President Trump continues to contest the results of last week’s election, after counts showed Joe Biden won the Electoral College and the popular vote by more than 5 million ballots. On Tuesday, the Office of Management and Budget said it was proceeding with President Trump’s budget request for next fiscal year, and Trump’s top Cabinet member, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said he was preparing for a second Trump term. Pompeo was questioned by reporters at the State Department.
Rich Edson: “Is the State Department currently preparing to engage with the Biden transition team? And if not, at what point does a delay hamper a smooth transition or pose a risk to national security?”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: “There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration. All right? We’re ready.”
An official with Joe Biden’s transition team told CBS News that the congratulatory phone calls President-elect Joe Biden is receiving from world leaders are happening without the help of the State Department. Secretary of State Pompeo was asked to compare the Trump administration’s response to Biden’s victory with overseas elections where defeated candidates cling to power.
Reuters reporter: “This department frequently sends out statements encouraging free and fair elections abroad” —
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: “Yes.”
Reuters reporter: — “and for the losers of those elections to accept the results. Doesn’t President Trump’s refusal to concede discredit those efforts?”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: “That’s ridiculous. And you know it’s ridiculous. And you asked it because it’s ridiculous.”
On Capitol Hill, Spectrum News congressional reporter Eva McKend asked Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell what it says about the United States that leaders from around the world have congratulated President-elect Biden while Republican leadership has neglected to do so.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: “What it says about America is that until the Electoral College votes, anyone who’s running for office can exhaust concerns about counting in any court of appropriate jurisdiction.”
President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team says it may sue Emily Murphy, a Trump appointee who heads the General Services Administration, for refusing to sign a letter of “ascertainment” certifying Biden’s win. Without the letter, Biden’s transition team cannot access government funds or communicate with federal agencies. On Tuesday, Biden addressed Trump’s refusal to concede.
President-elect Joe Biden: “Well, I just think it’s an embarrassment, quite frankly. The only thing that — how can I say this tactfully? I think it will not help the president’s legacy.”
In Pennsylvania, a U.S. postal worker has recanted his claims that a postmaster in Erie ordered employees to back-date ballots mailed after Election Day. The claims were widely cited by senior Republicans — including Senator Lindsey Graham — as evidence of widespread voter fraud.
Today is Veteran’s Day, and in Nevada, Trump’s reelection campaign has challenged ballots cast by more than 3,000 people it claims do not live in the state. Among those accused of “criminal voter fraud” are members of the military stationed around the U.S. or who voted by mail through overseas military post offices. The New York Times called election officials in dozens of states — representing both political parties — who reported no evidence of voter fraud or other irregularities.
Top law enforcement officials are warning that President Trump’s conspiracy theories about illegal voting could lead to far-right violence. Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner told HuffPo, “We’re having a conversation with members of his base who believe that there is a satanic, pedophilic, sex ring running out of a pizza parlor. I have trouble figuring out whether these people are actually part of an elaborate 'Saturday Night Live' routine, or if we should be terrified because they like AR-15s.”
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday on whether to strike down the Affordable Care Act in the middle of the worst pandemic in over a century. The Trump administration backed the case, which was filed by a group of 18 Republican-led states, led by Texas. The states argued the ACA’s individual mandate is unconstitutional and should be struck down, and that the rest of Obamacare should fall with it. But the response from the justices suggests a majority of the conservative court does not agree. This is Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh: “It does seem fairly clear that the proper remedy would be to sever the mandate provision and leave the rest of the act in place — the provisions regarding preexisting conditions and the rest.”
In North Carolina, Democratic Senate candidate Cal Cunningham has conceded to incumbent Senator Thom Tillis. The Republican’s victory guarantees the GOP will control at least 49 Senate seats — two shy of a majority. In Alaska, Republican Senator Dan Sullivan has a big early lead over Democratic challenger Al Gross, whose campaign believes he still has a chance at an upset victory once all mail-in votes are counted. Either way, the balance of power in the Senate will be decided by runoff elections on January 5 for both of Georgia’s Senate seats.
The Trump administration has removed the top scientist overseeing the government’s research on climate change. The New York Times reports Michael Kuperberg was told last Friday he will no longer lead the team producing the National Climate Assessment — the quadrennial report produced by hundreds of scientists across 13 federal agencies. The 2018 report found climate change threatens human health, will lead to ever-more extreme weather conditions and could shrink the U.S. economy by as much as 10% by the end of the century.
In the Atlantic Ocean, Tropical Storm Theta has become the 29th named storm of the year — making 2020 the busiest Atlantic hurricane season on record. This comes as Central America is still reeling from the devastation left behind by Hurricane Eta.
In Guatemala, officials have ended rescue missions in the Indigenous village of Queja, where dozens of people likely died last week in a massive landslide. The village is no longer habitable. One survivor said he had lost 40 of his family members. Guatemala’s government plans to petition the Trump administration for temporary protected status for Guatemalans living in the U.S. due to the devastation caused by Eta.
House Democrats are demanding the Trump administration call off plans to deport dozens of Cameroonian asylum seekers. Some of them are activists who face arrest warrants in Cameroon and political persecution from government forces known for conducting extrajudicial killings. Yesterday, members of the Congressional Black Caucus wrote a letter to the Trump administration stating, “Allowing deportations to continue would support the false depiction by Cameroon that the country poses no risks to deportees and that reports of human rights abuses are overblown.”
In Mexico, 31-year-old journalist Israel Vázquez was shot to death in Salamanca, Guanajuato, Monday, just minutes before going live on air to report from a crime scene where human remains had been found. He is the third journalist killed in Mexico in the past two weeks. Journalist Veronica Espinoza joined a protest Tuesday demanding Vázquez’s killers be brought to justice.
Veronica Espinoza: “We don’t want any more numbers. We don’t want to count our dead colleagues. We don’t want this to be an unsolved case, because this is a message we don’t want to give in Guanajuato. Journalists don’t want to become victims here. We want to keep doing our jobs.”
Mexico is one of the deadliest countries in the world for journalists, as violence skyrocketed since the launch of a U.S.-backed war on drugs in 2006. About 250,000 people have since been killed, including dozens of Mexican journalists.