Here’s what you need to know:
Credit…Brittany Greeson for The New York Times
DETROIT — Republican election board members in Michigan’s most populous county refused on Tuesday to certify the county’s election results in a nakedly partisan effort to hold up President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory over President Trump — only to reverse themselves after outcry from state officials and Detroit residents who accused them of trying to steal their votes and criticized the move as racist.
The two Republican board members in Wayne County, which includes Detroit and which voted overwhelmingly for Mr. Biden, are white. The Republicans, Monica Palmer and William Hartmann, said they had voted against certifying the results because precincts in the county had conflicting figures for the numbers of votes cast and the number of voters recorded as having participated, even though the disparities mostly involved small numbers of votes.
At one point, Ms. Palmer moved to “certify the results in the communities other than the city of Detroit.”
Mr. Biden won nearly 95 percent of the vote in Detroit, which is more than three-quarters Black. The rest of Wayne County, which voted for Mr. Biden by a smaller margin, is more than three-quarters white.
Mayor Mike Duggan of Detroit accused Republicans of using a racist double standard in targeting small discrepancies in the city when the party’s representatives had no problems certifying heavily white counties that had similar issues.
“You could see the racism in the behavior last night,” Mr. Duggan said at a news conference Wednesday. “American democracy cracked last night, but it didn’t break. But we are seeing a real threat to everything we believe in.”
Ms. Palmer’s motion drew cries of outrage at the meeting, which was held over a Zoom call.
“You look at Black cities and you have extracted a Black city out of the county and said the only one at fault is the city of Detroit, where 80 percent of the people are African-Americans,” the Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit chapter of the N.A.A.C.P., shouted on the call, his face almost touching the computer screen.
“Shame on you. You are a disgrace,” he said. “But on Jan. 20, 2021, at twelve noon, no matter what you do, the president of the United States will be Joseph Biden and the vice president, for the first time ever, will be a Black woman named Kamala Harris.”
A Black Detroit resident who attended the meeting, Benita Bradley, asked the Republicans, “Do you know how many young Black teenagers voted for the first time this year? And you sit here and slap those people in the face.”
The initial 2-2 deadlock on the Wayne County Board of Canvassers was among the starkest examples of how previously routine aspects of the nation’s voting system have been tainted by Mr. Trump’s monthslong effort to undermine confidence in the election.
One of the two Democratic members of the board, Jonathan Kinloch, who is Black, said that after the initial vote, he spoke to Ms. Palmer for more than half an hour to try and convince her that certifying the results was the right thing to do and trying to find a way to reach a compromise.
“When it comes to elections, white people don’t understand how ingrained the right to vote is in our conscience,” Mr. Kinloch said. “All those barriers that our grandparents had to do in order to exercise their right to vote that is so easily available to whites in America.”
Neither Republican board member immediately responded to a request for comment on how they came to change their votes.
The office of the Michigan secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, posted a message on Twitter Wednesday saying “all counties have certified their election results. The Board of State Canvassers is scheduled to meet Nov. 23 to certify the Nov. 3 general election.” Mr. Biden beat Mr. Trump in Michigan by nearly 150,000 votes.
Credit…Michael A. McCoy for The New York Times
House Democrats, still counting their election losses, re-elected Speaker Nancy Pelosi as their leader on Wednesday by voice vote, formally nominating the California Democrat for another term as speaker as they prepare for what may be the slimmest House majority in nearly two decades.
Ms. Pelosi, 80, still has to secure 218 votes on the House floor to become speaker come January, but she is on track to do so, with some of the Democrats who opposed her acquiring the gavel in 2019 now lining up behind her and others packing up their offices after losing.
“The theme, I think, of what we do next has to be about justice,” Ms. Pelosi told fellow Democrats in remarks after the votes, according to an aide. “It has to be about justice in our economy. It has to be about justice in our justice system, passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. Breonna Taylor, say her name. Say her name. Justice in our environment, environmental justice. Justice in our health care.”
Ms. Pelosi also implored Democrats, who have been trading blame over the party’s unexpected congressional losses, to unify and put their ears to the ground to listen to their constituents.
Convening virtually because of the worsening coronavirus pandemic, Democrats also re-elected Ms. Pelosi’s top deputies, Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland as majority leader and Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina as Democratic Whip.
The caucus also re-affirmed Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, a potential successor to Ms. Pelosi, as their chairman and elevated Representative Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, a progressive, to be assistant speaker, the party’s No. 4, over Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island. The results position Mr. Jeffries, 50, and Ms. Clark, 57, as leading contenders to replace Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Hoyer, 81, and Mr. Clyburn, 80, when they retire.
Ms. Pelosi, who is closing in on nearly two decades as the leader of House Democrats, will face a unique challenge come January with little room to maneuver between the party’s feuding progressive and moderate wings as she works to deliver President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s agenda.
Democrats’ failure to defeat a single Republican incumbent as they lost at least eight of their own transformed what was a comfortable 232-to-197 advantage into what is likely to be Democrats’ thinnest margin since World War II. With a handful of races still to be called, Democrats will probably control around 222 seats, allowing no more than a few of their members to defect on any given vote.
With Ms. Pelosi’s re-election on Wednesday, the political landscape in Washington that will greet Mr. Biden in January is continuing to take shape. On Tuesday, House Republicans elected their leaders for the next Congress; Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, will continue in that post.
Mr. Biden is continuing to assemble his own team. After naming a veteran aide, Ron Klain, to serve as his chief of staff last week, Mr. Biden announced a set of White House staff appointments on Tuesday. The president-elect also received a briefing from former national security officials and held another set of phone calls with foreign leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India.
On Wednesday, as the coronavirus pandemic rages across the country, Mr. Biden is set to participate in a virtual event with frontline health care workers.
Credit…Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press
President Trump on Tuesday night fired his administration’s most senior cybersecurity official responsible for securing the presidential election, Christopher Krebs, who had systematically disputed Mr. Trump’s false declarations that the presidency was stolen from him through fraudulent ballots and software glitches that changed millions of votes.
The announcement came via Twitter, the same way Mr. Trump fired his defense secretary last week and has dismissed other officials throughout his presidency.
Mr. Trump seemed set off by a statement released by the Department of Homeland Security late last week, the product of a broad committee overseeing the elections, that declared the 2020 election “the most secure in American history.”
“The recent statement by Chris Krebs on the security of the 2020 Election was highly inaccurate,” Mr. Trump wrote a little after 7 p.m., “in that there were massive improprieties and fraud — including dead people voting, Poll Watchers not allowed into polling locations, ‘glitches’ in the voting machines which changed votes from Trump to Biden, late voting, and many more.”
He said Mr. Krebs “has been terminated” as the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a post to which Mr. Trump had appointed him.
Mr. Krebs, 43, a former Microsoft executive, has been hailed in recent days for his two years preparing states for the challenges of the vote, hardening systems against Russian interference and setting up a “rumor control” website to guard against disinformation.
The foreign interference so many feared never materialized; instead, the disinformation ultimately came from the White House.
Only two weeks ago, on Election Day, Mr. Krebs’s boss, Chad F. Wolf, the acting secretary of homeland security, had praised Mr. Krebs’s work. But behind-the-scenes efforts by Mr. Wolf and others to keep Mr. Trump from firing Mr. Krebs apparently failed.
Mr. Krebs did not immediately respond to questions for comment. But after his termination, he tweeted from his personal account: “Honored to serve. We did it right. Defend Today, Secure Tomorrow. #Protect2020”
Credit…Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. made a slew of appointments to his White House senior staff on Tuesday, selecting high-level campaign aides and longstanding supporters to join him in the West Wing when he takes office.
Mr. Biden has said he wants to build a team that “looks like America.” His appointments on Tuesday included five women and four people of color.
Here are some of the key appointees:
Representative Cedric L. Richmond, Democrat of Louisiana, will be a senior adviser to Mr. Biden and the director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, roles that will allow him to build on his deep relationships in Congress, where he started in 2011. Mr. Richmond, who served as Mr. Biden’s national campaign co-chairman, led the Congressional Black Caucus and became one of the most influential Black voices on Capitol Hill. He is poised to become one of the highest-ranking Black officials in the Biden administration.
Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, who was Mr. Biden’s campaign manager, will become his deputy chief of staff. A stalwart of Democratic politics, Ms. O’Malley Dillon has never worked in the White House and is a rare new admission into Mr. Biden’s inner circle. After managing a presidential campaign remotely during the coronavirus pandemic, she is expected to be in charge of White House operations, overseeing logistics and administration.
Steve Ricchetti, Mr. Biden’s longtime friend, will join the administration as his counselor, a role that normally comes with relatively unrestricted access to the president. Mr. Ricchetti has been a key player in Mr. Biden’s life since joining the vice president’s staff in 2012 and is one of his most loyal advisers.
Mike Donilon, who was Mr. Biden’s chief strategist during the campaign, will become a senior adviser. A veteran Democratic strategist, pollster and media specialist, Mr. Donilon helped develop Mr. Biden’s central campaign theme to defeat President Trump: a fight for the soul of the nation.
Dana Remus, the Biden campaign’s top lawyer, will become White House counsel, where she will help guide Mr. Biden through legal fights with Republican lawmakers. Ms. Remus, a Yale-educated lawyer who clerked for Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., was an early member of Mr. Biden’s third bid for the presidency.
The Biden campaign also announced that Julie Chavez Rodriguez, a former national political director for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s presidential campaign, will run the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Annie Tomasini, now Mr. Biden’s traveling chief of staff, will be director of Oval Office operations.
Julissa Reynoso Pantaleon, a former U.S. ambassador to Uruguay, will serve as first lady Jill Biden’s chief of staff. And Anthony Bernal, who was Ms. Biden’s chief of staff on the campaign, will be her senior adviser.
Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times
Ten days after the presidential race was called for Joseph R. Biden Jr., only about a half-dozen of the nation’s 26 Republican governors have unequivocally acknowledged his victory or said that President Trump should concede.
Some have repeated Mr. Trump’s unfounded allegations about election fraud. But most have been operating in a murky middle ground in which they neither give full credence to Mr. Trump’s claims nor affirm that Mr. Biden is the president-elect.
The stakes go beyond political optics. The coronavirus is surging across the country with a renewed fury, threatening to overwhelm hospitals and driving officials in some states to return to the strict measures used in the spring to curb the pandemic’s initial spread.
In Mr. Biden’s first few months as president, his administration will need to closely coordinate with states to distribute a vaccine and ramp up testing to try to gain control of the rampant spread. Many governors, including at least two Republicans, have raised concerns that the turbulence surrounding the transition could stir confusion and serve as a dangerous distraction from the efforts to combat the pandemic.
“We’re in the middle of a war, and we don’t know who the general is going to be,” said Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, a Republican in a state that voted for Mr. Biden and a recent former chair of the National Governors Association. “We don’t know what the game plan is. And we can’t wait until the end of January.”
The time had come, Mr. Hogan added, for Mr. Trump to recognize that Mr. Biden had notched a “pretty overwhelming victory.” He said the delay in doing so starved the country of clarity it urgently needed.
In a recent news conference, Gov. Jim Justice of West Virginia pushed back against the assertion that he and other Republicans were trying to sow uncertainty.
“We want to absolutely know that the votes that were cast were legal votes and we want our election process to be absolutely sound,” Mr. Justice said, adding, “If Joe Biden is truly our elected president, I will support him with all of my soul.”
Credit…Sarah Silbiger/The New York Times
Graduates of Smith College, the elite women’s school in Northampton, Mass., are urging one of their own, Emily W. Murphy, the head of the General Services Administration, to formally recognize President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Ms. Murphy has yet to issue the letter of ascertainment needed to allow Mr. Biden’s transition team to begin the transfer of power as President Trump continues to challenge the election results over what he baselessly claims is widespread fraud.
Ms. Murphy, who graduated from Smith in 1995, worked for the Republican National Committee before law school and was appointed by Mr. Trump in 2017, goes against the modern stereotype of Smith as a hotbed of feminism and liberal politics. The school’s prominent alumnae include the feminist icons Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan (though the Republican first ladies Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush were also Smith graduates).
In a statement, a spokesperson for Smith College said that while the school did not wish to influence the professional actions of any alumna, “We hope that a peaceful transition of power takes place in alignment with the core values of democracy.”
Ms. Murphy has declined to publicly state a reason for not issuing the ascertainment letter. On Wednesday, she declined to speak to a reporter and directed inquiries to her agency’s press office. A G.S.A. spokeswoman said that the G.S.A. administrator does not pick the winner of the election and that the administrator “ascertains the apparent successful candidate once a winner is clear based on the process laid out in the Constitution.”
Sabrina Berent Infante, a foreign language instructor who graduated from Smith in 1996, posted messages across several Smith Facebook groups urging her fellow alums to call on Ms. Murphy to recognize the president-elect. She said she knew of more than 70 who had reached out. Ms. Infante said that Ms. Murphy’s information has been removed from Smith’s alumnae directory. It was not clear when, why, or at whose request it was removed.
One younger alumna, Becca Damante, 25, said that her Facebook feed had been flooded with posts about Ms. Murphy.
“If you’re a woman in power, you have the responsibility to be doing what’s right because there are so few women in power,” said Ms. Damante, a research associate at a public-interest law center in Washington, D.C.