Trump-Biden transition updates: Biden says Georgia ‘taught Trump a lesson’Wed, December 16, 2020 by ABC NewsSHARE NOW Bill Chizek/iStockHomePoliticsTrump-Biden transition updates: Biden says Georgia ‘taught Trump a lesson’By LIBBY CATHEY, ABC News(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump is slated to hand over control of the White House to President-elect Joe Biden in 36 days.Here is how the transition is unfolding. All times Eastern:Dec 16, 12:39 amBiden expected to name former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy as WH climate czar: SourcePresident-elect Joe Biden is expected to name Gina McCarthy, who served as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Barack Obama, his top domestic climate policy aide, according to a source familiar with the decision.McCarthy, who currently serves as the president of the National Resources Defense Council, is expected to coordinate domestic efforts to slow climate change across the administration from the White House.It’s the second climate-focused White House position created by Biden, following his decision to enlist former Secretary of State John Kerry to serve as a climate envoy, coordinating policy with other countries.In addition to her work in the Obama administration as EPA administrator from 2013-2017, McCarthy served as commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, and in several similar posts in Massachusetts, where she advised several governors on environmental issues.Dec 15, 9:09 pmHouse Republicans still vying to challenge election results, though lack Senate supportSome of President Trump’s Republican allies are still committed to challenging the 2020 election results on the floor of the House of Representatives next month — even as Senate Republicans have begun acknowledging Biden’s status as the president-elect.“I have a choice — I can either fight, or I can join the surrender caucus,” Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Alabama, one of the leaders of the effort to challenge the certification of the Electoral College, told ABC News.Brooks said Monday’s Electoral College vote hasn’t changed his plans, but he has yet to find a GOP senator to back him. Without one, he can’t force Congress to debate and vote on whether to accept a given state’s slate of electors.“This is purely performative,” Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center, told ABC News of the long-shot challenge, comparing it to the Texas Supreme Court lawsuit that unsuccessfully sought to overturn the results in several key states.Forcing senators on the record “purely creates political pain right now for Republicans,” he said.Republican leaders in the Senate, wary of such a vote, have also privately discouraged members from signing on.Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, soon after recognizing Biden as the president-elect, warned Republicans on a conference call that a Jan. 6 fight over electors would be a “terrible vote” and divisive for the party, sources familiar with the comments told ABC News.Dec 15, 8:44 pmBiden expected to name Granholm to lead Department of EnergyBiden is expected to name former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm to head the Department of Energy, sources familiar with the decision confirmed to ABC News on Tuesday.That would make Granholm, 61, the ninth woman Biden has nominated so far to serve in his cabinet. If confirmed by the Senate, the former two-term governor would be just the second woman to lead the Energy Department.A source familiar with the transition team’s thinking pointed to Granholm’s work with Biden in Michigan during the 2009 recovery that rescued the U.S. auto industry and led to investments in green energy jobs in the state — something Biden’s ambitious infrastructure plan would also seek to invest in.Dec 15, 7:42 pmBiden officially nominates Buttigieg for transportation secretaryBiden has announced his intention to nominate Pete Buttigieg to serve as his secretary of transportation, as earlier reported by ABC News.If confirmed, Buttigieg, 38, would be the youngest pick yet for Biden’s cabinet and the first non-acting LGBTQ department head in history.In a statement, Biden called Buttigieg a “patriot and a problem-solver,” and said he was nominating the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, “because this position stands at the nexus of so many of the interlocking challenges and opportunities ahead of us” — jobs, infrastructure, equity and climate.Buttigieg said he was honored to be asked to serve in the position.“This is a moment of tremendous opportunity — to create jobs, meet the climate challenge, and enhance equity for all,” he tweeted following the announcement.Dec 15, 4:34 pmBiden, at Atlanta rally for Senate runoffs, says Georgia ‘taught Trump a lesson’Biden touched down in Atlanta Tuesday afternoon to stump for Democratic Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock as the balance of power in the upper chamber — and Biden’s hopes to pass big-ticket legislation in the incoming administration — hangs on two runoffs races in Georgia. As the first Democrat to win Georgia’s presidential race since 1992, he kicked off the event by thanking supporters.“Georgia, let me start with two simple words: Thank you,” Biden said to honking horns at the drive-in rally.“Your votes were counted and counted and counted again,” Biden added with a smirk, referring to the fact that votes were counted three times in the state due to audits and recounts. “I am starting to feel like I won Georgia three times.”Biden went on to argue that Georgia “taught Donald Trump a lesson” in turning out the vote and should do the same for its Democratic contenders.“In this election, Georgia wasn’t going to be bullied, Georgia wasn’t going to be silenced, Georgia certainly wasn’t going to stand by and let Donald Trump or the state of Texas or anyone else come in here and toss out your votes,” Biden said.“But you know, you know who did stand by? You know who did nothing while Trump, Texas and others were trying to wipe out every single one of the almost 5 million votes you had cast here in Georgia in November? Your two Republican senators, they stood by,” Biden said. “You might want to remember that come Jan. 5.”“Maybe they think they represent Texas. Well, if you want to do the bidding of Texas, you should be running in Texas, not in Georgia,” he added.Calling out GOP Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Purdue, Biden said Georgia’s senators “fully embraced” nullifying five million Georgia votes — while Ossoff and Warnock stand up for democracy, he said. Loeffler and Purdue had released a statement in support of the Texas case the Supreme Court has since refused to hear.Dec 15, 4:18 pmState Department receiving its first COVID-19 vaccines this weekThe State Department is receiving its first COVID-19 vaccines this week, according to an internal email from a senior official obtained by ABC News.The “very limited number” of vaccines the department will receive will go to a small group of employees deemed mission critical or most at-risk, including front-line medical personnel and those serving in three countries with poor health care systems, Under Secretary of State for Management Brian Bulatao said in his email.“While we would have preferred to vaccinate our entire Department workforce at once, we will have to do so incrementally based on vaccine availability,” Bulatao said, noting the agency is working with the Pentagon’s Operation Warp Speed and the Department of Health and Human Services on this.Bulatao did not say how many vaccines the agency will get but identified five groups of employees who will begin receiving them: Front-line medical personnel, including the doctors and nurses serving in Washington, D.C., and at embassies overseas; employees at the agency’s 24/7 watch center; those working on “critical operations, maintenance, and custodial staff”; “mission-critical” diplomatic security staff in DC; and American personnel serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, where “local conditions… can exacerbate the disease burden and the challenges of providing medical support services in these locations.”It’s unclear whether that includes Secretary of State Mike Pompeo himself and his staff, although they likely fall under Bulatao’s “critical operations” category and his diplomatic security detail appear to make the list. Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller was vaccinated on Monday, the only cabinet secretary to get one so far.A State Department spokesperson declined to offer details of the agency’s plans, citing “operational sensitivity,” but added in a statement to ABC News that any vaccines obtained through Operation Warp Speed will “allow the Department to advance U.S. national security interests and ensure America’s essential diplomacy continues unimpeded.”-ABC News’ Conor FinneganDec 15, 2:27 pmBiden expected to name Buttigieg for transportation secretaryBiden is expected to name former 2020 rival and South Bend Mayor, Pete Buttigieg to head the Department of Transportation, sources familiar with the transition tell ABC News.If confirmed Buttigieg, 38 would be the youngest pick yet for Biden’s cabinet, and the first openly gay cabinet secretary approved by the U.S. Senate to serve in U.S. history.Buttigieg endorsed Biden in March shortly after ending his own presidential campaign and campaigned on behalf of Biden during the general election. Biden, spoke highly of Buttigieg following his endorsement, saying he reminded Biden on his late son, Beau.-ABC News’ Molly Nagle, Justin Gomez and Katherine FauldersDec 15, 1:48 pmBiden says he had a ‘good conversation’ with McConnell Speaking on the tarmac in Delaware ahead of his trip to Georgia to campaign for Democratic candidates in the Senate runoffs there, Biden confirmed he spoke with Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell — who acknowledged Biden’s victory for the first time on Tuesday — saying they had a “good conversation” and expressed his hope that they could work together in the future.“I had a good conversation with Mitch McConnell today. We talked — so I called to thank him for the congratulations, told him although we disagree on a lot of things, there’s things we can work together on. We’ve always been straight with one another, and we agreed we’d get together sooner than later. And I’m looking forward to working with him,” Biden said.Biden went on to tell reporters that he has been speaking with other members of Congress, saying about “a dozen” have been calling him. Biden promised to tell the press who he has spoken to.“I just want you to know I spoke with him, and I’ve been calling other members. I spoke with some other members as well,” Biden said. “As I tick them off I’ll tell you who’s calling.”Asked when he would receive the coronavirus vaccine, which Biden has said he’ll do publicly, he confirmed that it would be soon but stressed that he wanted to do it “by the numbers.”“Dr. Fauci recommends I get the vaccine sooner than later.I want to just make sure we do it by the numbers, and we do it — but when I do it, you’ll have notice and we’ll do it publicly,” Biden said.-ABC News’ Sarah Kolinovsky, John Verhovek and Molly NagleDec 15, 1:02 pmABC: Assistant secretary of state resigning, the first senior State Dept. official to do so after electionThe top State Department official for conflict operations is resigning, according to internal emails obtained by ABC News.Denise Natali, the assistant secretary of state for conflict and stabilization operations, will depart the agency Friday, telling her staff in an email Tuesday, “It has been an honor to work with you for the past two years. I am extremely grateful for your commitment, hard work, and support.”“You are making significant contributions to U.S. foreign policy, particularly in carrying out our mission to anticipate, prevent, and respond to conflict that undermines U.S. national interests. I am very proud of what you have accomplished and am confident that you will continue to do great work in the years ahead,” she added.Natali is the first senior department official appointed by Trump and confirmed by the Senate to resign after Biden defeated their boss in the 2020 presidential election. Jim Jeffrey, a veteran diplomat who was Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s special envoy for Syria, departed in November.A State Department spokesperson confirmed to ABC News her last day is Friday.Natali joined the Trump administration in October 2018 from the National Defense University. During her tenure, she led U.S. delegations from Colombia to Niger to Bulgaria on countering violent extremism, coordinating responses with U.S. allies, reintegrating terrorist fighters and stabilizing conflict-ridden countries.Her note made no mention of the 2020 election. But the department has been working with Biden’s transition team, providing briefings and office space, even as Pompeo has yet to fully acknowledge Biden’s victory. The agency “will do everything that’s required by law” to facilitate the transition, he said on Nov. 24, two weeks after quipping there would be a “smooth transition to a second Trump administration.”CNN reported Tuesday that includes a meeting this Thursday between him and Biden’s choice to succeed him, Anthony Blinken, which would be their first. A State Department spokesperson told ABC News, “There is no meeting planned or confirmed,” after Pompeo told the Washington Examiner Monday they’ll meet “at the right time.”-ABC News’ Conor FinneganDec 15, 12:03 pmBiden inaugural committee confirms plans for swearing in at Capitol, encourages public to stay homeThe Presidential Inaugural Committee, in a new statement Tuesday, has confirmed that Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will take their oaths of office at the U.S. Capitol in an inauguration that will include “vigorous health and safety protocols” and a “reimagined” parade.“Our goal is to create an inauguration that keeps people safe, honors the grand traditions of the Presidency, and showcases the Biden-Harris Administration’s renewed American vision for an inclusive, equitable, and unified citizenry,” said committee CEO Tony Allen in the statement.Organizers are encouraging people to stay home and not travel to Washington, D.C., for the inauguration as Biden tries to model good public health behavior amid the worsening coronavirus pandemic. The limited festivities will be produced by Stephanie Cutter and Ricky Kirshner, who put together the Democratic National Convention program over the summer. Much like the DNC, the inauguration will have several virtual elements.Capitol officials have already confirmed that they plan to implement coronavirus testing for everyone expected to come into close contact with Biden and Harris on Jan. 20.The committee’s statement also announced that Dr. David Kessler, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner who is advising Biden’s transition, will be the inaugural committee’s chief medical adviser.-ABC News’ Benjamin SiegelDec 15, 11:29 amSchumer calls on GOP to follow McConnell’s lead and recognize Biden winShortly after McConnell called Biden the president-elect for the first time, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in his floor remarks Tuesday urged the president and other Republicans to follow McConnell’s lead.“For the sake of the country, President Trump should take his cue from Leader McConnell that it’s time to end his term with a modicum of grace and dignity,” Schumer said.“Enough is enough,” he continued. “Our Republican colleagues for the sake of our democracy, for the sake of the peaceful transition of power should stop the shenanigans, stop the misrepresentations and acknowledge that Joe Biden will be the next president.”-ABC News’ Allison Pecorin and Trish TurnerDec 15, 10:52 amTrump retweets attorney who said Georgia officials are ‘going to jail’ without citing evidence of a crimeTrump has retweeted conservative attorney Lin Wood, who slammed Georgia Gov. Brain Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Twitter Tuesday saying, without citing evidence of a crime, that they’re “going to jail.”“President Trump @realDonaldTrump is a genuinely good man. He does not really like to fire people. I bet he dislikes putting people in jail, especially ‘Republicans.’ He gave @BrianKempGA & @GaSecofState every chance to get it right. They refused. They will soon be going to jail,” Wood said in the tweet Trump retweeted to his 88 million followers.Kemp and Raffensperger have both said they are strong supporters of the president and voted for him, but they’ve upheld the integrity of their state’s election and have seen no evidence of widespread voter fraud.An apparently altered photo of the two officials wearing face masks bearing the flag of China accompanied the tweets.It’s unclear why Wood believes Trump has the authority to put the two Republicans officials in jail as he suggested. Wood, along with fellow pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell, filed a lawsuit earlier this month seeking to stop the certification of the state vote and naming Kemp, Raffensperger and other Georgia election officials. The suit has since been dismissed.Dec 15, 10:24 amMcConnell congratulates Biden for first timeSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in Congress, acknowledged Biden’s win for the first time from the Senate floor Tuesday morning after weeks of holding out.“Our country has officially a president-elect and a vice-president elect,” McConnell said. “The Electoral College has spoken, so today I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden.”McConnell also congratulated Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on historic nature of her win.His acknowledgement comes one day after the Electoral College cemented Biden’s victory. Now that McConnell has accepted the incoming adminstration, it’s expected other Congressional Republicans will fall in line.Before McConnell took the floor, Senate Chaplain Barry Black opened Tuesday’s session by saying the Electoral College decision has been accepted and callings for blessings in his opening prayer on “President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.”-ABC News’ Trish TurnerDec 15, 9:58 amOverview: Biden heads to Georgia to campaign in Senate runoffsFresh off the Electoral College affirming his win, Biden is returning to the campaign trail Tuesday to stump for Georgia’s Senate runoffs and the promise he could pass the big ticket legislation through Congress he’s hoping for — as the balance of power in the incoming Senate hangs on two seats there.Biden is slated to speak at an afternoon, drive-in rally in Atlanta for Democratic Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock, challengers to sitting GOP Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Purdue in the Jan. 5 runoff. Early voting kicked off in Georgia Monday.After the Electoral College officially cemented his victory Monday, Biden delivered his strongest rebuke of Trump and his ongoing challenges to the election’s outcome in a primetime address, calling on the country to move on and noting that Trump hasn’t been able to prove the allegations of fraud he’s made.“The integrity of our elections remains intact. And now it is time to turn the page, as we’ve done throughout our history. To unite. To heal,” Biden said.The pressure is now on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to do just that as he’s yet to publicly acknowledge Biden’s win even as some Senate Republicans — and Russian President Vladimir Putin — have done so since the Electoral College vote.Trump has no public events on his schedule Tuesday — refusing to acknowledge both his election loss and the country’s worsening death toll from the coronavirus pandemic — but continues to air his grievances with the election and a litany of false claims on Twitter.The president also announced on Twitter Monday Attorney General William Barr is resigning from the administration before Christmas — with only a month left to go.Dec 15, 10:29 amPutin congratulates Biden on winning electionAfter weeks of holding out, Russian President Vladimir Putin has congratulated Biden on winning the presidential election following Monday’s Electoral College voting affirming Biden’s win.According to the Kremlin in a statement released Tuesday, “Vladimir Putin wished the president-elect every success and expressed confidence that Russia and the United States, which bear special responsibility for global security and stability, can, despite their differences, effectively contribute to solving many problems and meeting challenges that the world is facing today.”“For my part, I am ready for interaction and contact with you,” Putin added, according to the Kremlin.While Putin has now congratulated the president-elect on his victory, Republican leadership in Congress still has not — at least not publicly.Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. 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