Joe Biden has been elected the 46th president of the United States. The news came shortly before noon Saturday, after the latest counts in Pennsylvania put Biden far enough ahead of President Trump to win the state and with the Electoral College votes needed to clinch the victory after several key races remained too close to call days after Election Day. Trump, who launched a flurry of legal challenges as results came in, has yet to concede. He is the first incumbent to lose since George H.W. Bush in 1992. According to the Associated Press, Biden currently has 290 Electoral College votes to Trump’s 214. In the uncalled states, Biden is leading in Georgia, and Trump is leading in Alaska and North Carolina. Biden is leading in the popular count by over 4 million votes.
Thousands of people in cities and towns across the U.S. poured onto the streets to celebrate as news networks projected Biden as the winner. In Washington, D.C., revelers gathered in front of the White House, and an impromptu parade, complete with brass band, made its way through downtown. Here in New York City, as in many other places across the country, car horns blared, and people leaned out of their windows banging pots and pans, as people expressed both jubilation and relief for the end of Trump’s presidency.
On Saturday evening, President-elect Biden delivered a victory speech from his home town of Wilmington, Delaware, and called for unity and healing.
President-elect Joe Biden: “Tonight, we’re seeing all over this nation, all cities in all parts of the country — indeed, across the world — an outpouring of joy, of hope, renewed faith in tomorrow, bring a better day. And I’m humbled by the trust and confidence you’ve placed in me. I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide but unify; who doesn’t see red states and blue states, only sees the United States.”
Kamala Harris makes history many times over. She is the first-ever woman vice president. She is also the first African American, first South Asian, first Indian Tamil American and the first Caribbean American to hold the office. Harris is the daughter of immigrants: an Indian mother and a Jamaican father. The junior senator from California previously served as the state’s attorney general and, before that, as San Francisco’s district attorney. In her victory speech Saturday, Harris paid tribute to Black women and the generations of women who fought for equal rights.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris: “Women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality and liberty and justice for all, including the Black women who are often — too often — overlooked but so often prove they are the backbone of our democracy, all the women who have worked to secure and protect the right to vote for over a century — 100 years ago with the 19th Amendment, 55 years ago with the Voting Rights Act and now in 2020 with a new generation of women in our country who cast their ballots and continued the fight for their fundamental right to vote and be heard.”
President-elect Biden is expected to issue a set of executive orders as soon as he takes office in January, rolling back some of Trump’s most harmful and contested policies, including the Muslim travel ban, the transgender military ban, reinstating protections for DREAMers, and reinstating environmental and other regulations. He has also vowed to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and reverse Trump’s withdrawal from the World Health Organization.
President Trump is vowing to push forward on various lawsuits, which baselessly allege voter fraud, and says he will not concede. On Saturday, just as news networks called the race for Biden, Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani gathered reporters from around the world for a news conference where he alleged massive voting irregularities, without citing any evidence. President Trump tweeted that the press conference would be held at the Four Seasons in Philadelphia — suggesting the downtown luxury high-rise hotel. Instead, it was held in a dusty lot in the outskirts of Philadelphia outside Four Seasons Total Landscaping — a family-owned business in between a crematorium and porn shop.
So far, none of Trump’s legal efforts have gained any traction. Top Republicans are split in their response to the outcome. Utah Senator Mitt Romney is calling for Americans to “get behind” Biden and refuted claims of voter fraud. Lindsey Graham, meanwhile, said Trump should not concede and declared on Fox News Sunday, “If Republicans don’t challenge and change the U.S. election system, there will never be another Republican president elected again.”
Pressure is now growing on the General Services Administration to recognize Biden’s victory. Biden’s transition team cannot access government funds or communicate with federal agencies until the GSA affirms his win. The GSA’s administrator, Emily Murphy, is a Trump appointee.
In the Senate race, all eyes are now on Georgia as two runoffs are scheduled for January 5. Democrats would have to win both races to reach 50 seats in the Senate and make future Vice President Kamala Harris the tie-breaking vote. Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock will be up against Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler, who was appointed last year after Senator Johnny Isakson retired due to health issues. And Jon Ossoff will face off against incumbent Republican Senator David Perdue, after Perdue narrowly fell short of 50% of the vote.
Stacey Abrams, who founded voting rights organization Fair Fight and has been credited as one of the organizers who helped flip Georgia blue, said she believes both Democrats can win their races. She spoke on CNN.
Stacey Abrams: “We will have three things happen: One, we’ve got Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock at the top of these tickets working together to make certain that voters come back; number two, we will have the investment and the resources that have never followed our runoffs in Georgia for Democrats; and, number three, this is going to be the determining factor of whether we have access to healthcare and access to justice in the United States. Those are two issues that will make certain that people turn out.”
Meanwhile, the presidential race in Georgia appears poised for a recount as Joe Biden holds a slim margin of less than 0.5% of tallied votes.
Heads of state around the world have offered congratulations to Biden and Harris, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro — a major Trump ally — has remained silent on Biden’s victory. So have Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani celebrated Trump’s loss, saying the next U.S. administration had an opportunity to “make up for past mistakes” — a reference to President Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is the latest person in Trump’s orbit to test positive for COVID-19. He reportedly directed officials and advisers not to disclose his infection. Meadows was among some 250 people who packed the East Room of the White House for hours on election night — almost none of them wearing masks — for what they had hoped would be Trump’s victory party. At least six Trump staffers in the White House are believed to be infected in this latest outbreak.
In immigration news, the ACLU has filed a lawsuit to obtain information about the federal response to the pandemic in immigration jails, including measures taken to protect prisoners and whether people were deported after testing positive.
Data analyzed by the Associated Press shows COVID-19 cases are surging in nursing facilities in states hardest hit by the coronavirus. New weekly cases increased almost fourfold from late May to late October, and resident deaths more than doubled.
As reported global coronavirus cases top 50 million, the United Nations is warning parts of Yemen, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and South Sudan are all at risk of falling into famine within the coming months as the pandemic has exacerbated already dire food insecurity due to conflict, mass displacement, and economic, climate and agricultural crises. Another 16 countries are at high risk of acute hunger. Food producers — farmers, herders, fishers and foresters — are the most affected by hunger.
In Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi’s ruling National League for Democracy party is on track to win a parliamentary majority in the country’s second democratic vote since the end of military rule. Ahead of the vote, Human Rights Watch denounced the election process and its exclusion of the persecuted Rohingya community and other ethnic minorities. It also highlighted the criminal prosecution of government critics, and unequal access to state media for all parties. Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace laureate, has been condemned by rights groups for defending the Burmese military, after they killed and raped thousands of Rohingya and forced more than 700,000 to flee into neighboring Bangladesh in a brutal crackdown in 2017. Sunday’s vote came as Burma is seeing a new surge in COVID-19.
In Bolivia, former President Evo Morales is expected to reenter the country this morning following the inauguration of new President Luis Arce in La Paz Sunday. Arce won the presidential election last month by a landslide, putting Morales’s MAS party back in power one year after a right-wing coup ousted Morales. Arce served as the economy minister under Morales. This is Arce speaking at his inauguration.
President Luis Arce: “We assume this mandate given to us by the population, the people, to work tirelessly and with humility for the reconstruction of our country. We commit ourselves to rectify what was wrong and to deepen what was right.”
In Iraq, a group of unidentified attackers fired guns and grenades at an Iraqi military post in western Baghdad Monday morning, killing 11 people and wounding eight others. Iraq’s military said the attack targeted government-backed Sunni militia members.
Elsewhere, in southern Iraq, soldiers opened fire Friday on protesters demanding jobs and basic services, killing one person and wounding 40 others. It was the first time security forces in Basra killed a protester since Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi took office in May pledging to end state violence that killed over 500 people at anti-government demonstrations.
In Afghanistan, a former TV news journalist was killed along with two other civilians Saturday when a bomb attached to his vehicle exploded in the capital Kabul. Yama Siawash had recently signed on as an adviser with Afghanistan’s central bank after a long run as a presenter at Afghanistan’s largest private TV channel.
In Ethiopia, there are fears of a looming civil war, after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched airstrikes on the northern region of Tigray. The assault began last Wednesday after Ethiopian military sites were taken over by troops loyal to Tigray’s regional government. Tigray’s ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, was dominant in Ethiopian politics until Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018. On Saturday, Ethiopia’s Parliament approved plans to replace the Tigray regional government with a new interim government. And on Sunday, Prime Minister Ahmed fired his army chief, foreign minister and top intelligence official without explanation. In a letter to the African Union, Tigray’s regional president called Abiy Ahmed’s actions “unconstitutional, dictatorial and treasonous,” warning of an “all-out civil war.”
Tropical Storm Eta has made landfall in the Florida Keys just days after devastating Central America and portions of southern Mexico, leaving over 150 people dead and tens of thousands displaced across the region. In Guatemala, where most of the deaths have been reported, rescuers continue to search for dozens of missing people buried by mudslides. Meanwhile, a small aircraft carrying food and medicine for survivors of Eta crashed in Guatemala City yesterday. The storm also left flooded coastal zones as it passed Cuba, where at least 25,000 were evacuated.