Live politics updates: Biden secures the number of electors needed to defeat Trump, become president

William Cummings and Sarah Elbeshbishi, USA TODAY
·9 min read

USA TODAY's coverage of the 2020 election and President-elect Joe Biden's transition continues this week as he rolls out more of his picks for top jobs in his administration and the final states certify their vote counts before the Electoral College ballots are officially cast on Dec. 14.

President Donald Trump has cleared the way for Biden's team to use federal resources and get briefings during the transition, although Trump has yet to formally concede the race.

Be sure to refresh this page often to get the latest information on the election and the transition.

Biden officially secures enough electors to become president

California certified its presidential election Friday and appointed 55 electors pledged to vote for Democrat Joe Biden, officially handing him the Electoral College majority needed to win the White House.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s formal approval of Biden’s win in the state brought his tally of pledged electors so far to 279, according to a tally by The Associated Press. That’s just over the 270 threshold for victory.

These steps in the election are often ignored formalities. But the hidden mechanics of electing a U.S. president have drawn new scrutiny this year as President Donald Trump continues to deny Biden’s victory and pursues increasingly specious legal strategies aimed at overturning the results before they are finalized.

Although it’s been apparent for weeks that Biden won the presidential election, his accrual of more than 270 electors is the first step toward the White House, said Edward B. Foley, a law professor at Ohio State University.

“It is a legal milestone and the first milestone that has that status,” Foley said. “Everything prior to that was premised on what we call projections.”

The electors named Friday will meet Dec. 14, along with counterparts in each state, to formally vote for the next president.

– Michael R. Blood and Nicholas Riccardi, The Associated Press

Reports: Trump called Georgia Gov. Kemp, pressured him to overturn election

President Donald Trump called Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp Saturday morning, urging him to convince the state legislature to overturn the election results, according to multiple media reports.

Trump also pushed Kemp to order an audit of absentee ballot signatures, something he has pushed the governor to do on Twitter.

Kemp's spokesman Cody Hall confirmed that the president and Kemp spoke. The call, first reported by The Washington Post and Atlanta Journal-Constitution, happened just hours before Trump was supposed to appear at a rally for the state’s two Republican senators.

Kemp said that he told the president that he’s “publicly called for a signature audit three times (11/20, 11/24, 12/3) to restore confidence in our election process and to ensure that only legal votes are counted in Georgia,” in a tweet, responding to the president.

Earlier Saturday, Trump claimed, without evidence, that he would "quickly and easily win Georgia if Governor @BrianKempGA or the Secretary of State permit a simple signature verification."

President-elect Joe Biden won Georgia by nearly 12,000 votes, according to the state's certified results. A second recount was recently completed and an announcement recertifying Biden's win is expected from Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

A Morning Consult poll found that Trump’s attacks on the Georgia governor are affecting his approval ratings. Kemp’s job approval among Georgia Republicans has dropped 9 percentage points since Election Day, going to 86% to 77%, according to the poll.

Kemp’s disapproval ratings jumped to 19% from 10% in the latest polling, which was conducted from Nov. 24 to Dec. 3 among 551 register Republican voters in Georgia. The poll has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

– Sarah Elbeshbishi

Arizona Legislature 'cannot and will not' overturn election, Republican House speaker says

PHOENIX – Republican Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives Rusty Bowers said Friday that pleas from some GOP lawmakers to overturn the results of the state's presidential election are illegal and "cannot and will not" happen.

Republican state Reps. Mark Finchem and Kelly Townsend spent much of the day imploring their fellow legislators on social media to overturn the election results in favor of President Donald Trump.

Bowers said such action would be both illegal and inappropriate.

"As a conservative Republican, I don’t like the results of the presidential election," Bowers said in a prepared statement. "I voted for President Trump and worked hard to reelect him. But I cannot and will not entertain a suggestion that we violate current law to change the outcome of a certified election.

– Ryan Randazzo, Jen Fifield and Andrew Oxford, Arizona Republic

Just 26 GOP members of Congress acknowledge Biden win in survey

Only 26 congressional Republicans out of the 249 total on Capitol Hill acknowledge that former Vice President Joe Biden won the 2020 Election over President Donald Trump, according to a Washington Post survey released Friday.

Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, one of the few Republicans to recognize Biden’s win, told the Washington Post in a statement that “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.”

GOP Reps. Mo Brooks of Alabama and Paul Gosar of Arizona baselessly said Trump won the election while the other 222 members of Congress didn’t give an answer, including Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Ted Cruz of Texas.

The survey also asked if they support or oppose Trump’s claims to have won the election. Nine Republicans said that they opposed the president’s efforts, while eight said they support them and the rest gave no answer. Graham, Cruz and Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee were among the Republicans who said they support Trump’s efforts.

Thirty congressional Republicans told the Post that they’ll accept Biden’s presidency if he wins the majority in the Electoral College while Brooks and Gosar were the only ones who said they would not.

Gosar told the Post that he would "never" accept the election results even if Biden received the majority of electoral college votes, falsely claiming that there is "too much evidence of fraud."

In response to the survey, Trump tweeted his surprise at the number of Republicans acknowledge Biden’s win, calling those congressional members Republicans in name only.

"25, wow! I am surprised there are so many. We have just begun to fight. Please send me a list of the 25 RINOS. I read the Fake News Washington Post as little as possible," Trump tweeted.

– Sarah Elbeshbishi

Running list: Here are the GOP lawmakers who have called on Trump to acknowledge Biden's victory

Jim Jodan suggests Fauci will stop people from saying 'Merry Christmas'

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio faced backlash on Twitter Friday after criticizing Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in a tweet.

"Dr. Fauci says Americans should ‘avoid travel’ over the holidays. What will he cancel next? Saying Merry Christmas?" Jordan tweeted.

This comes after Fauci told NBC News' Andrea Mitchell on Thursday that Americans should "seriously consider the things that we in the public health arena have been talking about of minimizing travel to the extent possible. Sometimes it’s absolutely necessary, but to the extent possible, don’t travel, don’t congregate together."

Fauci also warned of a surge on top of a surge due to Thanksgiving travel, which he told Mitchell we’re likely to see effects in about two weeks.

Both Fauci’s interview and Jordan’s tweet came after the U.S. set new coronavirus records this week daily deaths, news infections and hospitalizations.

This is not the first time Jordan has been critical of Fauci. During a congressional hearing on the coronavirus in July, Jordan asked Fauci if the protests occurring at the time were a public health risk. He asked why protests were allowed but gyms and churches were closed.

Fauci told Jordan that he didn’t "understand what you’re asking (of) me as a public official to opine on who should get arrested. That’s not my position."

Fauci told the Ohio representative that any crowd, protest or not, without masks is a public health risk.

– Sarah Elbeshbishi

Trump prepares to head to Georgia for Senate runoff rally

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump are scheduled to fly to Valdosta, Georgia, on Saturday for a 7 p.m. EST rally in support of incumbent GOP Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue ahead of their runoff election against Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.

Efforts to get Georgia Republicans to turn out and vote in the Jan. 5 runoff have been complicated by Trump's baseless insistence that the election was "rigged" against him despite two recounts that confirmed Biden's victory and Attorney General William Barr's statement that there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

Some Republicans fear that by casting doubt on the integrity of Georgia's Nov. 3 election, Trump could discourage GOP voters from heading to the polls for Loeffler and Perdue.

They worry Trump could use the rally to further stoke distrust of the voting system or to continue his attacks on Georgia Republicans such as Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, both of whom he faults for not doing more to stop the certification of the state's election results.

– William Cummings

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden officially has electors needed to secure win – politics updates