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Biden set to receive first president's daily intelligence brief Monday - CNN
President-elect Joe Biden marks a milestone on his path to the White House Monday when he gets his first President's Daily Brief -- the intelligence community's collection of secrets, intelligence, and analysis about long- and short-term threats US leaders ne…
Washington (CNN)President-elect Joe Biden marks a milestone on his path to the White House Monday when he gets his first President's Daily Brief -- the intelligence community's collection of secrets, intelligence, and analysis about long- and short-term threats US leaders need to know to run the country and keep it safe. President Donald Trump, who has refused to concede the election, relented only last week on his initial refusal to allow Biden access to the nation's most vital intelligence -- a tradition based on US national security interests to ensure the election's winner and their incoming team are as ready as possible to cope with global threats and challenges. In 2016, Trump received his first PDB, as it is known, a week after the election. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will get the same briefing on Monday with Biden, the transition team said Wednesday, ending the strange situation where she, as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, had access to more classified intelligence than the President-elect. Monday's briefing could give Biden and Harris their first deep insight into urgent questions -- including how Iran is planning to respond to the assassination of its premier nuclear scientist and what is known about that killing -- and on longer term strategic concerns. How is North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's health? Is a fringe terror group showing signs of developing larger ambitions? Former officials who know Biden said he will be a disciplined and enthusiastic consumer of both the written materials and the oral briefing that accompanies them. "From my experience with then-Vice President Biden, he was an avid reader and in general a voracious consumer of intelligence," said Obama's last director of national intelligence, James Clapper. "I'm sure he will be especially so as President." Biden's approach will mark another contrast to Trump, who has skipped getting the PDB every day, and rarely reads the written materials, preferring oral briefings on certain intelligence issues, according to the Washington Post. "President Joe Biden won't get a Cliff Notes version of the PDB," Samantha Vinograd, a former senior adviser at the National Security Council, told CNN. Vinograd, now a CNN national security analyst, said that for Biden, "unlike President Trump, the PDB is not going to be an 'if I feel like it' kind of activity. In my experience with then Vice President Biden, the PDB was a must-do." The PDB contains the daily collection of analysis and information that the intelligence community believes the President and his most senior national security staff need to start the day -- it's been called the newspaper with the world's smallest circulation. The intelligence briefers come in during the middle of the night to prepare for their early morning sessions with these senior customers -- studying the PDB material, reviewing raw intelligence and other finished analytic products, and asking experts questions that they anticipate getting during their sessions. The intelligence community can also use the PDB as a way to flag threats it sees coming that may not be on a leader's radar. Typically, the written materials are accompanied by a verbal briefing that gives the President a chance to ask questions and better understand analyses. Biden and his team had received more sporadic strategic and election threats briefings from different ODNI officials during the fall campaign but now, Biden has said, he will get these more detailed PDB intelligence briefings on "a regular basis." Traditionally, the president-elect has gotten a copy of the sitting president's PDB, said David Priess, a former CIA officer who served during the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations and is the author of "The President's Book of Secrets," about the PDB. But intelligence officers briefing a president-elect always supplement those materials with additional information to get the incoming leader up to speed, Priess said. PDB's are profoundly detailed, but the supplemental materials and briefings are meant "to help it make sense in the full." In Biden's case, Priess adds, "to where we last left off." Vinograd said Biden's past experience in office and with the briefings means "he's not going to have a steep learning curve when it comes to intelligence." The briefers designated for Biden and Harris can also offer more material and deeper analysis on issues the two care about. If Biden were, for example, particularly interested in what the intelligence community knows about the Iranian nuclear scientist's assassination, which Iran has blamed on Israel, he could ask for more ofthe latest information on the Iranian nuclear program. Priess notes that it's possible that Trump might move to limit the content of Biden's briefings, just as he chose not to share the PDB at all, even after it was clear to most of the country that Biden had won. "There is always the prospect that the President can choose not to share the PDB with the president-elect," Priess said. "That's merely a tradition of good government, not in statute ... and there's nothing to say he can't restrict which items go to the president-elect." Priess adds that he doubts Trump "will do anything that micromanaging," particularly as most reports suggest the President isn't a detailed reader of the PDB. While it's not clear where Biden and Harris will receive their briefing on Monday, they are usually delivered in a secured room known as a Secure Compartmentalized Information Facility, or SCIF, which could be built for Biden at his residence or take place elsewhere in Wilmington, possiblyin a federal government building, if not in Washington. Sometimes, as when the president is on vacation, the rules are more relaxed and a briefing could even happen outside. The complex work of assembling the daily briefings is overseen by the director of national intelligence and the finished product that reaches the President's desk can take many different forms, depending on the commander in chief's preference, including bound books, special iPads, spiral notebooks and leatherbound binders. At first, Biden will get his written version of the PDB in whatever form Trump receives it, Priess said. "Biden will get whatever Trump is getting until January 20 and by then, his briefers will have figured out what format is best for him," Priess said. Some of Biden's nominees for senior national security positions, including Antony Blinken, his nominee to be secretary of state, and Jake Sullivan, tapped to be national security adviser, could also start to receive briefings -- if Trump allows. "In the last couple of transitions, the default is that as officials are nominated for positions that will receive the PDB once in office, they're generally allowed to start seeing the PDB," Priess said. He cautions that "that's what's happened in past transitions. We will see what this President does." In addition to possible briefings, Trump national security adviser Robert O'Brien and his deputy, Matthew Pottinger, are set to schedule meetings with Sullivan and one or two of his deputies in the coming days to discuss some of the most critical national security issues facing the incoming administration, a US official tells CNN.
Assassinated Iranian nuclear scientist shot with remote-controlled machine gun, news agency says - CNN
The Iranian nuclear scientist assassinated Friday east of Tehran was shot by a remote-controlled machine gun operating out of another car, the semi-official Fars News Agency said Sunday.
(CNN)The Iranian nuclear scientist assassinated Friday east of Tehran was shot by a remote-controlled machine gun operating out of another car, the semi-official Fars News Agency said Sunday. With top Iranian officials blaming Israel, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and others have promised revenge for the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was the country's chief nuclear scientist.. There were conflicting accounts from Iranian news agencies about how the attack unfolded. One report published Sunday from Fars News said Fakhrizadeh was traveling with his wife Friday in a bulletproof car, alongside three security personnel vehicles, when he heard what sounded like bullets hitting a vehicle, and he exited the car to determine what had happened. When he exited the vehicle, a remote-controlled machine gun opened fire from a Nissan stopped about 150 meters (164 yards) from Fakhrizadeh's car, Fars News said. Fakhrizadeh was hit at least three times, according to Fars News. His bodyguard was also shot. Following the gunfire, the Nissan exploded, Fars News reported, adding the attack lasted three minutes. CNN cannot independently confirm the news agency's version of events. The semi-official Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) also reported Fakhrizadeh's car was hit by gunfire, followed by an explosion and more gunfire, citing Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Amir Hatami. "Based on reports received from members of his security detail, Mr. Fakhrizadeh's vehicle was initially targeted by gunfire, after which a Nissan vehicle laden with explosives was set off in close proximity to them as gunfire, targeting their vehicle, was continuing," Hatami said, according to ISNA. IRIB, Iranian state television, said the explosion happened first, followed by gunfire from attackers. Seyed Kamal Kharrazi, the head of Iran's Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, compared the assassination to the killing of Qasem Soleimani, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported Sunday. Soleimani, the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' Quds Force, was killed in a US drone strike earlier this year in Iraq. "Undoubtedly, the Islamic Republic of Iran will give a calculated and decisive answer to the criminals who took Martyr Fakhrizadeh," Kharrazi was quoted as saying. Fakhrizadeh was the head of the research center of new technology in the elite Revolutionary Guards and was a leading figure in Iran's nuclear program. Iranian leaders blame Israel Supreme Leader Khameini wrote Saturday on a Twitter account that often carries his official statments, "Mr Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed by the oppressive enemies. This rare scientific mind lost his life for his everlasting great scientific work. He lost his life for God and the supreme leader." Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called on the international community "to end their shameful double standards" and "condemn this act of state terror." He added that the attack showed "serious indications of Israeli role." Maj. Gen. Hossein Dehghan, Khamenei's military adviser, tweeted Saturday that "Zionists" are seeking to create "all-out war" and vowed to "descend like lightning" on Fakhrizadeh's killers. President Hassan Rouhani, also among the many Iranian leaders blaming Israel, promised retaliation as well, saying during a cabinet meeting Saturday, "The think tanks and the enemies of Iran must know that the Iranian nation and the officials in charge in the country are brave and determined to respond to the murder in time." The killing, he said, was carried out at "the filthy hands of oppressors, in concert with the illegitimate Zionist regime." Iran has provided no evidence of Israeli involvement. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office declined to comment to CNN on Friday. Israeli Settlement Affairs Minister Tzachi Hanegbi told Israel's Channel 12 news he had "no idea" who killed Fakhrizadeh, but called it "very embarrassing for Iran." The US State Department and International Atomic Energy Agency have said in multiple reports that Fakhrizadeh held deep insight into the Islamic Republic's nuclear capabilities. In 2018, Netanyahu said Fakhrizadeh was the head of Project Amad, which he and others describe as a secret nuclear weapons endeavor. "Remember that name, Fakhrizadeh," the prime minister told reporters at the time. The killing threatens to compound tensions in Tehran-Washington relations, which have deteriorated under US President Donald Trump. In 2018, Trump pulled out of a multilateral nuclear deal with Iran, and Iran began withdrawing its commitments from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action last year. Trump has invoked crippling economic sanctions on the country. The White House is closely monitoring Fakhrizadeh's killing, it said. On Friday, Trump retweeted Israeli journalist Yossi Melman, who wrote that Fakhrizadeh "was head of Iran's secret military program and wanted for many years by Mossad," Israel's foreign intelligence agency. Students and young Iranians have converged on several government buildings in Tehran, and at one demonstration outside the Foreign Ministry on Saturday, protesters burned US and Israeli flags and posters depicting Trump and President-elect Joe Biden. The European Union condemned the killing and called for "maximum restraint," while the United Kingdom's Foreign Office said it was "urgently trying to establish the facts." The funeral and burial of Fakhrizadeh will be held Monday, Fars News reported. Fakhrizadeh's remains were taken to the shrine of Imam Reza, one of the most important religious hubs for Shias, in Mashhad on Saturday. Following a Sunday service in Mashhad, his body was to be taken to Tehran to the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini, the Islamic republic's founder. CNN's Ramin Mostaghim, Angela Dewan and Samantha Beech contributed to this report.
Singer Cher has helped rescue the 'world's loneliest elephant' after decades in captivity - CNN
A 36-year-old overweight Asian elephant, who has spent much of his life languishing alone in captivity, is on his way to a sanctuary in Cambodia -- thanks in part to the efforts of American pop star Cher.
Julia Hollingsworth, CNNPublished 30th November 2020 (CNN) A 36-year-old overweight Asian elephant, who has spent much of his life languishing alone in captivity, is on his way to a sanctuary in Cambodia -- thanks in part to the efforts of American pop star Cher. Pakistan's only Asian elephant has spent years in grim conditions in a controversial Islamabad zoo, where he suffered from a lack of exercise as well as cracked and malformed nails due to living in an inappropriate structure. After Kaavan's partner died in 2012, he was dubbed the "world's loneliest elephant" -- and since 2016, Cher has been part of a huge social media campaign to relocate him. Earlier this year, Islamabad's High Court closed the zoo over its poor conditions and gave animal welfare organization Four Paws permission to remove Kaavan, who Sri Lanka gifted to Pakistan 35 years ago, when he was a baby, according to the organization. Early Monday local time in Pakistan, Free The Wild, a charity Cher co-founded, wrote on Instagram that Kaavan was being loaded onto a plane and beginning his journey to Cambodia. Before the flight, specialists from Four Paws trained the elephant for the small enclosure and loud noises he'd experience on the flight, using bananas and other treats. Non-profit Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary said in a Facebook post that Kaavan will now live in a huge jungle enclosure, where most of his food will be provided naturally -- although he'll also get fruit treats to "satisfy his sweet tooth." Three other elephants live at the sanctuary. Cher found out about Kaavan from people on Twitter, according to a statement from the Smithsonian Channel, which is producing a documentary on the elephant's story. "I thought, 'how can I fix this? How can I save an elephant who's been shackled to a shed for 17 years and who is a thousand miles away?'," Cher said. "This is Free The Wild's first big rescue and I am so proud." Ahead of his trip, Cher traveled to Pakistan and serenaded Kaavan with the song "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes." On Friday, after meeting Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan, she tweeted her thanks to him "for making it possible for me to take Kaavan to Cambodia." A statement from the Prime Minister's office said former cricket star Khan had thanked Cher, and invited her to participate further in environmental initiatives in Pakistan. Additional reporting by Reuters © 2020 Cable News Network.A Warner Media Company.All Rights Reserved.CNN Sans & © 2016 Cable News Network.
Biden's doctor says he sprained foot while playing with his dog - CNN
President-elect Joe Biden has hairline fractures in his "mid-foot" and will "likely require a walking boot for several weeks," his doctor said in a statement Sunday, after Biden slipped while playing with his dog, Major, Saturday.
Washington, DC (CNN)President-elect Joe Biden has hairline fractures in his "mid-foot" and will "likely require a walking boot for several weeks," his doctor said in a statement Sunday, after Biden slipped while playing with his dog, Major, Saturday. "Initial x-rays did not show any obvious fracture, but his clinical exam warranted more detailed imaging," Dr. Kevin O'Connor said Sunday. "Follow-up CT scan confirmed hairline (small) fractures of President-elect Biden's lateral and intermediate cuneiform bones, which are in the mid-foot. It is anticipated that he will likely require a walking boot for several weeks." Earlier Sunday, Biden's office announced he was going to be examined by an orthopedist "out of an abundance of caution" after he twisted his ankle playing with the dog. Biden, who celebrated his 78th birthday on November 20, is set to be the oldest president in US history. During the campaign, the Biden campaign released a summary of Biden's medical history, which showed the former vice president was healthy and fit for the presidency. The release included the results of a physical exam by O'Connor, Biden's primary care doctor since 2009 and the director of executive medicine at The George Washington Medical Faculty Associates. O'Connor wrote that Biden is "a healthy, vigorous, 77-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency." The Biden family has two dogs, Major and Champ, both German Shepherds. The Bidens fostered Major from the Delaware Humane Association and made his adoption official in November 2018. Champ joined the Biden family during the presidential transition in December 2008, weeks after Biden became vice president-elect. This story has been updated with additional developments. CNN's Betsy Klein and Eric Bradner contributed to this report.
David Prowse, the original Darth Vader, dies aged 85 - CNN
British actor David Prowse, who played Darth Vader in the original "Star Wars" trilogy, has died aged 85, his management company announced Sunday.
London (CNN)British actor David Prowse, who played Darth Vader in the original "Star Wars" trilogy, has died aged 85, his management company announced Sunday. Prowse died after a short illness, according to his agent Thomas Bowington. CNN reported in 2018 that Prowse was being treated for prostate cancer. "It's with great regret and heart-wrenching sadness for us and million of fans around the world, to announce that our client DAVE PROWSE M.B.E. has passed away at the age of 85," Bowington Management said on Twitter Sunday. "May the force be with him, always!" his former agent, Thomas Bowington, said in a statement to the BBC. "Though famous for playing many monsters -- for myself, and all who knew Dave and worked with him, he was a hero in our lives." Prowse wore the black suit and helmet to play Darth Vader, but it was the actor James Earl Jones who provided the character's voice. Prowse's West Country English accent was thought to be unsuitable for the part. But it was his role as the "Green Cross Code Man" from a British road safety campaign that Prowse said he was most proud of. He was awarded an MBE -- a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire -- in 2000 for that role. Prowse was born into a working class family and grew up in a council estate in Southmead, in southwestern England. He gained a scholarship to attend Bristol Grammar School. He had a passion for bodybuilding and was crowned British Weightlifting Champion several times in the 1960s. He became lifelong friends with actors Arnold Schwarzenegger in his weightlifting years, according to website IMDb. His broad physique and towering figure helped land him roles as monsters and villains in TV shows and films. He played the monster in "The Horror of Frankenstein" in 1970 and a bearded torturer in "Carry on Henry" in 1971. That same year he made an appearance as a bodyguard in Stanley Kubrick's dystopian film "A Clockwork Orange" in 1971. He went on to play Darth Vader in all three of the original "Star Wars" films, in 1977, 1980 and 1983. Health and fitness remained an interest for Prowse, who also worked as a personal trainer for actors playing the role of Superman, including Christopher Reeve, and wrote a book called "Fitness is Fun." He published an autobiography, "Straight from the Force's Mouth," in 2011.
Severe fire danger for Australia as temperatures smash records - CNN
Parts of Australia, including Sydney, sweltered through the hottest November night on record with temperatures likely to stay high on Sunday -- prompting authorities to issue a total fire ban.
(CNN)Parts of Australia, including Sydney, sweltered through the hottest November night on record with temperatures likely to stay high on Sunday -- prompting authorities to issue a total fire ban. In Sydney, temperatures surpassed 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) on Saturday, while swathes of western New South Wales, South Australia and northern Victoria baked through even higher temperatures nearing 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit). Temperatures are expected to cross 40 degrees Celsius for a second straight day on Sunday, while the Bureau of Meteorology has predicted a five or six-day heatwave for parts of northern New South Wales and southeast Queensland. The predictions for soaring temperatures prompted the Australian Energy Market Operator to say demand may exceed supply in New South Wales on Sunday afternoon. Australia has been experiencing hotter and longer summers with last season dubbed "Black Summer" by Prime Minister Scott Morrison due to unusually prolonged and intense bushfires that burned nearly 12 million hectares (30 million acres), killed 33 people and an estimated 1 billion animals. The Rural Fire Service issued a total fire ban for most of eastern and northeastern New South Wales for Sunday, saying there was a "very high to severe fire danger forecast" as hot, gusty winds exacerbate dry conditions.
The mysterious silver monolith in the Utah desert has disappeared - CNN
A tall, silver, shining metal monolith discovered in the desert in southeastern Utah -- which prompted theories of alien placement and drew determined hikers to its secret location -- has now disappeared, the state's Bureau of Land Management said Saturday.
(CNN)A tall, silver, shining metal monolith discovered in the desert in southeastern Utah -- which prompted theories of alien placement and drew determined hikers to its secret location -- has now disappeared, the state's Bureau of Land Management said Saturday. The monolith was removed by an "unknown party" sometime Friday night, the agency said in a Facebook post. "We have received credible reports that the illegally installed structure, referred to as the 'monolith,' has been removed" from BLM public lands, the post said. "The BLM did not remove the structure, which is considered private property." 'We've got to go look at it!' The monolith was first discovered November 18 by officers from the Utah Department of Public Safety's Aero Bureau. They were flying by helicopter, helping the Division of Wildlife Resources count bighorn sheep in southeastern Utah, when they spotted something that seemed right out of "2001: A Space Odyssey." "One of the biologists ... spotted it, and we just happened to fly directly over the top of it," pilot Bret Hutchings told CNN affiliate KSL. "He was like, 'Whoa, whoa, whoa, turn around, turn around!' And I was like, 'What.' And he's like, 'There's this thing back there -- we've got to go look at it!'" And there it was -- in the middle of the red rock was a shiny, silver metal monolith sticking out of the ground. Hutchings guessed it was "between 10 and 12 feet high." It didn't look like it was randomly dropped to the ground, he told KSL, but rather it looked like it had been planted. "I'm assuming it's some new wave artist or something or, you know, somebody that was a big ("2001: A Space Odyssey") fan," he said, referencing a scene in the 1968 film where a black monolith appears. Still, it is illegal to install structures or art without authorization on public lands "no matter what planet you're from," said Utah DPS in a statement released Monday. The location of the monolith was not disclosed because authorities said they didn't want curiosity seekers to become stranded in the remote landscape and need to be rescued. But of course, that didn't stop some. Several people already successfully located the monolith, tucked in a redrock slot canyon south of Moab. The trek involved driving in the darkness over rocky terrain and verifying GPS coordinates, according to three people who went to see it. At least one explorer got lost at first. But the trip was worth it, they said, even if the monolith wasn't the work of aliens. David Surber may have been among the very first to view the monolith in person. The coordinates to the monolith were circulating on Reddit, but none of the users could confirm they were correct. Surber volunteered to find out. The coordinates were indeed correct, and Surber eagerly shared the results of his visit with 200 Reddit users who'd flooded his inbox. Among his findings: The monolith wasn't magnetic or solid (he said it sounded "like a cardboard box" when he knocked on it). He also shared step-by-step instructions for the drive out to the monolith. "At the end of the day, extraterrestrial or made through artistic expression; the monolith provided an opportunity for thousands of people to rally behind something positive again," he told CNN in an email. "It was a good escape from all the negativity we've experienced in 2020." CNN's Scottie Andrew and Leah Asmelash contributed to this report.
Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismisses another election case brought by Republicans - CNN
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit Saturday night from US Rep. Mike Kelly and other Republicans, after they had tried to invalidate absentee voting and block the certification of votes in recent weeks.
(CNN)The Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit Saturday night from US Rep. Mike Kelly and other Republicans, after they had tried to invalidate absentee voting and block the certification of votes in recent weeks. The dismissal adds to a growing number of losses in court for Republicans and supporters of President Donald Trump, who have tried to attack voting systems in the wake of President-elect Joe Biden's victory. The lawsuits have failed almost uniformly. The court was unanimous in deciding against Kelly and others, and refusing to block vote certification on Saturday. Five of the seven judges wrote that they believed the lawsuit had been filed far too late, a year after absentee voting procedures had been established in the state and weeks after millions of Pennsylvanians voted in good faith. "It is beyond cavil that Petitioners failed to act with due diligence in presenting the instant claim," the court wrote in its majority opinion. The high court said the Republicans couldn't reconfigure their complaints and try again. Lower courts in the state had said the lawsuit, which was filed weeks after Election Day, could stop counties from certifying votes, but that move had essentially become irrelevant. Pennsylvania counties had already certified their vote counts, making Biden the winner of the battleground state by an 80,000-vote margin. This is a breaking story and will be updated.
Former top cybersecurity official says Trump firing by tweet was 'not how I wanted to go out' - CNN
Christopher Krebs, the former top cybersecurity official, said President Donald Trump's decision to unceremoniously fire him via tweet last week was "not how I wanted to go out."
(CNN)Christopher Krebs, the former top cybersecurity official, said President Donald Trump's decision to unceremoniously fire him via tweet last week was "not how I wanted to go out." Krebs, who was booted from his job as director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, told CBS' "60 Minutes" in an interview that he was not completely surprised by his dismissal and shared that he's most upset about not having a chance to say farewell to his former team. "I don't know if I was necessarily surprised. It's not how I wanted to go out," Krebs told CBS' Scott Pelley in an excerpt of an interview released Friday and set to air in full on Sunday. "The thing that upsets me the most about that is I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to my team. And I'd worked with them for three and a half years, in the trenches. Building an agency, putting CISA on the national stage. And I love that team. And I didn't get a chance to say goodbye, so that's what I'm most upset about." Trump last Tuesday announced that Krebs would be "terminated" from his job running the cyber arm of the Department of Homeland Security "effective immediately" because Krebs' recent statement in which he rejected Trump's claims of widespread voter fraud was "highly inaccurate." CNN reported ahead of his firing that Krebs had expected the move. The statement from Krebs' agency, along with state and private election officials, read: "The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history. ...There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised." In his interview with "60 Minutes," Krebs told the outlet "I stand by that" statement. CNN and other outlets projected President-elect Joe Biden as the election winner, but Trump has not conceded the race, refusing to accept the results and instead pushing baseless conspiracies that his second term is being stolen. CNN's Kaitlan Collins and Paul LeBlanc contributed to this report.
With all eyes on Georgia, RNC chair tries to convince Republicans to vote in runoff elections - CNN
At a Saturday campaign stop in Marietta, Georgia, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel attempted to persuade Republicans to vote in the Georgia Senate runoff elections, even as voters expressed ambivalence about expanding "money and work when it…
(CNN)At a Saturday campaign stop in Marietta, Georgia, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel attempted to persuade Republicans to vote in the Georgia Senate runoff elections, even as voters expressed ambivalence about expanding "money and work when it's already decided." Incumbent Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are facing tough reelection battles in two January runoff elections that could determine control of the US Senate. "It's not decided. This is the key -- it's not decided," McDaniel told a fiery crowd of Republicans who turned the RNC chair's meet-and-greet session Saturday into a public airing of grievances surrounding the November 3 election. She pointed to the certified results of the November 3 Georgia Senate race that showed Perdue leading Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff by more than 88,000 votes. In Georgia, if no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the two top vote-getters head to a runoff. "So if you lose your faith and you don't vote and people walk away -- that will decide it," McDaniel said. President Donald Trump, who announced Thursday he'd travel to Georgia next week to campaign for Loeffler and Perdue, has leveled baseless claims of widespread fraud in Georgia, calling Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, "the enemy of the people." "Well, I told (Sens. Loeffler and Perdue) today, I think you're dealing in a very fraudulent system. I'm very worried about that," the President said during a news conference Thursday, calling both Republican senators "tremendous people." Over the course of the 20-minute event on Saturday, McDaniel fielded questions from Republicans based on a series of false claims from Trump surrounding the certified election results in Georgia, including at least one voter who alleged voting machines changed votes cast in favor of the President. "We didn't see that in the audit, so we've got to just ... That evidence we haven't seen, so we'll have to wait and see," she said. Closing her remarks, McDaniel appealed to voters "upset with some Republicans," including Raffensperger, "to focus on the mission at hand." "And it is Jon Ossoff and (Raphael) Warnock," McDaniel said, prompting a member of the audience to shout out, "And Donald Trump!" "But we've got to focus on January 5th right now," McDaniel continued. "We can deal with those other things later." Speaking with reporters after the event, the RNC chair dismissed concerns that apprehension over the legitimacy of the election might discourage the President's supporters from voting in the runoff. "The President has said, unequivocally, that he supports Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue and he's going to come to Georgia to campaign for them," she told CNN. "And they're going to need him here to campaign, because as you saw just in that room, the President has broad support here in Georgia and they want to see him out there on the campaign trail for these candidates, as he continues to fight his own battles and make sure that his election was fair and transparent." On a Small Business Saturday walking tour in Atlanta, Ossoff called Republicans' election claims a "distraction." "So all of that nonsense and distraction, the denial about the election outcome, we need to be focused on containing the spread of this virus and rushing direct financial relief to ordinary Americans who are suffering," he said. CNN's Maeve Reston contributed to this report.