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Election 2020 live updates: Bush congratulates Biden and tells America ‘this election was fundamentally fair’

This is CNBC's live blog covering reaction to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' 2020 victory.

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are now looking beyond the election to the transition.

They have launched a website listing the key priorities that the incoming administration will try to address — the coronavirus pandemic, the economic recovery, racial equity and climate change.

Biden will unveil a team of scientists and experts on Monday who will advise his incoming administration on their response to the pandemic.

President Donald Trump has so far refused to concede the election and vowed legal battles. However, former President George W. Bush, the last Republican to occupy the White House before Trump, has sought to reassure Americans that the country held a free and fair election in which Biden won.

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Watch Joe Biden's first speech to the nation as president-elect of the United States

Gottlieb: Biden will take office at Covid-19 'apex'; forget normal inauguration

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration
Getty Images

Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said that Covid-19 will likely be peaking as Biden takes office early next year.

"By the time the president-elect takes office, we'll probably be at the apex of what we're going through right now," Gottlieb said on CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday.

"This is going to play out over the next couple of months," Gottlieb said.

"I think as the president takes office, we will be coming down the other side of the epidemic curve, hopefully, and the only question is going to be how many people died in the course of this and how many people have been infected, and we have to keep those numbers down as much as possible," he added.

Gottlieb also said the nation won't be able to have a traditional inauguration for the president-elect, with tens of thousands of people crammed in the U.S. capital in January.

"I don't think we're going to be able to bring large crowds together for an inauguration," Gottlieb said. "We're going to be right in the thick probably of the worst point of this epidemic wave that we're going through right now."

Biden is set to announce a Covid-19 task force on Monday. Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith of Yale University will co-chair the panel, NBC News reported, citing a Biden campaign official.

Cases of the virus have been surging in recent days, with 126,480 new cases recorded on Friday and 126,742 on Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

— Tucker Higgins

A 'huge relief' but 'Trumpism lives on': International media on Biden's win

Locals read a newspaper as residents of Ballina, Co. Mayo, Ireland, begin celebrations in the ancestral home of US Presidential candidate Joe Biden in anticipation of the results of the US election as Biden edges closer to victory over Donald Trump.
Brian Lawless | PA Images | Getty Images

International media erupted with headlines over the weekend announcing former Vice President Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 U.S. presidential race, many depicting the world breathing a sigh of relief after several tense days of a prolonged vote count. 

The U.K.’s Sunday Times ran the headline “Sleepy Joe wakes up America,” describing “joyous scenes after days of deadlock.”

French newspaper Le Monde wrote: “American Elections 2020: Joe Biden's victory sparks huge relief in Europe.” Hong Kong's South China Morning Post ran an article entitled, “Asian leaders see renewed hope in Biden and return to multilateralism.”

But despite celebratory tones from some, headlines also depicted a president-elect facing a divided nation.

Germany’s Der Spiegel ran the headline: “Joe Biden's Almost Impossible Task,” describing the Democratic victory as a “ripple, not a wave.” “Even if Joe Biden emerges victorious,” the magazine’s journalists wrote, “the peaceful transfer of power still isn't yet a foregone conclusion,” adding that “Biden would face the almost impossible task of reuniting a deeply divided nation.”

Many papers focused on the enduring legacy of the now lame-duck Trump, who is refusing to accept Biden’s victory and is launching legal challenges in several states. 

“Donald Trump may have become one of the few US presidents to have lost re-election, but Trumpism lives on,” the U.K.’s BBC wrote.

—Natasha Turak

AOC says Democrats blaming progressives for House losses are being irresponsible

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez holds her filled ballot as she votes early at a polling station in The Bronx, New York City, U.S., October 25, 2020.
Andrew Kelly | Reuters

Centrist Democrats who are blaming progressives in the wake of losses for the party in Tuesday's elections for the House of Representatives are being "irresponsible," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said.

"We have a slimmer Democratic majority. It's going to be more important than ever for us to work together and not fight each other," Ocasio-Cortez said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

"And so when we come out swinging not 48 hours after Tuesday, when we don't even have solid data yet, pointing fingers and telling each other what to do, it deepens the division in the party and it's irresponsible — it's irresponsible to pour gasoline on these already very delicate tensions in the party," she added.

Some moderate members of the House Democratic caucus blamed the party's progressives in an hours long conference call held on Thursday.

"We need to not ever use the word 'socialist' or 'socialism' ever again. ... We lost good members because of that," Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., said on the call, according to The Washington Post, which obtained a recording of it. Spanberger is leading in her race for reelection but NBC News has not called a winner.

Ocasio-Cortez pushed back on that narrative. On Sunday, she noted that every lawmaker representing a swing district who co-sponsored "Medicare for All," the progressive proposal to overhaul America's health-care system, was reelected.

NBC News projects Democrats to hold their majority in the House but with a smaller margin than they had going into the election.

Tucker Higgins

Bush congratulates Biden: 'This election was fundamentally fair'

Former U.S. President George W. Bush.
Getty Images

Former President George W. Bush on Sunday issued the below statement after calling President-elect Joe Biden:

"I just talked to the President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden. I extended my warm congratulations and thanked him for the patriotic message he delivered last night. I also called Kamala Harris to congratulate her on her historic election to the vice presidency. Though we have political differences, I know Joe Biden to be a good man, who has won his opportunity to lead and unify our country. The President-elect reiterated that while he ran as a Democrat, he will govern for all Americans. I offered him the same thing I offered Presidents Trump and Obama: my prayers for his success, and my pledge to help in any way I can.

I want to congratulate President Trump and his supporters on a hard-fought campaign. He earned the votes of more than 70 million Americans – an extraordinary political achievement. They have spoken, and their voices will continue to be heard through elected Republicans at every level of government.

The fact that so many of our fellow citizens participated in this election is a positive sign of the health of our democracy and a reminder to the world of its strength. No matter how you voted, your vote counted. President Trump has the right to request recounts and pursue legal challenges, and any unresolved issues will be properly adjudicated. The American people can have confidence that this election was fundamentally fair, its integrity will be upheld, and its outcome is clear.

The challenges that face our country will demand the best of President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris – and the best of us all. We must come together for the sake of our families and neighbors, and for our nation and its future. There is no problem that will not yield to the gathered will of a free people. Laura and I pray for our leaders and their families. We ask for God's continued blessings on our country. And we urge all Americans to join us in wishing our next President and Vice President well as they prepare to take up their important duties."

Trump pushes forward with legal challenges over election

U.S. President Donald President Trump faces reporters after it was announced Bahrain has joined the United Arab Emirates in striking an agreement to normalize relations with Israel as White House sennior adviser Jared Kushner stands by in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 11, 2020.
Kevin Lemarque | Reuters

One day after Joe Biden was announced president-elect, President Trump is still refusing to accept the election results and is pushing forward with legal challenges over claims of voter fraud in battleground states.

Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, said on Sunday in an interview with Fox News that the president is correct to not concede and said his team will have filed four or five lawsuits by the end of the week.

CNN reported on Sunday that Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor, had approached the president about conceding the election, citing anonymous sources. Trump campaign advisor Jason Miller said the CNN report was not true, adding that Kushner has advised Trump "to pursue all available legal remedies to ensure accuracy."

Trump's claims of voter fraud have prompted some Republicans to push back on the president's claims.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said on Sunday that Trump must show evidence for his claims of election fraud or else Republicans can't support him anymore. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, has criticized Trump's language as undermining democracy. And Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said that governors in states of alleged voter fraud haven't questioned the election results.

Emma Newburger

Biden goes to church, Trump goes to his golf course

US President Donald Trump walks to his motorcade on the South Lawn of the White House on November 8, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — For the second day in a row, President Donald Trump left the White House Sunday morning en route to his golf club in Sterling, Virginia.

Trump was dressed in dark slacks, a pullover and a white "Make America Great Again" cap when he arrived at Trump National Golf Club a little before 10 a.m. ET.

On Saturday, Trump was wrapping up a game of golf at the club when NBC News began to report that Democratic nominee Joe Biden was projected to win the U.S. presidential election.

President-elect Joe Biden was seen arriving at St. Joseph on the Brandywine Roman Catholic Church in Wilmington, Delaware on Sunday morning. He attended church with his daughter Ashley and his grandson Hunter, son of late Beau Biden. The president-elect later visited Beau's grave with his family.

President-elect Joe Biden(C) arrives at St. Joseph on the Brandywine Roman Catholic Church in Wilmington, Delaware on November 8, 2020.
Angela Weiss | AFP | Getty Images

President Trump has refused to accept the election results.

Meanwhile, leaders from around the world congratulated Biden and his running mate, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their victory.

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden visits family graves after a church service in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., November 8, 2020.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Amanda Macias

Trump ally Chris Christie suggests 'it's time to move on'

Chris Christie, former Governor of New Jersey, center, speaks with attendees following the announcement of U.S. President Donald Trump's nominee for associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court during a ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020.
Stefani Reynolds | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Sunday said that President Trump needs to show evidence for his claims of election fraud or else Republicans can't support the president's argument anymore.

"If your basis for not conceding is that there was voter fraud, then show us," Christie, a longtime Trump ally, said during an interview on ABC. "Show us. Because if you can't show us, we can't do this. We can't back you blindly without evidence."

"I'm hoping that more Republicans move in the direction of saying, not that we don't support the president, he's been a friend of mine for twenty years, but friendship doesn't mean that you're blind," Christie added. "Friendship means that you will listen to somebody, give them their opportunity, and if they don't come forward with the proof, then it's time to move on."

Trump has not yet conceded to the election. President-elect Joe Biden was announced the winner on Saturday after receiving more than 270 Electoral College votes.

Emma Newburger

Jim Clyburn says 'defund the police' slogan hurt down ballot Democrats

House Majority Whip Rep. Jim Clyburn speaks to rally goers during a drive-in rally for Democratic Senate candidate Jaime Harrison on October 17, 2020 in North Charleston, South Carolina.
Cameron Pollack | Getty Images

Majority Whip Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., said that he believes the progressive call to "defund the police" hurt Democrats in his state and likely elsewhere around the country who were seeking re-election to Congress.

"I really believe that's what cost Joe Cunningham his seat," Clyburn told NBC's Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" on Sunday. "Jaime Harrison started to plateau when 'defund the police' showed up with the caption on TV right across his head," he added

Rep. Joe Cunningham, D-S.C., was unseated in South Carolina's first congressional district and Jaime Harrison is projected to lose his bid against the state's incumbent Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, according to NBC News.

Clyburn's comments come amid sniping between centrist Democrats and progressives over the party's direction after an unexpectedly poor showing in Tuesday's House contests. Democrats are projected to lose seats but retain their majority in the House of Representatives

Clyburn said that he was "not upset" about the outcome though he was disappointed that the party lost seats.

"But I also recognize — look back two years and see where we picked up seats in the House," Clyburn said, referring to the party's gains in districts typically favorable to Republicans. "We knew, going in, that it was going to be tough to hold many of those seats."

-- Tucker Higgins

Larry Hogan: Republican governors in states of alleged voter fraud 'haven't questioned the results'

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan held a press conference at the Maryland State Capitol in Annapolis, Maryland on July 22, 2020. He gave updates on the number of Covid-19 cases in Maryland among other topics.
Michael S. Williamson | The Washington Post | Getty Images

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican and former chair of the National Governors Association, is pointing to the lack of affirmation from fellow state leaders in his party as members of President Donald Trump's campaign continue to make allegations of voter fraud.

"A couple of Republican governors are the ones responsible for a couple of the states that are still in question. They haven't questioned the results," Hogan said, speaking on CNN's "State of the Union."

"I understand the frustration and concern. If there is evidence of widespread voter fraud, then we ought to come out with it ... [but] I haven't seen any evidence," Hogan added. "I don't think we're going to see anything that overturns this election."

Hogan believes that Trump should "at least acknowledge that he will" concede once election results are finalized, "even if it will take a few more days." The governor also said he thinks President-elect Joe Biden's lead could continue to increase during that time.

Overall, Hogan believes the results of the election so far have showed a "mandate for moderation" from U.S. voters rather than a shift to the left or right.

— Michael Sheetz

Stacey Abrams says Democrats have a shot at winning both Georgia Senate seats

Former Georgia House of Representatives Minority Leader Stacey Abrams speaks ahead of former President Barack Obama's address in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., one day before the election, November 2, 2020.
Brandon Bell | Reuters

Voting rights activist Stacey Abrams told CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday morning that she believes Democrats have a shot at winning both Senate seats in Georgia that appear headed for January runoff elections.

"I want to push back against this anachronistic notion that we can't win in Georgia," Abrams, a Democrat and the former minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, said on "State of the Union."

The Senate races could be the determining factor in which party gains control of Congress's upper chamber, with Democrats likely needing to win both in order to gain 50 seats in the body. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be able to cast tie-breaking votes.

Extra attention has been placed on Georgia because Biden is leading the southern state that Trump carried in 2016 by five percentage points. State officials have said there will be a recount, and NBC News considers the contest too close to call.

Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler will face Democrat Raphael Warnock in January after neither contender surpassed 50% of the vote in last week's race. NBC News has not yet projected the outcome of the other Senate race in the state, between incumbent GOP Sen. David Perdue and his Democratic rival Jon Ossoff, though neither candidate currently has a majority of the tabulated votes.

Tapper asked Abrams about whether she had concerns that fewer voters would turn out in January, given that turnout tends to decrease in runoffs. Abrams said she thought the upcoming race would buck past trends because it was "the first time that we will have three things happen."

"One, we've got John Ossoff and Raphael Warnock at the top of these tickets working together to make certain that voters come back. No. 2, we will have the investment and the resources that have never followed our runoffs in Georgia for Democrats," Abrams said.

"And No. 3, this is going to be the determining factor of whether we have access to health care, and access to justice in the United States. Those are two issues that will make certain that people turn out," she added.

Abrams also said that she believed Biden will win Georgia after the recount, calling the process essentially a "rescan of what's been done very painstakingly over the last five days." State recounts historically do not alter vote tallies significantly.

Tucker Higgins

No one from Trump administration has reached out to President-elect Biden, campaign official says

Symone Sanders, senior advisor to Joe Biden's presidential campaign, speaks to the media the spin room after the eighth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by ABC News, WMUR-TV and Apple News at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, on February 7, 2020.
Joseph Prezioso | AFP | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — As of Sunday, no one from the Trump administration has reached out to president-elect Joe Biden.

"A number of Republicans from the hill have reached out but I don't believe anyone from the White House has," Symone Sanders, a senior Biden campaign team official, told CNN's Jake Tapper.

"I think the White House has made clear what their strategy is here and that they are going to continue to participate and push forward the flailing and in many respects baseless legal strategies," she added.

President-elect Joe Biden won 279 electoral votes, surpassing the 270-vote threshold needed to win. President Donald Trump is refusing to accept the results of the election.

The White House, when asked by CNBC whether they have reached out to the Biden team about the upcoming transition, said the Trump administration "is following all statutory requirements." 

—  Amanda Macias

Mitt Romney: 'Eyes of the world are on us' during presidential transition

U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) arrives to a luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 23, 2020.
Erin Scott | Reuters

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said on Sunday that the "eyes of the world are on us" as Joe Biden prepares to assume the presidency and condemned President Donald Trump's election fraud claims as undermining democracy.

Romney, who is one of Trump's most vocal critics within the Republican Party, said that while he believes the president has every right to pursue legal challenges in the courts and request recounts, he's "more concerned about the language that's used" regarding those challenges.

"When you say that the election was corrupt or stolen or rigged, that's unfortunately rhetoric that gets picked up by authoritarians around the world," Romney said in an interview on NBC's Meet the Press. "I think it also discourages confidence in our democratic process here at home."

Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, also argued that while Republicans lost the White House, GOP gains in down-ballot races show that a majority of Americans have conservative principles. He added that the White House loss was "more a referendum on a person."

Emma Newburger

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulates Biden and Harris

US Vice President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands while giving joint statements at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem on March 9, 2016.
Debbie Hill | AFP | Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a close international ally of President Donald Trump, has congratulated President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their victory.

"I would like to begin by congratulating Joe Biden and Kamala Harris," Netanyahu said in Hebrew, according to a translation by NBC News. "I have a long and warm personal relationship with Joe Biden, for nearly 40 years, and I know him as a great friend of the State of Israel. I am confident that we will continue to work with both to further strengthen the alliance."

Netanyahu also thanked President Trump, who has taken several hardline positions in support of Netanyahu's government that caused controversy around the world. Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the disputed Golan Heights as a part of Israel, and withdrew from the Iran nuclear agreement.

 "On my behalf and on behalf of all the citizens of the State of Israel, I thank President Trump once again for the great friendship he has shown for the State of Israel and for me personally," Netanyahu said. " I congratulate him on his recognition of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, his stand with Iran, his historic peace agreements, and the fact that he has brought the alliance between Israel and the United States to unprecedented heights.  Thank you, President Trump. "

— Spencer Kimball

Joe Biden is president-elect, but four races haven't been called yet

Joe Biden has 279 electoral votes after winning Pennsylvania and Nevada, more than enough to put him over the 270-vote threshold to become president.

However, the swing states of Arizona, North Carolina and Georgia have not been called yet. Biden leads in Arizona and Georgia, traditionally Republican states, but the margins are close. Georgia is almost certain to go to a recount, and Arizona could head that way as well.

Trump leads in North Carolina, but more results aren't expected until Nov. 12. Alaska is still too early to call, but Trump holds a substantial lead in the early results.

Here's where Biden and Trump stand in the remaining states, according to NBC News projections:

  • Georgia (16 electoral votes): Biden leads by 10,196 votes with 99% of the expected vote in
  • Arizona (11 electoral votes): Biden leads by 18,610 votes with 97% of the expected vote in
  • North Carolina (15 electoral votes): Trump leads by 48,407 votes with 98% of the expected vote in
  • Alaska (3 electoral votes): Trump leads by 51,382 votes with 56% of the expected vote in

— Spencer Kimball

Biden Harris transition team launch website

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Kamala Harris addresses nation in first speech as vice president-elect

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have launched a transition website complete with biographies and a list of the top priorities for the incoming administration.

The Biden-Harris team had set the website, buildbackbetter.com, live several days ago but it was barebones. The website now lists the pandemic, the economic recovery, racial equity and climate change as the top priorities of Biden and Harris.

"The transition is responsible for ensuring that the transfer of power between the current administration and the Biden-Harris administration is successful," the website reads.

"Our nation is grappling with a pandemic, an economic crisis, powerful calls for racial justice, and the existential threat of climate change. President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris know we can't simply go back to the way things were before."

Biden and Harris are unlikely to receive help from the Trump administration. President Donald Trump continues to refuse to accept the results of the election and has vowed legal battles.

The Biden-Harris transition team has also posted a video to their new Twitter account.

— Spencer Kimball