Trump, Still Claiming Victory, Says He Will Leave if Electors Choose Biden

President Trump said on Thursday that he would leave the White House if the Electoral College formalized Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s election as president, even as he reiterated baseless claims of fraud that he said would make it “very hard” to concede.

Taking questions from reporters for the first time since Election Day, Mr. Trump also threw himself into the battle for Senate control, saying he would soon travel to Georgia to support Republican candidates in two runoff elections scheduled there on Jan. 5.

When asked whether he would leave office in January after the Electoral College cast its votes for Mr. Biden on Dec. 14 as expected, Mr. Trump replied: “Certainly I will. Certainly I will.”

Speaking in the Diplomatic Room of the White House after a Thanksgiving video conference with members of the American military, the president insisted that “shocking” new evidence about voting problems would surface before Inauguration Day. “It’s going to be a very hard thing to concede,” he said, “because we know that there was massive fraud.”

But even as he continued to deny the reality of his defeat, Mr. Trump also seemed to acknowledge that his days as president were numbered.

“Time is not on our side,” he said, in a rare admission of weakness. He also complained that what he referred to, prematurely, as “the Biden administration” had declared its intention to scrap his “America First” foreign policy vision.

The president was also strikingly testy at one point, lashing out at a reporter who interjected during one of several of his rambling statements about the supposedly fraudulent election.

“You’re just a lightweight,” Mr. Trump snapped, raising his voice and pointing a finger in anger. “Don’t talk to me that — don’t talk — I’m the president of the United States. Don’t ever talk to the president that way.”

If Mr. Trump sees the end of his presidency as inevitable, he clearly still believes he can bolster his legacy — and badly undermine Mr. Biden, the man who is ending it — by helping to preserve a Republican Senate that could serve as a wall against the new Democratic agenda.

The election results left Democrats holding 48 seats in the U.S. Senate. If Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock, the Democratic challengers in Georgia, can both pull off victories over Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, their party will gain de facto control of a Senate divided 50-50 because Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would wield a tiebreaking vote.

In his remarks on Thursday, Mr. Trump said he would visit Georgia on Saturday. Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, later clarified that the president meant Saturday, Dec. 5.

The president added that he could return to the state to back the Republicans a second time, “depending on how they’re doing.”

It is unclear how helpful Mr. Trump’s appearances would be for the two embattled Republican incumbents. After a hand recount of a close vote, Georgia declared Mr. Biden the winner there on Nov. 19 by a margin of 12,284 votes. Mr. Biden is the first Democrat to carry the state in a presidential election since Bill Clinton in 1992.

Mr. Trump insisted on Thursday that he had won the vote by a significant margin. “We were robbed. We were robbed,” he said. “I won that by hundreds of thousands of votes. Everybody knows it.”

Asked whether he would attend Mr. Biden’s inauguration, as is customary for a departing president, Mr. Trump was coy.

“I don’t want to say that yet,” the president said, adding, “I know the answer, but I just don’t want to say.”

At times, Mr. Trump shifted his explanation of his defeat from claims of fraud to complaints that the political battlefield had been slanted against him, casting the news media and technology companies as his enemies.

“If the media were honest and big tech was fair, it wouldn’t even be a contest,” he said. “And I would have won by a tremendous amount.”

After seeming to concede reality, Mr. Trump quickly caught himself and revised his conditional statement.

“And I did win by a tremendous amount,” he added.

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Trump Administration Approves Start of Formal Transition to Biden

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s government on Monday authorized President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. to begin a formal transition process after Michigan certified Mr. Biden as its winner, a strong sign that the president’s last-ditch bid to overturn the results of the election was coming to an end.

Mr. Trump did not concede, and vowed to persist with efforts to change the vote, which have so far proved fruitless. But the president said on Twitter on Monday night that he accepted the decision by Emily W. Murphy, the administrator of the General Services Administration, to allow a transition to proceed.

In his tweet, Mr. Trump said that he had told his officials to begin “initial protocols” involving the handoff to Mr. Biden “in the best interest of our country,” even though he had spent weeks trying to subvert a free and fair election with false claims of fraud. Hours later, he tried to play down the significance of Ms. Murphy’s action, tweeting that it was simply “preliminarily work with the Dems” that would not stop efforts to change the election results.

Still, Ms. Murphy’s designation of Mr. Biden as the apparent victor provides the incoming administration with federal funds and resources and clears the way for the president-elect’s advisers to coordinate with Trump administration officials.

The decision from Ms. Murphy came after several additional senior Republican lawmakers, as well as leading figures from business and world affairs, denounced the delay in allowing the peaceful transfer of power to begin, a holdup that Mr. Biden and his top aides said was threatening national security and the ability of the incoming administration to effectively plan for combating the coronavirus pandemic.

And it followed a key court decision in Pennsylvania, where the state’s Supreme Court on Monday ruled against the Trump campaign and the president’s Republican allies, stating that roughly 8,000 ballots with signature or date irregularities must be counted.

In Michigan, the statewide canvassing board, with two Republicans and two Democrats, voted 3 to 0 to approve the results, with one Republican abstaining. It officially delivered to Mr. Biden a key battleground that Mr. Trump had wrested away from Democrats four years ago, and rebuffed the president’s legal and political efforts to overturn the results.

By Monday evening, as Mr. Biden moved ahead with plans to fill out his cabinet, broad sectors of the nation had delivered a blunt message to a defeated president: His campaign to stay in the White House and subvert the election, unrealistic from the start, was nearing the end.

Ms. Murphy said she made her decision on Monday because of “recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results,” most likely referring to the certification of votes by election officials in Michigan and a nearly unbroken string of court decisions that have rejected Mr. Trump’s challenges in several states.

In a statement, Yohannes Abraham, the executive director of Mr. Biden’s transition, said that Ms. Murphy’s decision was “a needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation.”

He added that aides to Mr. Biden would soon begin meeting with Trump administration officials “to discuss the pandemic response, have a full accounting of our national security interests, and gain complete understanding of the Trump administration’s efforts to hollow out government agencies.”

Mr. Trump had been resisting any move toward a transition. But in conversations in recent days that intensified Monday morning, top aides — including Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff; Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel; and Jay Sekulow, the president’s personal lawyer — told the president the transition needed to begin. He did not need to say the word “concede,” they told him, according to multiple people briefed on the discussions.

Mr. Trump continued to solicit opinions from associates, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, who told him there were still legal avenues to pursue, the people said.

Some of the advisers drafted a statement for the president to issue. In the end, Mr. Trump did not put one out, but aides said the tone was similar to his tweets in the evening, in which he appeared to take credit for Ms. Murphy’s decision to allow the transition to begin.

“Our case STRONGLY continues, we will keep up the good fight, and I believe we will prevail!” he wrote. “Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.”

In a letter to Mr. Biden, which was first reported by CNN, Ms. Murphy rebutted Mr. Trump’s assertion that he had directed her to make the decision, saying that “I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts.” She said she was “never directly or indirectly pressured by any executive branch official — including those who work at the White House or the G.S.A.”

“I do not think that an agency charged with improving federal procurement and property management should place itself above the constitutionally-based election process,” she wrote, defending her delay by saying that she did not want to get ahead of the constitutional process of counting votes and picking a president.

Her letter appeared designed not to antagonize Mr. Trump and his supporters. In it, she did not describe Mr. Biden as the president-elect even as she said the transition could begin.

One associate with knowledge of Ms. Murphy’s thinking said that she always anticipated signing off on the transition but that she needed a defensible rationale to do so in the absence of a concession from Mr. Trump; the recent pro-Biden developments in Michigan and Pennsylvania, as well as Georgia, which certified Mr. Biden’s win there last Friday, provided a clear justification for moving ahead.

That decision was part of a cascade of events over the last several days that appeared to signal the end of Mr. Trump’s attempts to resist the will of the voters.

Large counties in Pennsylvania were formalizing Mr. Biden’s victory in the state. And in a major break with the president, General Motors announced it would no longer back the administration’s efforts to nullify California’s fuel economy rules.

On Capitol Hill, most of Mr. Trump’s Republican allies had stood by his side for the past two weeks as he tried to overturn Mr. Biden’s victory. But on Monday, some of the Senate’s most senior Republicans sharply urged Ms. Murphy to allow the transition to proceed.

Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who is retiring, issued his second call in recent days for a prompt transition.

“Since it seems apparent that Joe Biden will be the president-elect, my hope is that President Trump will take pride in his considerable accomplishments, put the country first and have a prompt and orderly transition to help the new administration succeed,” said Mr. Alexander, a close friend of Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader. “When you are in public life, people remember the last thing you do.”

Earlier in the day, Senators Rob Portman of Ohio and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, both Republicans, issued statements breaking from Mr. Trump and calling for Mr. Biden to begin receiving coronavirus and national security briefings.

“At some point, the 2020 election must end,” Ms. Capito said.

The pressure on Mr. Trump extended beyond the political sphere. More than 100 business leaders sent a letter to the administration on Monday asking it to facilitate a transition, and a group of Republican national security experts implored Republican members of Congress to demand that Mr. Trump concede.

One of the president’s staunchest supporters, Stephen A. Schwarzman, the chief executive of the private equity firm Blackstone, did not sign the business leaders’ letter but said in a statement that “the outcome is very certain today and the country should move on.”

But the most dramatic evidence that Mr. Trump’s efforts to challenge the election were fading on Monday came in Michigan, where days of speculation about the certification of the state’s vote ended with the 3-0 vote by the canvassing board. It came after several hours of comments from local clerks, elected officials and the public, most of whom said that the board’s only legal role was to certify the results of the election, not to audit them.

As the meeting wore on, it became clear that one Republican member of the canvassing board, Aaron Van Langevelde, was leaning toward certifying. He asked multiple times if the board had the legal authority to do anything else.

“There is nothing in the law that gives me the authority to request an audit,” he said. “I think the law is on my side here. We have no authority to request an audit or delay or block the certification.”

The other Republican on the board, Norm Shinkle, abstained from the vote.

Jocelyn Benson, the Democratic secretary of state in Michigan, said in a statement that “democracy has prevailed” against “an unprecedented attack on its integrity.” She said the state would now begin procedures, including a risk-limiting audit, to further affirm the integrity of the election.

Another crucial swing state, Pennsylvania, was also moving toward cementing results on Monday, with multiple counties certifying the vote counts, despite some scattered efforts by local Republicans to halt the process. Mr. Biden won Pennsylvania by about 80,000 votes.

In Allegheny County, the state’s second-largest county and home to Pittsburgh, the county board voted 2 to 1 to certify the results. And in Philadelphia, the largest county, the city commissioners certified the results on Monday night after the state’s Supreme Court rejected a Republican request to disqualify the 8,000 absentee ballots.

Pennsylvania law dictates that counties must certify their votes by the third Monday after the election, but there is no real penalty for missing the deadline.

Statewide results will not be officially certified until all counties report, after which the process will move to Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and then to Gov. Tom Wolf for the final signature and awarding of electors. Both officials are Democrats.

Despite the counties’ certifications on Monday, the Trump campaign filed an emergency appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, seeking to halt statewide certification.

Still, the Trump campaign’s legal challenges, led by Mr. Giuliani, have been so unsuccessful and widely mocked that the president acknowledged to advisers that the former New York City mayor’s appearances had become a debacle.

By late Monday, Mr. Biden’s team had already taken its first steps toward a more formal transition, moving its website,, to its new home on government servers made possible by Ms. Murphy’s decision:

Michael D. Shear reported from Washington, Maggie Haberman and Nick Corasaniti from New York, and Jim Rutenberg from Montauk, N.Y. Kathleen Gray contributed reporting from Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and Nicholas Fandos and Emily Cochrane contributed from Washington.

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Biden Will Nominate First Woman to Lead Intelligence, First Latino to Run Homeland Security

WASHINGTON — President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. plans to name several top national security picks on Tuesday, his transition office said, including the first Latino to lead the Department of Homeland Security, the first woman to head the intelligence community and a former secretary of state, John Kerry, to be his international climate czar.

At an event in Wilmington, Del., Mr. Biden will announce plans to nominate Alejandro Mayorkas to be his secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, his transition office said, and Avril Haines to be his director of national intelligence. He intends to name Mr. Kerry as a special presidential envoy on climate. The transition office also confirmed reports on Sunday night that Mr. Biden will nominate Antony J. Blinken to be secretary of state and Jake Sullivan as national security adviser.

Mr. Biden will also nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield to be ambassador to the United Nations and restore the job to cabinet-level status, giving Ms. Thomas-Greenfield, an African-American woman, a seat on his National Security Council.

Mr. Kerry’s job does not require Senate confirmation. A statement released by the transition office said Mr. Kerry “will fight climate change full-time as Special Presidential Envoy for Climate and will sit on the National Security Council.”

To manage his domestic climate policies, Mr. Biden also will soon name a White House climate director, who will have equal standing with Mr. Kerry, according to transition officials.

The emerging team reunites a group of former senior officials from the Obama administration, most of whom worked closely together at the State Department and the White House and in several cases have close ties to Mr. Biden dating back years. They are well known to foreign diplomats around the world and share a belief in the core principles of the Democratic foreign policy establishment — international cooperation, strong U.S. alliances and leadership but a wariness of foreign interventions after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The racial and gender mix also reflects Mr. Biden’s stated commitment to diversity, which has lagged behind notoriously in the worlds of foreign policy and national security, where white men are disproportionately represented.

The slate of picks also showed Mr. Biden’s determination to push forward with setting up his administration despite President Trump’s continuing refusal to concede or assist him, even as a small but growing number of Republicans lawmakers and supporters of the president are calling for a formal transition to begin.

If confirmed, Mr. Mayorkas, who served as deputy Homeland Security secretary from 2013 to 2016, would be the first Latino to run the department charged with implementing and managing the nation’s immigration policies.

A Cuban-born immigrant whose family fled the Castro revolution, he is a former U.S. attorney in California and began Mr. Obama’s first term as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. He will have to restore trust in the department after many key Democratic constituencies came to see it as the vessel for some of Mr. Trump’s most contentious policies, such as separating migrant children from their families and building a wall along the southern border.

Top immigration officials in the Obama administration recommended Mr. Mayorkas’s nomination as a way to build support with the immigrant community while satisfying moderates and career officials within the agency who are looking for a leader with a background in law enforcement.

Ms. Haines served as deputy director of the C.I.A. in the Obama administration before succeeding Mr. Blinken as Mr. Obama’s deputy national security adviser. She, too, is a former aide to Mr. Biden, serving as deputy chief counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 2007 to 2008 while Mr. Biden was chairman. Ms. Haines also served as counsel to Mr. Obama’s National Security Council, helping him navigate legal issues around counterterrorism operations and pressing for more restraint to reduce civilian casualties.

If confirmed, Ms. Haines will be the highest-ranking woman to serve in the intelligence community. The director of the C.I.A., now led by its first female director in Gina Haspel, reports to the director of national intelligence.

Ms. Thomas-Greenfield is a 35-year Foreign Service veteran who has served in diplomatic posts around the world. She served from 2013 to 2017 as assistant secretary of state for African affairs. Just as important in the view of Biden officials is her time as a former director general and human resources director of the Foreign Service; they see it as positioning her to help restore morale at a State Department where many career officials felt ignored and even undermined during the Trump years.

Ms. Thomas-Greenfield, who recently recounted joining a “still very male and very pale” foreign service decades ago, has also served as the U.S. ambassador to Liberia and has been posted in Switzerland, Pakistan, Kenya, Gambia, Nigeria and Jamaica.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was Mr. Biden’s decision to bring back Mr. Kerry in a new role that would signal the new administration’s commitment to fighting climate change. Mr. Kerry, 76, is a former, longtime Senate colleague and friend who campaigned for Mr. Biden through some of his candidacy’s darkest days and, Democrats say, retains his voracious appetite for international affairs. Since serving as Mr. Obama’s second secretary of state from 2013 to 2017, Mr. Kerry elevated his longtime interest in climate to his signature issue and currently runs an organization dedicated to the topic. His will be a full-time position.

“We have no time to lose when it comes to our national security and foreign policy,” Mr. Biden said in a statement provided by his transition office. “I need a team ready on Day 1 to help me reclaim America’s seat at the head of the table, rally the world to meet the biggest challenges we face, and advance our security, prosperity, and values. This is the crux of that team.”

“These individuals are equally as experienced and crisis-tested as they are innovative and imaginative” he added. “Their accomplishments in diplomacy are unmatched, but they also reflect the idea that we cannot meet the profound challenges of this new moment with old thinking and unchanged habits — or without diversity of background and perspective. It’s why I’ve selected them.”

In Mr. Blinken, 58, Mr. Biden chose a confidant of more than 20 years who served as his top aide on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee before joining his vice-presidential staff, where he served as Mr. Biden’s national security adviser, then principal deputy national security adviser to Mr. Obama and then deputy secretary of state from 2015 to 2017.

Mr. Blinken is widely viewed as a pragmatic centrist on foreign policy who, like Mr. Biden, has supported past American interventions and believes the United States must play a central leadership role in the world. Mr. Biden likely calculated that the soft-spoken Mr. Blinken, who is well regarded by many Republicans, will face a less difficult Senate confirmation fight than another top contender, the former national security adviser Susan E. Rice.

Mr. Blinken began his career at the State Department during the Clinton administration. He spent much of his youth in Paris and attended high school there, and is a graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School.

Mr. Sullivan will take the White House’s top national security job, and at 44 when he takes office, will be the youngest person to hold that position after McGeorge Bundy, who took over the job at age 41 under President John F. Kennedy.

Long viewed as one of his party’s brightest upcoming talents, Mr. Sullivan followed Mr. Blinken as Mr. Biden’s top national security aide and then ascended to become a senior aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has called him a “once-in-a-generation talent.” Along the way, Mr. Sullivan found admirers even among conservative Republicans in Congress while playing a key role in the negotiations leading to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

A Minnesota native and Yale Law School graduate, Mr. Sullivan in recent months has helped spearhead a project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace re-conceiving U.S. foreign policy around the needs of the American middle class.

Zolan Kanno-Youngs contributed reporting.

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Rep. Jim Jordan reportedly mulling primary bid against Ohio governor who recognized Biden victory

However, one consultant said that it was still unlikely that Jordan would leave behind Congress to run for governor as long as redistricting doesn’t place him in danger. “It’s on his mind, I’ll put it that way,” the consultant said before adding, “I would say it’s unlikely in the end knowing him, but I’m not going to shut the door on it.”

The only Republican who so far has talked about a campaign against DeWine is former Rep. Jim Renacci, who lost the 2018 Senate race to Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown by a 53-47 margin. Renacci didn’t rule anything out earlier this month, and Tobias writes that he’s “likely to run.” However, he adds that the former congressman also has a terrible relationship with state party leaders and predicted he would “struggle to assemble a statewide staff, having burned through several campaign managers during his U.S. Senate.”

Tobias mentions a few other Republicans as possibilities, though there’s no word on their interest. The list includes former state Treasurer Josh Mandel, who was Team Red’s 2012 nominee against Brown. Mandel spent more than a year waging a second campaign against Brown but suddenly dropped out in early 2018, citing his wife’s health. Tobias also mentions former Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, who lost the 2018 primary to DeWine 60-40, and Rep. Warren Davidson, who has also made a hobby out of trashing DeWine on Twitter.

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Breaking New

Opinion | A Blueprint for Racial Healing in the Biden Era

While Trump made unexpected gains in the election with white women, as well as Black and Hispanic voters, those gains pale compared with the decisive majority of Americans who now acknowledge anti-Black racism. Since George Floyd’s slow execution by a Minneapolis police officer, an estimated 15 million to 26 million people have protested peacefully for Black lives in some 2,500 localities—perhaps the largest movement in American history.

So, despite Trump’s norm-shattering refusal to concede the race, Biden and Harris won decisively, especially with voters who prioritize racial justice and competence in fighting the coronavirus. They have a rare chance to rebuild from both crises with policies that advance the long-held dream of racial equity. What are they going to do with that momentum—and what policies could be transformative?

There are no shortcuts to reckoning with habits and structures born of centuries of white supremacy. As awakening folk have learned, it took seven decades of intentional, racist federal policy to create the separate and unequal landscape that Trump exploited for political gain. Systemic racism will not be undone with a summer of protest and installing a new president. Intention created slavery, Jim Crow, mass incarceration and the iconic Black hood. Intention is required to dismantle and repair what supremacy still breaks.

President-elect Biden signaled to the world in his victory speech that as he fights to rebuild and unify America, he will also fight for the Black American community that saved his campaign. There are concrete steps he can take to dismantle and repair structural racism, with or without the cooperation of Congress. In a divided country, local governments—increasingly controlled by the same coalitions that propelled Biden and Harris to victory—have even more room to innovate on racial justice. Here are some suggestions for what could happen beginning in 2021.

To build consensus for new, anti-racist policies, it is critical to understand the racial inequality the American government intentionally created. Beginning early in the 20th century, federal, state and local government orchestrated affluent white havens and poverty-dense Black ’hoods. They encouraged or funded racially restrictive covenants, exclusionary zoning, Negro-cleansing “urban renewal,” intentionally segregated public housing, an interstate highway program laid to create racial barriers and endemic redlining of Black neighborhoods.

Segregation, in turn, created a dishonest budgetary politics in which society has overinvested in affluent white space, disinvested elsewhere—and then blamed those trapped in concentrated poverty for not being superhuman enough to overcome its many obstacles. For five decades, Republicans and Democrats have invoked stereotypes—from “looter” to “welfare queen” to “super-predator” to “thug”—to justify containing low-income Black people in high-poverty environs or prisons, and to distract voters from plutocratic tax relief that often took place alongside savage cuts to programs essential to struggling people. The past is not past: To this day, governments invest in segregation in neighborhoods and schools, and many Americans depend on segregation in making choices about where to live and educate their children.

Part of what makes these inequities so hard to correct is that there’s an enduring racial architecture to American politics that stymies progress. Sizable majorities of Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and other minority groups still vote Democratic, and a sizable majority of white Americans vote Republican. While no racial or ethnic group is a monolith—as we clearly saw in the election results this month—partisan identity still has much to do with attitudes about race. White Democrats are more likely than white Republicans to acknowledge systemic racial discrimination against Black people, while white conservatives are more likely to perceive discrimination against themselves than to acknowledge racial discrimination against Blacks. Social scientists find that racial resentments drive whites who harbor them to repudiate government interventions because they attribute racial inequality to personal behavior and not systemic discrimination. Racial resentment is the strongest predictor of white attitudes toward policies to redress racial inequality and has been since the 1980s.

Resentment is not the same thing as racism, and liberals who were gobsmacked that a race-baiting Trump garnered nearly 74 million votes should avoid labeling his supporters as racist or deplorable. That said, Trump’s decision to cast a decisive multiracial victory by Democrats as an attempt to steal the election from him—without any evidence—ensures that this gulf between his supporters and Biden’s will not be bridged easily.

A more viable strategy for progressives than trying to win over Trump’s supporters right away would be to continue to win elections powered by energized majorities of Black Americans in critical states, in coalitions with other energized people of color rightfully taking their place in American politics and the critical mass of whites willing to see and resist racism. As Biden implicitly acknowledged in his victory speech, the Democratic Party cannot win a governing majority, which now hinges on two Senate runoff races in Georgia, without speaking authentically to and actually redressing the burdens and aspirations of Black people. Their votes and enthusiasm must be earned.

Biden’s room to operate depends on what happens in the Senate. A progressive coalition turned Georgia blue for Biden, but Black voter turnout lagged and must be energized if Democrats are to elect two senators in the state’s January runoff. Young Black voters especially need to hear specifics about how voting for Democrats would actually improve their lives: Would it make them less likely to get killed by the police, for instance, or more likely to have a path to real opportunity? If Democrats win both races, Harris, as vice president, can cast tie-breaking votes to give Biden a governing majority.

With Democratic control of both chambers, an unshackled Congress could abolish anti-Black policies and processes the federal government set in motion and repair continuing damage. Advocates have argued that because redlined federal mortgage-insurance programs invested hundreds of billions (in present dollars) in pro-white wealth-building, new investments should be allocated now to Black communities. A $60 billion investment in communities hit hardest by Covid-19 could be financed by repealing the tax breaks for large corporations that were included in the first federal Covid-19 relief package. Alternatively, Senator Cory Booker and others have proposed focusing on targeted investment in redlined communities, including by providing “baby bonds” to every child born in the United States.

Bolder still, Congress could atone for the federal legacy of promoting segregation by enacting a law that bans exclusionary zoning—local laws that privilege single-family homes and exclude denser, affordable housing. Congress could also condition federal infrastructure or other spending on measurable local progress in creating affordable housing in high-opportunity areas. Biden has promised to back similar legislation sponsored by House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn and Booker.

Booker and Clyburn also proposed a bill in 2018 that would achieve racial equity in federal spending by applying a formula across all federal programs to ensure targeted spending in census tracts with persistent poverty. Biden backed the bill in his campaign platform. He also proposed to eliminate the $23 billion gap in what America spends on white vs. nonwhite school districts by nearly tripling existing funding for the Title I program for high poverty schools—an infusion that would require increased appropriations from Congress.

Whatever proposals for repair win consensus, they could be paid for in part by repealing recent excessive tax breaks for wealthy individuals and corporations, and cutting excessive investments in segregation and punitive strategies that exacerbate racial inequality. Harris could play a critical role in gathering support among her former colleagues in the Senate. With a 50-50 Senate split, the image of the first vice president of color casting the tie-breaking vote to enact these and other needed laws would be a historic and symbolic leap forward, restoring and building on the gains of the civil rights movement.

If Republicans retain control of the Senate, there is still much the new administration could do. President Biden can use executive power to reverse Trump’s war on anti-racist policies. He could issue an executive order requiring agencies to assess whether and how the programs they administer promote racial equity. Only by collecting data and paying attention to where federal dollars are spent can the federal government disrupt the racial redlining it institutionalized.

Biden should also rescind all Trump administration executive orders and agency actions that intentionally repealed or undermined civil and human rights protections. Among numerous options for executive action, Biden has already proposed restoring the Obama-era rule to affirmatively further fair housing, along with other fair housing and lending policies that Trump gutted. Biden has already committed to restoring and expanding the Department of Justice’s formerly strong role in investigating police departments for systemic civil rights violations. The Biden administration can aggressively enforce existing and restored protections and issue new guidelines that promote inclusion and equity.

If Biden and Harris use their pulpit to speak honestly and transparently about the federal government’s legacy of pro-white and anti-Black racism, these ideas could become mainstream.

In his platform, Biden also proposed policies that would encourage local governments to promote racial equity and inclusive housing and schools. That support will be crucial: Much of the racial justice work of the next four years lies outside Washington. While states play their part, the “Democrat-run” cities that Trump has vilified should be at the forefront. Since the Black Lives Matter movement ignited in 2015, many cities have been forced to reckon with systems that surveil and plunder in Black neighborhoods.

Seattle, Minneapolis and a few other cities formally require a racial equity analysis in budgeting, and Baltimore is re-envisioning its budgetary practices based on Seattle’s model. Details of what to cut and where to reallocate should be determined at the local level.

In Chicago in the late 2000s, there were 121 “million-dollar blocks”—where taxpayers were spending more than $1 million per inner-city block to incarcerate residents for non-violent drug offenses. Other large cities had similar patterns of expenditure that tracked concentrated Black poverty. Black people use drugs at similar rates to white people. Such concentrated punitive spending is likely the result of aggressive policing in poor Black neighborhoods. This punitive investment paid dividends only to the companies that profit from incarceration. It was not premised on seeing nonviolent drug offenders as potential assets who could contribute to society if they could overcome addiction. Punitive approaches to drug use merely take the drug user out of the community, causing harm to children who need parents and to communities as a whole.

Even before the protests of this past summer, Black citizens in Milwaukee were outraged to learn that nearly half the city’s annual budget went to its police department. But this sparked change. The African American Roundtable and other community groups launched the “Liberate MKE” campaign in the summer of 2019, which surveyed 1,100 residents across the city about how they wanted their tax dollars to be allocated. Citizens identified three priorities: violence prevention not tied to policing, affordable housing and jobs for youth. They also wanted residents to be more empowered to influence city budgets, increased pay for city internships, more representation from historically underrepresented neighborhoods in those internships and a universal basic income (UBI) program. They proposed eliminating 60 police officer positions by not filling vacancies left by retirement to free up savings and stated an overall goal of moving $25 million from policing to community safety and health programs. The Covid-19 pandemic and George Floyd’s death added momentum to their demands. The campaign succeeded in persuading the City Council to approve an initial reallocation of $900,000 from policing to priorities citizens had identified. The City Council also authorized a UBI pilot.

The movement for Black Lives and other Black-led organizations have proposed additional policies and demanded transformation and repair in cities. Unfortunately, the controversial slogan “defund the police” was weaponized by Republicans in the 2020 election. But it makes sense to reallocate resources to services that can reduce crime and promote healing. New York City recently reallocated $1 billion from policing to mental health, homelessness and education services. Investments in evidence-based alternatives to policing can pay huge social returns. In 2014, researchers at the University of Chicago Crime Lab and the University of Pennsylvania found that a program that gave Black teens in high-violence neighborhoods a summer job and paired them with an adult mentor reduced arrests for violent crime by 43 percent.

In 2007, the city of Richmond, California, created an Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS) and, three years later, a fellowship program that transformed the relatively few citizens in the city who were most likely to pull a trigger. With an initial allocation of $611,000 matched by private sources, ONS hired “change agents” to conduct outreach in the neighborhoods most beset by shootings, talking to all sides in a “beef” to defuse the situation and get them to stand down. Most change agents had a felony record and intimate knowledge of the codes of the street—effective prerequisites to doing a job that required building trust with hardened individuals and traumatized communities.

The change agents targeted those potentially most violent young actors, not to frisk or arrest them but to love them madly. If the young men agreed to refrain from “hunting,” as the workers put it, stay in daily contact and avoid trouble as much as possible, they could participate in an 18-month “Peacemaker Fellowship,” offering 24/7 support from assigned case managers and individually tailored “LifeMAPs” (Management Action Plans) that identified obstacles and how to overcome them, with specific goals like getting a GED or a driver’s license. Peacemaker Fellows also received cognitive behavioral therapy, navigation of social services available to them, substance abuse treatment if they needed it, connection to job training, internships and jobs, and the chance to travel—whether across town or to South Africa. Most innovatively, if they met goals from their LifeMap, addressed conflict in healthier ways and promoted community peace, they could also receive a stipend of as much as $1,000 a month for nine months. (Donations from partners like the Kaiser Foundation paid for the stipends.)

A peer-reviewed independent study facilitated by the School of Public Health at University of California, Berkeley, found that the Peacemaker Fellowship program was associated with a 55 percent annual reduction in gun-related deaths in Richmond. Researchers at the University of Southern California’s Price School of Public Policy conducted an independent analysis of the fellowship and conservatively estimated that the nominal cost of the program’s first five years produced more than $535 million in benefits to the city of Richmond due to costs avoided through violence reduction. Perhaps even more profound: Of the 127 fellows who had gone through the program by 2019, 122 were still alive, and the vast majority were no longer gun violence suspects. As sons, brothers and often fathers, individually and collectively they have helped to stop a spiral and begin a more virtuous cycle.

To date, more than 20 cities across the country have opened offices of violence prevention similar to ONS. In California, the cities of Sacramento and Stockton have created peacemaker fellowships, and both cities have begun to see reductions in gun-related homicides. America might not be ready to support a universal basic income for all who need it. But at the local level, it is already a reality in some places, including Stockton. Evidence from UBI programs in other countries suggests they can increase happiness, health, school attendance and trust in social institutions, and reduce crime.

The list goes on. Lawrence, Massachusetts made bus lines from its poorest neighborhoods free. Other cities from Olympia, Washington, to Kansas City, Missouri, to Boston have also created free routes for the carless people who must take the early bus to get to work. Forty acres for each newly freed individual was beyond the political will of the United States in 1865, but today housing activists are demanding collective ownership strategies to solve homelessness and the crisis of affordable housing.

Biden and Harris promised to be partners to all Americans and communities to rebuild America—and make it better. With a new lens for seeing racism and commitment to redressing it, the ascendant coalition that powered them into office can help them do just that.

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Biden team belittles Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani for vote fraud claims

President-elect Joe Biden’s campaign on Thursday belittled President Donald Trump’s legal team for promoting “thoroughly discredited claims of voter fraud,” allegations that have failed to convince judges, elections officials or much of the American public.

Biden’s campaign spokesman blasted the president’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani for a bizarre press conference where he made far-fetched claims of a “communist” plot to rig voting machines, berated reporters and sweated so profusely that hair dye dripped down both his cheeks.

“What I’m describing to you is a massive fraud,” Giuliani said. “It isn’t a little teeny one.”

The former New York City mayor, who long ago was a widely respected top federal prosecutor, also cited the Joe Pesci legal-comedy film “My Cousin Vinny” during a nearly hour-long stemwinder before anyone else on the self-described “elite strike force team” of Trump lawyers managed to get a word in edgewise.

Biden spokesman Michael Gwin gave Giuliani’s performance a solid thumbs down.

“Yet another Rudy Giuliani spectacle exposes, as his appearances always do, the absurdity of Donald Trump’s thoroughly discredited claims of voter fraud,” said Gwin.

“Numerous courts, election officials from both parties, and even officials within Trump’s own administration, have all reaffirmed that claims of widespread voter fraud are categorically false,” Gwin said.

“In fact, lawyers for Trump have admitted that in papers filed in court and under direct questioning from judges,” he said. “No matter how hard Trump and the flailing Giuliani try, they cannot overturn the will of the American people, who resoundingly picked Joe Biden to be the next President of the United States.”

Chris Krebs, whom Trump fired via Twitter on Tuesday as head of Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, in his own tweet Thursday said, “That press conference was the most dangerous 1hr 45 minutes of television in American history.”

“And possibly the craziest. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’re lucky,” Krebs tweeted.

Krebs on Election Day had said on Twitter from his government account that “allegations that election systems were manipulated … have been unsubstantiated or are technically incoherent.”

Krebs’ comments angered Trump, who claimed there had been “massive improprieties and fraud.” Those claims that have not been substantiated.

Hours before his press conference, the Trump campaign withdrew its federal lawsuit challenging ballots in Wayne County, Michigan.

Earlier in the week, Trump allies in multiple battleground states, including Michigan, withdrew their own lawsuits that were geared toward reversing Biden’s victories in those states.

And despite the claims of widespread voter fraud by Giuliani, other lawyers for the president, and Trump himself, the U.S. Justice Department — the executive branch agency that would be empowered to prosecute any multi-state conspiracy to rig a federal election — has taken no action to suggest any of those claims are based in fact.

That has left the Trump campaign relying on recounts and lawsuits in a handful of states for its effort to overturn Biden’s victory. Legal analysts and political experts give Trump little chance of doing so.

Biden, the former Democratic vice president, is projected to win 306 Electoral College votes when those votes are cast next month.

That is 36 more electoral votes than a candidate needs to win the presidency.

Since the national popular vote was called for Biden, Trump has, uncharacteristically for him, largely stayed out of the public eye as he refuses to concede the election.

The presumptive lame duck also has been firing off broadsides in tweets on which Twitter routinely slaps warning labels saying: “This claim about election fraud is disputed.”

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Seeking Restart With Biden, Palestinians Eye End to Prisoner Payments

JERUSALEM — In a bold move to refurbish their sullied image in Washington, the Palestinians are laying the groundwork for an overhaul to one of their most cherished but controversial practices, officials say: compensating those who serve time in Israeli prisons, including for violent attacks.

That policy, which critics call “pay to slay,” has long been denounced by Israel and its supporters as giving an incentive to terrorism because it assures would-be attackers that their dependents will be well cared for. And because payments are based largely on the length of the prison sentence, critics say the most heinous crimes are the most rewarded.

In a bipartisan rebuke to the system, Congress repeatedly passed legislation to reduce aid to the Palestinians by the amount of those payments. The payments were cited by the Trump administration when it cut off funding and took other punitive measures against the Palestinians starting in 2018.

Now, however, Palestinian officials eager to make a fresh start with the incoming Biden administration — and to have those punitive measures rolled back — are heeding the advice of sympathetic Democrats who have repeatedly warned that without an end to the payments, it would be impossible for the new administration to do any heavy lifting on their behalf.

The proposal being hammered out in Ramallah would give the families of Palestinian prisoners stipends based on their financial need instead of how long they are behind bars, said Qadri Abu Bakr, the chairman of the Palestinian Authority’s Prisoners Affairs Commission.

“Economic need must serve as the basis,” Mr. Abu Bakr said in a phone interview. “A single man should not be earning the same as someone with a family.”

The plan, which has not been publicly announced, is only the latest in a flurry of moves the Palestinians are making to try to reboot their international relations. On Tuesday, they acquiesced to widespread diplomatic pressure and resumed cooperation with Israel on security and civil matters after a six-month boycott. And on Wednesday, they said they had returned their emissaries to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, after recalling them in protest of those countries’ normalization agreements with Israel.

The details of the proposed changes to the prisoner payment system have not been finalized, Mr. Abu Bakr said, and will require the approval of the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas.

It is not yet clear whether de-linking the payments from the crime will satisfy the system’s strongest critics if any payments to prisoners continue.

But the proposal is almost certain to stir intense pushback from many Palestinians, who have long revered prisoners as heroes and freedom fighters.

The status of prisoners may be the most emotionally charged issue on the Palestinian street: One of the biggest protest movements in the West Bank in recent years was in support of prisoners who mounted a hunger strike in 2017. In May, when some Palestinian banks complied with an Israeli military order barring them from distributing the payments to the prisoners’ families, gunmen opened fire on several of the banks’ branches.

The Palestinians have made payments to prisoners of Israel for decades, defending them as critical compensation for an unfair military justice system, and necessary to provide income for families who have lost their primary breadwinners.

Under the current system, the Palestinian Authority pays larger stipends to prisoners who have spent longer times in prison, with little regard for their families’ economic welfare. For example, someone who has spent 35 years in prison could earn thousands of dollars a month; someone in prison for four years might receive hundreds.

Ashraf al-Ajrami, a former minister of prisoner affairs, said he fully expected that the public “would respond angrily” to the proposed changes. But he acknowledged that the Palestinian Authority was eager to change the system because of the diplomatic toll it had taken.

Asked about the plan, relatives of inmates expressed disbelief and disgust.

“This is 100 percent unacceptable and shameful,” said Qassam Barghouti, the son of Marwan Barghouti, who was convicted by Israel of five counts of murder and is serving multiple life sentences.

“The prisoners are not a social welfare issue,” he added. “People are paid more for spending longer periods of time in prison to recognize their sacrifices: The more time you spend behind bars, the greater your value to your society is.”

Officials said they also plan to require released prisoners to take public-sector jobs. Currently, many former prisoners are paid what amount to monthly pensions for sitting idle, Mr. Abu Bakr said.

“We shouldn’t be delivering salaries to people for doing nothing,” he said, noting that his commission had already distributed questionnaires to former prisoners about their job preferences. “They should work for them.”

Officials said they also planned to overhaul payments to families of assailants and others killed by Israelis — another extremely sensitive issue among Palestinians, who refer to them as martyrs. While officials said the Palestinians intended to start strictly tying these payments to financial need, the details of how they would do so remained unclear.

The details will matter. Israelis who have harped on the payments for years said they would need to be convinced that the changes were more than cosmetic.

“They finally understand that they have to do something,” said Yossi Kuperwasser, a retired general in military intelligence who is one of most outspoken critics of the payments. “That’s a good thing. But we need to be watchful. I’m still suspicious.”

And some critics consider any payments to the families of prisoners too much.

“A terrorist needs to know that when he takes part in terrorism, his family won’t receive any money from the Palestinian Authority because he has entered prison in Israel,” said Avi Dichter, a Likud lawmaker.

Since early last year, Israel has pressured the Palestinians to stop the payments by withholding part of the more than $100 million it collects in taxes each month on their behalf.

Talks aimed at getting the Palestinians to end the system took on urgency about two months ago, several people involved said. Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations envoy to the Middle East, along with diplomats from Norway and Germany, were described as instrumental in pressing the Palestinians.

As a Biden victory began to look more likely, Washington think tanks organized numerous Zoom calls with Palestinian officials in which Democratic officials explained why it was vital to end the payment system if the Palestinians had any hope of getting Mr. Biden to undo the Trump administration’s moves — like reopening a Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington that Mr. Trump had shuttered.

Mr. Biden and his running-mate, Kamala Harris, have promised to restore at least some aid and to reopen the diplomatic mission.

But as a practical matter, participants in the calls told the Palestinians, the Biden administration — with little bandwidth for the Middle East and needing to husband every bit of its political capital — would be unable to do much for them unless “pay to slay” was abolished. An act of Congress requires that system to be reformed before much of the aid can be restored.

A State Department official said that the United States “strongly condemns the Palestinian Authority’s practice of paying terrorists or their families, and would welcome its immediate cessation.”

Nimrod Novik, a former aide to Prime Minister Shimon Peres and longtime advocate for a two-state solution, said that Palestinian leaders were readily persuaded. But it remained for them to come up with a formula that would satisfy scrutiny from both sides of the conflict, and then to figure out how to “put a bulletproof vest around it” to withstand what was expected to be an angry response from the Palestinian public.

Like others apprehensive about popular dissatisfaction, Mr. Novik questioned the wisdom of publicly discussing the proposal now.

“The way to sell it is if it comes in a package,” Mr. Novik said, such as in exchange for a concrete move by the incoming Biden administration. “Now, it’s in isolation, as a down payment for good will. Once it’s in the public domain, the price will be paid.”

Lara Jakes contributed reporting from Washington.

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Netanyahu Dumps Trump And Is Now Speaking To Joe Biden

Israeli PM Netanyahu released a statement about the warm call he shared with Joe Biden concerning the future of the US/Israel relationship.

The tweet from Netanyahu’s office:

The Hebrew translation:

Netanyahu Biden statement[/caption]

Netanyahu has been telegraphing this move since he embarrassed Trump on a public call before the election. Bibi can read polls, and he knew that he would soon be dealing with Joe Biden.

Trump is about to be astonished as all of the world leaders who he considers to be his friends will dump him to the curb in a heartbeat and speak well of Joe Biden.

Donald Trump and his enablers like Lindsey Graham don’t want to admit it, but the world has moved on as is treating Joe Biden like the incoming president that he is.

Trump spent years bragging about his great relationship with Netanyahu, but it turned out to mean nothing, as Netanyahu isn’t standing with Trump in his election denial folly.

For more discussion about this story join our Rachel Maddow and MSNBC group.

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Moderna Vaccine, E.U., Joe Biden: Your Tuesday Briefing

As the coronavirus has surged again in recent weeks, much of the U.S. has chosen to keep restaurants open and schools closed. Much of Europe has done the opposite.

The European approach seems to be working better: While both Europe and the U.S. have suffered surges in cases, over the past two weeks France, Germany, Spain and Britain have managed to reduce their growth rates.

What is Europe doing differently? It is cracking down on the kind of indoor gatherings that most commonly spread the virus. England closed pubs, restaurants, gyms and more on Nov. 5 and announced they would remain closed until at least Dec. 2. France, Germany’s regional governments and the Catalonia region of Spain have also shut restaurants, among other businesses.

Many Americans have resisted accepting that reality. Across much of the country, restaurants remain open for indoor dining. Last week, New York State announced a new policy that public health experts consider to be a bizarre middle ground: Businesses with a liquor license can stay open until 10 p.m.

The one indoor activity that appears to present less risk is school, especially elementary school. Why? Young children seem to spread the virus less often than adults do.

Closing schools and switching entirely to remote learning, on the other hand, has big social costs. Children are learning less, and many parents, mostly mothers, have dropped out of the labor force. The U.S. is suffering from both of these problems and from a raging pandemic.

That’s it for this briefing. See you tomorrow.

— Natasha

Thank you
Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh provided the break from the news. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about divisions among American Democrats.
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Biden Chides Trump For Blocking Presidential Transition : Biden Transition Updates : NPR

President-elect Joe Biden walks by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris before delivering remarks on his plan for economic recovery under his administration.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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President-elect Joe Biden walks by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris before delivering remarks on his plan for economic recovery under his administration.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Updated at 4:52 p.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden on Monday outlined his plan for rehabilitating the U.S. economy, emphasizing the importance of getting control of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

As Biden spoke, the shadow of President Trump’s refusal to concede was apparent, with the president-elect making clear that he was being kept from information that would be vital to taking over the presidency early next year.

“More people may die if we don’t coordinate,” Biden said on plans for vaccine distribution.

The comments are his most stark to date about the impact a delayed transition could have on his ability to hit the ground running after he takes office.

“They say they have this Warp Speed Program,” he continued, referring to the Trump administration’s vaccine development and delivery program, Operation Warp Speed. “If we have to wait until January 20th to start that planning, it puts us behind.”

The president-elect did say, as he has been, that his transition is moving along in many other ways, as he meets with different groups, — like corporate and union leaders he brought together via Zoom call today — and works to fill key administration positions.

“I find this more embarrassing for the country than debilitating for my ability to get started,” Biden said of Trump.

Final votes were cast in the general election nearly two weeks ago. Trump has repeatedly refused to concede in the race, baselessly citing disproven accusations of widespread voter fraud.

“We’re going into a very dark winter. Things are going to get much tougher before they get easier,” Biden said.

“That requires sparing no effort to fight Covid. So that we can open our businesses safely, resume our lives and put this pandemic behind us. It’s going to be difficult but it can be done,” he continued, criticizing Trump for withholding valuable health information that he said would better inform the incoming administration on how to combat the pandemic. The virus has so far killed more than 240,000 Americans.

“There’s so much we can do. The only way we do any of this is if we work together. I know we can do this.”

Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence praised the Trump administration’s efforts to combat the pandemic in a tweet Monday.

“Under President Trump’s leadership, we’re ensuring every state has what they need to deliver a vaccine to every American,” Pence tweeted after biotechnology company Moderna announced positive steps towards developing a coronavirus vaccine.

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