WASHINGTON — Republicans will have at least 203 seats in the next House, giving them enough wins to assure that Democrats will have fewer members next year.

Republican Young Kim narrowly defeated Democratic Rep. Gil Cisneros in a Southern California district the GOP lost two years ago. Mark J. Terrill/Asociated Press, file

The GOP crossed the mark Friday night when The Associated Press declared Republican Young Kim the winner against Democratic Rep. Gil Cisneros in Southern California.

Democrats have nailed down at least 219 seats and could win a few others when more votes are counted. That ensures they will hold the House for two more years but with a smaller, potentially razor-thin majority, a bittersweet finale to last week’s elections that has left them divided and with scant margin for error for advancing their agenda.

Democrats went into Election Day with a 232-197 House advantage, plus an independent and five open seats. It is possible that in the new Congress that convenes in January, they’ll have the smallest majority since Republicans had just 221 seats two decades ago.

Republicans suffer multiple court setbacks in election challenges

PHILADELPHIA — Republicans suffered setbacks to court challenges over the presidential election in three battleground states on Friday while a law firm that came under fire for its work for President Trump’s campaign withdrew from a major Pennsylvania case.

The legal blows began when a federal appeals court rejected an effort to block about 9,300 mail-in ballots that arrived after Election Day in Pennsylvania. The judges noted the “vast disruption” and “unprecedented challenges” facing the nation during the COVID-19 pandemic as they upheld the three-day extension.

Chief U.S. Circuit Judge D. Brooks Smith said the panel kept in mind “a proposition indisputable in our democratic process: that the lawfully cast vote of every citizen must count.”

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Members of the Allegheny County Return Board process the remaining absentee and mail-in Allegheny County ballots on Thursday in Pittsburgh. Steve Mellon/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via Associated Press

The ruling involves a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision to accept mail-in ballots through Friday, Nov. 6, citing the pandemic and concerns about postal service delays.

In Michigan, a judge Friday refused to stop the certification of Detroit-area election results, rejecting claims the city had committed fraud and tainted the count with its handling of absentee ballots. It’s the third time a judge has declined to intervene in a statewide count that shows Biden up by more than 140,000 votes.

And, in Arizona, a judge dismissed a Trump campaign lawsuit seeking the inspection of ballots in metro Phoenix after the campaign’s lawyers acknowledged the small number of ballots at issue wouldn’t change the outcome of how the state voted for president.

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Prosecutors assigned to election tell Attorney General Barr they found no substantial irregularities

Sixteen assistant U.S. attorneys specially assigned to monitor malfeasance in the 2020 election urged Attorney General William P. Barr on Friday to rescind his recent memorandum allowing investigators to publicly pursue allegations of “vote tabulation irregularities” in certain cases before results are certified, saying they had not seen evidence of any substantial anomalies.

In a letter – an image of which was shown to The Washington Post – the assistant U.S. attorneys told Barr that the release of his Monday memorandum – which changed long-standing Justice Department policy about the steps prosecutors can take before the results of an election are certified – “thrusts career prosecutors into partisan politics.”

The signers wrote that in the places where they served as district election officers, taking in reports of possible election-related crimes, there was no evidence of the kind of fraud that Barr’s memo had highlighted. Barr’s memo authorized prosecutors “to pursue substantial allegations of voting and vote tabulation irregularities prior to the certification of elections in your jurisdictions in certain cases,” particularly where the outcome of an election could be impacted.

“The policy change was not based in fact,” the assistant U.S. attorneys wrote.

The letter was signed by assistant U.S. attorneys in 15 different federal court districts: Western Pennsylvania, Western North Carolina, New Mexico, Maryland, Southern Ohio, Eastern Kentucky, Southern Iowa, Western Arkansas, Southern New York, Eastern New York, Oregon, Kansas, Northern California, the Virgin Islands and the Northern Marianna Islands. Two signers were from Oregon.

Asked for comment on the assistant U.S. attorneys’ assertions, Kerri Kupec, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said, “Perhaps they did not read the memo,” and pointed to a section in which Barr urged caution and noted, “Nothing here should be taken as any indication that the Department has concluded that voting irregularities have impacted the outcome of any election.”

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Biden wins Georgia, Trump carries North Carolina in final calls of race

President-elect Joe Biden is projected to win Georgia, and President Trump is projected to win North Carolina in the final calls of the presidential race.

Edison Research projects that Biden will capture Georgia’s 16 electoral votes, flipping a state Republicans have won in presidential elections since 1996.

Trump is projected to add North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes to his total.

Overall, Biden is projected to win 306 electoral votes, Trump is projected to win 232.

Judges in Pennsylvania, Michigan reject Republican efforts to block votes

A federal appeals court in Philadelphia on Friday rejected an effort led by a Republican congressional candidate to block about 9,300 ballots that arrived after Election Day.

The three-judge panel, led by Chief U.S. Circuit Judge Brooks Smith, noted the “unprecedented challenges” facing the nation this year, especially the “vast disruption” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Smith said the panel sought to uphold “a proposition indisputable in our democratic process: that the lawfully cast vote of every citizen must count.”

And in Michigan, a judge has rejected a Republican demand to delay certification of the vote count in Detroit.

The two rulings were the latest in a string of defeats for President Trump and his allies, who have sought to un-do – or at least delay – President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory with long-shot lawsuits claiming election irregularities.

The ruling in Philadelphia involves the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to accept mail-in ballots that arrived by Friday, Nov. 6, three days after the close of polling places. That court had agreed with Democratic state officials who wanted to extend the deadline amid concerns about Postal Service delays and the pandemic.

State Republicans have separately asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the issue. However, there are not enough late-arriving ballots to change the results in Pennsylvania, given Biden’s lead. The Democratic former vice president won the state by about 60,000 votes out of about 6.8 million cast.

Separately, a national law firm that came under criticism for its work for the Trump campaign has asked to withdraw from a lawsuit that seeks to stop Pennsylvania officials from certifying the election results.

The judge in Michigan on Friday rejected arguments that Detroit’s handling of absentee ballots spoiled the count.

It’s the third time that a judge has refused to intervene in crucial steps that are necessary to bless the broader Michigan totals, which gave Biden a crucial victory over Trump by more than 140,000 votes.

This lawsuit claims Republican challengers were illegally removed from the TCF Center in Detroit while absentee ballots were being processed. The court filing also alleges that ballots were backdated, signatures on ballot envelopes weren’t verified, and other irregularities.

Officials said there were plenty of Republican representatives in the convention hall, though access at times was restricted because of COVID-19 rules.

There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. In fact, election officials from both political parties have stated publicly that the election went well across the U.S., and international observers confirmed there were no serious irregularities.

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Military voters fear their votes are part of unsupported fraud claim

LAS VEGAS — Some military voters are concerned they have been thrust into the center of unsubstantiated fraud claims by President Donald Trump’s campaign that several thousand people may have improperly voted in Nevada.

There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election despite Trump’s claims. Election officials from both political parties have stated publicly that the election went well and international observers confirmed there were no serious irregularities that elected Democrat Joe Biden the next president.

Still, lawyers from Trump’s campaign sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr alleging they had uncovered what they described as “criminal voter fraud” in Nevada. They said they had identified 3,062 people who “improperly” cast mail ballots in Clark County, a Democrat-heavy area that includes Las Vegas and about 75% of the state’s population.

Those people were identified by “cross-referencing the names and addresses of voters with the National Change of Address database,” according to the letter.

A copy of the letter provided to The Associated Press included a 62-page chart enumerating each voter but the listing did not include the name, address or party affiliation. Instead, it listed voters by the county, city, state and zip code they moved from, and the city, state and nine-digit zip code they moved to. The full nine-digit zip code can narrow an address down to a particular segment of a few blocks or even one side of a street, according to the U.S. Postal Service.

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Observers, in foreground, chat as election workers work in a tabulation room at the Clark County Election Department in North Las Vegas, Friday, Nov. 6. AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Voting rights activists say hundreds of people on the list appear to be linked to the U.S. military. The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, which is doing election protection work, found 157 voters who listed a military base post office, according to staff attorney Nikki Levy, meaning they likely voted legally under added protections in federal law allowing absentee voting for military members and their families.

It’s hard to know offhand how many military families are on the Trump campaign list because not all service members use their base post office as their address, Levy said.

Rebekah Mattes, a civil servant who now lives in Stuttgart, Germany, said she believes she found herself and her husband, who is in the Air Force, on the list because it includes only two voters who made the same move they did from North Las Vegas to their new zip code in Germany.

“It’s a little disheartening that this process that’s in place for people like my family, to be able to exercise their right to vote, is being questioned,” Mattes said, adding, “That’s a pretty broad brush to be painting with for something that’s this important.”

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Georgia starts hand recount of presidential race

ATLANTA — Georgia’s manual recount began Friday morning as election workers reviewed the first of nearly 5 million ballots to confirm the outcome of the presidential race.

The recount started at 9 a.m. and will last until 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, resulting in a new, official count in the race where Joe Biden led Donald Trump by 14,000 votes as of Friday morning.

The cost of Georgia recount six-day recount isn’t known, but initial estimates from DeKalb County indicate it might be pricey.

DeKalb officials said Friday the recount will cost about $180,000, including $147,000 in pay, $20,000 for food and beverages, and $12,000 for personal protective equipment and other coronavirus-related precautions.

The numbers are preliminary and may change, according to DeKalb.

County governments — and their taxpayers — are responsible for the cost of the recount ordered by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. State election officials have said they’re seeking federal funding to help reimburse some of the costs borne by counties.

A Chatham County election official posts a sign in the public viewing area in Savannah, Ga. before the start of a ballot audit on Friday. Associated Press/Stephen B. Morton

DeKalb was in the process Friday of setting up operations at the former Sam’s Club in Stonecrest, where it plans to start its part of the recount at 7 a.m. Saturday.

Officials said the facility — which was used as an early voting site for the election — provides more space and allows for better social distancing than would be possible at the county’s elections office off Memorial Drive.

The arduous hand count will be closely watched across the nation as voters seek final results in the presidential contest.

Teams of election workers will check each voter’s choices on all ballots, both those printed by computers at in-person voting sites and absentee ballots filled out by hand. They’ll sort ballots into piles for each presidential candidate, then add up the number of ballots in each stack.

The recount, conducted under Georgia’s election audit rules, is a major test of election integrity.

State election officials hope the manual recount will build voter confidence in the original tally, which was tabulated by scanning ballots through computers. But discrepancies, delays or disputes could undermine the process.

Whichever candidate wins Georgia will take its 16 votes in the Electoral College.

Biden widens electoral vote lead with projected Arizona win

Three more television networks have projected that President-elect Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in Arizona, one of the states where he has sought to overturn the election.

Three major television networks, CNN, ABC and NBC, projected late Thursday night that Biden had won Arizona, the first Democrat to do so since President Bill Clinton in 1996.

The Associated Press and Fox News called the state for Biden on election night, but other news organizations had held off. The Fox projection infuriated Trump and he has been lashing out at the network on Twitter and elsewhere ever since.

Trump trails Biden in Arizona by about 11,500 votes.

After the three networks released their projections, Meghan McCain tweeted a photograph of her late father, John McCain, a Republican who represented the state in the U.S. Senate for more than 30 years, with the words: “I like people who don’t lose Arizona.”

That was a reference to a remark Trump made during the 2016 campaign about John McCain, a frequent critic and one of the country’s most revered veterans. “He was a war hero because he was captured,” Trump said. “I like people who weren’t captured.”

In order to reverse the results of last week’s vote and get the 270 electoral votes required to win, Trump, who has made baseless claims of election fraud, would have to move at least three battleground states into his column.

Overall, Biden now leads Trump by more than 5 million votes.

China congratulates Biden, but few U.S. policy changes seen

BEIJING — China on Friday became one of the last major countries to congratulate U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, who is expected to make few changes to U.S. policy in conflicts with Beijing over trade, technology and security.

China, along with Russia, avoided joining the throng that congratulated Biden last weekend after he and vice presidential running mate Kamala Harris secured enough Electoral College votes to unseat President Donald Trump.

“We respect the choice of the American people,” said a foreign ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin. “We congratulate Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris.”

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Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin Associated Press/Liu Zheng

Wang gave no reason for the delay but said, “the result will be confirmed according to U.S. laws and procedures.”

U.S.-Chinese relations have plunged to their lowest level in decades amid a tariff war over Beijing’s technology ambitions and trade surplus, accusations of spying and tension over human rights, the coronavirus pandemic, Hong Kong and control of the South China Sea.

Trump labeled China a security threat and imposed export curbs and other sanctions on Chinese companies. On Thursday, he stepped up those sanctions by issuing an order that bars Americans from investing in securities issued by companies U.S. officials say are owned or controlled by the Chinese military.

Forecasters had said even if lost his re-election bid, Trump was likely to try to increase pressure on Beijing before he leaves office on Jan. 20.

Political analysts expect Biden to try to resume cooperation with Beijing on climate change, North Korea, Iran and the coronavirus. And they say Biden might pursue a more traditional, predictable policy toward China.

Law firm representing Trump campaign in Pennsylvania pulls out of case

A law firm representing Trump in his attempt to challenge the election count in Pennsylvania has withdrawn from the case.

Porter Wright Morris & Arthur said in a court motion filed late Thursday that attorneys Ronald L. Hicks Jr. and Carolyn B. McGee would no longer be representing Trump’s campaign in the case.

“Plaintiffs and Porter Wright have reached a mutual agreement that Plaintiffs will be best served if Porter Wright withdraws,” the attorneys said in their motion.

The firm said Trump’s campaign was “in the process of retaining” other attorneys to represent it. Linda A. Kerns, a Philadelphia attorney who is representing Trump in a flurry of lawsuits in the state’s courts, will remain on the case.

Several law firms representing Trump in his efforts to undermine the result in battleground states have come under pressure to drop the president as a client.

Trump’s federal lawsuit in Pennsylvania seeks an emergency injunction preventing state authorities from certifying the state’s election results. It alleges that hundreds of thousands of votes cast in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are invalid because Trump’s campaign was unable to observe them being counted, which election officials deny.

Commonwealth Secretary Kathy Boockvar on Thursday asked the court to dismiss what she called Trump’s “desperate and unfounded attempt to interfere” with the election process.

“The voters of Pennsylvania have spoken,” attorneys for Boockvar said in a court filing.

Aide says Biden will appoint ‘COVID coordinator’

Incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain says President-elect Joe Biden will appoint a “COVID coordinator” who will lead the administration’s pandemic response.

Klain, speaking on MSNBC Thursday night, says the individual will have “direct access” to the president and will brief him daily on the pandemic. They will also have a team of people underneath them, who will coordinate vaccine distribution, address supply chain disruptions and improve access to testing.

Klain served in a similar role in 2014 under President Barack Obama, when he was the administration’s Ebola response coordinator.

His comments illuminate how the incoming Biden administration is considering addressing the pandemic when Biden enters office next year. This week, he announced a panel of doctors and public health experts tasked with turning his campaign trail proposals for tackling COVID-19 into actionable plans.

Pennsylvania judge sides with Trump campaign

A Pennsylvania judge has sided with President Donald Trump’s campaign and ordered counties not to count a small number of mail-in or absentee ballots for which the voter didn’t submit valid identification within six days after the Nov. 3 election.

The injunction issued Thursday by Commonwealth Court Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt deals with an as-yet unknown number of ballots that may number a few thousand or fewer.

While the Trump campaign’s general counsel, Matt Morgan, called the order a “win,” the ballots affected may not have been tabulated and are unlikely to affect the outcome in Pennsylvania.

The Associated Press called the presidential contest for Democrat Joe Biden on Saturday after determining the remaining ballots in Pennsylvania would not allow Trump to catch up.

Biden held an approximately 55,000-vote margin Thursday night. But Trump has refused to concede, and his campaign and Republican allies have several lawsuits pending.

The court order affects a subset of about 10,000 ballots that arrived within three days of polls closing, a period allowed by the state Supreme Court because of concerns over the pandemic and delays in the U.S. Postal Service.

Obama troubled by GOP officials ‘going along with’ Trump’s charges of voter fraud

Former President Barack Obama says he’s troubled by the Republican officials who are “going along with” President Donald Trump’s baseless accusations of widespread voter fraud.

Obama made the comment in an interview Wednesday with CBS News. The full interview is set to air Sunday on CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

Obama is promoting his new book, “A Promised Land.” The release date comes just days after Obama’s vice president, Joe Biden, was elected president over Trump.

Obama says the false claims about voter fraud are “one more step in delegitimizing not just the incoming Biden administration, but democracy generally.” He says it puts the U.S. on a “dangerous path.”

Trump has refused to concede the election to Biden. Obama says the false claims of voter fraud appear to be motivated by Trump not liking to lose.

Biden takes a break

Joe Biden is heading to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, for some time with his family for his first break from transition work since he became president-elect last weekend.

The Bidens own a vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, a small beach town about 90 miles from his house in Wilmington. It’s a favorite retreat of the Bidens, and the president-elect has returned there to mull over major decisions in the past. He spent time holed up in his Rehoboth home in August, while he considered his vice presidential pick.

Biden is not expected to have public events until at least Saturday night, when he returns to Wilmington, though aides say he’s expected to continue private transition meetings.

Biden’s transition work continued this week, with the announcement of his agency landing teams, groups of staff and volunteers tasked with gathering information at the federal agencies to help smooth the transition of power. Biden is expected also to review options for top-level staff and Cabinet appointees in the coming weeks.

 


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