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Election 2020

Biden ‘absolutely convinced’ military would escort Trump from White House if he refuses to leave

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden sounded an alarm Wednesday about GOP moves to limit voting access, saying his “single greatest concern” is that President Donald Trump will “try to steal this election.”

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(CNN) — Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden sounded an alarm Wednesday about GOP moves to limit voting access, saying his “single greatest concern” is that President Donald Trump will “try to steal this election.” But, the former vice president said, he is “absolutely convinced” the military would escort Trump from the White House if he loses the election but refuses to leave office.

Asked by Trevor Noah on “The Daily Show” if he’s ever considered what would happen if Trump would not leave the White House if he loses, Biden responded, “Yes, I have.”

Biden pointed to Trump’s history of spreading false conspiracy theories about voter fraud, including a recent series of lies about mail-in voting leading to widespread voter fraud — which Republican and Democratic-led states are increasingly embracing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

He highlighted Georgia’s botched primary Tuesday, in which problems with voting machines and other issues led to hours-long waits at some polling places in predominantly black areas. He said his campaign is putting out a “major initiative of lawyers” to patrol voting issues.

“It’s my greatest concern — my single greatest concern. This president is going to try to steal this election,” Biden said.

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“This is a guy who said that all mail-in ballots are fraudulent, voting by mail, while he sits behind the desk in the Oval Office and writes his mail-in ballot to vote in a primary,” he said, referring to Trump voting by mail in Florida.

Still, Biden said Wednesday, he believes if Trump has lost the election, military leaders would not allow him to refuse to leave office.

Saying he was “so damn proud” of the military leaders who have recently criticized Trump, Biden continued, “you have so many rank and file military personnel saying, well, we’re not a military state, this is not who we are. I promise you, I’m absolutely convinced, they will escort him from the White House in a dispatch.”

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany called Biden’s remarks a “ridiculous proposition” during an appearance on Fox News Thursday.

Biden and other Democrats have long said they worry about Republican attempts to impose strict voting laws. Those concerns grew when in Wisconsin this spring, the national and state GOP opposed the Democratic governor’s bid to mail every voter an absentee ballot and successfully fought in court to hold an in-person spring election in April in the midst of the pandemic. At stake was a state Supreme Court seat that would cast the deciding vote in a case over whether to purge more than 200,000 voters from the state’s rolls ahead of Election Day in November. A Democrat won that election.

Two months ago, Biden said he believes Trump will attempt to move the election date because of the coronavirus — a claim Trump has rejected.

“Mark my words: I think he is gonna try to kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale why it can’t be held,” Biden said in April.

Visit CNN’s Election Center for full coverage of the 2020 race

Rep. Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana Democrat who is a co-chairman of Biden’s campaign, echoed Biden’s comments to CNN’s “New Day” on Thursday about the possibility of military intervention to ensure a peaceful transfer of power if Trump refuses to acknowledge an election loss.

“I believe the military generals and others will step up and make sure that there’s a peaceful transition of power,” Richmond said.

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Biden Expected To Repeal Military Trans Ban Tomorrow

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The Biden administration is expected to repeal the ban on transgender Americans from serving in the military, multiple people informed of the decision told CBS News. The announcement is expected as soon as Monday, one senior Defense official and four outside advocates of repealing the ban told CBS News.

The senior Defense official told CBS News the repeal will be through executive order signed by President Joe Biden. The announcement is expected to take place at a ceremony with newly-confirmed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who will order the Pentagon to go back to the policy enacted in 2016 by former Defense Secretary Ash Carter that allowed transgender Americans to serve openly.

The White House did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

The new order will direct the branches of the military to outline an implementation plan. 

The ban was announced by former President Trump via a tweet in July 2017. The ban took effect in April 2019 and barred transgender Americans from enlisting in the military.

In 2014, it was estimated there were around 15,500 transgender military members serving, according to a study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.

Biden frequently repeated on the campaign trail his promise to repeal the ban.

Austin said at his Senate confirmation hearing last week that he planned to repeal the ban.

“I support the president’s plan or plan to overturn the ban,” Austin said on Tuesday when asked by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, “I truly believe, Senator, that as I said in my opening statement, that if you’re fit and you’re qualified to serve and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve. And, you can expect that I will support that throughout.”

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Trump Pardons Steve Bannon In One of His Final Acts As 45th President

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(CNN)— President Donald Trump has decided to pardon his former chief strategist Steve Bannon, in a last-minute decision made only hours before he is scheduled to depart the White House for a final time.

Officials cautioned CNN that Trump’s decision was not final until he signed the paperwork. Trump told people that after much deliberation, he had decided to pardon Bannon as one of his final acts in office.

Bannon’s pardon would follow a frantic scramble during the President’s final hours in office as attorneys and top aides debated his inclusion on Trump’s outgoing clemency list. Despite their falling out in recent years, Trump was eager to pardon his former aide after recently reconnecting with him as he helped fan Trump’s conspiracy theories about the election.

It was a far cry from when Trump exiled Bannon from his inner circle after he was quoted in a book trashing the President’s children, claiming that Donald Trump Jr. had been “treasonous” by meeting with a Russian attorney and labeling Ivanka Trump “dumb as a brick.” Those statements from Bannon drove Trump to issue a lengthy statement saying he had “lost his mind.”

“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency,” Trump said at the time.Things shifted in recent months as Bannon attempted to breach Trump’s inner circle once again by offering advice before the election and pushing his false theories after Trump had lost.

Since Trump’s election defeat, the President has leaned further into his expansive pardon powers — granting pardons to his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, longtime ally Roger Stone and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, among others.

Among Trump’s pardons earlier in his term were those for former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, right-wing commentator Dinesh D’Souza and financier Michael Milken.

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California Governor Formally Appoints Alex Padilla To Fill US Senate Seat Vacated By Kamala Harris

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(CNN) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom formally submitted the appointment of Alex Padilla to the US Senate today, according to a press release from the governor’s office. 

Padilla formally resigned as Secretary of State this morning and Gov. Newsom also submitted his nomination letter for Assembly member Shirley Weber to replace him. The Deputy Secretary of State, James Schwab, will be the Acting Secretary of State.

“It is fitting that on the same day we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — a civil rights icon who fought for justice and representation — we also move forward the appointment of California’s first Latino U.S. Senator Alex Padilla and the nomination of Dr. Shirley Weber who will serve as the first-ever African American Secretary of State. Both will be strong defenders of our democracy during this fragile moment in our nation’s history,” said Gov. Newsom.

“I am humbled and honored by your trust in me to represent California in the United States Senate. I look forward to continuing to serve the great State of California as a United States Senator and to ensuring that the rights and democratic principles we cherish are protected and preserved for all people,” Padilla wrote in a letter to Gov. Newsom.

Some context: Earlier today, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris formally resigned her seat as one of California’s US Senators. She’ll be inaugurated as vice president on Wednesday, Jan. 20. In a farewell addressed posted to Twitter, Harris said, “Of course, I’m not saying goodbye. In many ways, I’m now saying hello as your vice president.”

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