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Credit…Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press
President Trump fired Christopher Krebs on Tuesday night, retaliating against his administration’s most senior official responsible for securing the presidential election. Mr. Krebs, who has systematically disputed Mr. Trump’s baseless declarations in recent days that the presidency was stolen from him through fraudulent ballots and mysterious software glitches that changed millions of votes, had worked in the Department of Homeland Security.
The announcement came via Twitter, the same way Mr. Trump fired his defense secretary two weeks ago. Mr. Trump seemed set off by a statement released by Homeland Security late last week, the product of a broad committee overseeing the elections, that declared the 2020 election “was 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.”
The president added that Mr. Krebs “has been terminated” as the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a post to which Mr. Trump himself had appointed him.
Mr. Krebs, 43, a former Microsoft executive, has been hailed in recent days for spending 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.
But much of that disinformation came not from Moscow, but 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 his work, including the “rumor control” effort. But behind-the-scenes efforts by Mr. Wolf and others to keep Mr. Trump from firing Mr. Krebs — another purging of an official for telling the truth rather than hewing to the president’s line — apparently failed.
Credit…Brittany Greeson for The New York Times
DETROIT — Republicans in Michigan’s most populous county on Tuesday declined to certify the election results from the heavily Democratic area around Detroit, a move that may prove to be temporary but that raised alarms among Democrats and elections experts as President Trump keeps up his assault on the nation’s elections system.
The Wayne County Board of Canvassers was deadlocked on Tuesday on certifying results in the county, which voted for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. by a margin of nearly 323,000 votes.
The two Republicans on the board said they had voted against certifying the results because many precincts in the county were out of balance by a few votes. Monica Palmer, one of the Republicans, suggested that the board would certify the county’s results without the totals from Detroit, where Mr. Biden won with 94 percent support.
“I do not have good faith that the poll books are accurate,” she said.
But Jonathan C. Kinloch, a Democratic board member, said the decision was partisan.
“This board over the years has taken pride in not letting politics show in the actions we do,” he said. “There is no reason under the sun for us to not certify this election.”
The election results now move to Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers, which will complete the work that the Wayne County board could not finish. The state board also has a 2-2 Republican-Democratic split.
In a statement posted on Twitter on Tuesday night, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson of Michigan said the Board of State Canvassers would be responsible for certifying the Wayne County results if the county board’s decision held.
“It is common for some precincts in Michigan and across the country to be out of balance by a small number of votes, especially when turnout is high,” she wrote. “Importantly, this is not an indication that any votes were improperly cast or counted.”
The deadlock appeared to be a rare but perhaps temporary victory for President Trump, who, despite repeated losses in court and a string of baseless claims, has continued undaunted with a relentless legal, procedural and rhetorical assault on the U.S. election system.
This is a developing story.
Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times
Top health advisers to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. warned on Tuesday that planning for the distribution of a Covid-19 vaccine and other attempts to fight the coronavirus were being frustrated by President Trump’s refusal to allow an organized transition to begin.
The leaders of Mr. Biden’s Covid Advisory Board said they were being prevented from working with government officials who are in charge of distributing the vaccines. And they said that they did not have access to any government data on case counts, deaths or hospitalization, relying instead on media and private reports.
“There’s no time to waste. We don’t have a day to waste,” said Dr. David Kessler, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. “Vaccine distribution is difficult and daunting under any circumstance.”
The grim warnings from the health officials come as a political appointee of Mr. Trump’s at the General Services Administration has refused to formally recognize that Mr. Biden is the winner, a move that would allow current government health officials to work with the Biden transition team.
Mr. Biden on Monday said that “more people may die” from the virus as a result.
His health advisers offered more specifics on Tuesday, saying that the incoming team needs access to information about medical supply chains, data on testing, specifics about therapeutic efforts, and other data that will be critical once the Biden administration is in charge of responding to the pandemic.
“There is valuable information inside the information that is held by career officials,” said Vivek Murthy, a co-chair of Mr. Biden’s advisory board and a former surgeon general. “We need to talk to those individuals. We need to work together with them.”
Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times
Several former national security officials briefed President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Tuesday, calling new attention to President Trump’s refusal to authorize a transition of power that would allow Mr. Biden to receive classified intelligence briefings.
The virtual meeting, which Mr. Biden held from Wilmington, Del., was attended by 13 former military, diplomatic and intelligence officials who served with him during the Obama administration, including some who are likely to be in line for senior positions on the incoming national security team.
Collectively, the group offered Mr. Biden hundreds of years of experience and intellectual firepower, but all have been out of government for several years and are no longer privy to the new, secret information that the president-elect would receive during a normal presidential transition.
The officials included Antony J. Blinken, a former deputy secretary of state and Mr. Biden’s longtime senior foreign policy aide, and Avril Haines, a former C.I.A. deputy and the director of foreign policy on the transition team. Also in attendance were four retired military generals, including Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, whom President Barack Obama fired in 2010, and the former U.N. ambassador Samantha Power.
Mr. Biden reminded the group that he had been denied the daily briefings from federal intelligence officials customarily provided to a president-elect.
“I am unable to get the briefings that ordinarily would come by now,” he said, “and so I just wanted to get your input on what you see ahead.”
Mr. Biden offered few other details about the conversation with the group, which included several top names from the national security establishment, including:
Lloyd J. Austin III, a retired general and the first African-American to lead the military’s Central Command
Carmen Middleton, formerly the No. 4 official at the C.I.A., who was the highest-ranking Latina in the intelligence community when she retired in 2017
Vincent Stewart, a retired Marine lieutenant general, a Jamaican-American and the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency
Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a retired career diplomat who is among the Foreign Service’s most accomplished Black members
Nicholas Burns, a retired career Foreign Service officer who served in senior posts under Democrats and Republicans
David S. Cohen, a former deputy C.I.A. director
Kathleen H. Hicks, who has held senior Pentagon policy and planning posts
Robert O. Work, a former deputy secretary of defense
William H. McRaven, a retired Navy admiral and the former commander of the United States Special Operations Command
Notably absent from the group were some heavyweight figures in Mr. Biden’s orbit who might be in line for cabinet posts: Susan Rice, a former national security adviser who is in the running for Secretary of State, and Michèle Flournoy, who was the Pentagon’s top policy official under Mr. Obama and is a natural contender for secretary of defense.
Mr. Biden also spoke on Tuesday with five more international leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, bringing the number of major leaders with whom he has spoken this week to 13.
Credit…Gabriela Bhaskar for The New York Times
Rudolph W. Giuliani, who has helped oversee a string of failed court challenges to President Trump’s defeat in the election, asked the president’s campaign to pay him $20,000 a day for his legal work, multiple people briefed on the matter said.
The request stirred opposition from some of Mr. Trump’s aides and advisers, who appear to have ruled out paying that much, and it is unclear how much Mr. Giuliani will ultimately be compensated.
Since Mr. Giuliani took over management of the legal effort, Mr. Trump has suffered a series of defeats in court and lawyers handling some of the remaining cases have dropped out.
A $20,000-a-day rate would have made Mr. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who has been Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer for several years, among the most highly compensated lawyers anywhere.
Reached by phone, Mr. Giuliani strenuously denied requesting that much.
“I never asked for $20,000,” said Mr. Giuliani, saying the president volunteered to make sure he was paid after the cases concluded. “The arrangement is, we’ll work it out at the end.”
He added that whoever had said he made the $20,000-a-day request “is a liar, a complete liar.”
There is little to no prospect of any of the remaining legal cases being overseen by Mr. Giuliani altering the outcome in any of the states where Mr. Trump is still fighting in court, much less of overturning President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s Electoral College and popular vote victory. Some Trump allies fear that Mr. Giuliani is encouraging the president to continue a spurious legal fight because he sees financial advantage for himself in it.
The Trump campaign has set up a legal-defense fund and is said to be raising significant sums to continue legal challenges in places like Pennsylvania and Georgia.
A Trump campaign spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.
Mr. Giuliani had sought compensation for his work dating back to the day after Election Day, when Mr. Trump began publicly claiming that he won despite the results, according to people familiar with the request, who asked for anonymity to speak about sensitive discussions.
At $20,000 a day, Mr. Giuliani’s rate would be above the top-of-the-line lawyers in Washington and New York who can charge as much as $15,000 a day if they are spending all their time working for a client.
Pursuing one of their most legally fraught election cases filed so far, lawyers for the Trump campaign appeared in court again this afternoon to ask a federal judge to stop certification of the vote in Pennsylvania.
President Trump’s legal team for this case — his third set of lawyers on it since it was filed last week — was expected to tell Judge Matthew W. Brann of the U.S. District Court in Williamsport that Pennsylvania election officials mismanaged the widespread use of absentee and mail-in ballots in the state.
The campaign seeks to effectively invalidate the results of the statewide count and deny Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Lawyers for the state and for the Democratic Party have argued in court papers that the campaign’s arguments are untimely, far too general to succeed and cannot overturn enough votes in Pennsylvania to overcome Mr. Biden’s lead, which now stands at about 73,000 votes.
“To effectuate the will of the millions of Pennsylvanians who voted in this election, the court should bring this litigation to a close expeditiously, dismiss plaintiffs’ evidence-free claims, and allow the Commonwealth to complete the electoral process,” the lawyers argued in a brief filed on Monday.
In the middle of the federal hearing, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a decision saying that election officials in Philadelphia had acted properly by keeping observers a safe distance from the vote counting in Philadelphia’s convention center. The ruling by the Supreme Court reversed one of the Trump campaign’s only legal victories so far.
On Election Day, the campaign filed a lawsuit in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas arguing that rules keeping observers at least 10 feet from the counting of the vote were improper, even though they were put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
After the campaign lost its suit, it appealed to the Commonwealth Court, which ruled that observers could move to within six feet of the count. The Supreme Court decision on Tuesday found that Philadelphia election officials had not broken the law because the election code does not specify “a minimum distance” that observers must stand from the counting.
Since Election Day, the Trump campaign and other Republican plaintiffs have lost more than 20 court actions challenging the integrity of the presidential race, including four federal lawsuits — in Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — that were voluntarily withdrawn on Monday by the man who oversaw them, the conservative lawyer James Bopp Jr.
Also on Monday, a court in Michigan denied an appeal to reverse a lower court’s decision that tossed out a suit aimed at stopping the certification of the vote in Wayne County, home of Detroit. The plaintiffs in that case, two Republican poll workers, appealed again on Tuesday to the Michigan Supreme Court.
This list of legal losses notwithstanding, the federal case in Pennsylvania has been especially beset by problems.
Last Friday, the law firm Porter Wright, which filed the initial lawsuit, withdrew from the case after The New York Times published an article describing how some lawyers at the firm were concerned that its work for Mr. Trump was eroding faith in the democratic process.
Over the weekend, a Trump campaign lawyer filed a revised version of the suit that dropped the formal claim that Republican poll observers have not been given adequate and equal access to the vote counting process.
And on Monday night, the legal team that had taken over for Porter Wright withdrew and was replaced by yet another set of lawyers. The Trump campaign’s new lead lawyer in the case, Marc A. Scaringi, immediately tried to delay today’s hearing but Judge Brann denied his request.
“Counsel for the parties are expected to be prepared for argument and questioning,” the judge wrote in a terse order issued Monday night.
According to a person familiar with the matter, the decision to switch legal teams on the eve of today’s hearing was made by Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, who has taken charge of the postelection courtroom strategy.
Mr. Giuliani asked Judge Brann on Tuesday morning for permission to appear in the case.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. announced several appointments to his White House senior staff on Tuesday, filling out his incoming administration as President Trump continues to refuse to acknowledge his election victory.
Mr. Biden announced that Mike Donilon, the chief strategist for his campaign and a decades-long friend and adviser, will serve as a White House senior adviser and will be especially involved in speechwriting and messaging. Mr. Donilon also served as counselor when Mr. Biden was vice president under President Barack Obama.
His White House counsel will be Dana Remus, who served as general counsel to the Biden-Harris campaign and previously was general counsel of the Obama Foundation. She is a former law professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law and a former law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.
Mr. Biden also confirmed three other West Wing appointments first reported Monday night: Representative Cedric L. Richmond of Louisiana will oversee public outreach; Mr. Biden’s campaign manager, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, will become a deputy chief of staff; and Mr. Biden’s longtime confidant Steve Ricchetti will be counselor.
All three will most likely have offices down the hall from the Oval Office, making them among the most senior aides in the West Wing.
Julissa Reynoso Pantaleon will be chief of staff to the first lady, Jill Biden. A partner at the law firm of Winston & Strawn, she is a former U.S. Ambassador to Uruguay. Dr. Biden’s senior adviser will be Anthony Bernal, who was her campaign chief of staff and Mr. Biden’s deputy campaign manager.
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.
In a statement, the Biden-Harris transition team said the selections “demonstrate President-elect Biden’s commitment to building an administration that looks like America, has deep expertise governing, and will be ready to help the president-elect deliver results for working families on Day 1.”
Decisions about cabinet secretaries most likely remain some time away, according to people close to Mr. Biden, who has spent recent days in closed-door discussions with advisers about the challenge of winning confirmation fights if the Senate remains in the hands of Republicans next year. Senate control will be determined by the results of two runoff races in Georgia.
Fauci Stresses the Importance of Presidential Transitions
I have been now dealing with six administrations in my 35 years as director. I’ve been through five transitions. I can say that transitions are extremely important to the smooth continuity of whatever you’re doing. Right now, we are in a very difficult public health situation. If you want to have good continuity, which will mean maximal attack on infections, hospitalizations, deaths, you want to have the continuity I’ve used the metaphor. It’s like passing a baton in a race: you don’t want somebody to stop, give it to somebody, and then have them start running. You want everything to be smooth from one to the other. That is what we would like to do.
CreditCredit…Evan Vucci/Associated Press
Mr. Biden’s picks came as Mr. Trump continued to refuse to cooperate with the transition of power, a position Mr. Biden suggested on Monday could cost lives when it came to the national coronavirus response.
“More people may die if we don’t coordinate,” Mr. Biden said.
On Tuesday, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, made a carefully calibrated call for Mr. Trump to allow Mr. Biden’s transition team access to the virus response plans.
While insisting he wanted to “stay out of the political stuff,” and avoiding mention of Mr. Trump, Dr. Fauci said at The Times’s DealBook Summit, “We need to transition to the team that will be doing this, similar to how we’re doing it.”
Separately on Tuesday, leaders of three major medical associations urged the Trump administration to “work closely with the Biden transition team” in order to stem a surging virus as the United States enters the holiday season.
In a letter to Mr. Trump, leaders with the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association said the administration should share information on the current plans for distributing a vaccine, as well as data on medical equipment inventory and hospital bed capacity.
Credit…Nicholas Kamm/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s initial appointments to his White House senior staff have prompted mixed reactions from the Democratic Party’s left flank, which has been aggressively trying to influence his personnel selections.
Progressive lawmakers such as Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota were generally pleased with Mr. Biden’s decision last week to name Ron Klain, a veteran Democratic operative and longtime confidant, as the White House chief of staff despite his corporate ties, viewing him as a potential ally.
But after Mr. Biden named several White House aides on Tuesday, the response from the left — which has urged the president-elect not to name lobbyists and corporate executives to key positions in his administration — was somewhat less enthusiastic. Their disappointment centered on two people in particular: Steve Ricchetti, a close adviser to Mr. Biden, who will be a counselor to the president; and Representative Cedric L. Richmond of Louisiana, who will oversee public outreach.
Progressives were unhappy with Mr. Ricchetti because he is a former pharmaceutical industry lobbyist.
“Steve Ricchetti is a figure so paradigmatically swampy that the writers of ‘House of Cards’ might reject his biography as overly stereotypical,” Jeff Hauser, the executive director of the Revolving Door Project, a progressive group, said in an email. The group has compiled a blacklist of potential Biden appointees it views as problematic.
Some were unenthusiastic about Mr. Biden’s selection of Mr. Richmond, who has represented his district since 2011, because he has received donations from oil and gas companies. The Sunrise Movement, a group of young climate organizers, was especially public with its displeasure.
“Today feels like a betrayal, because one of President-elect Biden’s very first hires for his new administration has taken more donations from the fossil fuel industry during his congressional career than nearly any other Democrat, cozied up to big oil and gas, and stayed silent and ignored meeting with organizations in his own community while they suffered from toxic pollution and sea-level rise,” Varshini Prakash, the executive director of the Sunrise Movement, said in a statement.
“That’s a mistake, and it’s an affront to young people who made President-elect Biden’s victory possible,” she added. “President-elect Biden assured our movement he understands the urgency of this crisis; now it’s time for him to act like it.”
Cedric Richmond has taken big money from the fossil fuel industry, cozied up w/oil and gas, & stayed silent while polluters poisoned his own community.
How will young people & frontline communities trust our voices will be heard louder than Big Oil in a @JoeBiden administration? https://t.co/X3Wfan7swr
— Sunrise Movement 🌅 (@sunrisemvmt) November 17, 2020
The frustration from some progressives came as the Democratic Party’s left wing continues to implore Mr. Biden to limit corporate influence in his administration, part of a broader campaign to exert pressure over personnel and the administration’s agenda.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times
The nomination of Judy Shelton to fill one of two remaining open seats on the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors failed to advance to a final vote on Tuesday afternoon.
While 47 senators voted to limit debate on Ms. Shelton’s nomination — a procedural step necessary to move it along toward a confirmation vote — 50 senators voted against the motion.
Ms. Shelton’s nomination could still be resuscitated. Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, took steps on Tuesday afternoon that will allow him to bring up the nomination again. Still, the decision afternoon is a significant setback to a Fed nomination that has been plagued by ups and downs. Ms. Shelton was nominated 16 months ago, but has been repeatedly delayed by lawmaker skepticism over her views.
While she appeared to be finally on the brink of confirmation, the coronavirus complicated Republicans’ last-minute attempt to place Ms. Shelton — a loyal fan of President Trump’s and a longtime proponent of some sort of gold standard — in a role at the nerve center of the American economy.
Democrats uniformly opposed moving Ms. Shelton’s nomination to the final stage, and two Republican senators — Mitt Romney and Susan Collins — voted “no.” While Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, also announced his opposition to Ms. Shelton’s nomination, he was not present for the vote because of what a spokesman said were family matters. Two senators, Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, who said Tuesday evening on Twitter that he had tested positive for coronavirus, and Rick Scott of Florida, were in quarantine.
That deprived Ms. Shelton of the votes she needed to move on to a final approval that could have secured her a spot on the central bank’s powerful board.
If confirmed, Ms. Shelton, 66, would take one of seven seats on the Washington-based board. With her addition, five of the six filled seats would contain Mr. Trump’s appointees. The president has nominated Christopher Waller, a Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis research official, to fill the remaining open seat. It is unclear when his less contested nomination could come to a vote.
Senators are rushing Ms. Shelton’s nomination through in a brief window before Mark Kelly, the Democratic senator-elect from Arizona, can be seated at the end of the month. Her offbeat views and loyalty to the White House have stirred concern among even some key Republicans, leaving her such a narrow margin of support that flipping that one seat could cost her confirmation.
Ms. Shelton has long favored backing the U.S. currency with gold or some other peg, which would undermine the very function of the Fed. She advised the Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign, and while Fed appointees often have political pasts, she has written glowing articles praising Mr. Trump and has at times appeared to question the value of central bank independence. She once favored higher interest rates, but abruptly changed that position to mirror Mr. Trump’s preference for low interest rates once she was in the running for a nomination to the Fed.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory may have helped Ms. Shelton’s chances. Installing Republican nominees at the Fed before the new administration takes office will curb Mr. Biden’s ability to appoint his own central bank picks. Governors have 14-year terms, but Ms. Shelton is filling an unexpired seat and would need to be reappointed in 2024.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times
NEW ORLEANS — Most new White House aides do not hold news conferences to announce their positions. But then most incoming West Wing staffers are not members of Congress.
As most of President-elect Joseph R. Biden’s roster of senior advisers became public through a news release on Tuesday, Representative Cedric L. Richmond, Democrat of Louisiana, summoned the news media and some of his longtime supporters to the Art Deco terminal of New Orleans’s Lakefront Airport to reveal that he would leave the House to run the White House Office of Public Engagement.
“When you talk about the needs of Louisiana, you want someone in the West Wing,” said Mr. Richmond, highlighting his state’s dismal health and education outcomes.
Mr. Richmond, who joined Congress in 2011, said he had already told his friend and neighboring lawmaker, Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the second-ranking House Republican.
Few states have been as adversely impacted by the pandemic as Louisiana, which suffered from a devastating early coronavirus outbreak and, with its tourist-dependent economy, has endured substantial job losses.
Mr. Richmond said he hoped the lame duck session of Congress would pass additional relief, but indicated that he stood ready to help push through such legislation next year if lawmakers did not agree to a compromise before Mr. Biden was sworn in.
Nobody in the all-masked audience may have been happier to hear that than the mayor of New Orleans, LaToya Cantrell.
“A stimulus package is what’s needed right now, yes, big time” said Ms. Cantrell, a Democrat, rattling off her city’s roster of needs.
Yet for all the interest in considering what Mr. Richmond’s new job might mean for New Orleans, many of the attendees were as interested in gaming out who would emerge as his successor in the House.
A number of would-be candidates made a point to come to the news conference — with one city councilor, Helena Moreno, posing for pictures for the local media with Mr. Richmond.
In his remarks, Mr. Richmond promised to play an “active role” in the special election to replace him next year. . In a brief interview after his news conference, he went further, saying he would “probably” make an endorsement after the holidays.
The race in a safely Democratic district in a city that relishes its politics nearly as much as its gumbo is expected to be a sprawling affair, one that will shine a spotlight on the rivalries and alliances Mr. Richmond has navigated since his first campaign for state representative 20 years ago.
“It’ll be a battle,” he predicted.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times
Republicans might be unwilling to publicly acknowledge that President Trump lost the election, but many of them lined up on Tuesday to congratulate Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on her victory during her first appearance in the Senate since Election Day.
As Ms. Harris arrived to help vote down Mr. Trump’s nominee for the Federal Reserve Board, several of her fellow senators were seen warmly paying their respects, including some who have refused to recognize President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s win — and at least one who has baselessly claimed that the election result was fraudulent.
Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican who has encouraged Mr. Trump to keep fighting the election results while promoting groundless conspiracy theories of balloting crimes, offered Ms. Harris a fist bump.
Senators Tim Scott of South Carolina, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Mike Rounds of South Dakota, all Republicans, also greeted Ms. Harris and offered congratulations.
Mr. Rounds gave Ms. Harris an elbow bump, the pandemic-era equivalent of a handshake; Mr. Scott offered a fist bump.
Their greetings stood out as elected Republicans have largely refrained from the customary statements of congratulations to the president-elect. They were also the latest examples of how, even as they avoid such public recognition of the election results, Republicans are quietly preparing for life in a Biden administration.
Mr. Graham later told reporters that his congratulations had been conditional.
“If it works out, congratulations,” the Republican said he had told Ms. Harris.
Mr. Lankford suggested he was just being polite.
“The election’s not settled,” he said. “You can spin it however you want to, but if someone walks right up to you, you say, ‘Hello, congratulations.’”
Ms. Harris returned to Washington on Tuesday to provide a pivotal vote in blocking the nomination of Judy Shelton, Mr. Trump’s controversial choice to join the Federal Reserve Board.
Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, said no one had needed to reach out to Ms. Harris to ask her to travel back to Washington to weigh in on the nomination.
“Senator Harris knows this is an important vote, and she’s here for it,” Mr. Schumer told reporters. “She didn’t need contacting.”
Mr. Schumer also criticized Republicans for continuing to endorse Mr. Trump’s fictional narrative that the election was stolen from him, singling out Mr. Graham, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, who has recently contacted officials in multiple states to make inquiries about how ballots are being validated.
“Senate Republicans have continued denying the election results, and they are holding America back,” Mr. Schumer said. “The classic example today was the chairman of the Judiciary Committee calling around to states to try and interfere with the process. That was reckless and inappropriate.”
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times
A day after Georgia’s secretary of state said he felt pressured to invalidate mail-in votes by Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has questioned the legitimacy of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory over President Trump, Mr. Graham told reporters on Tuesday that he had also reached out to state officials in Nevada and Arizona to ask how the states were validating signatures on mailed ballots.
Mr. Graham, echoing baseless claims Mr. Trump has made about voting fraud, said he was asking about elections in Arizona, Georgia and Nevada “as a United States senator who is worried about the integrity of the election process nationally, when it comes to vote by mail.” Mr. Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said that he spoke to Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona, and that he could not remember who he spoke to in Nevada.
Mr. Biden won all three states, flipping Arizona and Georgia from Mr. Trump’s column. He won by a wide-enough margin that he would still be the president-elect even without the electoral votes from those three states.
The Trump campaign and the state’s Republican Party demanded a hand recount in Georgia after claiming that ineligible and dead people had voted in the presidential election. Georgia is more than 90 percent done with its audit, which has to be completed by Wednesday evening. Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s statewide voting system implementation manager, said on Tuesday that the recount may take every minute until then but the results of the election were unlikely to change.
On Monday, elections officials in Floyd County, a Trump stronghold near Georgia’s northwest corner, turned up an extra 2,600 ballots. The error was caused by county election officials neglecting to upload the results of a set of ballots, Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, has said. The discovered ballots would cut Mr. Biden’s lead by 1,000 votes, but even so he would remain 13,000 votes ahead of Mr. Trump.
Mr. Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, said on Monday that the senator had asked him if it was possible to invalidate all mail ballots in counties with high rates of mismatched signatures, which Mr. Graham has denied.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Mr. Raffensperger said Mr. Graham had asked him whether poll workers might have accepted ballots with mismatched signatures because of political bias. The message he said he heard from Mr. Graham was: “Look hard and see how many ballots you can throw out,” Mr. Raffensperger told CNN on Monday evening.
Mr. Sterling, who was on part of the call with Mr. Graham and Mr. Raffensperger, said the conversation was focused on process.
Mr. Graham said Tuesday he had wanted to learn more about how the election process worked in Georgia ahead of the two Senate runoff elections there in January. Those races will determine the balance of power in the Senate.
Mr. Graham has joined other Republicans questioning the legitimacy of Mr. Biden’s victory over Mr. Trump.
“If Republicans don’t challenge and change the U.S. election system, there will never be another Republican president elected again,” Mr. Graham said last week on Fox News. “President Trump should not concede.”
Credit…Pool photo by Bill Clark
Republicans continued on Tuesday to press their case against Facebook and Twitter, arguing in a hearing before a Senate panel that their decisions to limit the distribution of factually questionable content that was favorable to President Trump amounted to improper influence in the election.
“I don’t want the government to take over the job of telling America what tweets are legitimate and what are not,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said at a Judiciary Committee hearing during which Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg were subjected to hours of questioning.
Mr. Graham, the chairman of the committee, zeroed in on the moves by both companies to prevent sharing of a New York Post story last month that contained information taken off a hard drive that was said to belong to Hunter Biden, the son of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. The story specified that the hard drive had been provided to The Post by Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s lawyer.
“Why do you have editorial control over The New York Post?” Mr. Graham asked. “That seems, to me, like you’re the ultimate editor.”
At the heart of Mr. Graham’s questioning was a provision in federal communications law, known as Section 230, that has limited the liability that open-platform online networks like Facebook and Twitter face when its users post objectionable, offensive and malicious content. Some lawmakers have favored removing that liability shield and treating the companies more like traditional news media companies, which are less protected because they exercise their own editorial decisions.
Some conservatives have said that by blocking the New York Post story, Facebook and Twitter were effectively editing content like a news outlet would. Mr. Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook, said it was not the company’s aim “to become the deciders on everything that is true or false.”
Mr. Dorsey, the chief executive of Twitter, appeared contrite about the episode, explaining that the company’s decision to stop its users from seeing the Post story was based on a mistake. Initially, Twitter had said that the story’s contents were based on hacked information. But once the company determined that was not the case, he said, it reversed its decision.
The debate over revising Section 230 is expected to be a focus in Congress next year.
Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, also raised concerns with how the companies were policing content but with different problems in mind, showing how broad bipartisan agreement on the need for greater regulation breaks down in the details.
“The inescapable fact is your algorithms, your policies and your business decisions shape what billions of people across the world and a working majority of people here in our nation understand to be true,” Mr. Coons said, addressing Mr. Zuckerberg. “That’s the case for election integrity, for a potential Covid-19 vaccine, for climate change, for hateful and dangerous stereotypes.”
Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, vowed action against what he called the “modern-day robber barons” of Facebook and Twitter in a tense exchange with Mr. Zuckerberg over the ability of Facebook employees to gain access to the personal information of its users.
Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, complained that one of his Facebook posts about the election had been flagged as questionable.
“Now, maybe these kinds of concerns are out of the mainstream in Palo Alto,” said Mr. Lee, referring to the city in Silicon Valley not far from where Facebook is based. “But they’re not out of the mainstream in the rest of America.”
Senator Joni Ernst, Republican of Iowa, said it was a concern that so many of Facebook’s employees were based in California and therefore presumably left-leaning in their political views.
But Mr. Zuckerberg said there was little the company could or would do about that. “I don’t think it would be appropriate to ask people on the way in, as we’re interviewing, what their political affiliation is,” he said.
Though Republicans currently hold a majority in the Senate — and would next year if they hold on to one of the two seats that will be decided by voters in Georgia in January — there is Democratic support for reforming the law as it relates to social media companies, which Democrats believe have been allowed to spread misinformation without consequence.
“Change is going to come,” Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, said in opening remarks. “No question. And I plan to bring aggressive reform to 230.”
Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times
While President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has taken steps to demonstrate his distance from lobbyists, his presidency is being welcomed in Washington’s influence industry.
Lobbyists and other advisers who help clients navigate Washington are quietly highlighting ties to Mr. Biden and his team in pitches to prospective clients, while firms and interest groups that lack such ties are scrambling to secure them. Such connections are plentiful because aides and colleagues of Mr. Biden’s have been cycling between government and the influence industry going back to his 36 years representing Delaware in the Senate and his eight years as vice president.
It is a far cry from four years ago, when Mr. Trump swept into town with few connections to established gatekeepers and lobbyists.
Instead of fulfilling his campaign promise to “drain the swamp” of special interests, Mr. Trump empowered a powerful, but relatively small, new class of lobbyists with connections to him or his inner circle. They reaped tens of millions of dollars in lobbying fees from companies, interest groups and foreign governments seeking to navigate an administration that revolved around the whims of one man, while defying established norms about policymaking and governance.
The pending change in administrations has disrupted a profitable business for K Street’s Trump whisperers, with one, David Urban, leaving a lobbying firm in September that he had built into a powerhouse, and others eying partnerships or mergers with Democratic or bipartisan firms.
In some ways, the shift is a return to normal for the influence industry, in which the most successful firms were those with deep policy expertise and connections on both sides of the aisle — a likely selling point if the Biden administration is faced with a Republican Senate.
A number of firms have been recruiting lobbyists with Biden connections.
The day before the election, the lobbying giant Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck announced that it had added Mark Pryor, a former Democratic senator from Arkansas, who had served alongside Mr. Biden in the Senate.
On Thursday, the Washington lobbying firm Capitol Counsel revealed it was merging with a boutique public affairs firm owned by Robert Diamond. Mr. Diamond ran Mr. Biden’s campaign in New York State and previously served in the Obama administration, which he said in a news release gave him “a deep understanding of the current climate in Washington.”
In an interview, Mr. Diamond called his Biden connection “an obvious selling point.” He added, though, that “relationships are one thing, but there is real expertise that needs to come back to Washington and tackle these problems.”
President Trump announced on Tuesday that he had “reversed” plans to cancel the annual “Wreaths Across America” event at Arlington National Cemetery because of the coronavirus pandemic — about 90 minutes after the Secretary of the Army said that he, himself, had done so.
“I have reversed the ridiculous decision to cancel Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. “It will now go on!”
The Secretary of the Army, Ryan D. McCarthy, had tweeted earlier in the afternoon that he had “directed Arlington National Cemetery to safely host Wreaths Across America.”
“We appreciate the families and visitors who take time to honor and remember those who are laid to rest at our nation’s most hallowed ground,” Mr. McCarthy added.
The cemetery had announced on Monday that it was canceling the annual ceremony, during which volunteers lay wreaths on tombstones to honor veterans. The event had been scheduled for Dec. 19, but the cemetery said it could not safely host such a large event.
Cases of the virus are surging in the Washington area, as they are across most of the country. Over the past week, there have been an average of 140 cases per day in Washington, an increase of 56 percent from two weeks earlier.
Mr. Trump attended a silent wreath-laying ceremony at the cemetery last week for Veterans Day. His tweet on Tuesday taking credit for the restoration of the wreath-laying event came on a day when he had no public events on his schedule, and during a week when most of his statements on Twitter were about his own efforts to contest the election results.
The reversal came after some backlash over the event’s cancellation. The nonprofit organization Wreaths Across America had said in a statement that it was “devastated” by the decision.
Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, had urged Army leaders to reconsider.
“Thousands of people have marched in DC streets the past couple weekends for Joe Biden and Donald Trump,” Mr. Cotton wrote on Twitter. “Surely volunteers can responsibly place wreaths on the graves of our fallen heroes at Arlington.”
Credit…Pool photo by Mohamad Torokman
The Palestinian Authority announced on Tuesday that it was resuming its cooperation with Israel, ending six months of financial hardship for tens of thousands of West Bank residents and signaling relief over the election of Joseph R. Biden Jr.
In May, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel pressed to annex territory on the occupied West Bank that the Palestinians have long counted on for a future state, Mahmoud Abbas, the authority’s president, cut off security coordination with Israel in protest. The move raised fears that attacks might go unprevented.
Mr. Abbas also severed civilian ties, including those that help Palestinians travel into Israel for work or medical treatment, and refused transfers of money from Israel.
The loss of more than $100 million a month in taxes that Israel collects on the Palestinians’ behalf forced salary cuts for tens of thousands of public-sector employees. The lack of funds compounded what was already a devastating economic crisis because of the pandemic.
In a surprising turn of events, Mr. Netanyahu agreed to “suspend” his push to assert Israeli sovereignty over much of the West Bank in exchange for landmark normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
The Palestinians, however, held out for more concrete guarantees that annexation was dead. In the end, the election of Mr. Biden, who has stated his opposition to any such unilateral moves by Israel, gave the Palestinians the assurances they sought.
The Trump administration had indicated it supported annexation.
The resumption of coordination was announced on Twitter by Hussein al-Sheikh, a Palestinian Authority minister who oversees relations with Israel and is one of Mr. Abbas’s closest advisers. Saying that Israel had reconfirmed its commitment to prior agreements with the Palestinians, he wrote, “the relationship with #Israel will return to how it was.”