CBS News drilled down today to find another consequence of the General Services Administration’s unwillingness to “ascertain” a winner of the presidential election: the congratulatory phone calls President-elect Joe Biden is receiving from world leaders are happening without the help of the State Department, according to a transition official. A transition expert calls the lack of help with the calls “unprecedented.” Still, Mr. Biden in the past two days has spoken with foreign leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Read the story here from CBS reporters Bo Erickson, Camilla Schick, Christina Ruffini and “Face the Nation” moderator and CBS News’ senior foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Brennan.
PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN
After delivering remarks about building on the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Biden took questions from the press for the first time as president-elect.
“I think it’s an embarrassment quite frankly,” Mr. Biden said when asked to respond about the lack of concession from President Trump. He added this would “hurt” Mr. Trump’s “legacy.” He said his transition team has all the resources it needs to press forward with necessary preparations, even though the Trump administration and the General Services Administration are not recognizing him as president-elect.
“We are already beginning the transition. We’re well under way,” Mr. Biden said. The president-elect was still optimistic about the transition even if he does not have access to classified briefings, saying they would “be nice to have it but it’s not critical.” During a briefing with reporters, the Biden campaign’s senior adviser Bob Bauer repeated the message that the Biden-Harris administration will continue on with the transition process, despite ongoing legal challenges from the Trump campaign.
CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro says Bauer and General Counsel Dana Remus pointed to the lack of any evidence shown in current and past cases filed by the Trump campaign, and said they’re “theatrics, not really lawsuits.” On Tuesday, Mr. Biden’s transition team also released readouts of calls with world leaders from France, Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom. The president-elect expressed gratitude to each of the leaders for their well wishes and said he looks forward to strengthening the relationships between the U.S. and each nation.
Also in transition news, Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Elect Kamala Harris will “sever all ties,” from the law firm DLA Piper before Inauguration Day, a campaign spokesperson tells CBS News campaign reporter Tim Perry.
Emhoff joined the law firm in 2017, the same year Harris was sworn in as a junior senator from California, as a partner for the firm’s Intellectual Property and Technology Practice and its Media Sport and Entertainment sector. He was based out of the firm’s Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles offices. Emhoff has been on a leave of absence since Harris joined the Democratic ticket in August.
Before the election, Emhoff was active on the campaign trail holding many of his own events in battleground states and holding virtual fundraisers. On the eve of the election, Emhoff held a joint campaign event with his wife in Philadelphia. A campaign spokesperson also tells CBS News that he is currently working with the Biden-Harris transition team to “develop the portfolio he will focus on to support the work of the administration.” Emhoff, who married Harris in 2014, has two children from a previous marriage.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP
President Trump’s campaign is filing a federal lawsuit in Michigan claiming, there was unequal treatment of Democratic and Republican poll watchers and ineligible votes may have been cast, according to CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster and Nicole Sganga.
The campaign is also asking for results to be checked from counties that used Dominion ballot tabulating software after a human error caused an initial reporting mistake in Antrim County, Michigan. Once it was corrected, President Trump gained several thousand votes in the county.
Thor Hearne, counsel to the Trump Campaign, claims there are more than 100 affidavits citing irregularities in Wayne County. The campaign said the complaint will ask a judge to make sure Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson can’t certify results until they’ve verified that all ballots cast were tabulated according to law. Two Michigan judges have denied requests for emergency relief in Michigan, including one case from the Trump campaign and one from an outside group.
Meanwhile, the internal blame game inside the White House is intensifying with many questioning the “so-called legal strategy” being waged by the campaign, CBS News White House Correspondent Ben Tracy reports.
While there are still no concrete plans to invite Joe Biden to the White House until the campaign exhausts its “legal options,” one senior administration official tells CBS News there is a “very, very, very small window” to change any election results. As world leaders formally congratulate President-elect Joe Biden, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said Tuesday there would be a “smooth transition to a second Trump administration,” refusing to acknowledge Biden’s projected victory.
President Trump has also formed a new political action committee geared toward retaining power in the Republican Party and taking advantage of a large base of support across the country, despite his loss in the presidential election, reports Sganga.
“The president always planned to do this, win or lose, so he can support candidates and issues he cares about, such as combating voter fraud,” Tim Murtaugh, spokesman for the Trump campaign, said in a statement. The new fundraising apparatus, called “Save America,” was first reported by the New York Times.
The president has already begun fundraising for his new PAC. On Tuesday morning, the Trump campaign began earmarking 60% of donations received to Mr. Trump’s new PAC, which was registered with the Federal Election Commission on Monday by Trump campaign treasurer Bradley Crate. The remaining 40% of every donation goes to the Republican National Committee.
Even though the Trump campaign website and its fundraising emails explicitly solicit funds only for Mr. Trump’s election defense fund, this fund only receives the remainder of any donation exceeding the maximum $5,000 allowed under campaign finance rules.
Until Tuesday, 60% of post-election donations to the Trump campaign were earmarked to pay off debts that the president’s reelection bid had amassed this cycle. Though Federal Election Commission campaign filings for October have not yet been made public, and November’s are not yet due, the campaign appeared to be running low on cash going into October, with just $60 million in cash on hand and $160 million in debt from TV ads alone.
The fine print on the campaign website reads: “60% of each contribution first to Save America, up to $5,000/$5,000, then to DJTP’s Recount Account, up to a maximum of $2,800/$5,000. 40% of each contribution to the RNC’s Operating account, up to a maximum of $35,500/$15,000. Any additional funds will go to the RNC for deposit in the RNC’s Legal Proceedings account or Headquarters account, up to a maximum of $213,000/$90,000.”
DID YOU HEAR THAT?
Election night in America is usually just that. A night. Just one night. Not in 2020. Not in a pandemic-afflicted year when so few things seem normal. This is the story of the people at CBS News who brought you Election 2020 coverage that started on Tuesday and ended on Saturday. At 11:25 a.m. ET, CBS News Elections and Surveys Director Anthony Salvanto piped into the internal communication channel at CBS News with a historic projection, “Joe Biden: win, Pennsylvania. Joe Biden elected president.”
Those sentence fragments put to rest four days of national uncertainty. The race had been close, and while the president promised legal challenges, voters had spoken clearly: Joe Biden would be the next president. Join CBS News chief Washington correspondent and podcast host Major Garrett for a behind the scenes look at CBS News’s coverage of four days in November that shaped history. Featuring CBS News’ Weijia Jiang, Ben Tracy, Nikole Killion, Jamie Yuccas, Jericka Duncan, Mark Strassmann, Kris Van Cleave, Anthony Salvanto, Gaby Ake, Stefan Becket, Christina Ruffini, Nicole Sganga, Bo Erickson, LaCrai Mitchell, and Alex Tin.
ISSUES THAT MATTER
The Supreme Court heard arguments over the Affordable Care Act Tuesday, exactly one week after Election Day, in a cycle where Democrats campaigned on a message of “health care on the ballot.”
But remarks made during arguments suggest the court is not leaning toward striking down President Obama’s signature legislation in its entirety, reports CBS News political unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice.
Republican state officials led by Texas and backed by the Trump administration brought the case raising questions about the constitutionality of the law after the individual mandate was repealed with the passage of the GOP tax plan in 2017. And while other Obamacare cases have appeared before the highest court before, this case came before a court with the cemented conservative majority thanks to President Trump’s three Supreme Court appointments.
During the arguments however, both Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kavanaugh indicated the rest of Obamacare stays largely in place even without the individual mandate. A ruling on the case would not come down until next year, but should the Affordable Care Act be struck down, more than 20 million Americans could lose their health insurance.
The Supreme Court arguments took place after President-elect Joe Biden actually ran his 2020 campaign on a platform of expanding Obamacare with a public option. But action on health care could be on hold. It’s not yet known whether Republicans will retain control of the Senate, since both Georgia Senate races head into runoffs next year. If so, Senator Mitch McConnell could be a massive roadblock, having worked on numerous occasions to repeal Obamacare in Congress since its passage a decade ago.
A judge in Wayne County, Michigan will hear another case on Wednesday alleging fraudulent activity in Detroit’s election, according to CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster.
The lawsuit was filed this week by two poll challengers and includes affidavits from other people who worked at the TCF Center alleging ballots were counted even if it a voter’s eligibility wasn’t confirmed, signatures weren’t checked and ballots were backdated (a claim that the senior adviser to Detroit’s city clerk has already denied).
One woman who filed an affidavit said she’s been a Detroit employee “for decades” and said she saw people coach voters to cast ballots for Joe Biden at satellite clerk’s offices. According to The Detroit News, the employee has been on furlough since earlier this year. An attorney for the city of Detroit told the Detroit News that the case is “not based upon actual evidence” and is “based upon conspiracy theories.”
Pennsylvania is no longer receiving ballots, with the deadline for counties to receive military and overseas ones passing in the early evening. Counties continue to count provisional ballots, some of which may be rejected.
About 20 GOP Pennsylvania General Assembly members this morning called for a “bipartisan investigatory committee with subpoena powers” to audit the election in the state, despite no evidence of fraud, reports CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak. “This matter is our top priority,” said Rep. Dawn Keefer, who represents parts of Cumberland and York counties.
Neither Keefer nor the other Republican lawmakers present wore masks during the indoor press conference as Pennsylvania hit a single-day record for COVID cases. Rep. Kevin Boyle, the ranking Democrat on the House State Government Committee, said it was “shameful” that state Republicans were questioning the validity of the election results. “If you want to ensure that the election process here in Pennsylvania is fair and free, you can start by not sowing doubt and discord without evidence of any wrongdoing,” Boyle said.
Republican House Speaker Bryan Cutler on Friday also sent a letter to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf asking for a statewide audit. “The uncertainty surrounding these interventions has cast an unnecessary cloud on the election process,” Cutler wrote.
The Pennsylvania House State Government Committee will soon hold hearings on the 2020 election, its interim GOP chair said. “We need to investigate what transpired so we can develop a comprehensive legislative fix to ensure that the people of Pennsylvania can have faith in their future elections,” said Rep. Seth Grove, the interim chair. House Democrats will attend the hearings “to try to keep the process honest if nothing else,” said Bill Patton, a spokesperson for the House Democratic Caucus.
IN THE SENATE
In the Senate, Republican Senator Mitch McConnell and Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer were both reelected to lead their caucuses, reports CBS News digital politics reporter Grace Segers. CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson notes Senator Rick Scott of Florida was elected unanimously as the chairman of the Republican campaign arm, the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Scott in a press conference after the party elections, focused on the Senate runoffs in Georgia, saying, “I know the job is to make sure we have a Republican majority in the Senate. First, we have to go win in Georgia, and we’re going to win in Georgia.” The chair election for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will take place at a later date.
Democrat Cal Cunningham called Republican Senator Thom Tillis Tuesday to concede in the North Carolina Senate race, reports CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson.
In the call, Cunningham congratulated Tillis on his victory and wished him and his family the best in their continued service, according to a statement from the Cunningham campaign. CBS News reported Tillis has won the election, following Cunningham’s concession. Tillis declared victory and delivered remarks on Election Night as the race was still tight.
Cunningham was considered one of the rising stars of this cycle until he admitted to an extramarital texting relationship at the beginning of October. In his statement, he did not acknowledge his missteps, but he did thank his campaign campaign staff.
IN THE HOUSE
The race for the Democrat open seat in Iowa’s 2nd District is the closest in the nation. CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro reports that as of Tuesday afternoon, Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks is leading Democrat Rita Hart by only 50 votes.
Iowa’s Secretary of State ordered an audit and recount in Lucas County, after there was an error from one precinct of reporting test data and not the actual count. Last weekend, a similar incident occurred and was resolved in Jasper County. The audit and recount in Lucas County will take place Thursday.
YEAR OF THE REPUBLICAN WOMEN
As the nation celebrates 100 years of women voting in the U.S., Americans are sending more women than ever to represent them in Washington — 135. Among them are a record number of Republican women, after the party faced devastating setbacks in 2018, report CBS News political unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice and broadcast associate Aaron Navarro.
According to the Center for American Women and Politics, 32 GOP women will join the next Congress, surpassing the record of 30 Republican women sent in 2006. At least 24 Republican women so far will be headed to the House — including at least 13 new members — closing in on the party’s 2006 House record of 25 women.
Republican Beth Van Duyne in Texas’ 24th District declared victory after Democrat Candace Valenzuela conceded on Tuesday. In California’s 48th, incumbent Democrat Harley Rouda has conceded to Republican Michelle Steel. Their wins would surpass the record of 25 Republican women elected to the House. CBS News has not yet called these races.
House Republicans exceeded expectations Tuesday night, unseating at least seven incumbent Democrats in competitive races, and women Republican candidates were the ones who flipped the seats in all but one contest. The winning candidates included Stephanie Bice of Oklahoma, New Mexico’s Yvette Herrell, Michelle Fischbash in Minnesota, Maria Elvira Salazar of Florida, Ashley Hinson in Iowa, and in South Carolina, Nancy Mace.
But the rise in the number of Republican women descending on Washington did not come without a concerted effort. The surge in Republican women comes after the 2018 midterms ushered in a record number of women overall — but only a few were Republicans, raising red flags about representation in the party. Only 13 GOP women won seats in the House in 2018, and only 11 ran for re-election in 2020.
Learn more about the wave of new GOP members here.
AND JUST IN CASE…
…you have any questions about the General Services Administration and how it helps with presidential transitions, you can read more HERE from CBS News digital politics reporter Grace Segers.