimulus payment?

The deadline to receive a $1200 stimulus payment in 2020 has passed but fear not if you didn’t get yours, you can still apply for one in 2021. 

Some states still refuse to implement a mask mandate

Requiring people to wear masks has become a highly contentious issue across the US even though health officials have repeatedly said that it is the best way to slow the spread of the disease.  In the states where mask mandates are still not in place the argument by governors is that it isn't in their power and that it is a "feel good" measure. In Mississippi where there had been an effective mask mandate but it was allowed to expire. Since then cases in the state have been going up and now health leaders are calling for one to be put in place again.

JB

White House approves intelligence brief for Biden

The White House has given approval for President-elect Joe Biden to receive the president's daily classified intelligence brief, an administration official said on Tuesday.

The decision means Biden will have access to the latest intelligence reports about major national security threats around the globe.

Biden later told reporters in Wilmington, Delaware that he has not had an intelligence briefing but that it had been offered.

On Monday, the General Services Administration, the federal agency that must sign off on presidential transitions, told Biden he could formally begin the hand-over process. GSA Administrator Emily Murphy said in a letter that Biden would get access to resources that had been denied to him because of the legal challenges seeking to overturn his win.

An official at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said: “Following the statutory direction of the Presidential Transition Act, ODNI will provide requested support to the transition team."

Trump

Pennsylvania officials ask court to reject Trump campaign's election appeal​​

Pennsylvania officials asked the US Third Circuit Court of Appeals to reject an appeal made by US President Donald Trump's campaign, according to a court filing on Tuesday.

Lawyers for Trump's campaign have asked the court to halt the "effect" of the battleground state's results. The Pennsylvania results were certified earlier on Tuesday, further dimming Trump's already long-shot quest to change the outcome of the election.

The Trump campaign is appealing a decision made by a lower court judge, who rejected claims of inconsistent treatment of mail-in ballots. Some counties told voters they could fix defective ballots, such as a missing "secrecy envelope," while others did not.

vaccine

Mexico aiming to start covid-19 vaccinations in December

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc's covid-19 vaccine could start being administered in Mexico in mid-December if it is approved by the country's health regulator, Mexico's foreign minister said on Tuesday.

Pfizer was scheduled to submit details on the vaccine's use to regulator Cofepris on Tuesday and Wednesday, allowing the regulator to begin its analysis in line with its U.S. counterparts, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard told a regular news conference.

"Pfizer - if Cofepris approves - will reach Mexico in December of this year," Ebrard added on Twitter.

Pfizer last week applied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use authorization of its covid-19 vaccine. The FDA will discuss the emergency use authorization on Dec. 10.

CDC may soon shorten covid-19 quarantine period

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may soon shorten the length of self-quarantine period after potential exposure to the coronavirus, a top official said on Tuesday.

Health authorities currently recommend a 14-day quarantine in order to curb transmission of the virus but an official said Tuesday that there is evidence that the period could be shortened if patients are tested for the virus during their quarantine.

"Let me confirm that we are constantly reviewing the evidence and we are starting to have evidence that a shorter quarantine complemented by tests might be able to shorten that quarantine period from 14 days to shorter days," a top US health official said on a Tuesday press call.

"On fire with covid": officials plead with Americans to stay home

State and federal officials pleaded with Americans to stay at home and redouble efforts to curtail the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday, defending unpopular public health measures as record hospitalizations pushed healthcare professionals to the brink.

"We are on fire with covid," Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said on CNN after enacting new restrictions last week including retail curbs and school closures. "We're just trying to do the right thing."

The US surpassed 86,000 hospitalizations for covid-19 on Tuesday, a record, as 30 of the 50 states reported record numbers of patients this month.

That has taxed already exhausted healthcare providers as more than 1,500 coronavirus deaths and 171,000 new cases pile up daily on average.

US Surgeon General Jerome Adams asked Americans to grasp "the severity of the moment" and remain vigilant by wearing masks, avoiding crowds and frequently washing hands until promising vaccines and therapies can be administered.

"We just need you, the American people, to hold on a little bit longer," Adams, a White House Coronavirus Task Force member, told Fox News in an interview.

Adams urged people to adjust their plans ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, which has led to the busiest US air travel since the early days of the pandemic in March, with millions of people flying despite the hazards of a crowded airport.

US health officials last week strongly recommended that Americans avoid travel for the holiday.

(Reuters)

Bill Gates predicts when the next pandemic will arrive

Covid-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer and BioNTech are awaiting FDA approval but the tech billionaire warns that another virus is inevitable.

Full details:

Economists write open letter calling for another round of stimulus checks

A replacement for the CARES Act is long overdue and research from the Economy Security Project calls for another round of $1,200 Economic Impact Payments.

Full story:

Biden Harris announcement

Biden-Harris cabinet taking shape

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris ahead of Tuesday's announcement of key foreign policy and national security nominees and appointments at the Queen Theatre in Wilmington, Delaware.

(Mark Makela/Getty Images/AFP)

Cabinet picks "the right men and women for these crucial positions" - Harris

As well as naming Anthony Blinken as secretary of state, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have also announced John Kerry as climate envoy, Linda Thomas-Greenfield as ambassador to the United Nations, Avril Haines as director of national intelligence, Alejandro Mayorkas as secretary of homeland security and Jake Sullivan as national security adviser.

"They are, to a person, the right women and men for these critical positions,” Harris said.

Biden announces Blinken as secretary of state pick

President-elect Joe Biden has announced that Anthony Blinken is to become his secretary of state, at an event where he and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris have presented their first choices for the cabinet.

“He’s one of the better prepared [people] for this job,” Biden said. “No-one’s better prepared, in my view. He will be the secretary of state who previously served in top roles on Capitol Hill, in the White House and in the State Department.

He delivered for the American people in each place, for example leading our diplomatic efforts in the fight against ISIS, strengthening America’s alliances and position in the Asia-Pacific, guiding our responses to the global refugee crisis with compassion and determination.

He will rebuild morale and trust in the State Department, where his career in government began.”

Biden concluded: “Tony is ready on day one.”

Blinken, 58, was deputy secretary of state and national security adviser in the administration of President Barack Obama, under whom Biden served as vice-president.

Hospital

Surgeon General urges public to hold on as hospitalisations rise

US Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Tuesday pleaded with Americans to grasp 'the severity of the moment' and remain vigilant against the coronavirus pandemic, as record hospitalizations pushed healthcare professionals to the brink. 'We are almost to a vaccine. We've got new remedies out there. We just need you, the American people, to hold on a little bit longer,' Adams, a White House Coronavirus Task Force member, told Fox News in an interview.

He urged people to adjust their plans ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, which has led to the busiest US air travel since the early days of the pandemic in March, with millions of people flying despite the hazards of a crowded airport. Health officials last week strongly recommended that Americans avoid travel for the holiday. Global pharmaceutical companies have reported promising trial results in the development of vaccines, which could be administered to high-priority patients in December. Meanwhile, the government will begin distributing Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc's newly authorized Covid-19 antibody combination therapy starting Tuesday. But hospitals need immediate relief. The United States was on pace to surpass 85,000 hospitalizations for Covid-19 on Wednesday, a record, as 30 of the 50 states reported record numbers of patients this month. 

New York City's first Black mayor David Dinkins dies aged 93

David Dinkins, the first and only Black mayor of New York City has died at age 93. Dinkins, who dedicated much of his public life trying to improve race relations in the city, died on Monday evening in Manhattan. He became the city's 106th mayor in 1989. His death comes after that of his wife, Joyce, who died in October at the age of 89.

Biden to introduce key members of his Cabinet and national security team

Joe Biden will introduce key members of his Cabinet and national security team at an event to be held in Wilmington, Delaware later this afternoon. Among them will be Antony Blinken (secretary of state), Alejandro Mayorkas (secretary of Homeland Security), Avril Haines (director of national intelligence), Linda Thomas-Greenfield (US ambassador to the United Nations), Jake Sullivan (national security adviser) and John Kerry as special envoy for climate.

General Motors drops support for Trump in stopping California from setting emissions

General Motors will no longer back President Donald Trump's effort to stop California from setting its own emission rules. CEO Mary Barra said in a letter Monday to environmental groups that GM will no longer support the Trump administration in its defense against a lawsuit over its efforts against California’s standards. And GM is urging other automakers to do the same. The move is a sign that GM and other automakers are anticipating big changes when President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January. Already at least one other large automaker, Toyota, said it may join GM in switching to California’s team.

Moderna

EU reaches deal with Moderna for Covid-19 vaccine

The European Union has reached a deal with U.S. biotech firm Moderna for the supply of up to 160 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate, the president of the European Commission said on Tuesday. The deal will be formally approved by the EU executive on Wednesday, Ursula von der Leyen said.

GSA tells Biden presidential transition can begin

It's not quite a concession but the Trump administration is finally allowing the formal transfer to power to begin in the White House.

Read more: 

Doubts cast over Sputnik V

Russia's Sputnik V vaccine candidate has been described by experts as "not passing the smell test" due to the size of the control group for which efficacy results have been made available. 

There is a ray of hope now with Pfizer and Moderna announcing successful vaccine trials for covid-19, the question is when will it be available and to whom.

How long will the world wait for a covid-19 vaccine? 

With several coronavirus vaccine candidates awaiting authorization, Bloomberg provides an update on where the world stands in the search for a counter-measure against covid-19.  

GSA chief says decision to allow transition to begin was 'solely mine'

The head of the General Services Administration, Emily Murphy, on Monday said the decision allowing the start of a presidential transition to Democrat Joe Biden was "solely mine" despite a tweet from Donald Trump in which he said he recommended the move.

"I want you to hear directly from me: I was never pressured with regard to the substance or timing of my decision. The decision was solely mine," GSA Administrator Murphy said in a letter.

"I was not directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official — including those who work at the White House or GSA — to delay this determination or to speed it up."

snoop

Snoop Dog lends a helping hand for Thanksgiving

With many families struggling this year to put food on the table, Mike Blake caught a shot of rapper Snoop Dog lending a hand at the annual Thanksgiving Turkey Giveaway in Inglewood, California

The Secret Service prepares for the transition 

Even though President Trump has not conceded the election yet, the Secret Service is starting to makes plans for when he moves out of the White House. According to ABC, they have been informed that his security detail has been asked if they would like to transfer to Mar-a-Lago.  

As well New Yorkers will be breathing a sigh of relief that city traffic around Trump Tower may be just a little less congested. The Secret Service is working with New York Police Department to free up the space on the streets around Trump Tower as security is drawn down. Resources will be redirected to Florida Trump’s future primary residence, he changed his primary civilian residency to his Mar-a-Lago property last year. 

Depending on whether Congress can hammer out a deal in the next couple weeks, Americans may have to wait until 20 January, Inauguration Day, to see action.

US posts sharpest weekly rise in covid-19 deaths since August

The United States recorded its biggest weekly rise in covid-19 deaths since August, increasing 32% from the previous week to average about 1,500 people per day, according to a Reuters analysis of state and county reports.

New cases rose 13% in the week ended 22 November, or an average of more than 168,000 per day. Ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday this Thursday, at least 23 states have announced new restrictions to try to slow the spread of the virus but so far only New Mexico has issued a stay-at-home order.

Cases rose by 90% in New Mexico last week, the biggest percentage increase in the country, followed by Virginia at 62% and Arizona with a 50% increase. 

In North Dakota, the hardest hit state on a per capita basis, nearly 73,400 tests have come back positive for the new coronavirus since the beginning of the outbreak. That is equivalent to 9.6% of the state's population. North Dakota mandated masks starting 14 November but another 14 states still do not require them.

Across the United States, 9.8% of tests came back positive for the virus for a second week in a row, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer-run effort to track the outbreak.

The World Health Organization considers positive test rates above 5% concerning because it suggests there are more cases in the community that have not yet been uncovered.

Out of 50 states, 26 had positive test rates above 10% last week, led by Iowa at 56%, South Dakota at 45% and Idaho at 40%. 

biden

Poland awaiting developments in US before recognising Biden

Poland will wait to see how the political and legal situation develops in the United States before recognising Joe Biden as the new president, Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau said on Tuesday.

Biden's victory on 3 November is awkward for Warsaw's right-wing conservative government, which set great store by its relationship with Trump, securing a pledge of a permanent US military deployment, while straining the tolerance of Brussels and European Union allies over its handling of democratic values.

After weeks of fruitless legal campaigns, President Donald Trump's administration on Monday cleared the way for Biden to transition to the White House, giving him access to briefings and funding, while vowing to continue fighting the result.

Poland's president has congratulated Biden on a successful campaign, but Warsaw has not officially recognised him as the next US president.

Asked when he would do so, Rau noted that the Electoral College, which formally elects the president, did not meet until 14 December, and that legal challenges could continue until the inauguration on 20 January.

"It depends on the political and legal developments in the United States itself," he told public radio.

During the election campaign, Biden accused Trump of backing authoritarian leaders around the world, citing Poland among others.

Trump vows to fight on

Despite the first step towards a formal handing over of power to the Biden transition administration, Donald Trump has stated he will continue his bid to challenge what he described as the "most corrupt election in American political history." 

Trump gives GSA official go-ahead to start transition 

President Donald Trump on Monday said he had given Emily Murphy, the head of the General Services Administration, the go-ahead to proceed with a transition for President-elect Joe Biden's administration despite plans to continue with legal challenges.

"I want to thank Emily Murphy at GSA for her steadfast dedication and loyalty to our Country. She has been harassed, threatened, and abused – and I do not want to see this happen to her, her family, or employees of GSA," Trump said in a tweet.

"Our case STRONGLY continues, we will keep up the good fight, and I believe we will prevail! Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same."

US election and coronavirus: latest news

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the US elections, with all the ongoing reaction, breaking news and regular updates of the fall-out from the historic election on 3 November.

We'll also be keeping you updated on all the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic, which is the number one priority for President-elect Joe Biden who is already getting to work on how he plans to govern a very divided United States with Donald Trump still yet to recognise or acknowledge defeat. The incumbent has, however, instructed the General Services Administration to start the transition process. 

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