‘Numbers Don’t Lie,’ Says Official Who Will Certify Biden’s Georgia Win

LiveUpdated Nov. 20, 2020, 10:14 a.m. ETNov. 20, 2020, 10:14 a.m. ET

Georgia’s secretary of state will formally declare President-elect Joe Biden the winner of the state’s 16 electoral votes, dealing a blow to President Trump’s effort to overturn the national election. Mr. Biden will meet with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer today.

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On Friday, Georgia election officials will certify that President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. won the state’s electoral votes after a hand recount was concluded.CreditCredit…Megan Varner/Getty Images

ATLANTA — Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, will certify the state’s presidential election results on Friday, likely between 10 a.m. and noon Eastern, making official the victory of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. there and ensuring that he would receive Georgia’s 16 electoral votes.

The certification will follow a hand recount of nearly five million votes that Georgia election workers performed over the past week. The recount found that Mr. Biden beat President Trump by more than 12,000 votes.

Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs described the likely certification timeline in a text message Friday morning. At 8 a.m., Mr. Raffensperger, a Republican gave a news conference at the state capitol in which he stated, as he has numerous times, that Mr. Biden had won Georgia.

“Working as an engineer throughout my life, I live by the motto that numbers don’t lie,” Mr. Raffensperger said. “I believe that the numbers that we have presented today are correct.”

The official documentation of Mr. Biden’s triumph in Georgia, a state no Democrat had won in nearly three decades, underscored the resurgent power of the party. It also bolstered Mr. Biden’s electoral tally over Mr. Trump, who has refused to concede or acknowledge his loss. Georgia brings Mr. Biden to 306 electoral votes — the total Mr. Trump won in 2016 and called a “landslide.”

The certification of the votes in Georgia comes amid significant political turmoil and pressure. Mr. Raffensperger, a Republican, was accused of mismanaging the election by Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, Georgia Republicans who are facing high-stakes runoff races in January that will determine party control of the Senate. Both are ardent supporters of Mr. Trump, who has made baseless claims that the election was tainted by fraud.

Mr. Raffensperger has asserted since Election Day that the process he was charged with overseeing was trustworthy.

Last week, the Trump administration demanded a hand recount of the more than five million ballots cast in Georgia’s 159 counties. Mr. Raffensperger subsequently ordered the recount, saying it was part of a “risk-limiting audit” of the votes.

The audit, which spanned six days and involved hundreds of employees, uncovered a number of uncounted ballots in four counties.

The audited vote totals showed that Mr. Biden defeated Mr. Trump by 12,284 votes, with Mr. Trump gaining 1,872 net votes compared with a tally officials gave earlier in the week. The newly discovered ballots ate into Mr. Biden’s statewide lead, which stood at 14,156 votes earlier this week.

By law, the secretary of state was obliged to certify the election results before 5 p.m. on Friday. Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, must then certify the results by 5 p.m. on Saturday. (The law states that the governor “shall certify the slates of presidential electors receiving the highest number of votes,” which appears to give him no choice but to choose electors who support Mr. Biden.)

Although there is no mandatory recount law in the state, the loser can ask for one if the margin of victory is less than half a percentage point, as is the case in Georgia. Mr. Trump will have two business days to do so. If he does, the recount will be done by high-speed scanning machines, a much faster process than a hand count.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, will meet in person with President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. for the first time since the election.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, will meet in person with President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. for the first time since the election. Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will meet in person today with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, two Democratic aides said. President Trump is set to have a meeting of his own with two Michigan lawmakers as part of his brazen attempt to upend Mr. Biden’s electoral victory.

The two meetings come as the nation continues to be led by a president who refuses to concede the election and is using lawsuits, divisive language and pressure tactics to try to overturn the results.

“Incredibly damaging messages are being sent to the rest of the world about how democracy functions,” Mr. Biden said on Thursday, adding that Mr. Trump would be remembered as “one of the most irresponsible presidents in American history.”

Mr. Biden, Democrats and a small number of Republicans have been urging the president to focus on fighting a surging pandemic and bolstering economic recovery. Democratic lawmakers have also said it is past time for Emily W. Murphy, the head of the General Services Administration, to issue a letter of “ascertainment” that would allow Mr. Biden’s transition team to receive funds and other resources to start the transfer of power.

Mr. Biden’s and Ms. Harris’s meeting in Wilmington, Del., with Mr. Schumer and Ms. Pelosi will be the first in-person meeting among the leaders since the election. The Biden transition team did not say what they would discuss, but in a call with the two Democratic leaders last week, the president-elect talked about the coronavirus and the economy. The meeting on Friday was reported earlier by Bloomberg.

Mr. Trump’s meeting with Mike Shirkey, Michigan’s Senate majority leader, and Lee Chatfield, the speaker of the House, who are both Republicans, is scheduled to be held in the White House days before the state certifies Mr. Biden as the winner of its 16 electoral votes.

The meeting comes on the heels of the Georgia secretary of state’s office reaffirming that Mr. Biden had defeated Mr. Trump in the state, becoming the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Georgia since 1992. Hours before that, a federal judge had rejected a last-minute effort by a supporter of Mr. Trump’s to halt certification of votes in the state.

As the president’s lawsuits to overturn Mr. Biden’s victory in key states continued to fail, his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani continued to make baseless claims that the election had been subject to widespread voter fraud.

And even as Mr. Trump’s attempts to subvert the electoral process became more pronounced, many congressional Republicans, with the exception of Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, continued to stand by his side and refuse to acknowledge that he had lost the presidency.

President Trump's strategy has become clear over two days of increasingly frenetic action by an executive who is 62 days from losing power.
President Trump’s strategy has become clear over two days of increasingly frenetic action by an executive who is 62 days from losing power.Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election are unprecedented in American history and an even more audacious use of brute political force to gain the White House than when Congress gave Rutherford B. Hayes the presidency during Reconstruction.

Mr. Trump’s chances of succeeding are somewhere between remote and impossible, and a sign of his desperation after President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. won by nearly six million popular votes and counting, as well as a clear Electoral College margin. Yet the fact that Mr. Trump is even trying has set off widespread alarms, not least in Mr. Biden’s camp.

“I’m confident he knows he hasn’t won,” Mr. Biden said at a news conference in Wilmington, Del., on Thursday, before adding, “It’s just outrageous what he’s doing.” Although Mr. Biden dismissed Mr. Trump’s behavior as embarrassing, he acknowledged that “incredibly damaging messages are being sent to the rest of the world about how democracy functions.”

Mr. Trump has only weeks to make his last-ditch effort work: Most of the states he needs to strip Mr. Biden of votes are scheduled to certify their electors by the beginning of next week. The electors cast their ballots on Dec. 14, and Congress opens them in a joint session on Jan. 6.

Even if Mr. Trump somehow pulled it off, there are other safeguards in place to face the challenge, assuming people in power do not simply bend to the president’s will.

The first test will be Michigan, where Mr. Trump is trying to get the State Legislature to overturn Mr. Biden’s 157,000-vote margin of victory. He has taken the extraordinary step of inviting a delegation of state Republican leaders to the White House, hoping to persuade them to ignore the popular vote outcome.

“That’s not going to happen,” Mike Shirkey, the Republican leader of the Michigan State Senate, said on Tuesday. “We are going to follow the law and follow the process.”

Beyond that, Michigan’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, could send Congress a competing electoral slate, based on the election vote, arguing that the proper procedures were ignored. That dispute would create just enough confusion, in Mr. Trump’s Hail Mary calculus, that the House and Senate together would have to resolve it in ways untested in modern times.

Senator Mitt Romney of Utah issued the strongest criticism yet by a high-ranking Republican of President Trump's attempts to overturn the election.
Senator Mitt Romney of Utah issued the strongest criticism yet by a high-ranking Republican of President Trump’s attempts to overturn the election.Credit…Samuel Corum for The New York Times

In the strongest criticism of President Trump by a fellow high-ranking Republican so far, Senator Mitt Romney of Utah on Thursday night excoriated the president on Twitter for his continuing and overwhelmingly unsuccessful efforts to overturn his election defeat earlier this month to Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Mr. Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, said that the president had exhausted his legal challenges in several battleground states and had resorted to trying to defy the will of the voters.

His rebuke of Mr. Trump came on the same day that the president invited Republican state leaders in Michigan to the White House to discuss their efforts to stop the certification of the election results in the state.

“Having failed to make even a plausible case of widespread fraud or conspiracy before any court of law, the president has now resorted to overt pressure on state and local officials to subvert the will of the people and overturn the election,” Mr. Romney wrote. “It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American president.”

The relationship between Mr. Trump and Mr. Romney has been tempestuous, with Mr. Romney casting the lone vote by a Republican in the Senate to convict the president of one article of impeachment in February in an otherwise party-line vote. Mr. Trump was acquitted by the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans.

Mr. Romney was not the only member of the Senate to suggest on Thursday that Mr. Trump should stand down.

Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska said in a statement on Thursday night that it was telling that Mr. Trump’s campaign lawyers had refused to “actually allege grand fraud.”

“Because there are legal consequences for lying to judges,” Mr. Sasse said. “President Trump lost Michigan by more than 100,000 votes, and the campaign and its allies have lost in or withdrawn from all five lawsuits in Michigan for being unable to produce any evidence.”

Mr. Sasse said that the efforts of the Trump campaign and Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, to attack the integrity of the election had caused damage.

“Wild press conferences erode public trust,” Mr. Sasse said. “So no, obviously Rudy and his buddies should not pressure electors to ignore their certification obligations under the statute. We are a nation of laws, not tweets.”

“We are going to follow the law and follow the process,” said Mike Shirkey, the Republican majority leader of the Michigan Senate.Credit…Cory Morse/The Grand Rapids Press, via Associated Press

A little-known manufacturing executive serving out his final two years as majority leader of Michigan’s Republican-controlled Senate finds himself thrust into the maelstrom of President Trump’s scheme to subvert the election.

On Thursday, Mr. Trump invited Mike Shirkey, who turns 66 next month, to the White House with other Republican lawmakers — at a moment when he seems to be pressuring officials to overturn President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s decisive victory in the state by appointing new electors.

Mr. Trump may have a tough sell during the meeting, which is expected to take place on Friday, and also include the Republican speaker of the Michigan House, Lee Chatfield.

Mr. Shirkey has committed to heading a legislative inquiry into “numerous allegations” of election irregularities. But he has balked at overturning the results, and publicly questioned the president for not accepting an official accounting that shows Mr. Biden with a lead of nearly 150,000 votes.

Attempts to persuade state lawmakers to change the election outcome in favor of Mr. Trump is “not going to happen,” he told the nonprofit publication Bridge Michigan on Tuesday before the dramatic 24 hours of back-and-forth actions of a four-member board charged with certifying elections in Wayne County.

“We are going to follow the law and follow the process,” said Mr. Shirkey, who endorsed Ben Carson in the 2016 primary but backed Mr. Trump in the general election. “I do believe there’s reason to go slow and deliberate.”

Mr. Shirkey added that he did not expect any of the Trump campaign’s legal challenges would “ultimately change the results of the election.”

He did not respond to requests for comment, and the White House did not say why he had been summoned.

As a Republican leader in his state, Mr. Shirkey has tried to maintain political equilibrium, opposing efforts by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, to close businesses and schools to fight the pandemic — while resisting efforts to impeach her.

Before being elected to the Senate in 2015, Mr. Shirkey served four years in the Michigan House of Representatives, worked for General Motors, and founded Orbitform, which produces prototypes for manufacturers at a facility in the southern part of the state.

He will be forced to retire under the state’s term limits law on Jan. 1, 2023.

In his interview with Bridge Michigan, he went further than most Republicans in accepting Mr. Biden’s win, urging Mr. Trump to begin facilitating the transition.

“I do think that it’s inappropriate for the Trump administration to not start sharing information,” Mr. Shirkey said.

Mr. Chatfield has been more equivocal, tweeting on Nov. 6 that every “legal vote needs to be counted” and “whoever gets the most votes will win Michigan! Period. End of story. Then we move on.”

Roger W. Ferguson Jr., outgoing chief executive of TIAA, is said to be under consideration for a role in President-elect Joseph R. Biden's cabinet.
Roger W. Ferguson Jr., outgoing chief executive of TIAA, is said to be under consideration for a role in President-elect Joseph R. Biden’s cabinet. Credit…John Lamparski/Getty Images

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has made assembling a diverse team a priority. He also faces pressure from the progressive wing of his party to limit corporate influence on hires for his administration, avoiding candidates from Wall Street or company boardrooms. But some business leaders suggested to the DealBook newsletter that narrowing the candidate pool that way wouldn’t help create a more representative administration.

“Big business is here to help,” said Ronald C. Parker, the chief executive of the National Association of Securities Professionals. Women and people of color in business have “a unique experience that lends itself to being heard,” he said. This week, the N.A.S.P. and seven other trade groups sent a letter to Mr. Biden urging him to prioritize diversity in top economic policy positions and to “reject demands for a blanket exclusion on potential appointees with experience in the corporate sector or financial services field specifically.”

Roger W. Ferguson Jr., one of the most prominent Black executives in the financial industry, recently announced his retirement as the chief executive of TIAA. He is said to be on the short list for Treasury secretary, and gets Mr. Parker’s support.

Only 10 of 327 appointments to federal financial agency posts requiring congressional confirmation over the years have been Black, according to a report by Chris Brummer at the Institute of International Economic Law at Georgetown. Earlier this month, Mr. Brummer was named a member of Mr. Biden’s Treasury Department advisory review team.

The obstacle to more diverse hiring “is not the skill set, it’s the relationships,” said Petal P. Walker of the law firm WilmerHale, formerly a chief counsel at the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. People tend to hire those with whom they golf or grab a drink, she said, so it takes “intentional action” to break down established cliques.

The calls to reject corporate candidates ignore U.S. history, said Paul Thornell, a former Senate and White House staff member, of the lobbying firm Mehlman Castagnetti. The generational wealth gap created by a long history of discrimination leaves fewer people of color able to afford taking jobs in government or nonprofits. “Groups from the far left throw out edicts,” he said, “but these don’t reflect the realities of the American experience or inequality, the racial wealth gap, and may prove counterproductive to diversify the administration and to implement policies that work for all Americans.”

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