Joe Biden names former Ebola tsar Ron Klain as chief of staff – as it happened


Powered by article titled “Joe Biden names former Ebola tsar Ron Klain as chief of staff – as it happened” was written by Maanvi Singh (now), and Joan E Greve and Martin Belam (earlier), for on Thursday 12th November 2020 01.46 UTC

1.38am GMT


  • Joe Biden picked Ron Klain as his chief of staff. Klain served as “Ebola czar” during the Obama administration and has been sharply critical of Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Pressure mounted for Donald Trump to accept the results of the presidential race. A number of world leaders have called president-elect Joe Biden to congratulate him on his victory, and it’s unclear how the Trump campaign’s lawsuits will help the president pull ahead in states like Pennsylvania, where he now trails by more than 50,000 votes.
  • Trump reportedly met with his senior advisers today to map out his next steps. According to reports, the president’s advisers do not expect him to concede that he has lost, but Trump may announce he is no longer challenging the results of the election.
  • Control of the Senate will officially come down to the two runoff races in Georgia, after the AP declared Republican incumbent Dan Sullivan to be the winner of Alaska’s Senate race. Democrats would have to win both Georgia runoffs to flip control of the Senate.
  • Georgia’s secretary of state announced a hand recount. The state’s Republican secretary of state has faced calls from Republicans, including the two senators facing a runoff, to resign.
  • The US recorded more than 1m new coronavirus cases in the past 10 days. States across the country are seeing surges ahead of Thanksgiving.
  • Andrew Cuomo announced new restrictions in New York in response to a national surge in coronavirus infections. The Democratic governor said that, starting Friday, the state’s bars and restaurants with liquor licenses will be required to close by 10pm, and gatherings in private homes will be capped at 10 people.
  • Biden and Trump participated in ceremonies to commemorate Veterans Day. While the president-elect laid a wreath at the Korean war memorial in Philadelphia, the current president paid his respects at Arlington national cemetery.

Updated at 1.45am GMT

1.23am GMT

Waleed Shahid, the communications director for the progressive political action committee Justice Democrats, said Klain “understands the Democratic party has moved in a more progressive direction”.

Progressives and moderates came together to help elect Joe Biden. But post-election, the two camps have already begun to spar over the party’s future, with progressives saying that Biden should embrace more ambitious policy on climate change, policing and healthcare.

Updated at 1.46am GMT

1.17am GMT

Klain thanked people for “kind wishes” after news broke that he will be the next chief of staff.

1.03am GMT

In a statement sharing the news, Joe Biden praised Klain’s “deep, varied experience”.

“Ron has been invaluable to me over the many years that we have worked together, including as we rescued the American economy from one of the worst downturns in our history in 2009 and later overcame a daunting public health emergency in 2014,” said Biden. “His deep, varied experience and capacity to work with people all across the political spectrum is precisely what I need in a White House chief of staff as we confront this moment of crisis and bring our country together again.”

Klain said: “It’s the honor of a lifetime to serve President-elect Biden in this role, and I am humbled by his confidence.:

Updated at 1.16am GMT

12.55am GMT

Biden picks Ron Klain as chief of staff

The president-elect has named Klain, who served as the “Ebola tsar” during the Obama administration, as chief of staff.

Klain, 59, has been a vocal critic of Donald Trump’s pandemic response. He first worked with Biden in the 1980s.

In a statement congratulating Klain, Elizabeth Warren said, he is a “superb choice for Chief of Staff. He understands the magnitude of the health and economic crisis and he has the experience to lead this next administration through it.”

Updated at 1.33am GMT

12.39am GMT

Joe Biden is expected to name Ron Klain as his chief of staff, the New York Times reports:

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. will name Ron Klain, a veteran Democratic operative and a decades-long confidant, to be his White House chief of staff as early as Thursday morning, according to several people familiar with Mr. Biden’s decision.

Mr. Klain, a lawyer with deep experience on Capitol Hill, advising President Barack Obama and in corporate board rooms, has been seen for months as the likeliest choice to manage Mr. Biden’s team in the White House. Known for steady nerves, he also has a fierce wit, which he has frequently unleashed on President Trump on Twitter.

He was particularly critical of Mr. Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, having served as the “Ebola czar” under Mr. Obama during an outbreak of the deadly disease in his second term. A video of Mr. Klain lecturing Mr. Trump about the pandemic was widely seen during the campaign.

The choice of Mr. Klain, who first went to work for Mr. Biden in 1989 when Mr. Biden was a senator from Delaware and Mr. Klain was a recent graduate of Harvard Law School, signals that Mr. Biden intends to rely on a tight circle of Washington insiders who have been by his side for years.

Read more here.

12.35am GMT

Trump tweeted that he has given his “full support and endorsement to Ronna McDaniel to continue heading the Republican National Committee.” He also said, With 72 MILLION votes, we received more votes than any sitting President in U.S. history – and we will win!”

But Trump has lost the US presidential election.

McDaniel earlier today deleted a tweet that implicitly admitted that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the election. In a tweet encouraging Georgia voters to back Republican senators in runoff elections in January, she said that Harris would be the deciding vote if Democrats win the Georgia races, resulting in a tied Senate.

But McDaniel has also enthusiastically backed the Trump campaign’s efforts to loob long-shot lawsuits and echoed the president’s false claims of voter fraud, despite a lack of evidence.

Trump named McDaniel, a steadfast loyalist, the head of the GOP in December 2016.

12.16am GMT

While Trump has continued to express hope that he will win an election he has lost, and transition to a Biden administration has stalled, the AP reports that the president’s involvement in day-to-day governing has “nearly stopped”:

Though he has been in the Oval Office late two nights this week, the president has done little in the way of governing and has instead been working the phones.

He has called friendly governors — in red states like Arizona, Texas and Florida — and influential confidants in the conservative media, like Sean Hannity. But he has not been as responsive to Republican lawmakers as before the election. Always an obsessive cable news viewer, he has been watching even more TV than usual in recent weeks, often from his private dining room just off the Oval Office.

Trump’s approach to two crucial Senate run-off elections in Georgia remains an open question: He has not yet signaled if he will campaign there, and aides have started to worry that the extended legal battle could sap support for the GOP candidates.

Trump has also begun talking about his own future upon leaving office. He has mused about declaring he will run again in 2024,and aides believe that he will at least openly flirt with the idea to enhance his relevance and raise interest in whatever money-making efforts he pursues.

While he ponders his options, his involvement in the day-to-day governing of the nation has nearly stopped: According to his schedule, he has not attended an intelligence briefing in weeks, and the White House has done little of late to manage the pandemic that has surged to record highs in many states.

Read more here.

Updated at 12.17am GMT

11.48pm GMT

Twitter flags conspiracy theory video shared by Trump after delay

The Guardian’s Kari Paul reports:

Twitter took more than an hour to flag a conspiracy theory shared by Donald Trump on the platform Wednesday afternoon, which baselessly suggested ballot fraud.

The president, who lost to Joe Biden last week, shared a video of election workers in Los Angeles collecting valid, mail-in ballots that were posted on or before election day from a ballot drop box. The video, which has been shared thousands of times in recent days, falsely suggested something unusual was under way and has been repeatedly debunked. The Los Angeles county registrar confirmed that the ballots were collected on 4 November, and were later processed and counted.

The narrator of the video also questioned why the election results were “called” prior to the ballots being collected. Media organizations project the winner of election races based on a number of factors including exit polling, early votes and, in California’s case, the fact that it has a longstanding record of electing Democratic presidential candidates. The state, however, still processes and counts all valid ballots.

“It’s going to be really nice to have a President who isn’t an internet troll trafficking already debunked conspiracy theories,” the spokesman for California’s secretary of state tweeted in response to Trump’s sharing of the video.

An hour after it was posted, the tweet still had not been removed or flagged by Twitter, despite the company’s policies on misinformation. The social media platform has flagged at least six Trump tweets for misinformation in the days since the election. When a tweet is flagged, it cannot be retweeted, limiting the ability for the misinformation to spread.

But as of Wednesday afternoon, Trump’s tweet containing misinformation had been retweeted 71,000 times and favorited more than 183,000 times. When contacted for comment, Twitter said it had placed a label on the tweet “to add more context for anyone who might see the Tweet”.

Updated at 11.57pm GMT

11.26pm GMT

Covid and Thanksgiving: CDC issues warning and bolsters mask-wearing guidance

Miranda Bryant reports:

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has abruptly beefed up its advice to Americans on wearing masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus and warned against traditionally large gatherings over the holidays.

Thanksgiving celebrations are safest kept within households – and face masks protect the wearer as well as those around them, the federal public health agency said this week, in new, more robust coronavirus guidelines.

With just over two weeks to go before Thanksgiving, the CDC issued guidance on Tuesday on how to celebrate safely during the pandemic.

Despite cases surging across the US, the CDC did not go as far as to rule out gatherings on Thursday 26 November. But it did suggest alternatives to hosting events with people from other households in person, such as communing online for virtual meals.

“Traditional Thanksgiving gatherings with family and friends are fun but can increase the chances of getting or spreading Covid-19 or the flu … The safest way to celebrate this year is to celebrate with people in your household,” its latest online guidance says.

However, it also included tips for those who are still planning to celebrate with other households.

Other than mask-wearing, social distancing and hand washing, it also advised eating outdoors, limiting numbers, bringing your own food, drinks and utensils and opting for single-use condiments and disposable plates and utensils.

Read more:

11.09pm GMT

Ohio’s governor has announced that the state will issue a new order restricting large social gatherings including wedding receptions and banquets, as coronavirus cases surge.

Governor Mike DeWine said that an existing order that limits gatherings of more than 10 people is not being observed by all residents. During a press conference today, DeWine said the state is in a “third wave” of the pandemic and announced that the state will be reissuing a mask mandate. He noted that officials will make a decision next week on whether to keep bars, restaurants and other businesses open and will monitor closely how well residents are observing mask requirements inside shops.

The state tallied a record 6,500 Covid-19 cases on Tuesday.

10.44pm GMT

Martha McSally, the Republican senator of Arizona who lost the election to keep her seat, has yet to formally concede.

McSally is followed in the footsteps of Donald Trump, resisting concession despite the fact that she trails her Democratic opponent Mark Kelly by about 80,000 votes. With only about 45,000 votes left to count in Arizona, it is mathematically impossible for McSally to win.

Arizona, which has long been a conservative bastion, has been undergoing a political transformation – thanks largely to progressive Latino-led activism in the state. With Kelly headed to Capitol Hill, Arizona will have Democratic senators. Although the presidential race remains close, Joe Biden has maintained a lead over Donald Trump in the state.

This is not the first time McSally has lost a senate race in Arizona. She lost her 2018 Senate bid against senator Kyrsten Sinema before appointed to the Senate by the state’s Republican governor Doug Ducey after the death of John McCain.

10.27pm GMT

US records more than 1m new Covid cases in past 10 days

Miranda Bryant reports:

The US has recorded more than 1m new coronavirus cases in just the past 10 days as the national total soared past 10m cases amid a widespread surge – while Texas on Wednesday became the first to record a million cases as a state.

The soaring figures came as experts warned that even though successful vaccines are coming into view the White House appears to be doing little to contain a pandemic increasingly out of control.

“In the last couple of months you have seen the federal government basically throw in the towel,” Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health told NBC on Wednesday morning.

He added: “There’s been no new guidance, very little effort coming from the federal government and I think that is definitely contributing to a nationwide surge.”

Daily cases for the country have steadily climbed throughout November to record a total of 1,129,463 cases in the last 10 days alone, figures from Johns Hopkins University show.

Meanwhile, Texas, America’s second-most populous state, has recorded 1,010,364 cases since the start of the pandemic in March and 19,337 deaths.

No other state has alone reached the 1m figure. And New York, which was the worst Covid-19 hotspot in the world during the initial cascade of US cases in the spring, then used restrictions to squash infections, is now seeing rates creeping up again.

Jha said “people are getting tired” of taking precautions, even as warnings abound about family gatherings in the fast-approaching holiday season becoming spreader events.

He added that with what appears to be the good news that the world is on the cusp of approving successful vaccines, all Americans could expect to be inoculated relatively soon.

“We are about three to six months away from widespread availability of a vaccine, people need to hold on … we’re so close to actually turning the corner on the virus,” he said.

But he warned that in the meantime Americans need to restrict their Thanksgiving plans at the end of November. “This is a bit heartbreaking, because it just can’t be a normal Thanksgiving,” he said.

Read more:

Updated at 12.42am GMT

10.12pm GMT

The popular video-sharing app TikTok says its future has been in limbo since Donald Trump tried to shut it down earlier this fall and is asking a federal court to intervene, the Guardian’s Kari Paul reports:

Trump in August signed an executive order to ban TikTok if it did not sell its US operations in 45 days. The move forced TikTok’s Chinese owner ByteDance to consider deals with several American companies before ultimately settling on a proposal to place TikTok under the oversight of the American companies Oracle and Walmart, each of which would also have a financial stake in the company.

But TikTok said this week it’s received “no clarity” from the US government about whether that proposal has been accepted.

The deal has been under a national-security review by the interagency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, which is led by the treasury department. The department didn’t return emailed requests for comment this week.

“With the November 12 CFIUS deadline imminent and without an extension in hand, we have no choice but to file a petition in court to defend our rights and those of our more than 1,500 employees in the US,” TikTok said in a written statement Tuesday.

Trump has cited concerns that the Chinese government could spy on TikTok users if the app remains under Chinese ownership. TikTok has denied it is a security threat but said it is still trying to work with the administration to resolve its concerns.

The legal challenge is “a protection to ensure these discussions can take place”, the company said.

The Trump administration had earlier sought to ban the app from smartphone app stores and deprive it of vital technical services. To do this, the US could have internet service providers block TikTok usage from US IP addresses, as India did when it banned TikTok, effectively making TikTok unusable.

Such actions were set to take place on 20 September but federal judges have so far granted TikTok extensions.

Read more:

10.00pm GMT

Today so far

That’s it from me today. My west coast colleague, Maanvi Singh, will take over the blog for the next few hours.

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Pressure mounted for Donald Trump to accept the results of the presidential race. A number of world leaders have called president-elect Joe Biden to congratulate him on his victory, and it’s unclear how the Trump campaign’s lawsuits will help the president pull ahead in states like Pennsylvania, where he now trails by more than 50,000 votes.
  • Trump reportedly met with his senior advisers today to map out his next steps. According to reports, the president’s advisers do not expect him to concede that he has lost, but Trump may announce he is no longer challenging the results of the election.
  • Control of the Senate will officially come down to the two runoff races in Georgia, after the AP declared Republican incumbent Dan Sullivan to be the winner of Alaska’s Senate race. Democrats would have to win both Georgia runoffs to flip control of the Senate.
  • Andrew Cuomo announced new restrictions in New York in response to a national surge in coronavirus infections. The Democratic governor said that, starting Friday, the state’s bars and restaurants with liquor licenses will be required to close by 10 pm, and gatherings in private homes will be capped at 10 people.
  • Biden and Trump participated in ceremonies to commemorate Veterans Day. While the president-elect laid a wreath at the Korean war memorial in Philadelphia, the current president paid his respects at Arlington national cemetery.

Maanvi will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

9.42pm GMT

Donald Trump met with senior advisers today to discuss his next steps after Joe Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election, according to NBC News.

It has been four days since every major news outlet declared Biden to be the winner of the presidential race, but Trump has refused to concede that he has lost.

Trump’s campaign is moving forward with lawsuits in multiple battleground states, but it’s unclear how those lawsuits could help the president erase Biden’s leads in states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, where the Democrat leads by tens of thousands of votes.

According to reports, Trump’s advisers do not expect him to concede, but the president may announce he is no longer challenging the election results.

9.21pm GMT

Donald Trump stepped out of the White House for the first time in six days on Wednesday as Americans strained to interpret a flurry of sudden personnel changes inside the administration, including at the Pentagon, while top Republicans refused to admit that Joe Biden had won the presidency.

Instead of ushering in a becalmed moment of transition, the US election eight days ago has given way to escalating concerns over the president’s shocking visible effort to cling to power – and over top Republicans’ failure to dispute the president’s wild claims of election fraud.

The proportion of Biden’s victory in the popular vote crept up to 50.8% on Wednesday, the highest percentage for a challenger since Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1932. Judges in six states had thrown out at least 13 lawsuits brought by the Trump campaign to challenge the vote while agreeing to hear zero. There is every indication that Biden will be inaugurated on 20 January.

But continued leaks about the Trump team’s long-shot strategies for overturning the election result, and references such as one by the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, on Tuesday to a “smooth transition to a second Trump administration”, fed a sense of alarm that America was witnessing more than just hardball politics, cynical fundraising or Trumpian sour grapes.

“What Donald Trump is attempting to do has a name: coup d’état,” said Timothy Snyder, a history professor at Yale University specializing in authoritarianism, on Twitter. “Poorly organized though it might seem, it is not bound to fail. It must be made to fail.

“Coups are defeated quickly or not at all. While they take place we are meant to look away, as many of us are doing. When they are complete we are powerless.”

9.04pm GMT

Some of Donald Trump’s advisers now say he will likely never concede that he lost the presidential race, according to NBC News.

NBC reports:

‘Do not expect him to concede,’ one top aide said. More likely, the aide said, ‘he’ll say something like, ‘We can’t trust the results, but I’m not contesting them.’’

Another adviser said that after the legal battles and recounts, the closest the president is likely to get to a concession is, ‘he’ll acknowledge the results and that we’ll never know how accurate they are.’

‘But we’re not there yet,’ the adviser said.

In the meantime there is also growing frustration inside the White House — what allies described as ‘embarrassment’ as well as ‘uncertainty and doubt and confusion’ — over the president’s refusal to acknowledge the election result and chart a path forward.

‘This is unsustainable,’ another aide said.

Although a concession is considered a hallmark of the peaceful transfer of power, Trump does not have to concede to clear the way for Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Regardless of Trump’s efforts to spread baseless concerns about the integrity of the election, Biden will be sworn in as the next president on January 20.

8.48pm GMT

Joe Biden’s lead in Pennsylvania has now surpassed 50,000, after the latest batch of ballots from Allegheny county were posted.

As of this afternoon, Biden leads Donald Trump in Pennsylvania by 50,483, or 0.7% of the total vote in the state.

That puts Biden’s lead well outside of automatic recount territory, given Pennsylvania automatically launches a recount when the winning candidate leads by 0.5% or less.

Biden’s lead is also now larger than Trump’s 2016 lead in Pennsylvania. Four years ago, Trump won the state by 44,292 votes.

8.30pm GMT

Some states have already certified their 2020 election results, with president-elect Joe Biden’s home state of Delaware becoming the first to finalize its results.

As of 3:30 pm ET today, six states — Delaware, Wyoming, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Vermont — have certified their results.

States have until December 8 (known as the “safe harbor” deadline) to certify their results, and the electoral college will meet six days later to make the results official.

8.17pm GMT

The Guardian’s Sam Levine answers the question so many are asking: can Donald Trump actually stage a coup and stay in office for a second term?

Not really. The electoral college meets on 14 December to cast its vote for president and nearly every state uses the statewide popular vote to allocate its electors. Joe Biden is projected to win far more than the 270 electoral votes he needs to become president. His victory doesn’t hinge on one state and he has likely insurmountable leads in Michigan, Nevada, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Arizona.

There is a long-shot legal theory, floated by Republicans
before the election, that Republican-friendly legislatures in places such as Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania could ignore the popular vote in their states and appoint their own electors.

Federal law allows legislatures to do this if states have “failed to make a choice” by the day the electoral college meets. But there is no evidence of systemic fraud of wrongdoing in any state and Biden’s commanding margins in these places make it clear that the states have in fact made a choice.

“If the country continues to follow the rule of law, I see no plausible constitutional path forward for Trump to remain as president barring new evidence of some massive failure of the election system in multiple states,” Richard Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, who specializes in elections, wrote in an email.

“It would be a naked, antidemocratic power grab to try to use state legislatures to get around the voters’ choice and I don’t expect it to happen.”

8.01pm GMT

The new acting defense secretary seems to be preparing for an accelerated withdrawal of US troops from the Middle East before Donald Trump’s term ends, according to Axios.

The news comes as acting defense secretary Christopher Miller has reportedly hired Ret. Army Col. Douglas Macgregor, a Trump loyalist, as a senior adviser.

Axios reports:

A senior administration official tells Axios that a wave of firings at the Pentagon and the hiring of Ret. Army Col. Douglas Macgregor is in part a settling of Trump’s personal scores — but senior White House officials also have made clear ‘they want them more publicly to talk about getting out of Afghanistan by the end of the year.’

Trump, who ran in 2016 on a promise to bring U.S. troops home, is frustrated with the slow pace of withdrawing troops from the Middle East, another senior administration official said.

The president has told advisers on numerous occasions that he wants troops home from Afghanistan by Christmas.

7.41pm GMT

Cuomo imposes new coronavirus restrictions in New York

Governor Andrew Cuomo has imposed new restrictions in New York, as the country confronts a surge in coronavirus infections.

The Democratic governor announced today that, starting Friday, bars and restaurants with liquor licenses will be forced to close their indoor spaces by 10 pm.

Gyms must also close by 10 pm, and private gatherings in homes must be capped at 10 people.

“If these measures are not sufficient to stem the spread, we will turn the valve more,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo’s announcement came as the country set another single-day record in new cases, confirming 136,325 cases just yesterday, according to Johns Hopkins University. Another 1,420 Americans died of coronavirus yesterday as well.

“If the national numbers are going up and the states around you are going up, be prepared,” Cuomo said.

7.26pm GMT

Vice-president-elect Kamala Harris visited a DC bakery that benefits veterans to commemorate Veterans Day.

Earlier today, Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, stopped at Dog Tag Bakery, which offers fellowships to veterans with service-related disabilities and their families.

Sharing a photo of her visit, Harris said, “Grateful to all who support our veterans in our communities.”

President-elect Joe Biden participated in a Veterans Day ceremony at the Korean war memorial in Philadelphia this morning.

7.13pm GMT

Another adviser to the president has reportedly tested positive for coronavirus, after attending an election night party at the White House.

The New York Times reports:

The latest person is the White House political director, Brian Jack, according to two people familiar with the diagnosis on Wednesday.

Mr. Jack tested positive over the weekend, one of the people said. …

Another West Wing aide also tested positive, the two people said, but it was unclear when the other official did so and whether the official attended the election night party.

It was first reported last week that White House chief of staff Mark Meadows had tested positive for the virus, and housing and urban development secretary Ben Carson announced his positive test result earlier this week.

6.56pm GMT

Minnesota governor Tim Walz said he wishes the neighboring states of the Dakotas would take more aggressive steps to slow the spread of the coronavirus, singling out South Dakota governor Kristi Noem for criticism.

Walz made the comments during a news conference in St Paul yesterday where he announced new restrictions on bars, restaurants and gatherings in Minnesota, The Associated Press reports.

He lamented that Minnesota is catching up with the Dakotas, which although relatively sparsely-populated lead the country in new cases per capita.

The Democratic governor said he’s not blaming neighboring states for that, but he said this summer’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota was “absolutely unnecessary” and that data shows it helped spread the virus beyond that state.

Singling out Noem, who is a Republican, he said he wishes the state would have canceled the rally and imposed a statewide mask mandate, as Minnesota has.

“And this one’s a little bit personal because the governor of South Dakota has taken to traveling to other states and criticizing others now at a time when that state’s hospital capacity is overwhelmed,” Walz said.

Noem has repeatedly said she won’t issue a statewide mask requirement and has voiced doubts about health experts who say face coverings prevent infections from spreading.

She has used her refusal to issue mandates to become a rising star among conservatives, and her travels to presidential proving grounds like New Hampshire and Iowa are fueling speculation that she is eyeing a 2024 run for president.

A spokesman for Noem, Ian Fury, said in a statement Wednesday that Walz was wrong about South Dakota’s hospital situation.

He pointed out that the state’s Covid-19 website shows that 36% of South Dakota’s hospital capacity is free, with beds available throughout the state.

Donald Trump and Kristi Noem in August.
Donald Trump and Kristi Noem in August.
Photograph: Susan Walsh/AP

However, South Dakota health officials acknowledged Tuesday that they include intensive care unit beds designed for infants in their total count of hospital beds available in the state.

“Governor Noem has provided her people with all of the science, facts, and data, and then trusted them to make the best decisions for themselves and their loved-ones,” Fury said. “She will be continuing that approach.”

By contrast, in North Dakota, Republican governor Doug Burgum said this week that his state’s hospitals are under “enormous pressure” from surging Covid-19 cases.

Updated at 7.18pm GMT

6.46pm GMT

The Guardian’s Vivian Ho reports from California:

California votes have rejected a ballot proposal that would have rolled back a decades-old tax provision that critics say has played a major role in the state’s housing crisis.

In 1978, California voters passed Proposition 13, a ballot initiative that capped property taxes to a 1% tax based on a property’s assessed value at the time of purchase and limited annual tax increases to no more than 2%.

The measure was a boon to property owners, who saw their property taxes reduced by 57%, but it reduced a significant source of necessary government funding — funding that local jurisdictions are now forced to seek elsewhere, such as through impact fees from construction projects, thus driving the cost of housing higher.

Proposition 15 would have removed Prop. 13 protections for commercial properties. The estimated .5bn to .5bn generated by the measure would have gone to schools and local government, but it was rejected by 51.8% of the vote.

The measure faced significant opposition from the real estate lobby, who argued that tax increase would eventually trickle down to tenants, homeowners and consumers. But the progressive forces in the state have supported overturning Prop. 13 in some form for some time.

While the measure did not pass, the fact that the margins were so close is significant. For years, the thinking was that Prop. 13 was a political third rail in California and no one could take it on. The results show that it’s no longer untouchable.

6.30pm GMT

Another lawsuit…Michigan.

The president continued what amounts to legal heckling on Wednesday, with a new lawsuit in Michigan as part of the administration’s long-shot strategy to upend Joe Biden’s election win.

Donald Trump’s team went to federal court to try to block Michigan from certifying the results of the November 3 election, in the midwest battleground state where Biden was declared the winner last week.

Trump trailed by roughly 148,000 votes, or 2.6 percentage points, in unofficial Michigan vote totals, Reuters reports.

Trump has declined to concede the election to Biden, after it was called on Saturday morning, instead lodging a flurry of lawsuits in pivotal states to try to back up his unsupported claims of widespread voting fraud.

The Michigan lawsuit also made allegations of misconduct in the voting, with the focus on the Democratic stronghold of Wayne County, which includes the city of Detroit.

Election workers processing a ballot in Detroit on November 4.
Election workers processing a ballot in Detroit on November 4.
Photograph: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/REX/Shutterstock

Jake Rollow, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of State, said the Trump campaign was promoting false claims to erode public confidence in Michigan’s elections.

“It does not change the truth: Michigan’s elections were conducted fairly, securely, transparently, and the results are an accurate reflection of the will of the people,” Rollow said in a statement.

Prominent Republican lawmakers and other Trump allies have backed the president’s strategy, saying he has the right to contest the election results. The suit was filed one day after Biden called Trump’s failure to concede an “embarrassment.”

Judges have already tossed out several of the Trump lawsuits, and legal experts say the litigation has scant chance of changing the election outcome.

Read about where Trump’s legal case is going so far, here.

6.00pm GMT

Today so far

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Pressure mounted for Donald Trump to accept the results of the presidential race. A number of world leaders have called president-elect Joe Biden to congratulate him on his victory, and it’s unclear how the Trump campaign’s lawsuits will help the president erase Biden’s lead in states like Pennsylvania, where he trails by nearly 50,000 votes.
  • Control of the Senate will officially come down to the two runoff races in Georgia, after the AP declared Republican incumbent Dan Sullivan to be the winner of Alaska’s Senate race. Democrats would have to win both Georgia runoffs to flip control of the Senate.
  • Biden and Trump participated in ceremonies to commemorate Veterans Day. While the president-elect laid a wreath at the Korean war memorial in Philadelphia, the president paid his respects at Arlington national cemetery.

The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

5.49pm GMT

Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and senior adviser, celebrated her father’s victory in Alaska, after the AP called the race.

Of course, Donald Trump and his advisers have insisted the media does not have the ability to call races in states like Pennsylvania and Michigan, where the president has lost.

So, in summary, if a media call goes against Trump, it is invalid. If the media calls a race for the president, then it is legitimate and worthy of celebration.

Got that?

5.38pm GMT

Senate control officially comes down to two Georgia runoffs, AP says

The AP has declared Republican incumbent Dan Sullivan to be the winner of Alaska’s Senate race, meaning control of the Senate will officially come down to the two runoff races in Georgia.

With Sullivan’s victory, Republicans now control 50 seats in the Senate, while Democrats hold 48 seats.

The final two seats will be determined in January, when Georgia holds two Senate runoff races. Republican Kelly Loeffler will face off against Democrat Raphael Warnock, and Democrat Jon Ossoff will attempt to unseat Republican David Perdue.

There are a couple factors working in Democrats’ favor: Joe Biden currently leads in Georgia by about 14,000 votes, and the runoff races are expected to attract a surge of energy and fundraising from Democrats across the country.

But overall, Republicans go into the runoffs with a considerable advantage. Although both races are headed to runoffs, Republicans attracted slightly more votes in the original Georgia Senate races, and election analysts widely expect the party to build upon its vote share in January.

5.24pm GMT

Trump wins Alaska

The AP declared Donald Trump to be the winner of Alaska’s three electoral votes today, eight days after election day.

That brings Trump’s total electoral vote count to 217, in comparison to 290 for Joe Biden, who has already been declared the winner of the presidential race.

The news is unsurprising, given the state’s conservative lean, but it took more than a week to call the race because of the number of mail-in ballots left to be counted after election day.

The AP also declared Republican incumbent Dan Sullivan to be the winner of the state’s Senate race, ensuring that the two runoff races in Georgia will determine control of the chamber.

5.13pm GMT

One of Trump’s top evangelical allies acknowledges Biden’s victory

Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress, one of Donald Trump’s top evangelical allies, has acknowledged Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential race.

“It appears that former Vice President Joe Biden will become the 46th president of the United States on Jan. 20,” Jeffress wrote in an op-ed for Fox News.

The well-known pastor, who has frequently praised Trump, described Biden’s victory as a “bitter pill to swallow” for many Christians in the country, but he encouraged everyone to pray for the president-elect’s success.

“When Joe Biden becomes president, we should commend him for the things he does right. We should condemn the things he does wrong. And above all, we must pray fervently for our president,” Jeffress said.

“If President Biden succeeds, we all succeed. May God bless Joe Biden, and may God bless the United States of America.”

The op-ed will likely irritate Trump, who has continued to push baseless claims of election fraud in the days since Biden was declared the winner of the presidential race.

5.01pm GMT

Donald Trump has returned to the White House, after participating in a Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

The president did not stop to talk to reporters before stepping back into the residence.

Trump, who often stops to talk to journalists on his way into and out of the White House, has avoided them in recent days, as he spreads fact-free concerns about the integrity of the presidential election over Twitter.

4.48pm GMT

Secretary of state Mike Pompeo, who has refused to acknowledge Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential race, is starting a seven-country trip on Friday.

The leaders of all seven countries that Pompeo will visit — France, Turkey, Georgia, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia — have congratulated Biden on his victory.

In contrast, Pompeo, a Trump loyalist, said yesterday, “There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.”

As a reminder, every major news outlet has declared Biden to be the winner of the presidential race, and he currently leads in the popular vote by 5 million votes.

4.33pm GMT

Trump commemorates Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery

Donald Trump and Mike Pence just participated in a ceremony to commemorate Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery.

The president laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which honors fallen American soldiers whose remains have not been identified.

Donald Trump salutes at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider during a Veterans Day observance in Arlington National Cemetery.
Donald Trump salutes at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider during a Veterans Day observance in Arlington National Cemetery.
Photograph: Carlos Barría/Reuters

This marks Trump’s first public appearance in days, as he has continued to cast baseless doubts upon Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential race.

As Trump observed Veterans Day in Arlington, the president-elect participated in a ceremony at the Korean war memorial in Philadelphia.

While Biden wore a mask to his Veterans Day event, Trump and Pence did not.

4.20pm GMT

Biden appears at Veterans Day event in Philadelphia

President-elect Joe Biden made an unexpected appearance at a Veterans Day event just now, alongside his wife, Dr Jill Biden.

The incoming president and first lady honored America’s fallen soldiers at the Korean war memorial in Philadelphia, laying a wreath at the site.

Biden’s appearance came shortly after he released a statement honoring Veterans Day, promising service members to be “a commander in chief who respects your sacrifice.”

“Today, we as a nation pause to honor the service, the valor, and the commitment of all those who have worn the uniform of the Armed Forces of the United States,” Biden said.

“This Veterans Day, I feel the full weight of the honor and the responsibility that has been entrusted to me by the American people as the next president, and I vow to honor our country’s sacred obligation.”

Updated at 4.24pm GMT

4.08pm GMT

Georgia secretary of state calls for hand recount of presidential race

Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, has called for a hand recount of the roughly 5 million ballots cast in the presidential race there.

At the state Capitol, Raffensperger announced he would make the official designation at 1 pm ET today to conduct a hand recount of the presidential results.

“With the margin being so close, it will require a full, by-hand recount in each county,” Raffensperger said. “This will help build confidence. It will be an audit, a recount and a recanvass all at once.”

The Republican official acknowledged the hand recount would be a “heavy lift” for counties, as the certification deadline is just nine days away.

“We will work with the counties to get this done in time for our state certification,” Raffensperger said. “We have all worked hard to bring fair and accurate counts to assure that the will of the voters is reflected in the final count.”

Raffensperger’s announcement comes as Donald Trump and his allies, including Georgia’s two Republican senators, have cast doubt upon the integrity of the state’s vote count.

Georgia election officials have repeatedly defended their vote count, emphasizing they have seen no evidence of widespread fraud in the state.

As of now, Joe Biden leads Trump in Georgia by about 14,000 votes, or 0.3% of the total vote.

3.56pm GMT

Pressure builds on Trump to accept election results

Pressure is mounting on Donald Trump to accept the results of the presidential election, after every major news outlet called the race for Joe Biden.

The Democratic presidential-elect’s lead in the popular vote also continues to grow, now surpassing 5 million votes.

Joe Biden wavs as he leaves The Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware.
Joe Biden wavs as he leaves The Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware.
Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/AP

A number of world leaders have called Biden to congratulate him on his victory, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson referred to Trump as the “previous president” while speaking in Parliament today.

It is also unclear how the Trump campaign’s lawsuits are supposed to help the president erase Biden’s lead in key battleground states, given the Democrat leads by tens of thousands of votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

A Republican lawyer even acknowledged to a Pennsylvania judge yesterday that the campaign was not currently alleging fraud in connection to a batch of ballots, as there was no evidence to support such a claim.

It is clear that Biden will be inaugurated as the next US president on January 20. The only remaining question is when Trump will accept that reality.

3.45pm GMT

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson referred to Donald Trump as the “previous president,” even as the US president refuses to concede in the election.

Johnson said his phone call with president-elect Joe Biden, during which he congratulated the Democrat on his victory, had been “excellent,” with the two reaffirming the need to defend human rights and confront climate change.

When Johnson was pressed on Trump’s refusal to accept the election results, the prime minister acknowledged, “I had and have a good relationship with the previous president.”

Johnson went on to say he was looking forward to exploring the many areas for “common cause” between his administration and the incoming Biden-Harris administration.

3.26pm GMT

A new poll showed close races in both of Georgia’s Senate runoffs, an unsurprising finding given how close the state’s results in the presidential election are.

According to a poll from the Republican-leaning firm Remington Research Group, Republican Kelly Loeffler is attracting the support of 49% of likely runoff voters, compared to 46% for Democrat Raphael Warnock.

In the other runoff race, Republican incumbent David Perdue leads Democrat Jon Ossoff by 4 points among likely voters, 50%-46%.

(The margin of error in the survey was 2.6 points.)

The close result ensures all eyes will be on Georgia in January, when the two runoff races will likely determine control of the US Senate.

3.06pm GMT

Even Donald Trump’s own campaign is acknowledging they have failed to produce any evidence of election fraud.

Appearing before a Pennsylvania judge yesterday, one of the president’s lawyers was asked flat-out whether the campaign was alleging fraud in connection to a batch of ballots.

The lawyer replied, “To my knowledge at present, no.”

Just to be crystal clear: there has been absolutely no evidence of widespread fraud in the presidential election.

2.48pm GMT

Republican Al Schmidt, a Philadelphia city commissioner, defended the integrity of his city’s vote count after Donald Trump and his team raised baseless concerns about election fraud.

Schmidt said the city had to stay focused on counting valid ballots before the certification deadline, a goal that “should not be controversial.”

“I have seen the most fantastical things on social media, making completely ridiculous allegations that have no basis in fact at all,” Schmidt told CNN.

“I realize a lot of people are happy about this election, and a lot of people are not happy,” Schmidt added. “One thing I can’t comprehend is how hungry people are to consume lies and to consume information that is not true.”

As Schmidt’s interview aired, Trump accused the city commissioner of being “used big time by the Fake News Media to explain how honest things were with respect to the Election in Philadelphia.”

“He refuses to look at a mountain of corruption & dishonesty. We win!” Trump said in a tweet.

In reality, Joe Biden currently leads Trump in Pennsylvania by about 48,000 votes, and the president’s team has provided no evidence to substantiate allegations of election fraud.

2.29pm GMT

This is Joan Greve in Washington, taking over for Martin Belam.

Donald Trump’s advisers are privately acknowledging they are unlikely to prevent Joe Biden from taking office, after the president-elect was named the winner of the electoral college.

The Washington Post reports:

[E]ven some of the president’s most publicly pugilistic aides, including White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and informal adviser Corey Lewandowski, have said privately that they are concerned about the lawsuits’ chances for success unless more evidence surfaces, according to people familiar with their views.

Trump met with advisers again Tuesday afternoon to discuss whether there is a path forward, said a person with knowledge of the discussions, who, like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions. The person said Trump plans to keep fighting but understands it is going to be difficult. ‘He is all over the place. It changes from hour to hour,’ the person said. …

The vote counting, meanwhile, continued apace as the states work toward certifying the vote, a process that should largely be finished by the beginning of December. In Georgia, the deadline for county certification is Nov. 13, but the majority of counties had already completed the task by Tuesday afternoon. Next comes a statewide audit, after which Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, must certify the results no later than Nov. 20.

As a reminder, every major news outlet has declared Biden to be the winner of the presidential race, and the Democrat currently leads Trump in the popular vote by more than 5 million votes.

2.01pm GMT

Speeches from candidates conceding defeat in past US elections have been resurfacing after Donald Trump refusal to speak out since losing to Joe Biden. Here’s a little supercut to remind you of the way things used to be done after an election defeat.

Incidentally, while they are attracting a lot of attention, Trump’s claims that voter fraud has denied him victory is cutting little mustard with the broader American public. A Reuers/Ipsos poll released Tuesday showed 79% of US adults believe Biden won. That includes around 60% of those who identified themselves as Republican supporters.

And with that I shall hand you over to Joan Greve in the US. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back next week…

1.57pm GMT

You’ll probably want to pop this in your diary.

1.52pm GMT

It wasn’t just the presidency and Senate and House races on the ballot last week. Lots of states were also asking their residents to make decisions of statewide laws. Kari Paul in San Francisco reports for us on one that might have a much wider significance – California’s Prop 22.

After a historic spending spree and an aggressive public relations campaign, Uber and Lyft emerged victorious on election day when California voters passed a ballot measure that exempts gig companies from having to treat their drivers like employees.

For big tech companies, the win was a crucial step in their fight to protect their business model, and they hope it will serve as an example for tech legislation around the US.

For opponents, it showed the power of big money in fighting legislation, and represents a harbinger of the labor rights battle to come.

Prop 22 was authored by Uber, Lyft, Doordash and Instacart, and will carve out an exception for these firms from AB5, a landmark labor law in California that came after years of complaints from driver organizers and would have forced ride-share and delivery companies to treat drivers as employees.

Under Prop 22, workers at gig companies will continue to be classified as contractors, without access to employee rights such as minimum wage, unemployment benefits, health insurance, and collective bargaining.

The ballot initiative, opponents warned, would continue poor wages and substandard working conditions for gig workers, and it would leave them with little recourse to fight those conditions. Labor advocates fear the victory for tech firms could mark the beginning of similar efforts across the US.

Read more here: Prop 22 – why Uber’s victory in California could harm gig workers nationwide

1.44pm GMT

Florida bracing for second hit from Hurricane Eta

Residents in Florida are still dealing with the flooding that tropical storm Eta caused earlier in the week – and there’s now further bad news. Associated Press report that Eta has regained hurricane strength and the state needs to brace for a second hit from the storm.

Residents clear debris from a flooded street in the Driftwood Acres Mobile Home Park in the shadow of the Guitar Hotel at Seminole Hard Rock.
Residents clear debris from a flooded street in the Driftwood Acres Mobile Home Park in the shadow of the Guitar Hotel at Seminole Hard Rock.
Photograph: Lynne Sladky/AP

The storm’s maximum sustained winds increased to around 75 mph (120 kph) off Florida’s southwest coast. Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami issued a hurricane watch for a 120-mile (193-kilometer) stretch that includes Tampa and St. Petersburg.

The hurricane center said “life-threatening storm surge” is possible early Thursday, and forecasters advised residents to heed warnings from local officials. Tropical storm-force winds are expected in the area by late Wednesday.

A school bus drives through the flooded parking lot of the Browad School District Central Depot in Oakland Park.
A school bus drives through the flooded parking lot of the Browad School District Central Depot in Oakland Park.
Photograph: Joe Cavaretta/AP

There was nowhere for the water to go across much of South Florida, which had already experienced nearly 14 inches (35 centimeters) of rain in October.

1.41pm GMT

Secretary of state Mike Pompeo and newly reconfirmed Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell are among leading US political figures who have already paid social media tributes on Veterans Day.

President Donald Trump will later attend a ceremony at Arlington. He is not expected to make public remarks. He has tweeted this morning, but not yet about Veterans Day, although I am sure he will. So far he is preferring instead to attack media organisations and polling companies about figures from before his election defeat.

1.32pm GMT

Perfectly normal. Nothing to see here.

Republican Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is backing President Trump’s “efforts to identify voter fraud” by offering up to million dollars from his campaign for anyone to come forward with evidence from anywhere in the country.

Patrick said he is offering the reward to “incentivize, encourage and reward people to come forward and report voter fraud.” Anyone who provides information that ultimately ends in an arrest and final conviction will be paid ,000 minimum.

“I support President Trump’s efforts to identify voter fraud in the presidential election and his commitment to making sure that every legal vote is counted and every illegal vote is disqualified,” Patrick said in a statement. “President Trump’s pursuit of voter fraud is not only essential to determine the outcome of this election, it is essential to maintain our democracy and restore faith in future elections.”

Read more: The Hill – GOP Texas lieutenant governor offering M for evidence of voter fraud

1.17pm GMT

Politico have the improbably headlined “MAGA nation tries to rally around Trump with MAGApalooza” today explaining that we can expect big crowds in DC this weekend, as Trump supporters plan to rally. Tina Nguyen writes:

The disparate tribes of MAGA Nation — Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, Infowars fanatics, Groypers, Proud Boys, white nationalists, neo-Nazis and the people who would simply call themselves die-hard MAGA — have declared that they are simply going to show up in Washington en masse over the weekend to rally together, with the marquee event on Saturday.

The groups have assigned the gathering different names: the Million MAGA March, the March for Trump, Stop the Steal DC. But they’re all set to take place Saturday in the nation’s capital, around noon, with most set to congregate near Freedom Plaza, just east of the White House, though some groups have also suggested the Supreme Court building down the National Mall. It’s unclear how many people may show up, and past promises of massive rallies have sometimes fizzled out. Notably, organizers have not filed for permits.

“It is solely designed to create disruption, and possibly chaos. It’s basically a giant online comment troll come into life,” said Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters, a progressive group that monitors conservative media.

You can read more here: Politico – MAGA nation tries to rally around Trump with MAGApalooza

1.09pm GMT

Not everyone in the media world has been impressed with the New York Times putting that much legwork into debunking the voter fraud conspiracy theory. Here’s ProPublica’s Jessica Huseman…

1.03pm GMT

Joe Biden’s vote lead over Donald Trump stretches to more than 5 million

It may seem like the election was a fever dream now, but there are still votes being counted. Joe Biden is just a little shy of 77 million in the popular vote count now, and his lead over Donald Trump has stretched to 5 million.

Hillary Clinton’s final tally in 2016 gave her a lead of 2.8 million.

Donald Trump has become the first US president to ever lose the popular vote twice, and the first one-term president of the 21st century.

It’s also probably worth a re-up from earlier in case you missed it, that the New York Times took on the thankless task of ringing round election officials from all 50 states to ask them if they had concerns or evidence of voter fraud.

Remember, for the election result to go flip Trump’s way, his team would have to produce evidence of thousands of fraudulent votes counted in Biden’s favour in multiple US states.

The answer from all of the officials the NYT contacted was that there were no irregularities that affected the outcome.

Read that here: New York Times – The Times called officials in every state: no evidence of voter fraud

Updated at 2.56pm GMT

12.48pm GMT

Canadian PM Trudeau says looking forward to working with Biden on climate change, economy and Covid response

In a somewhat more positive diplomatic move for Joe Biden, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said this morning that he looked forward to working with the president-elect on climate change and other shared economic issues, but that their immediate focus would be dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Trudeau told a conference hosted by the Financial Times that over the past four years Canada had been able to renew its free trade agreement with the United States “even with an American president who was – is – a little bit unpredictable and protectionistic”.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa yesterday.
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa yesterday.
Photograph: Canadian Press/REX/Shutterstock

“I look forward to being able to talk with the new president about climate change, about some of our priorities, but my job is to work with whomever Americans elect and we’ve been able to do it for the past four years, we will continue to do it for the coming years,” said Trudeau, adding he had confidence in the US election process.

12.41pm GMT

Incidentally, here’s a clip of Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro taking a swipe at president-elect Joe Biden over the climate crisis. On reports of Biden threatening trade sanctions over Brazil’s environmental record with the Amazon, Bolsonaro said that “diplomacy is not enough […] there must be gunpowder.”

He also told the Brazilian nation to ‘stop being a country of sissies’ over the Covid pandemic. At 5.7m, Brazil has the third highest caseload in the world, trailing only behind India and the US.

12.31pm GMT

Three of foreign correspondents – Shaun Walker, Tom Phillips and Jon Henley – have put together this piece looking at what Donald Trump’s defeat means to the rightwing populist leaders worldwide who had put their store in the outgoing one-term president.

The end of the Trump presidency may not mean the beginning of their demise, but it certainly strips them of a powerful motivational factor, and also alters the global political atmosphere, which in recent years had seemed to be slowly tilting in their favour, at least until the onset of coronavirus. The momentous US election result is further evidence that the much-talked-about “populist wave” of recent years may be subsiding.

For Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, who has yet to recognise Joe Biden’s victory, Trump’s dismissal struck close to home. “He was really banking on a Trump victory … Bolsonaro knows that part of his project depends on Trump,” said Guilherme Casarões, a political scientist from Getulio Vargas Foundation in Brazil.

Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, commonly called AMLO, declined to congratulate Biden immediately, saying he would wait until all legal challenges had been settled.

Slovenia’s prime minister, Janez Janša, went further, calling the election for Trump on Wednesday morning. Janša, who has a Trumpian relationship with his Twitter feed, wrote that it was “pretty clear” Trump had won four more years in office. “More delays and facts denying from #MSM, bigger the final triumph for #POTUS,” he wrote.

In Europe, opponents of populism hope the change in the White House will have a similar knock-on effect. “President Trump was good for the Orbán government, President Biden will be good for Hungary,” Gergely Karácsony, the opposition mayor of Budapest, wrote on Facebook.

Read it here: End of Trump era deals heavy blow to rightwing populist leaders worldwide

12.17pm GMT

Susan Bro’s daughter Heather Heyer was killed while protesting against a far-right rally in Charlotesville, Virginia. Bro now works as an advocate for positive social change through the Heather Heyer Foundation and hate crime legislation. She writes for us this morning:

The concept of democracy is based on the promise of freedom, rights and justice for all. We know that is absolutely not the case for everyone in the United States. Many are denied justice, generational wealth, quality education, medical care, housing and freedom. They are not afforded these due to skin color, place of birth, gender, gender identity, physical or mental condition. Simply returning to normal means abandoning them. And that is not acceptable.

Most of my life, I’ve been surrounded by the Appalachian Mountains. They are a fixed part of my horizon. They represent strength and stability, born of the Earth’s crust, pushed and shaped by circumstances beyond their control. They stand the test of time, largely immutable. I envision my convictions as mountains. Here are my places of strength from which I reach out to others.

My mountains are antiracism, affordable healthcare and justice for all. My beliefs are based on the notion that when any of us is marginalized, we all are. These concepts bolster what I do, what I study, how I spend my money and how I cast my votes. It is essential to me to entice others to those mountains if I want to see those changes.

Read more here: Susan Bro – Joe Biden’s election alone cannot heal a divided nation. We will all have to do that

12.11pm GMT

Texas becomes first US state with more than 1 million confirmed Covid cases

Texas has become the first US state with more than 1 million confirmed Covid-19 cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The nation’s second-most populous state has recorded 1,010,364 coronavirus cases – with 19,337 deaths – since the pandemic began in early March.

Texas had recently surpassed California, the most populous state, in recording the highest number of positive coronavirus tests. The true number of infections is likely higher.

Texas recorded 10,865 cases on Tuesday, setting a new daily record that surpassed by 74 cases an old mark set 15 July, state officials said.

According to state figures on Tuesday, an estimated 132,146 cases are active, the most since 17 August, and 6,170 Covid-19 cases are hospitalized, the most since 18 August.

Nationally, yesterday the US recorded 136,325 new cases. It is the highest ever national daily figure, and the eighth consecutive day that more than 100,000 new cases have been recorded.

Repeatedly before the election president Donald Trump claimed that the country was turning the corner on the pandemic, and that you wouldn’t hear anything from the media about coronavirus after 4 November. He was wrong on both counts.


12.02pm GMT

The Hill this morning have a piece looking at the early progress Joe Biden has made so far with his approach to dealing with Covid, which differs so radically from the constant down-playing of the virus by Donald Trump. Nathaniel Weixel writes:

President-elect Biden is wasting no time in using his bully pulpit to push public health measures, like mask wearing and physical distancing. He has promised a much more forceful federal response to the Covid-19 pandemic than Trump.

As president-elect, Biden’s power is limited, but it is also not insignificant.

“What he doesn’t have yet in executive power, he does have a moral authority as the incoming president,” said Leana Wen, a public health professor at George Washington University who previously served as Baltimore’s health commissioner.

For his rhetoric to lead to changes in behavior, Biden will need to win over GOP governors who support Trump, and a divided public that is weary of Covid restrictions.

“We need to tell a story, we need to help people understand what’s going on,” said Michael Osterholm, a member of Biden’s Covid task force and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

“Even before the inauguration, if in fact we can just start getting a more coherent message out to the 50 states and territories and the district, that by itself would be helpful,” Osterholm said.

Read more here: The Hill – Biden seeks to use the bully pulpit he has on Covid-19

11.52am GMT

Politicians and officials leading the US response to the Covid-19 pandemic must present economic recovery and virus control as inextricably linked, after exit polls showed a divided nation views the issues as separate, public health researchers and economists say.

An overwhelming majority of voters who cast their ballot in favor of president-elect Joe Biden listed the Covid-19 pandemic as their top issue, while Trump voters were far more likely to be concerned about the economy, exit polls found.

“It is possible to stop Covid-19 and to rescue us from social and economic ruin, we just have to have the will to do it,” said Gregg Gonsalves, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Yale School of Medicine, whose work focuses on improving responses to epidemic diseases.

Throughout the pandemic, he said, “economists were saying the same thing as public health – that you have to stop the virus.”

The calls for renewed public outreach come as more than 237,000 Americans have died of the virus, more than 10 million have been infected, and the coming weeks are likely to bring the worst outbreaks of the entire pandemic.

Public health officials said they must emphasize both that Americans should wear masks, social distance, avoid high-risk situations, and that no one in public health wants another economic lockdown. Dually, they said, the emphasis must be that the economy will not recover if the virus continues to spread uncontrolled.

“The economy is really, really important to public health officials,” said Dr Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

“Everybody in public health is concerned about the economic devastation as a result of having a pandemic,” he added. “But it’s the pandemic that’s causing that, not the response to the pandemic.”

Read more of Jessica Glenza’s report here: US Covid response must tie economic recovery to virus control, experts say

11.46am GMT

Janelle Griffith at NBC News has this piece today about Stacey Abrams, the Georgia Democrat who is credited with playing a pivotal role in flipping the state blue in last week’s election. Griffith writes:

“When I think about the work that went into it, I have to just pause and say this was truly an act of faith,” Hillary Clinton told Abrams in an episode of her podcast, “You and Me Both,” that aired Tuesday. “You believed in the potential for Georgia to have an election that would empower people to vote, to have a stake in that vote, and it’s so exciting to see all that hard work pay off.”

Although Abrams, a former state lawmaker, has worked on issues related to voting rights for a decade, she became a household name in 2018, when she narrowly lost her bid for governor in a contest marked by allegations of voter suppression affecting mostly Black voters.

“We will channel the work of the past several weeks into a strong legal demand for reform of our elections systems in Georgia,” Abrams said in a speech after the loss.

Then she got back to work, launching Fair Fight, an organization that encourages voter participation and fights suppression. The organization says it has registered 800,000 first-time voters over the past two years.

“She never considered it a defeat. She was determined to show what Georgia really could be. And I think what we’re witnessing today is the result of that,” said Michael Collins, who was the longtime chief of staff for Rep. John Lewis.

A mural featuring the face of Stacey Abrams in Atlanta, Georgia.
A mural featuring the face of Stacey Abrams in Atlanta, Georgia.
Photograph: Elijah Nouvelage/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Georgia will be forefront in US politics for the next few weeks, as at the beginning of January the Democratic party has the chance to unseat two Republicans in run-off elections there, which would end Republican control of the Senate.

Read more here: NBC News – Credited with boosting Democrats in Georgia, Stacey Abrams looks to January

11.34am GMT

If you’ve got a little time on your hands this morning, I’d recommend this from my colleague Alex Hern: How 2020 transformed big tech: the story of Facebook, QAnon and the world’s slackening grip on reality. It’s a fascinating deep dive into QAnon and beyond, and how the internet is enabling people to passionately believe implausible things, say, like there being tens of thousands of fraudulent votes spread across multiple states during a US election. Alex writes:

A 4chan user with the handle “Q Clearance Patriot” appeared, claiming to be a government insider tasked with sharing “crumbs” of intel about Donald Trump’s planned counter-coup against the deep state forces frustrating his presidency. As Q’s following grew, the movement became known as the Storm – as in, “the calm before …” – and then QAnon, after its founder and prophet. At that point, QAnon was a relatively understandable conspiracy theory: it had a clear set of beliefs rooted in support for Trump and in the increasingly cryptic posts attributed to Q (by then widely believed to be a group of people posting under one name).

Now, though, it’s less clearcut. There’s no one set of beliefs that define a QAnon adherent. Most will claim some form of mass paedophilic conspiracy; some, particularly in the US, continue to focus on Trump’s supposed fightback. But the web of beliefs has become all-encompassing. One fan-produced map of all the “revelations” linked to the group includes references to Julius Caesar, Atlantis and the pharaohs of Egypt in one corner, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and 5G in another, the knights of Malta in a third, and the Fukushima meltdown in a fourth – all tied together with a generous helping of antisemitism, from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to hatred of George Soros. QAnon isn’t one conspiracy theory any more: it’s all of them at once.

In September, BuzzFeed News made the stylistic decision to refer to the movement as a “collective delusion”. “There’s more to the convoluted entity than the average reader might realise,” wrote BuzzFeed’s Drusilla Moorhouse and Emerson Malone. “But delusion does illustrate the reality better than conspiracy theory does. We are discussing a mass of people who subscribe to a shared set of values and debunked ideas, which inform their beliefs and actions.”

Read it here: How 2020 transformed big tech: the story of Facebook, QAnon and the world’s slackening grip on reality

11.24am GMT

By the way, especially if you don’t live in the US, and you are curious about how the country ended up with the election system it has, and what happens now, then Alexandra Olsen and David Koenig have put together this handy little history lesson.

It explains how, in effect, what we treat as one presidential election is actually 51 separate elections – one in each state and also one in Washington DC. Each has different rules and regulations, and there’s no national elections commission to tell the world who wins.

They remind us that the expectation of same-day election results is a modern one, as is the notion of one single election day.

The founding fathers designed the Electoral College and a series of state elections to pick the president partly because keeping power in the states was the only way to guarantee some states would ratify the constitution, says Alex Keyssar, a voting rights expert at Harvard University. Since the civil war, he says, rural and especially southern politicians have objected to giving any power over elections to the federal government.

Early in US history, elections took place over many days, and not all states voted on the same day. It was the advent of the telegraph – and worries that results in one state might influence another – that led to a single presidential election day, according to David Greenberg, a Rutgers University history and journalism professor.

Once a presidential election ends, each state chooses its representatives to the Electoral College a number based on the size of each state’s population and how many representatives and senators it has in Congress. During the slavery era, for the purposes of this population count, enslaved people were precisely and racistly counted as being worth exactly three-fifths of a person each.

Those Electoral College representatives, who are sworn to vote for the candidate who got the most votes in that state, don’t vote until 14 December.

The president of the senate and the archivist must receive certificates recording the electoral vote results no later than the fourth Wednesday in December, which this year is 23 December. The results of each state’s electoral votes are then sent to the newly elected Congress, which is set to meet in a joint session on 6 January and formally announce the results, declaring Joe Biden to be the 46th president of the United States.

And in a slightly pointed rebuke to Trump’s tweet asking since when does the media “call who the next president will be”, Associated Press are keen to point out that the first election race they called for a winning candidate was Zachary Taylor.

In 1848.

Updated at 11.28am GMT

11.19am GMT

Extreme Republican partisans have been installed in important roles in the Pentagon, following the summary dismissal of the defense secretary, Mark Esper, at a time when Donald Trump is refusing to accept his election defeat.

Democrats immediately demanded explanations for the eleventh-hour personnel changes and warned that the US was entering dangerous “uncharted territory” with the reshuffling of key national security roles during a presidential transition.

However defense experts argued there was little the new Trump appointees could do to use their positions to the president’s advantage, given the firm refusal of the uniformed armed services to get involved in domestic politics.

Anthony Tata – a retired army brigadier general, novelist and Fox News commentator who called Barack Obama a “terrorist leader” – has taken control of the Pentagon’s policy department, following the resignation of the acting undersecretary of defence for policy, James Anderson.

Tata had been unable to win Senate confirmation after old tweets surfaced in which he expressed virulent Islamophobic views.

Meanwhile, Kash Patel – a former Republican congressional aide who played a lead role in a campaign to discredit the investigation into Russian election meddling – has been made chief of staff to the new defense secretary, Chris Miller.

The undersecretary of defence for intelligence, Vice-Admiral Joseph Kernan, a retired navy Seal, was also reported to have resigned on Tuesday, and was replaced by Ezra Cohen-Watnick, a former aide to Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser who pleaded guilty to perjury.

The reasons for the post-election personnel changes 10 weeks before the end of Donald Trump’s tenure were unclear.

Read Julian Borger’s full report here: ‘Downright dangerous’: Democrat alarm as Trump stacks Pentagon with loyalists

Updated at 11.25am GMT

11.06am GMT

CNN point out that although Donald Trump is just the fourth incumbent president since World War II to lose re-election, Republicans have little choice but to continue embracing him or they risk alienating his substantial base of supporters. And they have the significant Senate run-off races in Georgia on their minds.

While a handful had taken up the cause, by Monday the President had grown frustrated that more top Republicans had not put out statements or gone on TV to amplify his message, according to two people familiar with the matter.

    The President, feeling as though McConnell and others had abandoned him, lashed out at some GOP allies, and even dangled the idea of not helping Republicans in two runoff elections in Georgia that will decide which party controls the Senate, according to one person told about the outburst.
    Multiple sources close to McConnell have denied Trump said this directly to McConnell.
    While McConnell’s speech stopped short of endorsing Trump’s baseless allegations of fraud, it was a tacit acknowledgment of the leverage Trump holds over the party.
    “(McConnell) knows he needs Trump,” said a person familiar with the matter. “So you don’t want him blowing you up in the runoffs.”
    The person also said McConnell knows “being successful in Georgia is to keep Trump under the tent.
    “That, more than anything, explains why McConnell stepped out in support of Trump, according to one veteran GOP strategist.

Read more here: CNN – With the Senate at risk, Trump still holds leverage over the GOP

10.47am GMT

We asked readers how they felt about Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump – and today we’ve published what eight of them told us. Here’s what Matthew, a teacher in Minnesota, said:

Though I was aggrieved that Biden emerged above more progressive candidates, I nonetheless have always admired his empathy and forthright approach to politics. As the months passed between March and November, I realized that he was precisely the sort of person who is needed at this point in the nation’s history, who can speak plainly and warmly, without self-aggrandizement or deliberate obfuscation.

I am extremely concerned with the lingering resentment and sense of isolation felt by supporters of the current president, a sentiment which has erupted into violence before and may do again, as people appear to believe that anything other than laissez-faire policies and total dedication to the police is sufficient cause for revolution. I worry also that the Democratic party, as currently led by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, will dive further rightwards in an attempt to appeal to the rightwing elements of this country, a move that will assuredly lead to fewer Democratic senators and members of Congress as well as a weakening of the current drive for broader progressive policies such as the Green New Deal and Medicare for all.

Read the rest of the contributions here: Guardian readers on the election result: ‘The hopes of a nation rest in good hands’

10.29am GMT

From making baseless claims of voter fraud to false declarations of victory, Donald Trump has been criticised for undermining democracy through his refusal to concede the US election. He is still yet to speak out publicly or call Joe Biden to acknowledge the result. Here’s our video recap of Trump’s week of denial.

10.27am GMT

A reminder that the Trump administration still has a grip on US foreign policy until 20 January, and is continuing to irk China over Taiwan.

Reuters has a quick snap this morning that China’s foreign ministry has just urged the US to stop elevating ties with Taiwan, after Washington and Taipei announced they would hold economic talks this month.

Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin made the comment at a daily news briefing in Beijing. China considers democratically ruled Taiwan its own territory with no right to formal relations with other countries.

Meanwhile, south-east Asian leaders start meetings tomorrow that are expected to lead to an ambitious China-backed trade deal, at a time when there are questions over US engagement in the region.

Joe Biden was vice-president during President Barack Obama’s “Asian pivot”, and is expected to steer away from Trump’s “America First” agenda and re-engage more actively in the region.

But Trump’s tariff-raising trade war with China has given extra impetus in recent years to push ahead with the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

The deal, which is expected to be signed later on Sunday on the sidelines of a mostly online, four-day summit in Hanoi, will take years to complete but will progressively lower tariffs across many areas and could become the world’s biggest trade agreement.

The 15 participating RCEP countries, which include China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, make up nearly a third of the world’s people and account for 29% of global gross domestic product. China is already the biggest source of imports and destination for exports for would-be RCEP members.

Updated at 10.48am GMT

10.15am GMT

From ending prolonged detention to a 100-day moratorium on deportations, president-elect Joe Biden’s vision for a new chapter in US immigration policy departs dramatically from the border wall construction, family separations and kids in cages that marked the Trump era.

But fixing chronically broken statutes while reversing more than 400 of Donald Trump’s immigration-related executive actions requires time, resources and in many cases bipartisan support, a tall order for the incoming administration.

“They’re just gonna have too much else on their plate,” said Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute. “There’s no way that a Biden administration will be able to get through and undo all of those changes in four years, and maybe not even eight.”

Trump’s single term has represented a reign of terror for many immigrants, as the executive branch has bullishly pursued legally dubious protocols with devastating consequences. From the White House’s bully pulpit, Trump has deployed constant vitriol against immigrants of color, whom he has described as “criminals, drug dealers, rapists” and “the worst of the worst”.

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump reportedly said in 2018, referencing Haiti, El Salvador and some African nations.

That rhetoric reflected his administration’s larger immigration priorities, as high-level officials have pushed to indefinitely detain children, turn away would-be residents for being too poor and deny foreigners their day in court.

Now, as Democrats regain the Oval Office, Biden has promised to atone for Trump’s hardline agenda, which has caused incredible suffering among immigrants and their families.

Read more of Alexandra Villarreal’s report here: Tall order for Biden to fix immigration system after four years of Trump

10.01am GMT

Stephen Collinson at CNN brings us this analysis this morning, saying that alarm is growing over Trump’s ‘dictator moves’ as he denies his election defeat.

President Donald Trump’s administration is taking on the characteristics of a tottering regime – with its loyalty tests, destabilizing attacks on the military chain of command, a deepening bunker mentality and increasingly delusional claims of political victory.

And more false accusations and conspiracy theories touted by Trump supporters to claim electoral fraud are dissolving, a day after attorney general William Barr stepped into the political fray to advise prosecutors to probe major fraud.

The Trump team only dug itself deeper into a bizarre parallel universe – one where the President has already secured a second term – consistent with the embrace of misinformation and alternative facts that has characterized the last four years.

After Trump fired defense secretary Mark Esper, who had put loyalty to the Constitution ahead of his duty to the President, three other senior Pentagon officials have been fired or resigned.

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut said on CNN that he feared the US was entering a dangerous period.

“I think (Trump) is going to be uniquely distracted from world events and national security,” Murphy said. Former national security adviser John Bolton told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that Pompeo’s comments on a Trump transition were “delusional.”

Read more here: CNN – Alarm grows over Trump’s ‘dictator moves’ as he denies election defeat

9.44am GMT

In the Manichean world of Donald Trump, there is one epithet more pathetic than any other: loser. He has used the term when describing fellow Republicans Mitt Romney and John McCain, critics such as Cher, his friend Roger Stone, and even American fallen heroes who died fighting for their country in France in 1918. Now he joins their ranks. He will forever carry around his neck the yoke of the one-term president, a burden shouldered in the last 40 years by just two other men – George HW Bush and Jimmy Carter.

To make his humiliation complete, Trump lost to someone he denigrated as “the worst candidate in the history of presidential politics”. But in the end, after a nail-biting vote count, Joe Biden proved himself to be a more worthy opponent than that albeit by a thin margin than polls predicted.

In 2016 Trump was a curiosity – the outsider who promised to take Washington by storm, the real estate magnate who said he would drain the swamp, the self-proclaimed billionaire who wouldn’t reveal his tax returns but would be the champion of “forgotten Americans”.

Four years later, that unconventional mishmash of qualities had to some degree unraveled. He could no longer claim the mantle of the outsider – he was the incumbent of the most powerful office on Earth; the swamp looked more toxic than ever; and the forgotten Americans were hurting as never before while Trump himself was paying a paltry 0 a year in federal income taxes.

Then there was the coronavirus. From the outset of the pandemic, Trump made it his business to strike a contrarian posture. Rather than heed the warning of his own scientific advisers, he bragged falsely that the disease would miraculously “disappear”, even though he was later exposed by Bob Woodward to have known early on that the virus was “deadly stuff”.

Rather than fire up the full might of the most powerful government on the planet in a comprehensive federal response to the contagion, Trump sat back and let states compete among themselves for scarce resources. He then politicised the crisis, turning masks into a partisan love-hate symbol and emboldening far-right protests against Democratic lockdowns.

A similar provocative approach to governance characterized Trump’s handling of the other great upheaval to strike America in 2020 – the wave of Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality sparked by the brutal killing of George Floyd. An event that called for healing words and unifying deeds from the president was met by Trump’s virulent attacks on “antifa” and the anarchy supposedly unleashed by crime-loving Democratic governors.

Read more of Ed Pilkinton’s piece here: Loser: Donald Trump derided defeat – now he must live with it

9.32am GMT

While we are on the topic of alleged voter fraud, it is worth noting again that here are some of the key Republican talking points, and why they are wrong about them.

Mail-in ballots are perfectly legal: while the number of mail-in ballots in the 2020 election were at a much larger scale than previously, mail-in ballots have been part of the US election system for years. It has also always been the case that some states allow ballots to arrive and be counted after the election provided that they are postmarked and dated on or before election day. Trump’s contention that these are automatically somehow illegal ballots is completely false.

The scale of Donald Trump’s defeat: in order for the election to have been ‘stolen’, there would have to have been widespread voter fraud running into the tens of thousands of ballots across multiple states in the US. Trump’s team have been able to produce no such evidence.

Down-ticket Republicans are not disputing their results: Republicans have so far held every on to the Senate and expanded their representation in the House. There are no demands for these votes to be recounted or investigated. They were all on the same ballots as the election of the president.

‘Russian hoax’: after calling it a hoax for four years, conservative talking heads have argued that if it was easy enough for the Russians to ‘fix’ the election, then it must have been possible for Democrats to ‘fix’ it this time. This deliberately misrepresents the Russian interference in the 2016 election, which was about the selective leaking of hacked and stolen information to damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and not about altering the vote count.

9.26am GMT

The New York Times took on the epic job of doing a ring-round of every state’s election officials to ask them about voter fraud, and found zip. Their piece is littered with choice quotes:

“There’s a great human capacity for inventing things that aren’t true about elections,” said Frank LaRose, a Republican who serves as Ohio’s secretary of state. “The conspiracy theories and rumors and all those things run rampant. For some reason, elections breed that type of mythology.”

Steve Simon, a Democrat who is Minnesota’s secretary of state, said: “I don’t know of a single case where someone argued that a vote counted when it shouldn’t have or didn’t count when it should. There was no fraud.”

“Kansas did not experience any widespread, systematic issues with voter fraud, intimidation, irregularities or voting problems,” a spokeswoman for Scott Schwab, the Republican secretary of state in Kansas, said in an email Tuesday. “We are very pleased with how the election has gone up to this point.”

Read much more of this type of thing here: New York Times – The Times called officials in every state: no evidence of voter fraud

9.21am GMT

The 2020 election unfolded smoothly across the country and without any widespread irregularities, according to state officials and election experts, report the Associated Press. It makes a stark contrast to the baseless claims of fraud being levelled by outgoing president Donald Trump following his defeat.

“The 2020 general election was one of the smoothest and most well-run elections that we have ever seen, and that is remarkable considering all the challenges,” said Ben Hovland, a Democrat appointed by Trump to serve on the Election Assistance Commission, which works closely with officials on election administration.

Trump has sought to discredit the integrity of the election and argued without evidence that the results will be overturned. Many of his lawsuits have already been turned away by judges, and those that remain do not include evidence of problems that would change the outcome of the race.

In Wisconsin, a battleground state where Biden narrowly edged Trump, top election official Meagan Wolfe said there were no problems with the election reported to her office and no complaints filed alleging any irregularities.

Michigan attorney general Dana Nessel, a Democrat, said the same was true in her state, which Biden also won.

“Let me be clear the November elections in Michigan ran as smoothly as ever,” Nessel said, adding that there were no “instances of irregularities in the process of counting the votes, only evidence-free allegations, wild speculation, and conspiracy theories.”

Ahead of election day, the pandemic upended longstanding voting plans and forced election officials to make some changes. They did so with limited federal money to cover increased costs for mail ballots, which take more staff and money to send, process and count.

“In the spring, there were just so many challenges we were facing, and we were just wondering how we were going to manage to do it,” said Larry Norden, an elections expert with the Brennan Center for Justice. “It’s an incredible story.”

Long before a single ballot was cast, Trump raised questions about the integrity of the election and railed against mail voting, despite a long history of mail ballots being used successfully in this country. At one point, he claimed the only way he could lose was if the election were rigged.

Some states that expanded mail-in voting to make it safer to cast a ballot during the virus outbreak lean Republican and voted for Trump: Nebraska, North Dakota and Montana. He has raised no concerns about the results there.

9.16am GMT

A postal worker whose allegations of ballot tampering have been the basis of Republicans’ calls for investigations has reportedly recanted his story.

Democrats on the House oversight committee have said that Richard Hopkins, the worker who claimed in a signed affidavit that a supervisor at the US Postal Service (USPS) in Erie, Pennsylvania, instructed staff to tamper with ballots by backdating ones that arrived late, recanted this allegations yesterday in an interview with investigators for the USPS Inspector General.

Investigators told the committee that Hopkins “did not explain why he signed a false affidavit”, the committee wrote in a statement.

Hopkins admitted to fabricating his claims, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday, citing three officials. After he the affidavit, the South Carolina Republican senator Lindsay Graham, who heads the Senate judiciary committee, called for a federal investigation.

Read more of Maanvi Singh’s report here: US postal worker recants voter-fraud claims after Republicans call for inquiry

9.11am GMT

Arwa Mahdawi has this for us today, asking: Is this the death of Fox News’s love affair with Donald Trump?

Poor Donald Trump. Not only has he lost the election, it looks as if he has lost the love of his life. I’m not talking about Melania – although some rumours have it that she is “counting the minutes” until she can get a divorce (which she has denied). I’m talking about Fox News.

For years, Trump and Fox News have been in a committed, loving relationship. Recently, however, there has been trouble in paradise, with Trump complaining the network is a “much different place than it used to be”. The relationship might have been salvaged, but then Fox News did something unforgivable: it flirted with real journalism. On election day, it was the first major outlet to declare Joe Biden would win Arizona, sending the Trump administration into a meltdown. Since then, Fox News has continued to infuriate the White House by refusing to encourage Trump’s delusion that he won the election. On Monday, for example, it cut away from the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, when she claimed that the Democrats had encouraged voter fraud. “Whoa, whoa, whoa,” the Fox News anchor said to the viewers. “I can’t in good countenance continue showing you this.”

Trump’s supporters are outraged their leader’s once-beloved network is treating him this way. Some believe Fox News has gone “full lefty” and have started labelling it “fake news”. Which begs the question: where’s the real news? If you can’t even trust Fox News to fuel your deranged conspiracy theories these days, who can you trust?

Read it here: Arwa Mahdawi – Is this the death of Fox News’s love affair with Donald Trump?

9.08am GMT

Here’s a reminder of how the two sides have been approaching this election outcome. Joe Biden described the reaction of Donald Trump and the Republicans as ‘an embarrassment’. Secretary of state Mike Pompeo meanwhile, baselessly spoke about ‘a second Trump administration’. He may have had a slight twinkle in his eye as he said it.

9.01am GMT

Welcome to our coverage of US politics for Wednesday. This time last week we woke up with the US election too close to call. Seven days later we know Joe Biden is set for the White House, despite the best efforts of the Trump administration to deny the results. Here’s a summary of where we are: © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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