Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday predicted “a smooth transition to a second Trump administration,” echoing President Trump’s baseless demand to delay the election results even as President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. called Mr. Trump’s actions since Election Day “an embarrassment.”
Speaking to reporters in Delaware, Mr. Biden shrugged off Mr. Pompeo’s comments, saying that his transition was moving along well and that he is confident that Republicans will eventually accept his victory.
“They will. They will,” he said. Asked about Mr. Trump’s ongoing refusal to concede the election and his vow to continue litigating the outcome in court, Mr. Biden said: “How can I say this tactfully? It will not help the president’s legacy.”
Mr. Pompeo made his remarks about the next administration in a deadpan voice, followed by a chuckle and a grin. It was not clear if he was joking and the State Department did not immediately respond to a request for clarity. Mr. Biden did not specifically react to Mr. Pompeo’s assertion that he believes there will be a second Trump term.
The secretary of state’s remark came before a testy exchange with journalists at the State Department, during which Mr. Pompeo insisted that American efforts worldwide to prevent voter intimidation and ensure free and fair elections were not diminished by Mr. Trump’s refusal to concede the U.S. presidential race, even after official vote tallies showed on Saturday that Mr. Biden had won, becoming president-elect.
Mr. Pompeo was the latest Republican to decline to publicly recognize Mr. Biden’s victory, although he also promised to ensure that the State Department remained functional and secure between now and Inauguration Day.
But Mr. Pompeo appeared to seethe on Tuesday when a reporter asked if Mr. Trump’s delaying tactics undermined the State Department’s efforts to pressure political leaders abroad to accept losing results.
“That’s ridiculous and you know it’s ridiculous, and you asked it because it’s ridiculous,” he said.
In monitoring foreign elections, “we often encounter situations where it’s not clear,” he said. “We work to undercover facts, we work to do discovery, to learn whether in fact the outcome, the decision that was made, reflected the will of the people.”
“We want every one of those votes to be counted in the same way, that we have every expectation that every vote here in the United States will be counted too,” he said.
Mr. Biden, in his remarks on Tuesday, said his conversations with world leaders over the last several days had been encouraging. Transition officials said the president-elect had spoken with the leaders of Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Germany.
“I’m letting them know that America is back. It’s not America alone,” he said, adding later that he felt “confident we are going to be able to put America back in a place of respect that it had.”
Hours earlier, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey became one of the few remaining world leaders who had initially resisted congratulating Mr. Biden to reverse course and acknowledge him as the victor.
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. vowed Tuesday afternoon to preserve and expand the Affordable Care Act when he takes office on Jan. 20, and assailed legal efforts by President Trump and Republicans to invalidate the health care law during oral arguments at the Supreme Court earlier in the day.
Mr. Biden lashed out at what he called “far-right ideologues” in the Trump administration who asked the court to strike down the health care law. He said the impact for millions of Americans if that were to happen would be severe.
“This doesn’t need to be a partisan issue. It’s a human issue that affects every single American family,” Mr. Biden said, adding that people would lose protections for pre-existing conditions and other coverage. “This isn’t hyperbole. It’s real. As real as it gets.”
The law, signed by former President Barack Obama, provides insurance coverage for tens of millions of Americans, guaranteeing coverage for pre-existing medical conditions and providing other popular provisions, including coverage for prescription drugs and visits to the emergency room.
But Mr. Trump and Republican state officials argue that a key provision of the law — the mandate that individuals purchase insurance — is unconstitutional because Congress reduced the penalty to zero, removing the justification that it was essentially a tax. The Supreme Court had upheld that justification in 2015.
It was not clear whether the court would strike down the mandate. But at least five justices, including two members of the court’s conservative majority, suggested that doing so would not invalidate the rest of the law.
Mr. Biden did not acknowledge the comments from the justices. Instead, he focused on the arguments made by the government’s lawyers, saying they were “ridiculous” and that the government should not have pushed for an end to the law in the middle of a pandemic.
“Regardless of the outcome of this case,” he said, “I promise you this: We will do everything in our power to ease the burden of health care on you and your family.”
Mr. Biden made the fate of the Affordable Care Act a central part of his campaign for the White House, arguing that if Republican lawyers succeeded in convincing the justices to declare the law unconstitutional, the Trump administration would be ill-equipped to address the fallout. After years of promising to do so, Mr. Trump has yet to propose an alternative to the health care law.
Mr. Biden has said he wants to strengthen the law by offering a so-called public option, allowing people to receive coverage the way Medicare enrollees do, through a system of government-run insurance. People who would prefer to stay on private insurance would be able to do so.
Mr. Biden was joined at the event by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who as a candidate for president had pushed a health care plan that was intended to expand coverage, but stopped short of the “Medicare for all” single-payer system of government health insurance favored by liberal Democrats.
“Our country had a clear choice in this election,” Ms. Harris said. “Each and every vote for Joe Biden was a vote to protect and expand the Affordable Care Act, not to tear it away in the midst of a global pandemic.”
The Affordable Care Act has survived two earlier challenges in the Supreme Court. But three new justices — all Trump appointees — have joined the court since the last one. One of them, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, has been publicly critical of the earlier rulings.
Democrats held onto their House majority on Tuesday, securing the 218 seats they need to maintain control of the chamber even as they lost at least a half dozen seats amid unexpected headwinds that left them with a narrower hold on power.
Democrats began the cycle expecting to expand their majority, betting that suburban voters’ distaste for President Trump would trickle down the ballot, allowing them to make inroads in conservative districts and protect many of their own vulnerable incumbents.
But as of Tuesday, they had picked up just a single Republican-held seat, and had lost as many as seven in rural and working-class districts where Mr. Trump is popular, including in New Mexico and Oklahoma in what amounted to a series of stunning and painful defeats.
In those races, Republican women led the way, flipping key seats in Iowa, California and South Carolina, and positioning their party to break the record for the highest number of women ever to serve in their conference.
Representative Cheri Bustos of Illinois, the chairwoman of the House Democrats’ campaign arm, barely eked out a victory in her own district, and told colleagues on Monday that she would not seek another term and that she was “gutted at the losses we sustained.”
But many Democratic incumbents in competitive districts, like Representatives Abigail Spanberger of Virginia and Jared Golden of Maine, also narrowly hung onto their seats.
“These were seats that were in Trump country, and we were able to hold onto 30 seats that are Trump districts, and that’s no small feat,” Ms. Bustos said.
Cal Cunningham, the Democrat challenging Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina, conceded the race on Tuesday after a protracted vote count, as the incumbent appeared headed for a narrow victory in a crucial swing state that would bolster his party’s hold on the Senate.
Mr. Tillis, 60, had been one of the Democrats’ top targets this year, a decidedly unpopular first-term Republican in a fast-growing and increasingly competitive state. But he was able to capitalize on unexpected Republican strength in North Carolina to outrun Mr. Cunningham, who was damaged by late revelations of an extramarital affair.
With a vast majority of votes counted, Mr. Tillis was leading by just under 100,000 votes, according to Edison Research, in an election that drew more voters and political spending than any in the state’s history. Mr. Tillis took a lead on election night and never lost it, but because of an influx of mail-in ballots, the result was still not official on Thursday, long after most other races were called.
In a pre-emptive victory speech last week, Mr. Tillis said North Carolinians were “letting everybody know that the truth still does matter, letting everybody know that character still matters, and letting everybody know that keeping your promises still matters.”
Mr. Cunningham said in a statement on Tuesday that the election results suggested “there remain deep political divisions in our state and nation.” He added that he would “always be proud of the work we did together to lift up the voices of North Carolinians who feel left behind by our politics.”
The result was a relief for Republicans, who viewed the seat as a potential tipping point whose loss could have cost them control of the Senate. A win by Mr. Tillis would give Republicans 49 Senate seats to Democrats’ 48. Another race remained uncalled in Alaska, where Senator Dan Sullivan, a Republican, is favored to win.
Either way, Mr. Tillis’s apparent victory only increased the already towering stakes of a pair of January Senate runoffs in Georgia, where a clean sweep by Democrats could hand them a working majority, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris empowered to cast tiebreaking votes.
Republicans view that outcome as a long shot in a state they have historically dominated, but both parties were already pouring tens of millions of dollars into the races and honing messages to try to frame the holiday-season fight.
The Trump administration is moving forward with plans to present a budget proposal to Congress in February, according to a spokeswoman for the White House Office of Management and Budget, the latest signal that President Trump is not preparing to concede the election.
The office, which began its budgeting process for the next fiscal year in September, remains in the middle of that undertaking, the spokeswoman said.
The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that federal agencies had been instructed to continue preparing their budget proposals for the next fiscal year.
The White House typically releases its proposed budget for the next fiscal year in February. It is often one of the first high-profile acts of a new administration.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is set to be inaugurated on Jan. 20. The Trump administration has refused to accept the election results and has so far resisted many of the usual moves that would accompany a presidential handover.
Congress tends to view the White House budget as merely a starting point for negotiations, but the document is also the primary indication of an administration’s economic policy goals, as it spells out where it wants to allocate federal dollars. A Biden budget is expected to differ significantly from Mr. Trump’s, prioritizing spending proposals that the president-elect outlined in his campaign, including more money for safety net programs, education and health care.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s transition team announced the people who will lead efforts to select top officials for his administration, including teams that will help select the next secretaries of the Treasury and Commerce Departments, as well as the heads of important agencies across the government.
Washington think tanks dominate Mr. Biden’s agency team rosters. The Urban Institute has seven different employees on various teams, the Center for American Progress has five, and the Brookings Institution has four.
The team that the Biden campaign is dispatching to the Treasury Department includes several former members of the Obama administration, academic economists and industry insiders with experience in the banking, housing and development sectors. Leading the team is Don Graves, who served as a deputy assistant secretary at the Treasury from 2010 to 2014 before moving to Mr. Biden’s office to be a domestic economic policy adviser. Most recently, Mr. Graves worked at KeyBank, where he led its corporate social responsibility department.
Other Treasury transition officials include Lily Batchelder, a tax expert who was the deputy director of the White House National Economic Council under President Barack Obama and now teaches at New York University.
Gary Gensler, who was chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission from 2009 to 2014 and was widely seen as tough on Wall Street, is leading the team that will oversee positions at the Federal Reserve, as well as financial agencies like the C.F.T.C. and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The agency review team for the Department of Commerce will be led by Geovette E. Washington, the senior vice chancellor and chief legal officer of the University of Pittsburgh. Members of the team come from a range of backgrounds, in keeping with the department’s sprawling activities, which include weather monitoring, oceanic studies, the census, business promotion and export rules. It includes Tene Dolphin of the Greater Washington Black Chamber of Commerce and Kris Sarri of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.
The team for the Office of the United States Trade Representative, which negotiates trade rules, is led by Jason Miller, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who worked on manufacturing policy for the Obama administration. The team is also responsible for reviewing two other trade-related departments, the U.S. International Trade Commission and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.
The Labor Department team will be led by Chris Lu, who was a deputy secretary of the department in Mr. Obama’s administration. It also includes several labor union officials, as well as Josh Orton, a top aide to Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent of Vermont.
Activists in the Movement for Black Lives coalition said on Tuesday that President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. had Black voters to thank for his victory, and that they would push his transition team and his administration on issues like criminal justice reform and defunding the police.
Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter, said on a press call that she and other B.L.M. leaders had sent a letter to Mr. Biden’s campaign on Saturday asking for “an active role in the transition process,” but that they had not yet heard back.
“This movement won this election, plain and simple,” Ms. Cullors said, pointing to the voters in cities like Philadelphia, Detroit and Milwaukee who enabled Mr. Biden to win Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.
“The fact that we have to ask for a seat at the table, after the way we showed up, shows that Democrats have a lot of work to do when it comes to rewarding and listening to the Black folks that made this victory possible.”
A spokesman for Mr. Biden’s transition team did not immediately respond to a question about the letter.
Kendra Brooks, a member of the Philadelphia City Council and the Working Families Party, argued that Democratic Party leaders had “focused on the suburbs while taking Black voters for granted.”
The activists on the call pushed back on the belief, expressed by many centrist Democrats since the election, that calls to defund the police and enact other progressive policies were responsible for the party’s underperformance in congressional races.
Among other actions, they called for a higher minimum wage, new affordable housing protections and passage of the BREATHE Act, which would shift funding from police departments to community public safety programs.
“It was a mandate from the streets,” Jessica Byrd, head of the Electoral Justice Program of the Movement for Black Lives, said of Mr. Biden’s win. “And what electoral justice means is that mandates from the streets deserve meaningful and rigorous debate.”
President Trump is directing money raised through his campaign’s breathless requests to “defend the election” into a new political action committee before his recount fund, a move that allows him greater flexibility to bankroll his future political endeavors.
The new group, called Save America, is a federal fund-raising vehicle known as a leadership PAC that has donation limits of $5,000 per donor per year.
It will be used to underwrite Mr. Trump’s post-presidential activities, tapping into the vast reservoir of small donors that made him a dominant fund-raiser, for a time, in 2020. But it is likely to have far greater significance for a man who is refusing not only to concede the election but remains reluctant to surrender the spotlight. In that sense, his PAC could become a fan-subsidized machine to perpetuate his agenda and plot his next moves.
In the days since the election, Mr. Trump’s campaign has blitzed supporters with text messages and emails almost hourly, spreading unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud and asking supporters to give to the “official election defense fund.”
“We need YOUR HELP to DEFEND the integrity of our Election,” read one email early Tuesday morning.
The fine print shows where the money is actually going.
Initially, 60 percent of donations were going to pay off debts that the Trump campaign had accumulated. But as of Tuesday, that had shifted.
Now, 60 percent of donations are earmarked for Save America, which was registered with the Federal Election Commission on Monday by Bradley T. Crate. Mr. Crate also serves as Mr. Trump’s campaign treasurer.
Only after a donor gives more than $5,000 does any of the money go to the recount account that Mr. Trump set up.
In addition, 40 percent of every donation goes to the Republican National Committee.
“Small donors who give thinking they’re helping to defend the integrity of our election are in fact largely helping to finance Trump’s post-presidential political ventures,” said Brendan M. Fischer, an attorney at the Campaign Legal Center, a watchdog group.
Mr. Trump can use the new political action committee to support other candidates, as well to fund his own travel, polling and political team.
Republicans will likely be clamoring for the help, given the fact that Mr. Trump matched or outperformed many down-ballot candidates in their own districts. The first test is likely to come during Georgia’s January runoff for the Senate seats occupied by the Trump loyalists David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. The outcome will decide which party controls the Senate.
Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for Mr. Trump, said on Monday that the leadership PAC had been planned before the election. “The president always planned to do this, win or lose, so he can support candidates and issues he cares about, such as combating voter fraud,” Mr. Murtaugh said.
Leadership PACs are generally seen as loosely regulated — Joseph R. Biden Jr. operated one during the 2018 midterms ahead of his own presidential run — and the committee gives Mr. Trump a place to continue to direct supporter cash.
One advantage for Mr. Trump is that the leadership PAC gives him more latitude than the recount account, which is more limited in its use, according to campaign finance experts.
“There is far more flexibility with how a candidate can use a leadership PAC than a recount account,” Mr. Fischer said.
As President Trump and his team continue to circulate fabricated claims of a stolen election and voter fraud, their allies are flooding the internet search engines and social media with falsehoods intended to question the legitimacy of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.
This dynamic — the Trump team broadcasting misinformation, which is then plugged into the high-wattage amplifier of social media — was a defining feature of Mr. Trump’s campaign and administration and has, if anything, intensified in the wake of his defeat.
One particular brazen example surfaced early Tuesday. Some users who entered the search phrase “Biden loses PA” into Google — not an uncommon search given Mr. Trump’s claims — were directed to a page topped with a YouTube video entitled “Biden Loses Pennsylvania and Loses President-Elect Status.”
If the term “Biden loses” is entered, another video entitled “Breaking News!!! Biden Loses President-Elect Status” appears for some users as the top video result.
These claims are false.
Many Republicans have privately conceded that Mr. Trump’s path to victory is nonexistent but have been reluctant to challenge him. On Monday, Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, refused to acknowledge Mr. Biden as the president-elect and said Mr. Trump was “100 percent” within his rights to pursue legal remedies.
As of Tuesday morning, Mr. Biden was ahead by more than 45,000 votes in Pennsylvania, and while counting is still going on, his lead is insurmountable, according to analysts. While Mr. Trump’s allies have focused their legal fights on Nevada, Wisconsin, Michigan and Georgia, Mr. Biden’s margins of victory in those states are also highly unlikely to be overturned.
The first video, posted by an obscure YouTube user, touts a debunked and fictitious claim that the political website RealClearPolitics rescinded Mr. Biden’s win in Pennsylvania, and hence revoked his status as president-elect.
While most major news outlets, including The New York Times, called the race for Mr. Biden on Saturday, RealClearPolitics has been more cautious. It has not declared a winner, pending the outcomes in several states, including North Carolina and Alaska, where Mr. Trump is currently ahead.
That did not stop Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s lawyer, who has claimed — without providing evidence — that Democrats stole the election, from posting a tweet late Monday claiming the site had taken away Pennsylvania and made it a “toss up.”
Tom Bevan, who runs RealClearPolitics, quickly shot back, “This is false. We never called Pennsylvania, and nothing has changed.”
Mr. Giuliani, who has roughly one million followers on Twitter, did not remove his post. He did not immediately return multiple requests for comment.
The falsehood was posted by a verified account, The Next News Network; it gained nearly 900,000 views in just 12 hours, largely driven by shares on Facebook. Data from the Facebook-owned social media analytics tool CrowdTangle suggests that 97 percent of Facebook likes and shares happened in private Facebook groups. On Google, search interest in “Biden loses Pennsylvania” jumped 1,150 percent in a little over an hour, peaking at 8:52 p.m., according to data from Google Trends.
Pam Bondi, another Trump legal adviser who has 110,000 followers, tweeted out a similar message, but deleted it late Monday. Sean Spicer, Mr. Trump’s former press secretary, took it a step further, appending a correction to his original tweet echoing the claim.
But the misinformation has spread through Facebook and Twitter anyway.
“If you thought disinformation on Facebook was a problem during our election, just wait until you see how it is shredding the fabric of our democracy in the days after,” Bill Russo, a Biden press aide who has criticized social media companies, tweeted on Monday.
YouTube said the viral video flagged by The Times had been labeled but does not violate its deceptive practices policy, which prohibits misleading viewers about how to vote but doesn’t ban expressing views on an election’s outcome.
The top Justice Department official overseeing election fraud investigations took aim at Attorney General William P. Barr as he abruptly departed the post, telling colleagues that he had stepped aside in an attempt to protect the department’s integrity.
Mr. Barr informed federal prosecutors on Monday that they were allowed to investigate “specific allegations” of voter fraud before the results of the presidential race were certified. In explaining his move, the official, Richard Pilger, said that his decision was rooted in an award that he had won several years earlier that recognizes a department official who “displayed extraordinary strength of character in a unique situation.”
Mr. Pilger plans to stay at the Justice Department in a nonsupervisory role. Here is the text of the email he sent to colleagues, absent a redaction:
Attached please find the Attorney General’s Memorandum of today entitled “Post-Voting Election Irregularity Inquiries,” an important new policy abrogating the forty-year-old Non-Interference Policy for ballot fraud investigations in the period before elections becoming certified and uncontested. Federal Prosecution of Election Offenses, pp. 84-85 (8th Ed. 2017).
Having familiarized myself with the new policy and its ramifications, and in accord with the best tradition of the John C. Keeney Award for Exceptional Integrity and Professionalism (my most cherished Departmental recognition), I must regretfully resign from my role as Director of the Election Crimes Branch. I have enjoyed very much working with you for over a decade to aggressively and diligently enforce federal criminal election law, policy, and practice without partisan fear or favor. I thank you for your support in that effort.
The Acting Director of the Election Crimes Branch going forward will be PIN Deputy Chief Robert J. Heberle [redacted text]. Deputy Director Sean F. Mulryne will remain in his position. Please give them both the same support that I have enjoyed, and rest assured that he Public Integrity Section remains committed to operating properly in all of its functions.
Best Wishes, RCP
The department created the John C. Keeney Award for Exceptional Integrity and Professionalism a decade ago to recognize department officials who showed integrity over a long career and “displayed extraordinary strength of character in a unique situation.”
Mr. Keeney was the longest-tenured department prosecutor in history. He worked under 12 presidents and 23 attorneys general over 60 years, according to the Justice Department. He retired in 2010 as a top official in the department’s criminal division in Washington.
During World War II, Mr. Keeney was shot down during an allied bombing campaign over Germany and held in a Nazi camp until the conclusion of the war. Six years later, he was hired by the Justice Department as a prosecutor.
Early Tuesday, the top lawyer for the Biden campaign joined the chorus of Democrats and civil rights lawyers condemning Mr. Barr’s decision.
“It is deeply unfortunate that the Attorney General Barr chose to issue a memorandum that will only fuel the ‘specious, speculative, fanciful or far-fetched claims’ he professes to guard against,” said the Biden lawyer, Bob Bauer. “Those are the very kind of claims that the president and his lawyers are making unsuccessfully every day, as their lawsuits are laughed out of one court after another.”
And by late Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, a moderate Republican who has already congratulated Mr. Biden on his victory, said it was “wildly inappropriate” for the Justice Department to have become involved in what he called “stalling an orderly transition process.”
“Orderly transitions of power are good for the country, they’re good for the American people,” he said. “What this president is doing at this point in time is not in the best interest of this country. The administration needs to move forward and cooperate with the president-elect’s transition team immediately.”
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. spoke on Tuesday with four foreign leaders, including the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, a prominent Trump ally.
Mr. Johnson tweeted that he had congratulated Mr. Biden on his victory and that he looked forward “to working with him on our shared priorities — from tackling climate change, to promoting democracy and building back better from the pandemic.” The wording was noteworthy coming from Mr. Johnson, who has often been ideologically aligned with Mr. Trump: “Build back better” was a central slogan of Mr. Biden’s campaign.
Mr. Biden’s transition team said that he and Mr. Johnson had discussed combating climate change and the coronavirus pandemic, “promoting democracy” and geopolitical issues in the Balkans and Ukraine. Mr. Johnson’s office told reporters that he had invited Mr. Biden to the United Nations Climate Change Conference, scheduled to be held in Glasgow next November.
Mr. Biden’s other calls on Tuesday were with President Emmanuel Macron of France, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Taoiseach Micheál Martin of Ireland. (His first call with a foreign leader, on Monday, was with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada.) According to his transition team, these conversations covered many of the same topics as his conversation with Mr. Johnson.
Mr. Biden and Mr. Macron also discussed Iran’s nuclear program and the conflict in Syria, and he and Ms. Merkel discussed a “shared agenda” between the United States and the European Union.
Numerous foreign leaders have acknowledged Mr. Biden’s victory, including the ones he has spoken with as well as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. The acknowledgments from Mr. Johnson and Mr. Netanyahu were particularly significant because they have had friendlier relationships than most other world leaders with the Trump administration.
As Mr. Trump and other top Republicans continue their baseless challenges to the legitimacy of the election, Mr. Biden is moving forward with the transition to the extent that he can, given the Trump administration’s refusal to cooperate.
Worried that the Trump administration might destroy files as its members leave the White House, the Democratic heads of 21 House committees sent letters on Tuesday to more than 50 federal agencies, demanding they comply with federal record-keeping laws and preserve information sought in congressional subpoenas and investigations.
The request, coming after the White House repeatedly stonewalled Democratic lawmakers by refusing to release documents and blocking officials from testifying before their committees, could set up a new series of conflicts, before and after the inauguration, as committee aides scramble to uncover undisclosed details of governmental machinations under Mr. Trump.
“As the Trump administration prepares for the transition of power to the new Biden administration, we write to remind you that all Executive Office of the President employees and officials must comply with record preservation obligations set forth in federal law and preserve information relevant to congressional oversight,” wrote the chairs of the committees, including Representative Carolyn B. Maloney of New York, chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform.
Among the demands in the letters were orders for the White House to preserve all records in accordance with the Presidential Records Act and the Federal Records Act, as well as any documents that may be requested as part of a congressional investigation.
“You are obligated to ensure that any information previously requested by Congress — and any other information that is required by law to be preserved — is saved and appropriately archived in a manner that is easily retrievable,” the Democrats wrote.
House Democrats have opened numerous investigations into the Trump administration during the president’s four years in office, including, most recently, probes into Customs and Border Protection agents who allegedly engaged in misconduct, attempts to withhold federal funds from local jurisdictions, and the performance of the Postal Service.
While President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has been projected the winner in the 2020 election, states across the country are still tallying votes. The Times has yet to call winners in four states, and in two — Arizona and Georgia — Mr. Biden currently leads.
Mr. Biden has already won the election. Even if President Trump was able to overtake Mr. Biden in one or both states, and hold onto the two outstanding states where he is leading, North Carolina and Alaska, that fact would not change.
In Georgia, Mr. Biden leads President Trump by over 12,000 votes as of Tuesday afternoon, or about a quarter of a percentage point. The secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, said Friday that there were 8,400 military and overseas ballots that had been sent out and could still be returned, as well as 14,200 provisional ballots that had been received by election officials. Some additional ballots have been counted since Mr. Raffensperger made those remarks.
But provisional ballots must all be inspected and counted by hand, and take an exceptionally long time to process and count, and the deliberative nature of tabulating those ballots has slowed the reporting of results in Georgia.
Mr. Biden has been winning the provisional ballots there so far, and those left to count might help pad his lead in the state even further. Then a recount is “inevitable,” according to Mr. Raffensperger, but Mr. Biden’s lead is so large that the results are extremely unlikely to be reversed.
In Arizona, Mr. Trump continues to make gains on Mr. Biden, now trailing him by less than 15,000 votes, or about four-tenths of a percentage point. But the president is running out of opportunities to close the gap in the state.
Only about 60,000 votes remain to be counted in Arizona, and Mr. Trump would need to win them by more than 20 points to take the lead. But Mr. Trump hasn’t been winning the count by such a large margin in recent days.
The remaining ballots might be even better for Mr. Biden. More than half of the remaining ballots are provisional ballots, and more than half of those are from the heavily Democratic Pima County.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, will continue to steer their respective parties in the 117th Congress, though it remains unclear which man will be majority leader given the prospect of two Senate runoff races in Georgia.
Both men were unanimously re-elected Tuesday morning by acclamation, as both the Democratic caucus and Republican conference held private meetings on Capitol Hill to select leadership for the next Congress. The handful of new senators-elect, who have yet to be sworn in, were also on hand to participate in the process.
“A few weeks ago, someone called him the Apex Predator of American politics, which may be the best yet,” Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, said in remarks formally nominating Mr. McConnell, the longest serving Republican leader in the Senate’s history. “I nominate as our leader, the Apex Predator of the United States Senate, Addison Mitchell McConnell Jr.”
Very little upheaval was expected on either side, with Senate Democrats maintaining the same leadership team and Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois remaining as the No. 2 Democrat, according to a Democrat familiar with the results. The caucus also agreed to add two senators, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, expanding the Democratic leadership ranks to 10 members besides Mr. Schumer and Mr. Durbin.
The caucus will wait until later in the year to decide committee assignments and who will oversee the Senate Democratic campaign arm.
Senate Republicans kept Senator John Thune of South Dakota as the conference whip, the No. 2 position, as well as Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, Joni Ernst of Iowa, and Roy Blunt of Missouri in top positions. They elected Senator Rick Scott of Florida, the state’s former governor, to lead Senate Republicans’ campaign arm.
“We’re ready to get going even though there is some suspense about whether we will be in the majority or not. That will be answered in Georgia on Jan. 5,” Mr. McConnell said.
Pressed by reporters, he once again declined to recognize President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory and insisted President Trump’s decision to challenge the results by spreading baseless claims of widespread fraud “should not be alarming.”
President Trump’s refusal to concede the election to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has already affected Mr. Biden’s transition, particularly on national security issues.
Mr. Biden has yet to receive a presidential daily briefing, the compendium of the government’s latest secrets and best intelligence insights. And while no law states that Mr. Biden must receive it, previous administrations, dating to at least 1968, have authorized their elected successors to be given the briefing after clinching victory.
It was also unclear whether Mr. Biden’s team would have access to classified information, the most important pipeline for them to learn about the threats facing the United States.
At the same time, a Trump loyalist known as fierce partisan has been appointed as the top lawyer at the National Security Agency, a sign that the administration is trying to help its political appointees land career posts that they can stay in even after a new president is sworn in, American officials said.
The appointee, Michael Ellis, had served as a National Security Council lawyer and most recently as its senior director for intelligence. Formerly a lawyer for the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, he gained notoriety as one of two White House aides who helped his previous boss, Representative Devin Nunes, gain access to intelligence reports in early 2017 to advance Mr. Trump’s political goals.
Like previous presidents-elect, Mr. Biden is receiving Secret Service protection, and a no-fly zone has been established over his home in Delaware. But if Mr. Trump’s administration continues its refusal to recognize Mr. Biden as the winner, it could complicate his security until his inauguration.
Former agency officials say the Secret Service is highly unlikely to begin that transition unless the G.S.A. has authorized it.
Providing another example of how President Trump’s reaction to his election loss differs from other presidents’, Hillary Clinton on Tuesday posted a letter that an outgoing president, George H.W. Bush, wrote to an incoming one, Bill Clinton, in 1993.
“You will be our president when you read this note,” Mr. Bush, a Republican and the last incumbent to lose re-election, wrote to Mr. Clinton, his Democratic successor, on Inauguration Day. “Your success is now our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you. Good luck.”
“Here’s how it’s done in America,” Mrs. Clinton wrote on Instagram, describing the letter as “gracious.”
“Since the very beginning, American presidents have accepted the will of the people and participated in a peaceful transfer of power,” she wrote. “That’s what makes our democracy so unique, and so enduring.”
To be fair, Mr. Trump has 71 days to pen a similar note to Mr. Biden. But based on how things are going so far, that gesture appears unlikely. Mr. Trump has shattered Washington’s norms for four years, has yet to concede he lost the election and is stalling the start of a peaceful transition period, breaking from longstanding precedent.
Mr. Bush was the last one-term president before Mr. Trump. But the similarities stop there.
“Here’s the way we see it and the country should see it — that the people have spoken and we respect the majesty of the democratic system,” Mr. Bush said in the concession speech he delivered on election night in 1992. “I just called Governor Clinton over in Little Rock and offered my congratulations. He did run a strong campaign. I wish him well in the White House.”
Transitions have faced roadblocks before. The most recent — in 2016, when Mr. Trump prepared to take over from President Barack Obama — was rocky and behind schedule because of shake-ups on Mr. Trump’s team. Eight years earlier, Mr. Obama’s transition faced snags because he had to replace his head of personnel multiple times.
A week after Election Day, ballots are still being counted in many states. This isn’t unusual. But because so many people voted by mail this year, the process isn’t as far along as it would normally be.
Aside from the presidential contest in four states — Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina and Alaska — two Senate races and 16 House races were unresolved as of Tuesday afternoon. That’s in addition to planned runoffs for Georgia’s two Senate seats and a Louisiana House seat in the coming months.
These are some of races we’re watching:
Alaska: The Republican incumbents Senator Dan Sullivan and Representative Don Young both hold substantial leads.
California: Five House races remain uncalled. The closest include one in the San Joaquin Valley, where Representative T.J. Cox, a Democrat, trails former Representative David Valadao, the Republican, by about 4,500 votes, and one north of Los Angeles where Representative Mike Garcia, a Republican, trails Christy Smith, a Democrat, by about 1,000 votes.
Illinois: Representative Lauren Underwood, a first-term Democrat, has pulled narrowly ahead of her Republican challenger, Jim Oberweis, in Chicago’s western suburbs.
Iowa: One of the nation’s closest House races is in the Second Congressional District, which covers the southeast part of the state. Just 35 votes separate Rita Hart, a Democrat, from Mariannette Miller-Meeks, a Republican.
New York: Eight House races, including some that are not close, remain uncalled because New York has been slow to start counting mail ballots. Close ones include the 18th District in New York City’s northern exurbs, where Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democrat, leads his Republican challenger, Chele Farley, by just over two points, and District 19 in the Hudson Valley, where Representative Antonio Delgado, a first-term Democrat, is narrowly ahead of his Republican challenger, Kyle Van De Water.
North Carolina: The Republican Senator Thom Tillis is narrowly ahead of his Democratic challenger, Cal Cunningham. Mr. Cunningham conceded on Tuesday, but The Times has not officially called the race.
Utah: Representative Ben McAdams, a Democrat whose 2018 victory was one of the biggest upsets of the midterms, trails his Republican challenger, Burgess Owens, by less than half a percentage point.
Gina Haspel, the C.I.A. director, visited with Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, on Tuesday, in a meeting that signaled the top Republican’s support for the agency’s chief amid reports of White House discontent.
Administration officials have been privately saying for weeks that President Trump might fire Ms. Haspel after the election. Speculation about her fate intensified after Mr. Trump fired his defense secretary, Mark Esper, on Monday.
Ms. Haspel and Mr. McConnell, both from Kentucky, speak frequently and have a warm relationship. She gave a rare public speech at the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville in 2018. Mr. McConnell gave her a warm introduction.
Mr. McConnell is a member of the so-called Gang of Eight congressional leaders who are frequently briefed on intelligence matters by Ms. Haspel and others. But because the meeting on Tuesday was separate from those briefings, it was widely viewed as an effort to signal Mr. McConnell’s support for Ms. Haspel.
The C.I.A. director is traditionally an apolitical post, and agency heads are supposed to deliver unvarnished intelligence and not take policy positions. But Mr. Trump has been frustrated that Ms. Haspel has not made his concerns more of a priority, according to administration officials.
Ms. Haspel has supported a string of agency conclusions at odds with White House positions, including the culpability of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia in the death of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Russia’s paying of bounties to the Taliban to kill American troops in Afghanistan and North Korea’s unwillingness to give up nuclear weapons. She also has opposed the declassification of material that could endanger agency sources, despite Mr. Trump’s calling for the release of more material that his supporters could use to argue that Russian interference in the 2016 campaign was exaggerated.
Ms. Haspel never takes questions from the press. On her way into the meeting with Mr. McConnell, reporters asked if she was concerned Mr. Trump would fire her.
“Have a good afternoon,” was her only response.
After a roughly 20-minute meeting, Ms. Haspel left Mr. McConnell’s office to another round of shouted questions about her job security and voter fraud. In response she replied, “Have a good evening.”