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Newsletter: President-elect Joe Biden

Welcome to a special edition of the Today’s Headlines newsletter. Joe Biden has been elected president, Kamala Harris will become the first female vice president of the U.S., and Donald Trump has become the first incumbent to be defeated in nearly 30 years.

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President-Elect Joe Biden

Joe Biden was elected the 46th president of the United States today when Pennsylvania and Nevada delivered the electoral votes he needed to claim the White House. It came after days of counting votes and amid President Trump‘s pledge to continue his fight to overturn the results.

In a brief statement, Biden said he and running mate Sen. Kamala Harris of California were “honored and humbled” by their victory and renewed a call for unity. “With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation,” Biden said.

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Biden and Harris prepared to celebrate their victory tonight in Wilmington, Del., where the former vice president lives.

By contrast, Trump tweeted, “I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!” as he headed to his Virginia golf course in the morning.

In Philadelphia, the president’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, held a news conference in a parking lot where he again alleged rampant vote fraud but provided no evidence. In the background, car horns could be heard honking in celebration of Biden’s victory.

So far, Trump’s efforts in court have made little progress, with judges in several states dismissing challenges for lack of evidence. Recounts could prolong the partisan jockeying but are unlikely to affect Biden’s status as victor.

See our electoral college map with state-by-state tallies, the results across California and how Southern California neighborhoods voted.

The First 100 Days

When Biden steps into the Oval Office in January, he will already have fulfilled his No. 1 campaign pledge: to oust Trump.

It will be much harder for Biden to deliver on his broader promises to push far-reaching initiatives to address the nation’s health, economic and social crises.

Biden’s experience and willingness to work across party lines will be put to the test as he navigates a nation further polarized in the Trump era. Senate Republicans are poised to stop Biden’s agenda in Congress, whether they keep control or Democrats eke out a one-vote majority. And Democrats are already fracturing along centrist and progressive lines.

Two opportunities for the new administration to move quickly could be fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and the helping the U.S. economy recover.

The Final 10 Weeks

Trump has 10 weeks to exact revenge on his political foes, pardon his friends and make life difficult for Biden.

Now a lame duck, Trump is continuing to push political norms and stoke partisan passions by refusing to concede and falsely claiming that he won but Democrats “stole” the race through fraud, neither of which was true.

Among the president’s first moves may be dismissal of several senior administration officials who were appointed by Trump but later deemed insufficiently loyal — or simply unwilling to do his bidding.

Those believed most in danger include FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, who found no credible reason to investigate alleged wrongdoing by Biden and his family; Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who resisted sending active-duty troops to quell racial justice protests; and CIA Director Gina Haspel, who refused to deny reports that Russia paid bounties to the Taliban to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Trump is also expected to issue a number of pardons to his allies.

Harris Makes History

As the vote count dragged on, there was remarkably little build-up for a milestone moment: Sen. Kamala Harris will be the first woman, the first Black person and the first Asian American to become vice president.

Harris has established herself as a new face of American political power, one reflective of a broad cross-section of the population that for much of U.S. history did not see itself in the nation’s leaders.

It’s been a remarkable rise for the 56-year-old Harris, who became California’s junior senator four years ago, from local to state to national politics.

For more news and analysis, sign up for our Essential Politics newsletter, sent to your inbox three days a week.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

The last time an incumbent president lost his reelection bid was 1992, when President George H.W. Bush received only 38% of the popular vote and lost to Bill Clinton.

It’s rare for sitting presidents to lose at the polls. Incumbents seeking a second term have won 17 of 24 times since 1860, a better than 70% success rate.

President George H.W. Bush waves as President-elect Bill Clinton stands alongside at the White House on Nov. 18, 1992
Nov. 18, 1992: President George H.W. Bush waves as President-elect Bill Clinton stands alongside at the White House, where they were meeting to discuss the transition.
(Doug Mills / Associated Press)

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CALIFORNIA

— Gov. Gavin Newsom will fill Harris’ vacant U.S. Senate seat. One of these people could be California’s next senator.

— Biden’s election will fundamentally reset the relationship between California and Washington at a crucial moment of the pandemic and the economic fallout from COVID-19. Here’s how politicians in the state reacted.

— Fresh on the heels of claiming victory in the battle to lead the L.A. County district attorney’s office, George Gascón promised swift changes in criminal justice policies, vowing to stop trying juveniles as adults and prevent prosecutors from seeking the death penalty.

— Southern California was hit today by the first rain of the season. Cloudy skies with a chance of more rain are in the forecast for Sunday.

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NATION-WORLD

— Many world leaders welcomed election results showing Biden as the next president, but rebuilding respect for the U.S. on the global stage remains a work in progress.

— A texting company run by one of Trump’s top campaign officials sent out thousands of targeted, anonymous text messages urging supporters to rally where votes were being counted in Philadelphia on Thursday.

— Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, was diagnosed with the coronavirus as the nation set daily records for confirmed cases since the pandemic began.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— Though Trump had some support among celebrities, it’s no secret many in Hollywood supported the Democratic ticket. Among the many who congratulated Harris on social media were Mindy Kaling, Kerry Washington and Lady Gaga.

— Our look at the election week media darlings who caught (or deserve) your attention.

— In case you missed it: Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, is an L.A. entertainment lawyer making history.

BUSINESS

— After a nearly four-day wait, the cable news networks and broadcast news divisions called Biden the winner over Trump within a 15-minute window. CNN was the first with the call.

SPORTS

— Athletes, including LeBron James, shared their feelings about Biden’s win and the election on social media.

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OPINION

— The glass ceiling that Harris just broke may not be the highest in American politics, but it’s as close as they come, The Times’ editorial board writes.

— “The people have spoken, and they chose class over crass. They chose decency, humility and grace over bluster, lies and buffoonery,” writes columnist Steve Lopez.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— Trump will lose his Twitter “public interest” protections in January after Biden takes office. (Verge)

— Inside Rudy Giuliani’s news conference in the parking lot of Four Seasons Total Landscaping (not affiliated with the hotel) in Holmesburg, Pa. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

ONLY IN L.A.

Are there any fireworks left in Los Angeles? After a stay-at-home Fourth of July, a Lakers NBA championship and a Dodgers World Series championship, L.A. residents’ supply of safe and sane explosives (and many that aren’t so safe or sane) might have been depleted. But there were still some left to join in celebrations as residents of Echo Park and other neighborhoods across the city and around the country marked Biden’s victory with fireworks — and a variety of horn honking, pot clanging and drums.

Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.


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