Georgia’s Republican secretary of state said Thursday that Joe Biden clearly beat Donald Trump to win Georgia’s 16 Electoral College votes. Brad Raffensperger said a statewide hand recount of 5 million ballots failed to turn up any evidence supporting President Trump’s conspiracy theories about a stolen election, and that he will certify Georgia’s results before today’s 5 p.m. deadline.
Meanwhile, South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham faces a Senate ethics investigation into his phone call with Raffensperger last Friday, when Graham allegedly asked the secretary of state to toss out thousands of mail-in ballots. Senator Graham has denied making the request, which legal experts say would amount to felony election fraud in Georgia.
The Associated Press on Thursday formally called Georgia for Joe Biden — giving him 306 Electoral College votes nationwide to Trump’s 232. In Delaware, President-elect Biden blasted Trump’s refusal to concede his election loss.
President-elect Joe Biden: “I think they’re witnessing incredible irresponsibility, incredibly damaging messages being sent to the rest of the world about how democracy functions.”
President Trump has called Republican leaders of Michigan’s state Legislature to the White House today as he continues to seek to invalidate Joe Biden’s victory. Election results show Biden beat Trump in Michigan by about 157,000 votes.
Late Wednesday, two Republican members of Wayne County’s Board of Canvassers said in affidavits they wanted to rescind their votes to certify election results in Detroit, which has a large African American population. Both officials, who are white, initially refused to certify the election results, but reversed their opposition after their actions sparked outrage. One of the officials — board chair Monica Palmer — said Thursday she reversed course a second time after receiving a call from President Trump.
This comes as federal court filings allege that 14 militia members who planned to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer also planned to televise the murder of other public officials and burn down the Michigan state House. They’ve all been arrested.
In Washington, D.C., lawyers for President Trump’s reelection campaign said Thursday they’ve uncovered a vast conspiracy to subvert the will of U.S. voters by manufacturing votes for Joe Biden. Trump attorney and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani led Thursday’s press conference, which was held in the lobby of the Republican National Committee’s headquarters on Capitol Hill.
Rudy Giuliani: “I can prove to you that he [Trump] won Pennsylvania by 300,000 votes. I can prove to you that he won Michigan by probably 50,000 votes.”
Giuliani offered no proof of his claims. As he spoke, he began sweating profusely, causing dark liquid to stream down both sides of his face in an apparent cosmetic malfunction. Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell described a vast conspiracy to fix the election involving George Soros, Hillary Clinton, antifa, China, Cuba and former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who died in 2013. Powell has called for legislatures in swing states to disregard the popular vote in order to appoint Trump supporters to the Electoral College.
Christopher Krebs, the top U.S. election security official fired by Trump this week for failing to support conspiracy theories, tweeted, “That press conference was the most dangerous 1hr 45 minutes of television in American history. And possibly the craziest.”
On Thursday, Nebraska Republican Senator Ben Sasse blasted the Trump campaign’s efforts, writing, “Rudy and his buddies should not pressure electors to ignore their certification obligations under the statute. We are a nation of laws, not tweets.” Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah added, “It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American President.”
The Labor Department reports 743,000 U.S. workers filed for new unemployment claims last week — a rise of about 30,000 from the previous week — as coronavirus infections hit record highs from coast to coast. This comes as a new study by the Century Foundation found that unless Republican senators follow House Democrats by passing a COVID relief bill, 12 million U.S. workers will lose federal unemployment benefits by December 26.
Here in New York, food banks report they’ve had to turn away some needy families amid unprecedented demand. On Monday, a Harlem food bank handed out 500 turkeys to residents, including Ruth Crawford.
Ruth Crawford: “You have to try to relax and think of the better things, because it wasn’t always like this. But this is getting to people, and it’s just sad. I mean, you work all the time, and then you can’t go to work, or you can’t work from home. So it’s not easy.”
The hunger relief group Feeding America warns some 54 million U.S. residents currently face food insecurity.
In Washington, D.C., Indigenous, racial justice and climate activists staged a protest outside the Democratic National Committee headquarters Thursday calling on President-elect Biden to take immediate action on the climate crisis and approve the Green New Deal. Advocates are also calling for a corporate-free Cabinet. This is climate activist John Henry Williams of the Sunrise Movement.
John Henry Williams: “Two years ago, we stood here as the Sunrise Movement, and we asked Nancy Pelosi to form a Green New Deal committee. Today we are asking President-elect Joe Biden to form a Select Office on Climate Mobilization, treat this crisis with the urgency it deserves, treat it with the urgency of a mother in Lake Charles who is homeless for the second time this year, with the urgency of the California farmworkers working under soot blood-red filled skies, and treat it with the urgency of the middle schoolers who made millions of calls to get you elected. If you do that, we will never forget you. And if you fail us, we will never forgive you.”
Immigration rights advocates are demanding temporary protective status — or TPS — for refugees from Central American nations devastated by Hurricanes Eta and Iota. The climate-crisis-fueled, back-to-back hurricanes impacted millions, leaving a path of destruction that killed at least 170 people. A spokesperson for the National TPS Alliance said, “There are no shelters for people to go, roads are underwater, hundreds of thousands are displaced. This is what TPS was created for.” A federal court in September sided with the Trump administration in its efforts to end TPS for several countries, including Nicaragua and El Salvador, affecting hundreds of thousands of people living in the U.S.
In related news, a federal court on Wednesday blocked the Trump administration from deporting unaccompanied migrant children under a policy that allowed immigration officials to quickly deport asylum seekers arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border without due process, citing COVID-19. Some 13,000 unaccompanied children have been deported during the pandemic.
This comes as immigration rights advocates are demanding the release of 28 children and their families who were placed in expedited deportation proceedings by ICE. Advocates say the families’ initial asylum pleas were botched by officials, resulting in the rejection of their credible fear claims. This is Alexa, a girl who was imprisoned by ICE for 11 months.
Alexa: “Why did they say children have rights in this country, when in this detention center children don’t have rights? It was horrible, because I was sick and my mother was sick, and the medical staff there, they did not want to help us. When we were finally released from detention, they discovered my mom had cancer. There was discrimination in this detention center. Immigration officials yelled at us. They treated us less than human. They did horrible things to us in that detention center.”
On Thursday, the federal government executed Orlando Hall at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. Hall is an African American man who was sentenced to die by an all-white jury. He was the eighth person to be executed by the federal government this year. And a correction to a headline we reported on Thursday: The federal government is scheduled to execute Lisa Montgomery on December 8 in the first federal execution of a woman in nearly 70 years. We misidentified her as Lisa Coleman, who was executed by the state of Texas in 2014.
In Uganda, at least 37 people have been killed as protests continue over the arrest of opposition presidential candidate Bobi Wine. Some 350 people have been arrested in the capital Kampala since Wednesday, when Wine was taken into custody. His campaign says he’s been denied access to a lawyer and medical attention. The rapper-turned-politician is seeking to unseat President Yoweri Museveni, who’s been in power for 36 years.
Argentina is poised to become the largest Latin American country to legalize abortion, after President Alberto Fernández sent senators a bill overturning strict anti-choice laws. On Wednesday, crowds of reproductive rights activists rallied outside the Argentine National Congress as the legislation was introduced.
Protester: “We are sure that there is going to be a fight over the bill, just like we have seen in past years. We have to defend legalized abortion out in the streets, because we don’t trust those who are sitting in the Senate, nor lawmakers from the major parties.”
Last year alone, nearly 40,000 people in Argentina were hospitalized after receiving botched abortions outside of medical clinics.