USA TODAY’S coverage of the 2020 election and President-elect Joe Biden’s transition continues this week as states certify their vote counts. President Donald Trump has yet to concede the race but his administration cleared the way this week for Biden’s team to have access to federal resources and briefings during the transition.
Be sure to refresh this page often to get the latest information on the election and the transition.
Trump says he would ‘certainly’ leave White House once Electoral College votes for Biden
President Donald Trump acknowledged for the first time Thursday that he would leave the White House if the Electoral College votes – as it will – to make Democrat Joe Biden the next president, but said it would be “very hard” to concede the contest.
“Certainly I will, and you know that,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday when asked if he would leave the presidency once Biden is formally chosen by the electors.Taking questions from reporters for the first time since he lost the Nov. 3 election to Biden, Trump used the Thanksgiving appearance to level a new round of baseless claims about voting fraud, arguing without evidence that Republicans were “robbed.”
Though he indicated he would continue to fight the outcome in states such as Pennsylvania and Michigan, Trump’s remarks were the first time he recognized the need for a peaceful handover of power. States must certify their votes before the Electoral College meets on Dec. 14 — many already have — and resolve all challenges to the outcome by Dec. 8.
Trump, who appeared as part of an annual holiday tradition of speaking to U.S. troops, said he did not want to say yet whether he would attend Biden’s inauguration.
The president also said he plans to get back on the campaign trail soon to help Republicans running in two critical runoff elections. Trump said he would likely get out to campaign for Georgia Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue on December 5.
“It’s going to be a very hard thing to concede,” Trump told reporters when asked about what he will do if the Electoral College elects Biden.
“If they do, they made a mistake,” Trump said of that outcome.
— John Fritze
Bidens thank frontline workers battling COVID pandemic
President-elect Joe Biden and future first lady Jill Biden said in a message to Americans on Thanksgiving Day that though 2020 has had increased challenges for many across the country and families may not be able to gather as usual, there is still much to be grateful for.
“We’re going to get through this together, even if we have to be apart,” the Bidens wrote in an op-ed published by CNN Thursday.
They acknowledged families who will have an “empty chair” during the holiday because they have lost a loved one to the virus, or because they will socially distance to prevent spreading the coronavirus. The Bidens are celebrating in Rehoboth Beach, Del., with a smaller group of people rather than their usual family gathering in Nantucket.
“These moments with our loved ones — time that’s lost — can’t be returned. Yet, we know it’s the price of protecting each other and one we don’t pay alone. Isolated in our own dining rooms and kitchens, scattered from coast to coast, we are healing together,” the Bidens said.
The pair thanked essential workers amid the coronavirus pandemic, including health care workers, teachers, grocery store employees and scientists working on treatments and a vaccine.
“Most of all, we are grateful for the faith and trust we have been given to continue serving this beautiful, brave, complicated nation as your future President and first lady,” they said.
— Jeanine Santucci
President Trump expected to spend Thanksgiving at the White House
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump and the first lady will be spending Thanksgiving at the White House for the first time since he began his tenure as president instead of at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.
It is uncertain whether the change in scenery is attributable to the rising number of coronavirus cases, or the turbulence in his administration following the election loss.
The day before Thanksgiving offered a contrast between President-elect Joe Biden and Trump, who has yet to concede the election, and claims there was fowl play.
On Wednesday, Trump told a panel of Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania that the election was a “fraud” and falsely claimed he had won the pivotal battleground state.
Trump spoke to the group, which included Pennsylvania his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, via speakerphone after canceling earlier plans to attend in person.
President-elect Joe Biden urged Americans to remain patient for a coronavirus vaccine through Thanksgiving and called for unity.
“[The virus has] divided us, angered us, set us against one another,” Biden said. “I know the country has grown weary of the fight. But we need to remember: We’re at war with the virus, not with one another.”
Soon after on Wednesday, Trump said via Twitter that he issued a pardon to former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with a Russian ambassador prior to Trump’s inauguration.
White House Thanksgiving proclamation calls for Americans to ‘gather’
President Donald Trump’s annual Thanksgiving proclamation calls for Americans to “gather” for the holiday, even though his own agencies, and federal public health officials, have warned against it as COVID-19 cases spike.
Issued by the White House press secretary’s office Wednesday evening, the last line of the proclamation reads: “I encourage all Americans to gather, in homes and places of worship, to offer a prayer of thanks to God for our many blessings.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have asked Americans not to travel and to limit gatherings to those in immediate households to try and stop the spread of the coronavirus.
In multiple interviews, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, has expressed concern that holiday celebrations could further increase transmission rates of the coronavirus. He advises Americans to forgo their big, traditional holiday plans.
Holiday presidential proclamations are typically cursory statements put out by the White House, and similar language has been used in the past.
Despite the calls to gather, the proclamation also included sections dedicated to addressing the ongoing pandemic, reading, “This year, as our Nation continues to combat the coronavirus pandemic, we have once again joined together to overcome the challenges facing us” and nodded at first responders and medical professionals.
— Savannah Behrmann