Attorney General William Barr on Monday gave federal prosecutors approval to pursue allegations of “vote tabulation irregularities” in certain cases before results are certified and indicated he had already done so “in specific instances” – a reversal of long-standing Justice Department policy that quickly drew criticism for fueling unfounded claims of massive election fraud pushed by President Trump and other conservatives.

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In a two-page memo released Monday, Attorney General William Barr wrote “I authorize you to pursue substantial allegations of voting and vote tabulation irregularities prior to the certification of elections in your jurisdictions in certain cases, as I have already done in specific instances.” Pat Nabong/Chicago Sun-Times via AP

The two-page memo comes as the Trump campaign and its allies have urged the department to investigate their claims, despite little evidence that such fraud exists. Justice Department officials had previously confirmed they were looking into allegations in Nevada, and had referred other information out of Michigan to the FBI.

In his memo, circulated two days after results showed former vice president Joe Biden had defeated Trump, Barr seemed to take aim at previous guidance from the Justice Department’s Election Crimes Branch that said prosecutors should not – in most instances – take overt steps in voter fraud or related investigations until after election results are in and certified. The guidance was designed to ensure that voters and state and local election officials, rather than the federal government, decide the results.

But Barr wrote that the previous directive was never “a hard and fast rule,” and that a “passive and delayed enforcement approach can result in situations in which election misconduct cannot realistically be rectified.” He also noted that concern about the Justice Department influencing an election were reduced once voters had finished casting ballots.

“Given this, and given that voting in our current elections has now concluded, I authorize you to pursue substantial allegations of voting and vote tabulation irregularities prior to the certification of elections in your jurisdictions in certain cases, as I have already done in specific instances,” Barr wrote.

Vanita Gupta, the former head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division during the Obama administration who is now president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said the memo amounts to “scaremongering” that will allow officials to send letters or take other public steps that might suggest there is voter fraud in a particular state, when in fact there is none.

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Trump campaign sues to try to stop Pennsylvania from certifying election results

HARRISBURG, Pa. — President Trump’s campaign launched a lawsuit to stop the certification of the election results in Pennsylvania, suing Monday as counties continued to sort through provisional ballots and mail-in ballots nearly a week after the election in the battleground state.

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An election worker in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. canvases ballots that arrived between the close of voting and 5 p.m. Friday and were postmarked by Nov. 3. Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

The Associated Press on Saturday called the presidential contest for former Vice President Joe Biden, after determining that the remaining ballots left to be counted in Pennsylvania would not allow Trump to catch up.

But Trump’s campaign filed litigation in federal court over Pennsylvania’s presidential election, saying registered Democratic voters were treated more favorably than Republican voters. Trump has refused to concede.

“The election is not over,” the Trump campaign’s general counsel, Matthew Morgan, said in a news conference in Washington, D.C.

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The 85-page lawsuit itself contained no evidence of voter fraud, other than a smattering of allegations, such as an election worker in Chester County altering “over-voted” ballots by changing votes that had been marked for Trump to another candidate.

A spokesperson for Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said Trump’s campaign was trying to “disenfranchise the record number of people who voted against him” while Pennsylvania’s attorney general, Democrat Josh Shapiro, called the Trump campaign’s latest lawsuit meritless.

The lawsuit asks the court to prevent the state, Philadelphia and six counties from certifying the results of the election. It also seeks to block them from counting mail-in ballots that weren’t witnessed by a Trump campaign representative when they were processed or counting ballots cast by voters who were given an opportunity to fix mail-in ballots that were going to be disqualified for a technicality.

It accuses Allegheny County and Philadelphia — where Trump was badly beaten in unofficial election returns — of receiving and processing 682,479 mail-in and absentee ballots without review by political parties and candidates.

White House orders agencies to fire political appointees looking for post-Trump jobs

The White House is instructing federal agencies to fire political appointees of President Trump who are looking for job opportunities after Trump’s election defeat to President-elect Joe Biden.

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A senior administration official says presidential personnel director John McEntee, the president’s former personal aide, told White House liaisons at departments that they should terminate any political appointees seeking new work while Trump has refused to accept the electoral results.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

Trump’s term ends at noon on Jan. 20. Several thousand political appointees across the government will see their jobs end by that date.

Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election on Saturday.

Trump supporters launch efforts to fight election results, with no proof of irregularities

PHILADELPHIA – President Donald Trump’s refusal to accept the presidential election results is being reinforced in pockets of denial nationwide, but the anger continues to fall short of a coherent resistance movement that would threaten to overturn the vote.

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In states where Trump won and here in one where he lost a close race, elected Republicans and GOP voters called for the continuation of efforts to challenge the results, which in Pennsylvania give President-elect Joe Biden a roughly 45,000-vote margin of victory.

Small clusters of Trump supporters gathered on several Philadelphia street corners Sunday to condemn a vote-counting process in which the president lost an early lead to Biden over several agonizing days. No evidence of improper counting procedures or any type of voter fraud has been presented.

“If he won and you want to go communist, knock yourself out,” said Joe Mullica, 56, a truck driver who grew up in south Philadelphia and demonstrated with a handful of others. “But when you consider Trump increased the Black vote, the Hispanic vote and yet you’re gonna tell me Biden won more than Obama? Hello? That don’t send up red flags?”

The flashes of defiance on the streets reflected the larger one at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, where Trump continued to insist, without evidence, that Biden and the Democratic Party stole the election.

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A Trump supporter stands outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center where votes are being counted, Thursday, Nov. 5, in Philadelphia. AP Photo/John Minchillo

At five days, the lag between Election Day, on Nov. 3, and a result was not close to the longest in U.S. history. But the delay did represent perhaps the most perplexing one, based less on proof than petulance.

By the end of Sunday, all but four states had been called, leaving Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, with nine more than the 270 electoral votes needed to secure the presidency. But Trump allies have kept up questions primarily about the counts in Arizona and Georgia, both uncalled, and here in Pennsylvania.

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Trump faces calls to work with Biden team on transition

WILMINGTON, Del. — President Donald Trump is facing pressure to cooperate with President-elect Joe Biden’s team to ensure a smooth transfer of power when the new administration takes office in January.

The General Services Administration is tasked with formally recognizing Biden as president-elect, which begins the transition. But the agency’s Trump-appointed administrator, Emily Murphy, has not started the process and has given no guidance on when she will do so.

That lack of clarity is fueling questions about whether Trump, who has not publicly recognized Biden’s victory and has falsely claimed the election was stolen, will impede Democrats as they try to establish a government.

There is little precedent in the modern era of a president erecting such hurdles for his successor. The stakes are especially high this year because Biden will take office amid a raging pandemic, which will require a comprehensive government response.

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“America’s national security and economic interests depend on the federal government signaling clearly and swiftly that the United States government will respect the will of the American people and engage in a smooth and peaceful transfer of power,” Jen Psaki, a Biden transition aide, tweeted Sunday.

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President-elect Joe Biden and wife Jill Biden gesture to supporters Saturday, Nov. 7, in Wilmington, Del. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool

The advisory board of the nonpartisan Center for Presidential Transition also urged the Trump administration to “immediately begin the post-election transition process and the Biden team to take full advantage of the resources available under the Presidential Transition Act.”

Biden, who was elected the 46th president on Saturday, is taking steps to build a government despite questions about whether Trump will offer the traditional assistance.

He is focusing first on the virus, which has already killed nearly 240,000 people in the United States. Biden on Monday announced details of a task force that will create a blueprint to attempt to bring the pandemic under control that he plans to begin implementing after assuming the presidency on Jan. 20.

Former Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, ex-Food Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. David Kessler and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, a Yale University associated professor and associate dean whose research focuses on promoting health care equality for marginalized populations, are its co-chairs.

“Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most important battles our administration will face, and I will be informed by science and by experts,” Biden said in a statement. “The advisory board will help shape my approach to managing the surge in reported infections; ensuring vaccines are safe, effective, and distributed efficiently, equitably, and free; and protecting at-risk populations.”

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Former White House officials urge cooperative transition

A bipartisan group from the last three White Houses is urging the Trump administration to move forward “to immediately begin the post-election transition process.”

The call from the Center for Presidential Transition advisory board comes as the General Services Administration has yet to formally recognize Democrat Joe Biden as the president-elect. That’s a necessary move to free up money for the transition and clear the way for Biden’s team to begin putting in place the transition process at agencies.

“This was a hard-fought campaign, but history is replete with examples of presidents who emerged from such campaigns to graciously assist their successors,” members of the advisory board said in a statement.

The statement was signed by Bush White House chief of staff Josh Bolten and Health and Human Services secretary Michael Leavitt as well as Bill Clinton-era chief of staff Thomas “Mack” McLarty and Obama Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.

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Bush calls election ‘fair’ and outcome ‘clear’

Former President George W. Bush says the American people “can have confidence that this election was fundamentally fair, its integrity will be upheld, and its outcome is clear.”

He says in a statement that “no matter how you voted, your vote counted.” And Bush says President Donald Trump has the right to request recounts and pursue legal challenges, with any unresolved issues to be “properly adjudicated.”

Bush says now is the time when “we must come together for the sake of our families and neighbors, and for our nation and its future.”

Bush says he’s spoken with Joe Biden and thanked the president-elect for what Bush says was “the patriotic message” in Biden’s national address on Saturday night after being declared the election winner.

Bush says in a statement that while he and Biden have political differences, the former president says he knows Biden “to be good man who has won his opportunity to lead and unify our country.”

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Biden heads to church for first time as president-elect

Joe Biden began his first full day as president-elect the same way he does nearly every Sunday, heading to church near his home.

Biden entered St. Joseph on the Brandywine in Wilmington, Delaware, shortly after the start of 10:30 a.m. Mass. He typically arrives a bit late and leaves a few minutes early so the presence of Secret Service agents doesn’t bother other attendees.

It felt like any other Sunday, except for a huge swarm of media camped near the church entrance — having anticipated Biden’s arrival.

Biden entered with his daughter, Ashley, and his grandson, Hunter, the son of the president-elect’s late son, Beau, a former Delaware attorney general.

Biden has no other public events on his schedule but is expected to swiftly move to begin appointing key members of his team for the transition to the White House, including a chief of staff.

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Biden to name former surgeon general, FDA commissioner to chair virus panel

President-elect Joe Biden is planning to name former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and former FDA Commissioner Dr. David Kessler as co-chairs of the coronavirus working group he’s launching this week.

Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield announced the two public health experts would lead the task force during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. Murthy and Kessler have been part of a group of experts and doctors that have briefed Biden on the pandemic for months throughout the campaign.

Murthy served as surgeon general during President Barack Obama’s second term, and Kessler was FDA commissioner in the 1990s and now serves as board chair at the Centers for Science in the Public Interest.

Biden said during his victory speech Saturday night that he’d unveil the full COVID-19 task force on Monday. They’ll be tasked with taking the proposals he’s released during the campaign for dealing with the pandemic — which include investments in personal protective equipment and loans for small businesses as well as plans to implement more standardized public health guidelines — and turning them into a “blueprint” that he’ll enact when inaugurated president next January.

Biden made President Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic a central focus of his campaign against the Republican and pledged if elected to make combating the pandemic his top priority.

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Romney: Trump within rights to pursue recounts, but should ‘be careful in the choice of words’

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney says that President Trump is within his rights to pursue recounts and legal challenges in close races that decided last week’s election but urged Trump to dial back his rhetoric.

Romney told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he thought it was unlikely that a recount or legal challenges will change the outcome and suggested Trump “be careful in the choice of words.”

The Republican senator, who has been a frequent critic of Trump’s, says when a president says an “election was ‘corrupt’ or ‘stolen’ or ‘rigged,’ that that’s unfortunately rhetoric that gets picked up by authoritarians around the world.”

Romney, who was the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee, added that Trump’s language also “discourages confidence in our democratic process here at home.”

Rep. Clyburn says Trump should concede

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The highest-ranking Black member of Congress says President Trump should concede the presidency to President-elect Joe Biden, although he says it’s more crucial what the rest of the Republican Party does in the wake of the 2020 election.

U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina told CNN on Sunday that the GOP “has a responsibility here” and that he’s watching to see “whether or not the Republican Party will step up and help us preserve the integrity of this democracy.”

Clyburn also said he sees the United States as “teetering” following Trump’s term, advising that “we had better get a hold of ourselves and this country and stop catering to whims of one person.”

Clyburn also talked about his endorsement of Biden ahead of South Carolina’s early primary, a nod that helped boost Biden to win that contest, gain momentum and ultimately clinch the nomination. Saying the field was full of good candidates, Clyburn said he “came to the conclusion that Joe Biden was our best bet.”


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