Transition Highlights: After Trump Meeting, Michigan Lawmakers Maintain They Will Follow the Law

Credit…Leah Millis/Reuters

President Trump on Friday suffered another blow to his unprecedented effort to undo the election results when a delegation of Michigan Republicans, after meeting with Mr. Trump at the White House, said that they would “follow the normal process” in certifying the vote results and honor the outcome.

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. won Michigan, and a state board is scheduled to consider certifying the vote on Monday.

While Mr. Trump has made baseless charges of voter fraud in Michigan and elsewhere, Michigan’s top two Republican lawmakers [1]— who had been summoned to the White House by the president — said after the meeting that they had “not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election” in the state. In a statement, they vowed not to interfere with the certification process.

“As legislative leaders, we will follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan’s electors, just as we have said throughout this election,” said the two officials, Mike Shirkey, the leader of the State Senate, and Lee Chatfield, the speaker of the State House.

“Michigan’s certification process should be a deliberate process free from threats and intimidation,” they added. “Allegations of fraudulent behavior should be taken seriously, thoroughly investigated, and if proven, prosecuted to the full extent of the law. And the candidates who win the most votes win elections and Michigan’s 16 electoral votes. These are simple truths that should provide confidence in our elections.”

The lawmakers stopped short of affirming Mr. Biden’s victory in the state in the statement. But they also sent a clear signal that they would abide by the election results.

On Friday evening, people walking past the Trump International Hotel near the White House could see projected images of Mr. Shirkey and Mr. Chatfield and the phrases “The world is watching” and “Voters decided.” It was not clear who was behind it.

Credit…Andre Chung

Here is what we know about the meeting:

  • Mr. Shirkey, Mr. Chatfield, and several other Michigan Republican lawmakers met with Mr. Trump; the length of the conversation and the details of what was said are not yet known. Both legislative leaders had said they would not interfere with the certification process but created a joint committee to look into alleged reports of irregularities.

  • At least two other Republican state lawmakers, Tom Barrett, a state senator, and Jason Wentworth, a state representative who will take over as House speaker in January, were also believed to be at the meeting. Mr. Barrett has been a vocal supporter of Mr. Trump and critic of Michigan’s secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat. He has called for an investigation into what he claims are irregularities in the November election before the results are certified.

  • Notably, Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee and a Michigan native whom Mr. Trump has pressed repeatedly about the state, did not attend Friday’s meeting.

  • The state is currently the focus of Mr. Trump’s dubious efforts to give Republican legislatures the reins to appoint pro-Trump electors in states that Mr. Biden won, tipping the Electoral College in the president’s favor when it meets on Dec. 14. Legal experts say the strategy is virtually sure to fail.

  • It was not immediately clear who attended the meeting from Mr. Trump’s staff. But multiple people briefed on the event said the White House Counsel’s Office was not sending anyone to attend, partly because it was not a White House issue.

Credit…Nicole Craine for The New York Times

ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia on Friday certified 16 presidential electors for Joseph R. Biden Jr., after his office accepted the certification of the results showing that the former vice president won the state by 12,670 votes.

The formality most likely seals Mr. Biden’s victory in the Southern state, although President Trump may still demand a machine recount.

It was an early milestone in the state-by-state process of making Mr. Biden’s victory final, a process that is set to unfold in the coming days as Mr. Trump continues to deny his defeat and cry fraud and his campaign and its surrogates inundate the courts with largely baseless lawsuits that have so far been unsuccessful.

The governor’s move came after Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, announced Friday afternoon that his office had certified the election results.

State law mandates that the governor then take the step of certifying the selection of the state’s 16 electors.

“I live by the motto that numbers don’t lie,” Mr. Raffensperger, Georgia’s top election official and a Republican, said at a Friday morning news conference.

But Mr. Kemp, a Republican who was elected to office in 2018 with the backing of Mr. Trump, did not declare Mr. Biden the winner of the election in his brief speech. Rather, he focused on the fact that a hand-recount of the state’s five million ballots, which had been completed earlier in the week, found several hundred ballots had been erroneously left out of the first count — discoveries that slightly reduced Mr. Biden’s margin of victory.

“This is simply unacceptable,” Mr. Kemp said.

Indeed, much of Mr. Kemp’s speech was given over to concerns about the integrity of the election in Georgia, which Mr. Trump has repeatedly claimed was rife with fraud, without presenting evidence. Mr. Raffensperger has maintained that the results of the election were valid.

Mr. Kemp noted that Georgia was facing competitive runoff elections for its two Senate seats, which are currently held by Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. He said that Georgia needed to solve the problems with uncounted ballots that the hand-recount identified.

“We demand complete explanations for all discrepancies identified so that our citizens will have complete confidence in our elections,” he said.

Mr. Kemp also seemed to address Mr. Trump’s unfounded concern that it was “impossible” for Georgia officials “to check & match” voters’ signatures on absentee ballots.

Mr. Kemp called upon Mr. Raffensperger to conduct a sample audit to determine potential problems with the state’s protocol that establishes the validity of voters’ signatures on absentee ballot envelopes.

Because Mr. Trump lost the Georgia race by less than half a percentage point, he has the legal right to demand, within two days, a second recount, this one performed by optical-scanning machines.

The news that Georgia’s results had been certified came on Friday several hours after Georgia officials mistakenly made a premature announcement that the certification was complete.

“We had a staffer who sent out the wrong press release,” said Jordan Fuchs, Georgia’s deputy secretary of state.

Credit…Adriana Zehbrauskas for The New York Times

Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, tested positive for the coronavirus at the beginning of the week and has been isolating since Monday, a spokesman for Mr. Trump said on Friday.

He added that Mr. Trump has shown no symptoms and is following virus protocols.

Mr. Trump is the latest person close to the president who has tested positive for Covid-19. Barron Trump, the president’s youngest son, tested positive last month. Melania Trump, the first lady, also tested positive in October. In July, Mr. Trump’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, had tested positive for the virus.

President Trump tested positive for the virus in October and was hospitalized as his symptoms worsened. The president underwent a series of invasive therapies typically reserved for people seriously sick with Covid-19.

Donald Trump Jr.’s announcement comes hours after Rudolph W. Giuliani’s son, Andrew Giuliani, a special assistant to the president, announced on Twitter that he had tested positive. This week, two Republican senators, Rick Scott of Florida and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, also said they had the virus.

After an exposure to the virus, symptoms can take up to 14 days to appear, if they ever appear at all. In that time, the virus can still spread from person to person.

According to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mr. Trump should isolate for at least 10 days following his positive test. The spokesman did not indicate which test Mr. Trump had taken.

In recent months, Mr. Trump has questioned the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic, saying in a Fox News interview that since deaths from the virus had dropped to “almost nothing” the outbreak had come under control. That day deaths in the United States topped 1,000.

Mr. Trump’s diagnosis, reported earlier by Bloomberg[2], comes as the virus is surging across the nation. As of Thursday[3], at least 1,962 new coronavirus deaths and 187,428 new cases were reported in the United States.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris met on Friday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, the first in-person gathering of the Democratic leaders since the election[4].

In a one-minute photo opportunity with reporters, Mr. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris were seated in a conference room at a large table with Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer. All were masked and sat several feet from one another.

“In my Oval Office, me casa, you casa,” Mr. Biden joked, drawing chuckles from the others. “I hope we’re going to spend a lot of time together.”

Ms. Pelosi gave Mr. Biden a white orchid to celebrate his 78th birthday, according to an aide.

In a joint statement afterward, the four Democrats said the meeting was focused on the need “to pass a bipartisan emergency aid package in the lame duck session,” one that included money to fight the coronavirus and provide financial relief to the unemployed, businesses, and state and local governments.

Mr. Biden also discussed his agenda for the first 100 days of his presidency, according to the statement, including his plans to contain the coronavirus and restore the economy, based on “the American people’s mandate for action.”

Jen Psaki, a transition spokeswoman, told reporters earlier in the day that the four leaders were “going to be working in lock step and they are in lock step agreement that there needs to be emergency assistance and aid during the lame duck session to help families, to help small businesses.”

“There’s no more room for delay,” she added.

The meeting came as the nation continues to be led by a president who refuses to concede the election and is using lawsuits[5], divisive language and pressure tactics to try to overturn the results.

Mr. Biden, Democrats and a small number of Republicans have been urging the president to focus on fighting the surging pandemic[6] and bolstering economic recovery.

In recent days, Mr. Biden has spoken repeatedly about the urgent need for Congress to agree on a new stimulus spending package, saying that Senate Republicans should drop their opposition to a measure passed by House Democrats last month. He has made no public suggestion that Democrats should change their position or offer new compromise legislation.

Beyond his meeting with Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer on Friday, Mr. Biden was speaking with “elected officials from both sides of the aisle” about the issue, Ms. Psaki said, but did not offer more specifics.

Credit…Kyodo/Associated Press

The Biden-Harris transition team announced four more staff appointments on Thursday, continuing to plan for a Biden White House even as President Trump pursues groundless efforts to subvert the election results.

Catherine M. Russell will serve as director of the White House Office of Presidential Personnel, overseeing White House staffing issues. During the Obama administration, Ms. Russell served as chief of staff to Jill Biden, then the second lady, and was U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues at the State Department. She has also served as Associate Deputy Attorney General at the Justice Department and as a Senate staffer. She is married to former President Barack Obama’s former national security adviser Tom Donilon, who is the brother of Mr. Biden’s chief political strategist, and who may also be in line for an administration appointment.

Taking over the White House Office of Legislative Affairs will be Louisa Terrell, a former special assistant for legislative affairs to Mr. Obama. A longtime former Capitol Hill aide whose jobs included chief of staff to Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey, Ms. Terrell has also served an adviser to the Federal Communications Commission chairman. In the private sector, she has been deputy general counsel and head of public affairs at McKinsey & Company and the director of public policy at Facebook.

Dr. Biden’s policy director will be Mala Adiga, who served in a similar role in the Biden-Harris campaign. During the Obama administration, she served as a deputy assistant Secretary of State, as chief of staff in the Office of Global Women’s Issues, and as the director for human rights on the National Security Staff. Ms. Adiga, a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, has also served in the Justice Department.

The White House’s social secretary will be Carlos Elizondo, who was the social secretary to the Bidens during the Obama administration and the first Hispanic American to hold that job. The position involves planning and managing official White House events, including state dinners. He also managed protocol and special activities for Walt Disney World and has overseen “operations for a private family estate,” the Biden-Harris transition office said in a statement.

The appointments follow several other staff positions announced earlier this week[7]. Mr. Biden has not yet announced any nominees for cabinet positions.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the retiring chairman of the Senate’s health committee, on Friday became the most senior Republican to directly call on President Trump to begin the transition process for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Though he stopped short of declaring Mr. Biden the winner and said the president had a right to challenge the results until they were final, Mr. Alexander, a three-term senator, former governor and former secretary of education, said those were not reasons enough to wait to begin a vital process.

“If there is any chance whatsoever that Joe Biden will be the next president, and it looks like he has a very good chance, the Trump Administration should provide the Biden team with all transition materials, resources and meetings necessary to ensure a smooth transition so that both sides are ready on Day 1,” he wrote in a statement[8]. “That especially should be true, for example, on vaccine distribution.”

The statement stood out as most high-ranking Republicans in Congress continued to stay silent on Friday as Mr. Trump and his legal team escalated their attempts to undermine the election results and claim victory for the president.

So far, most of those who have spoken against the president, directly or not, have either been retiring or are longstanding critics, like Senators Mitt Romney of Utah and Ben Sasse of Nebraska.

But on Friday, a few new voices began to chime in.

Representative Kay Granger of Texas, the top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, who was just re-elected, told CNN[9] that she had “great concerns” about what Mr. Trump was doing.

“I think that it’s time to move on,” she said.

Representative Paul Mitchell of Michigan, a retiring Republican, wrote in an op-ed published Thursday night in The Detroit News[10] that Mr. Trump’s “continued refusal to acknowledge the election results risks corroding our democracy by literally hollowing it out.”

And a former senator from Mr. Alexander’s home state, Bob Corker, criticized fellow Republicans for failing to challenge Mr. Trump.

“While the president has the right to legitimate legal challenges, responsible citizens cannot let the reckless actions by him and his legal team stand,” Mr. Corker wrote on Twitter[11]. “Republicans have an obligation when the subject is of such importance to challenge demagoguery and patently false statements.”

Mr. Alexander, in his statement, cited the 2000 recount in Florida in the Bush-Gore presidential race to suggest that the current uncertainty was not without precedent, although Al Gore was never declared the victor.

“My hope is that the loser of this presidential election will follow Al Gore’s example, put the country first, congratulate the winner and help him to a good beginning of the new term,” he wrote.




Trump’s Effort to Undermine Election Is ‘Pathetic,’ Biden Lawyer Says

Bob Bauer, the top election lawyer for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., called President Trump’s attempts to overturn Michigan’s election results “an abuse of office” and “doomed to failure.”

No state legislature in our country’s history ever has done what Donald Trump is apparently agitating for the Michigan State Legislature to do, which is to ignore the results of a popular vote election and wrest control from the voters, or attempt to wrest control from the voters, and appoint their own slate of electors to send to Washington. Now the reason it’s never happened before is that it cannot be done. The Constitution does not permit a state legislature to do what Donald Trump wants the Michigan State Legislature to do. The State Legislature has already prescribed the manner in which the electors in 2020 were to be chosen, and that is through the popular vote. They cannot after the fact turn around and change those rules retroactively. It is an abuse of office. It’s an open attempt to intimidate election officials. It’s absolutely appalling, actually, in the context of all these losses and the record of failure that I’ve just described. It’s also pathetic. But having said all of that, it will be unsuccessful. On the one hand, this is really very harmful to the democratic process, and it naturally troubles people a great deal. On the other hand, it’s doomed to failure. There is nothing that I can imagine that is more beneath the president of the United States than to be haranguing officials, local officials in the case of Wayne County in Michigan, state-level officials in this case, to try to at least give people the impression that there is a possibility that he will still win the election. It’s beyond him. This kind of pressure, this raw political pressure is obviously outrageous. But as I said, it’s also pathetic.

Bob Bauer, the top election lawyer for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., called President Trump’s attempts to overturn Michigan’s election results “an abuse of office” and “doomed to failure.”CreditCredit…Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Bob Bauer, the lawyer overseeing President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s legal fight over the election, lashed out on Friday at President Trump’s attempts to undermine the election, calling his efforts to strong-arm Michigan officials[12] into helping him overturn the state’s results “an abuse of office” and “absolutely appalling.”

But Mr. Bauer added that none of the president’s legal or political efforts to derail Mr. Biden’s victory will succeed. He noted that the Mr. Trump’s legal teams have lost more than two dozen lawsuits since Election Day.

“This kind of pressure, this raw political pressure, is obviously outrageous,” Mr. Bauer said. “But as I said it’s also pathetic because it cannot be successful.”

Mr. Bauer spoke to reporters as Mr. Biden’s transition team attempts to walk a fine line: denouncing the legal and political maneuvers by the sitting president while trying not to give any legitimacy to the sometimes comical activities of Mr. Trump and his lawyers.

“There is harm being done to the democratic process,” Mr. Bauer said. Adding, “There is, however, no chance whatsoever that Donald Trump could be successful in what it is that he is trying to do.”

On Thursday, Mr. Biden suggested that he intended to push ahead with his transition and with planning for a new administration. Mr. Biden said that legal action against the White House would take a long time to resolve in court, but added, “We haven’t ruled it out.” Mr. Bauer on Friday dodged a question on legal action.




Biden Transition Pushes Ahead Despite Trump’s Obstacles

Yohannes Abraham and Jen Psaki, spokespeople for the Biden-Harris transition team, told reporters on Friday that the delayed presidential transition might have a harmful effect on the country.

“As Jen mentioned, the G.S.A. administrator has yet to ascertain the results of the election despite an overwhelming consensus that Joe Biden is the winner of the election, therefore, the president-elect. And as Jen also mentioned, we continue to move forward in the absence of an ascertainment decision for the non-ascertainment does place limits on the resources available to the transition, and most importantly, our access to federal agencies. This isn’t a game — who gets to talk to whom. Our inability to start a formal agency review process has the potential to have real impacts on families across the country. Earlier this week Dr. Fauci said that the lack of ascertainment would delay vaccine distribution, leading medical groups, including the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association and the American Nurses Association also wrote a letter urging the Trump administration to coordinate with the Biden transition on Covid-19 planning.” “Our teams can’t speak with or engage with administration officials because the ascertainment has been delayed. And we would certainly love to have that engagement, and love to be discussing with the — and people who have been experts on a range of issues from foreign policy to health policy, you know, preparations to take over Jan. 20. But our team has been very careful, of course, about following those rules and guidelines and we’ll have to abide by that until ascertainment happens.”

Yohannes Abraham and Jen Psaki, spokespeople for the Biden-Harris transition team, told reporters on Friday that the delayed presidential transition might have a harmful effect on the country.CreditCredit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

The Biden-Harris transition team is moving “full speed ahead,” a spokeswoman told reporters on Friday, even as its concern grows that the delayed presidential transition might have a harmful effect on the nation.

In a virtual briefing, two spokespeople for the transition renewed the team’s pressure on the General Services Administration chief, Emily W. Murphy, to approve paperwork giving President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his staff access to federal resources, data and personnel. Ms. Murphy has declined to do so amid President Trump’s continuing refusal to accept Mr. Biden’s presidential election victory.

“This isn’t a game,” said Yohannes Abraham, a spokesman for the transition. He noted that growing number of business groups and leaders, including the heads of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, called in recent days for the transition process to begin.

Asked whether the Biden team has had unpublicized contact with Trump administration officials, as some reports have indicated, Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman, said, “We certainly would love to have that engagement.” But she said the transition team “has been very careful, of course, about following those rules and guidelines and we’ll have to abide by that until ascertainment happens.”

Ascertainment is the term applied when the G.S.A. concludes that the election has produced a winner and a transition can begin.

Underscoring the strange limbo Mr. Trump has created for Mr. Biden’s team, Mr. Biden tweeted[13] on Friday a plea for private donations to fund his transition activities. “Here’s the deal: Because President Trump refuses to concede and is delaying the transition, we have to fund it ourselves and need your help,” Mr. Biden wrote. Clicking the link leads to a form hosted by the Democratic ActBlue network which suggests donations ranging from $15 to $5,000, though users can give any amount.

The officials offered no specifics about when the transition might announce further personnel appointments, including Mr. Biden’s first cabinet nominees.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

President Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election are unprecedented in American history and an even more audacious use of brute political force[14] 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,”[15] 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.

Credit…Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. promised transgender and gender-nonconforming people in the United States and around the world that he would fight for their dignity and safety, signaling a stark shift in policy between the incoming administration and the Trump White House, which has worked to weaken protections.[16]

“From the moment I am sworn in as president of the United States, know that my administration will see you, listen to you, and fight for not only your safety but also the dignity and justice you have been denied,” Mr. Biden said in a statement recognizing Transgender Day of Remembrance on Friday. Advocacy groups have called on Mr. Biden to name members of the L.B.G.T.Q. community to his administration, including to his cabinet.

Violence against transgender people has long been a problem — one that disproportionately affects Black transgender women — and this year at least 37 transgender and gender-nonconforming people[17] have been killed in the United States, more than the Human Rights Campaign has recorded in any other year.

Glaad, an advocacy group, said Mr. Biden was the first presidential candidate to “acknowledge the epidemic of violence against trans people” in an election-year debate or town hall[18].

Mr. Biden has said he will work to restore Obama-era protections that President Trump reversed when he took office, including protections for transgender patients against discrimination in health care settings[19], at homeless shelters[20] and in federal prisons[21].

Mr. Trump’s 2017 ban on transgender people enlisting or serving in the military[22]. could be reversed within 30 days once Mr. Biden takes office, another advocacy group has said[23].

Mr. Biden’s embrace of the L.B.G.T.Q. community[24] in 2012[25] when he was vice president helped push his party to take a stand[26] on the issue of marriage equality. It was a reversal from positions earlier in Mr. Biden’s career when, in the 1990s, he voted for measures that blocked federal recognition of same-sex marriages[27] and cut off federal funds to schools[28] that taught the acceptance of homosexuality.

Credit…Joshua Rashaad McFadden for The New York Times

An affidavit filed by President Trump’s legal team[29] intended to prove voter fraud in Michigan apparently used data taken from counties in Minnesota, the latest in a series of embarrassing missteps that have made Mr. Trump’s uphill legal fight even steeper.

As part of the Trump campaign’s effort to discredit the results in battleground states, the lawyers Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sidney Powell have made a series of unsubstantiated and outlandish claims[30] that Dominion Voting Systems, which sells voting software to states, electronically erased millions of Trump votes at the secret behest of liberal operatives.

To bolster that claim, they have pointed to areas that had abnormally high turnout rates compared to prior elections, most recently as part of a case filed in Georgia intended to show a nationwide pattern of fraud.

On Wednesday, L. Lin Wood, an Atlanta lawyer working with the team, filed an analysis from Russell Ramsland, a failed Republican congressional candidate and self-proclaimed election fraud expert[31], purporting to show suspiciously high turnout in blue areas of Michigan.

When the editors of Powerline, a conservative legal website whose contributors hail from Minnesota and other parts of the Upper Midwest, reviewed the nine-page document, they discovered a major problem[32]: Many municipalities cited in the Michigan document — Monticello, Albertville, Lake Lillian, Houston, Brownsville, Runeberg, Wolf Lake, Height of Land, Detroit Lakes, Frazee, Kandiyohi — are located in an entirely different “M” state, Minnesota.

“This is a catastrophic error, the kind of thing that causes a legal position to crash and burn,” wrote John H. Hinderaker, a veteran litigator who believes any incidences of fraud are not on the scale Mr. Trump’s team is claiming.

Mr. Hinderaker surmised the error was the result of mixing up the abbreviations for the two states, “MI” for “MN.”

On Thursday, a federal judge in Georgia rejected[33] Mr. Wood’s attempt to halt certification of Mr. Biden’s victory in the state. On Thursday, Mr. Giuliani said Mr. Trump’s team planned to plow on with its legal challenges in Georgia, even as it withdrew from cases in Michigan and Arizona.

Mr. Wood, Mr. Ramsland and Ms. Powell did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law who is eyeing a run for Senate in her home state of North Carolina in 2022, is already freezing the field for another Trump loyalist looking for a political future of his own.

On Friday, Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff and a former House member who represented North Carolina, said he would not be part of what is expected to be a competitive and crowded field for the first open seat in the swing state in a generation.

Mr. Meadows was widely expected to move home and run for the seat, but political strategists and Trump allies said there would be no lane for him in the race if Ms. Trump follows through and mounts her own political campaign.

Mr. Meadows announced he would not run a day after The New York Times reported[34] that Ms. Trump was considering a run for an open seat in 2022.

“I love the people of North Carolina. But I not only have no plans, I have no intentions to run for the Senate in 2022,” Mr. Meadows said in an interview with the News & Observer[35]. Mr. Meadows said he had spoken to many people about the seat, including Ms. Trump.

“To my knowledge, no one’s made a definitive decision on whether to toss their hat in the ring or not,” he said. “But in terms of my hat, it won’t be in the ring.”

Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, did not respond to a request for comment.

Ms. Trump, 38, a former personal trainer and television producer for “Inside Edition,” married Eric Trump at the family’s Mar-a-Lago estate in 2014 and worked as a senior adviser on the 2020 Trump campaign.

She emerged during the campaign as a defender of President Trump’s basest political instincts, willing to make the kind of ad hominem attacks on Joseph R. Biden Jr., now the president-elect, that Ivanka Trump, the president’s elder daughter, steered clear of. She currently lives in Westchester, N.Y.

Much of the speculation about who might inherit the Trump mantle has focused on his older children. Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, has the deepest connection with the online disinformation system that has fueled support for his father. Ivanka Trump, who worked as a White House official focusing on work force development, was deployed on the campaign trail[36] to make the president more palatable to the suburban women who were turned off by his tone and his tweets.

But neither have any immediate political plans of their own. Ms. Trump, meanwhile, cultivated her own political brand through a YouTube channel and a heavy presence on the campaign trail, and may be the first Trump to test the durability of the family name in a post-Donald Trump political world.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Andrew Giuliani, a White House official and the son of President Trump’s personal lawyer, announced on Twitter[37] on Friday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. He is the latest in a string of administration officials, including Mr. Trump himself, to contract the virus[38].

“This morning, I tested positive for COVID-19. I am experiencing mild symptoms, and am following all appropriate protocols, including being in quarantine and conducting contact tracing,” Mr. Giuliani said.

Mr. Giuliani, who is not known to wear a mask at the White House, attended a news conference on Thursday with his father, Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer who is leading efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

The news conference was held in a small room packed with dozens of people at the Republican National Committee in Washington. Three other lawyers that the elder Mr. Giuliani called the president’s “elite strike force” team were also at the lectern: Jenna Ellis, Joseph diGenova and Sidney Powell.

People infected by the coronavirus are thought to be at their most contagious in the two or three days before and after their symptoms start.

At the news conference, the elder Mr. Giuliani, who was not wearing a mask and who was sweating profusely[39], made a series of baseless allegations about fraud[40], for which he provided no evidence.

On Friday afternoon, Ms. Ellis, who is a senior legal adviser for the Trump campaign, tweeted[41] that she and the elder Mr. Giuliani had tested negative for the virus. The tweet did not disclose the type of tests they had taken or when they had been tested.

“The entire legal team will continue to follow the advice and protocols of our doctors,” Ms. Ellis said in the tweet.

Because the virus may take several days to ratchet up to detectable levels in the body, a test taken very shortly after exposure might not yield an accurate result, and could, for instance, return a negative result, even if the person is already infected.

The elder Mr. Giuliani and the younger Mr. Giuliani had spent most of the week together, according to a person familiar with their interactions, blurring the timeline during which the virus could have hopped from one to the other.

According to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposed individuals should complete a 14-day quarantine, regardless of whether they test negative during that window.

Andrew Giuliani is only the latest case in what one White House official not authorized to speak publicly described on Friday as another outbreak at the complex. There are at least four other people who have tested positive in recent days in addition to the younger Mr. Giuliani, said the official.

Those test results have come as the small dining room near the West Wing, often referred to as the Navy Mess, was reopened this week with limited seating, the official said.

“Any positive case is taken seriously,” Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, said Friday. “Contact tracing has been conducted by the White House Medical Unit consistent with C.D.C. guidelines to stop further transmission and appropriate notifications and recommendations have been made.”

There have been at least a few events at the White House[42] after which several people in attendance tested positive for the virus. On Sept. 26, there were events in the Rose Garden[43] and indoors for Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court, where maskless officials and guests shook hands, hugged and made conversation. On election night on Nov. 3, there was a party at the White House where hundreds of people mingled for hours, many without masks.

In early October, Mr. Trump himself was hospitalized[44] for a few days after testing positive and developing Covid-19 symptoms. More recently, officials who have tested positive for the virus include: Mark Meadows[45], Mr. Trump’s chief of staff; Corey Lewandowski[46], a campaign adviser; and Ben Carson[47], the housing secretary. All were present at the election night party.


  1. ^ Michigan’s top two Republican lawmakers (
  2. ^ reported earlier by Bloomberg (
  3. ^ As of Thursday (
  4. ^ the first in-person gathering of the Democratic leaders since the election (
  5. ^ lawsuits (
  6. ^ surging pandemic (
  7. ^ announced earlier this week (
  8. ^ wrote in a statement (
  9. ^ told CNN (
  10. ^ an op-ed published Thursday night in The Detroit News (
  11. ^ wrote on Twitter (
  12. ^ strong-arm Michigan officials (
  13. ^ tweeted (
  14. ^ audacious use of brute political force (
  15. ^ “That’s not going to happen,” (
  16. ^ protections. (
  17. ^ this year at least 37 transgender and gender-nonconforming people (
  18. ^ town hall (
  19. ^ health care settings (
  20. ^ homeless shelters (
  21. ^ federal prisons (
  22. ^ enlisting or serving in the military (
  23. ^ advocacy group has said (
  24. ^ embrace of the L.B.G.T.Q. community (
  25. ^ in 2012 (
  26. ^ push his party to take a stand (
  27. ^ federal recognition of same-sex marriages (
  28. ^ cut off federal funds to schools (
  29. ^ An affidavit filed by President Trump’s legal team (
  30. ^ unsubstantiated and outlandish claims (
  31. ^ self-proclaimed election fraud expert (
  32. ^ they discovered a major problem (
  33. ^ federal judge in Georgia rejected (
  34. ^ The New York Times reported (
  35. ^ interview with the News & Observer (
  36. ^ deployed on the campaign trail (
  37. ^ announced on Twitter (
  38. ^ a string of administration officials, including Mr. Trump himself, to contract the virus (
  39. ^ sweating profusely (
  40. ^ made a series of baseless allegations about fraud (
  41. ^ tweeted (
  42. ^ There have been at least a few events at the White House (
  43. ^ Rose Garden (
  44. ^ was hospitalized (
  45. ^ Mark Meadows (
  46. ^ Corey Lewandowski (
  47. ^ Ben Carson (

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