The Latest: Lincoln Project taking on GOP-linked law firms

Political News
Mark Esper

FILE – In this Oct. 8, 2020, file photo, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper speaks before a meeting with Romanian Defense Minister Nicolae Ciuca, at the Pentagon, in Washington. President Donald Trump has fired Esper. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President-elect Joe Biden (all times local):

5:45 p.m.

The Lincoln Project has announced plans to launch an advertising campaign against two law firms over their role representing President Donald Trump and the Republican Party in their voter fraud-related lawsuits.

On Twitter on Tuesday, the anti-Trump political action committee run by former Republican insiders also urged people to find employees of Jones Day and Porter Wright Morris & Arthur through their social media accounts and “ask them how they can work for an organization trying to overturn the will of the American people.”

The group suggested it would also pressure clients to drop the firms. By the end of the day, Porter Wright had deleted its Twitter account, which was being inundated with attacks. A message seeking comment was left with Porter Wright.

Jones Day responded that it is not representing the president, his campaign “or any affiliated party in any litigation alleging voter fraud,” but the Pennsylvania GOP, in litigation brought by private parties and the state’s Democratic Party. That litigation resulted in the order that extended the deadline for returning mail-in ballots that was set by Pennsylvania state lawmakers.

There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN’S TRANSITION TO THE WHITE HOUSE:

President-elect Joe Biden is championing the Obama administration’s signature health law as it goes before the Supreme Court in a case that could overturn it.

Read more:

— GOP tries again to get high court to ax health care law

— What’s ascertainment? The green light to launch transition

— Candidate concessions have been colorful, funny — or absent

— GOP backs Trump as he fights election results, transition

— Much at stake as Supreme Court weighs future of ‘Obamacare’

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW:

5:25 p.m.

The Biden campaign’s lawyer is dismissing President Donald Trump’s legal challenges to Joe Biden’s victory as “theatrics” that are intended “to instill in the minds of some portion of the populace that the election was illegitimate.”

Bob Bauer said Tuesday on a call with reporters that the Trump campaign is trying to “throw obstacles in the path of the government.” But he said the transition was continuing regardless of any issues playing out in the courts.

“In the meantime,” he says, “there’ll be theater, but it’ll be playing to increasingly light crowds, until it empties out completely and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris take their oath of office.”

Biden was declared the winner of the election on Saturday, but Trump is refusing to concede.

Biden’s chief counsel, Dana Remus, said the presidential transition process would not be derailed by the General Services Administration’s refusal to name Biden the official winner.

Remus says Trump and his allies “are trying everything to interfere with the inevitable.” But she says, “We are pushing forward, and we are confident that the inevitable is a very successful administration.”

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4 p.m.

The national intelligence director’s office says it can’t begin engaging with President-elect Joe Biden’s team until a federal agency starts the process of transition, which the Trump administration is delaying.

The office, which oversees all U.S. intelligence agencies, said it must follow the Presidential Transition Act, which requires the General Services Administration to first ascertain the winner of the election Trump is contesting.

Intelligence agencies have given general intelligence briefings — minus information on covert operations and sources and methods — to presidential nominees since 1952. Biden started receiving them soon after he became the Democratic presidential nominee. It’s unclear if he is still getting them.

Some presidents have allowed their successors to receive the President’s Daily Brief, containing the nation’s most sensitive intelligence information. President Donald Trump would have to authorize Biden to receive that brief.

A Biden transition spokesperson declined to comment on the briefings.

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3:25 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden has released the names of his agency review teams, the groups of transition staffers that are typically afforded access to key agencies in the current administration to help smooth the transfer of power.

The president’s transition team released the names of hundreds of people on the teams. They’ll collect and review information ranging from budgetary and staffing decisions, pending regulations and other work in progress from current staff at the federal departments.

It remains unclear, however, how much engagement the Biden transition staffers will have with their counterparts at the various government agencies because President Donald Trump’s administration has yet to formally recognize Biden as the president-elect. A formal recognition from the General Services Administration is needed to allow Biden transition staff access to federal workers and much of the information they’ll need.

More than half of the staff on the teams are women, and approximately 40% “represent communities historically underrepresented in the federal government, including people of color, people who identify as LGBTQ+, and people with disabilities.”

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3:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump has created a new leadership PAC as he continues to refuse to concede the election to to President-elect Joe Biden.

Paperwork for the Save America political action committee was filed with the Federal Election Commission on Monday evening.

Campaign emails soliciting money for the president’s “OFFICIAL ELECTION DEFENSE FUND!” now direct to a website that shows contributions will now be split among Save America, the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee.

And 60% of each contribution will go to Save America, up to $5,000.

The committee will allow Trump to maintain his political influence even after he leaves office by raising and distributing money for candidates, along with funding travel, polling and other campaign costs.

Trump has not ruled out running again in 2024 after losing his reelection bid.

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3:05 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden says President Donald Trump’s failure to recognize his victory is an “embarrassment.”

It marked the sharpest critique yet from the incoming president at the incumbent, as Trump’s team has refused to formally begin preparations for the transition.

Taking questions from reporters Tuesday for the first time since his victory, Biden predicted that “it will not help the president’s legacy.”

Biden says regardless of the Trump administration’s actions, his planning to assume power on Jan. 20 is continuing as scheduled.

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3:03 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden says he hopes Democrats pick up two Senate seats in January’s runoff elections but doesn’t fear getting his Cabinet picks through the chamber if it stays in Republican hands.

Biden said in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday that he is “not a pessimist” and takes Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “at his word” in saying that he would work with him on getting nominees in position.

Biden said he hoped the two Democrats competing in January Senate runoffs in Georgia would be able to shift the chamber back toward Democratic control. If the Senate were to be evenly divided, it would be up to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to break a tie.

Biden also said he hopes to be able to announce some of his Cabinet picks before Thanksgiving.

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3 p.m.

Joe Biden says his transition team will not be taking legal action to try to force the Trump administration to officially acknowledge him as the president-elect.

Biden told reporters Tuesday that “I don’t see a need for legal action, quite frankly.”

Much of the formal transition work doesn’t begin until the administrator of the General Services Administration ascertains the “apparent successful candidate” in the election, and that has not happened yet amid legal challenges by President Donald Trump to election results in some states.

The GSA’s failure to designate Biden the official winner bars the Democrat and his team from receiving federal funds for his transition and from getting access to the agencies they’ll need to work with to smooth the transition of power.

He also is not receiving a daily classified briefing on security threats typically afforded to the president-elect.

Biden said that the briefing “would be useful, but it’s not necessary,” and that his transition team didn’t need the federal funds to continue their work. He says, “We don’t see anything slowing us down.”

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2:50 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden says “nothing going to stop” his administration’s moving forward despite President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede the race.

Biden said in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday that his transition is “well underway” and that he is reviewing potential Cabinet picks and other positions.

Biden said some Republicans’ denial of his victory “is not at much consequence in our plan and what we’re able to do between now and Jan. 20.”

Asked by a reporter what he would say to Trump, Biden said, “Mr. President, looking forward to speaking with you.”

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2:47 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden says the Republican-backed challenge to the Affordable Care Act in the Supreme Court is “cruel and needlessly divisive.” But he’s promising that, regardless of the outcome of that lawsuit, he will enact reforms to expand coverage when he’s in office in January.

During remarks Tuesday in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden warned that if the lawsuit is successful, millions of Americans would lose health care coverage during the coronavirus pandemic. He characterized the lawsuit as an “effort to bypass the will of the American people, the verdict of the courts in the past, the judgments of Congress,” noting that the ACA had weathered previous court challenges and legislative efforts to dismantle it.

But Biden has also acknowledged issues with the ACA, which was the Obama administration’s signature legislative achievement, and pledged to fix it. On Tuesday, Biden said his transition team was working to “flesh out the details” on a plan to get Americans universal health care and lower health care costs “as soon as humanly possible.”

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2:45 p.m.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris says that each vote for President-elect Joe Biden was in support of the Affordable Care Act he helped craft during the Obama administration.

During remarks Tuesday in Wilmington, Delaware, Harris said that Biden “won the election decisively,” and that “every vote for Joe Biden was a statement that health care in America should be a right, not a privilege.”

Harris also noted that, if the Affordable Care Act is dismantled, “communities of color would be hit particularly hard … because they are at a greater risk for preexisting conditions,” as well as complications from the coronavirus.

Harris spoke ahead of remarks from Biden and following oral arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court. Earlier Tuesday, justices heard oral arguments from opponents of the health care program, arguing the 10-year-old statute was rendered unconstitutional in its entirety when Congress dialed down to zero a penalty on those remaining uninsured.

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2:15 p.m.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is brushing aside results of last week’s presidential election showing that President Donald Trump lost his bid for a second term.

Pompeo told reporters Tuesday with a grin that the “transition” to a second Trump term would be “smooth,” but later said the State Department was prepared for any eventuality. Trump has refused to concede to President-elect Joe Biden.

Pompeo ignored results showing that Biden had won the election, and he also dismissed as “ridiculous” questions about whether the U.S. had lost credibility as a judge of other countries’ election because of Trump’s unproven claims of fraud at the polls.

“There will be a smooth transition to second Trump administration, “ Pompeo said with a chuckle, before reverting to a more nuanced response. “We’re ready. The world is watching what’s taking place here. We’re going to count all the votes.”

He said the “world should have every confidence” that the State Department is “successful today” and that it will be “successful with the president who’s in office on Jan. 20 a minute after noon.”

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12:55 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden has spoken to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, leaders of three of the United States’ most important European allies.

Johnson’s support for Brexit and warm relationship with President Donald Trump have made many Democrats wary, but he was nonetheless among the first European leaders to congratulate Biden in a phone call.

Johnson’s office said the two men “discussed the close and longstanding relationship” between the two countries and promised to strengthen those bonds in areas including trade and security. In the 25-minute call, they also promised to work on “shared priorities, from tackling climate change, to promoting democracy, and building back better from the coronavirus pandemic,” Downing St. said.

“Build back better” is a slogan that Biden and the British government have in common.

Johnson invited Biden to attend the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow next November and said he looked forward to seeing him at a G-7 summit that the U.K. is due to host in 2021.

The French president’s office released a video of Macron in his office, offering congratulations to Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris during a call on Tuesday afternoon.

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11:50 a.m.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, will leave his job as a partner with a high-profile law firm to focus on his role in the new Biden administration.

A campaign spokeswoman said Tuesday that Emhoff will sever ties with DLA Piper by Inauguration Day. Emhoff took a leave of absence from the firm in August, when Harris was named Joe Biden’s running mate. Biden and Harris will be inaugurated Jan. 20.

While Emhoff is not a lobbyist, the firm has lobbied the federal government on behalf of a range of corporate clients. Ethics experts say that connection could have presented an appearance of conflicts of interest as the Biden administration tries to restore trust and ethics in government following President Donald Trump’s norm-shattering presidency.

Emhoff is working with the transition team to determine the issues he will take on as the vice presidential spouse. He is the first man to hold that role, as Harris is the nation’s first female vice president.

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11:20 a.m.

U.S. defense officials said James Anderson, the top policy adviser at the Pentagon, submitted his resignation Tuesday, a day after President Donald Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper. Anderson has been the acting undersecretary for policy since June. Previously he served as the deputy undersecretary since his confirmation for that job in August 2018.

Trump’s firing of Esper comes as he has refused to concede his election loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

Defense officials spoke about Anderson’s resignation on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters.

A wide range of policy staff positions in the Pentagon have been filled with people on an acting basis over the past year or more, as a number of staff have left or have not been confirmed.

Chris Miller, who was tapped to serve as the Pentagon chief on Monday after Esper was fired, was in his second day in the building, meeting with top staff.

— AP writer Lolita C. Baldor

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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