Biden nears 80 million votes; latest on Trump lawsuits

Biden Taps Top Campaign Advisers for White House Staff. President-elect Joe Biden announced the newest additions to his White House staff on Tuesday. . They are long-time advisers Mike Donilon and Steve Ricchetti. . Donilon, who was the chief strategist for Biden’s 2020 campaign, will be a senior adviser. Ricchetti, chairman for Biden’s 2020 campaign, will be counselor to the president. . Biden also named several campaign veterans to senior White House positions this week. . Jen O’Malley Dillon, Biden's 2020 presidential campaign manager, will be his deputy chief of staff. . Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond is resigning from his House seat to become one of Biden’s senior advisers and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. Julie Chavez Rodriguez, a deputy campaign manager for Biden and a former top aide to Kamala Harris, will be director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Dana Remus, general counsel of Biden’s campaign, will assume the role of counsel to the president. . Biden’s traveling chief of staff during his campaign, Annie Tomasini, will be director of Oval Office Operations. . President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris have an ambitious and urgent agenda for action. The team we have already started to assemble will enable us to meet the challenges facing our country on day one, Biden’s Chief of Staff, Ron Klain, via CNN

As President-elect Joe Biden’s winning tally approached a record 80 million votes, President Donald Trump continues to mount ongoing legal challenges over the election’s outcome.

Biden has already set a record for the highest number of votes for a winning presidential candidate, while Trump has also notched a high-water mark of the most votes for a losing candidate. With more than 155 million votes counted and California and New York still counting, turnout stands at 65% of all eligible voters, the highest since 1908, according to data from The Associated Press and the U.S. Elections Project.

The rising Biden tally and his popular vote lead — nearly 6 million votes — come as Trump has escalates his insistence he actually won the election, and his campaign and supporters intensify their uphill legal fight to stop or delay results from being certified, potentially nullify the votes of Americans.

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Biden currently has an Electoral College lead of 290-232. But that does not include electors from Georgia, where Biden leads Trump by 0.3 percentage points as officials conduct a hand tally. The AP has not called the race, but if Biden’s lead holds he will win the Electoral College on 306-232 vote — the identical margin Trump won in 2016. Back then Trump described it as a “landslide.”

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Trump sealed that victory with 77,000 votes across three battleground states, while Biden’s margin would be slightly narrower — about 45,000 votes across Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin.

Here’s a look at where Trump’s voter fraud cases stand, per the Associated Press:

ARIZONA

The case: The Arizona Republican Party is trying to block the certification of the election results in the state’s most populous county, Maricopa, until the court rules on the party’s lawsuit asking for a new hand count of a sampling of ballots. An audit already completed by the county found no discrepancies, officials said.

What happened: The judge was expected to issue a decision on Thursday.

In a separate case, Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee had sought to delay the certification of election results in Maricopa County. Republicans asked for the manual inspection of ballots in metro Phoenix, alleging that some votes were improperly rejected. A judge dismissed the case on Nov. 13 after the campaign’s lawyers acknowledged the small number of ballots at issue wouldn’t change the outcome of how Arizona voted for president.

GEORGIA

The case: High-profile attorney L. Lin Wood Jr. has sued in an attempt to block the certification of election results in Georgia. Wood alleges Georgia illegally changed the process for handling absentee ballots. Wood’s lawsuit takes aim at a legal settlement signed earlier this year that addresses accusations about a lack of statewide standards for judging signatures on absentee ballot envelopes. Georgia’s deputy secretary of state has called Wood’s case a “silly, baseless claim.”

What happened: A judge has scheduled a hearing for Thursday to consider a request for a temporary restraining order to halt certification.

MICHIGAN

The case: Trump’s campaign sued in an attempt to block the certification of election results in the state, alleging election officials “allowed fraud and incompetence to corrupt the conduct of the 2020 general election.” Trump’s legal team alleged its observers were prevented from being able to properly watch the vote counting, ineligible ballots were counted and Republican challenges to ballots were ignored.

Another lawsuit filed this week on behalf of two poll challengers asks a court to halt the certification of election results until an independent audit is completed to “ensure the accuracy and integrity of the election.”

What happened: The Trump campaign dropped its case on Thursday, citing statements from Republican Wayne County canvassers who initially blocked certification of election results in Michigan’s largest county before approving them on Tuesday. The two canvassers now say they want to change their position again, but officials say there’s no way for them to rescind their vote.

Lawyers for the two poll challengers also abruptly withdrew their lawsuit this week with no explanation.

NEVADA

The case: Trump’s campaign is asking a judge to nullify Nevada’s election results or set them aside and declare him the winner, arguing that illegal or improper votes were cast and the use of optical scanning to process signatures on mail-in ballots violated state law. The Trump lawsuit, filed Tuesday, rehashes arguments that judges in Nevada and elsewhere have already rejected. It claims that votes were cast on behalf of dead people, that election observers weren’t allowed to witness “key points” of processing and that people on American Indian territories were illegally given incentives to vote.

In a separate court filing this week, a voting watchdog group led by a conservative former state lawmaker wants a judge to block statewide certification of the election.

What happened: There have been no rulings in either case.

PENNSYLVANIA

The case: A Trump campaign case aims to stop the state from certifying the election, alleging Philadelphia and six counties wrongly allowed voters to correct problems with mail-in ballots that were otherwise going to be disqualified for a technicality, like lacking a secrecy envelope or a signature. The total number of affected ballots was not expected to come anywhere close to Biden’s margin of more than 80,000 votes.

What happened: Giuliani signed onto the case this week after others abruptly withdrew, and the former New York City mayor argued in court on Tuesday for the first time since the 1990s. Giuliani made allegations of a nationwide conspiracy by Democrats to steal the election. The judge did not immediately issue a ruling and canceled a hearing that was set for Thursday but set out a schedule for both sides to make new filings this week.

WISCONSIN

THE CASE: Trump’s campaign on Wednesday filed for a recount in the counties that cover Milwaukee and Madison, both Democratic strongholds. It alleged absentee ballots were illegally altered or issued and that government officials violated state law.

What happened: Biden leads Trump by 20,000 votes statewide. The recount requested by Trump will begin Friday and has to be complete by Dec. 1, the deadline for the vote to be certified at the state level. State and local elections officials reiterated that there was no evidence to back up the claims Trump was making.

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