First Thing election special: Homeland Security experts find no fraud as Trump digs in

Election ‘most secure in American history’, as senior Republicans call for a transition of power. Plus: Trump attacks Fox News

Arizona vote counting protest, Phoenix, US
Trump’s supporters are continuing to protest against the election result, reiterating the president’s claims that the race was fraudulent. Photograph: Christopher Brown/Zuma Wire/Rex/Shutterstock

Good morning.

A coalition of federal and state officials have said they have not seen any evidence of voter fraud in the presidential election. A statement issued from cybersecurity experts said the election was in fact the “most secure in American history”, because of the reviewing and double-checking processes currently taking place across the US.

“While we know there are many unfounded claims and opportunities for misinformation about the process of our elections, we can assure you we have the utmost confidence in the security and integrity of our elections, and you should too,” the statement said.

But with just six in 10 Republicans believing that Biden won the election, Trump’s claims appear to be cutting through to voters, and experts warn that his continuing allegations threaten to undermine Americans’ trust in voting and pose a national security threat.

Many of Biden’s presidential candidate rivals, such as Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have been tipped for positions in his cabinet.
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Some of Biden’s presidential candidate rivals, such as Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have been tipped for positions in his cabinet. Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

Despite this, Biden has continued to press ahead with preparations for his presidency, including selecting his cabinet. Here, the president-elect has the opportunity to set the political direction for his administration – and to send a clear message to Trump that he will be moving to the White House in January. But who might he choose? Daniel Strauss looks at the favourites for the top positions.

Senior Republicans are starting to defy Trump

Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
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Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa was asked by CNN if Biden should have access to classified briefings, responding: ‘The answer is yes’. Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP

The longest-serving Republican in the Senate, Iowa’s Chuck Grassley, has joined calls for Biden to receive the daily intelligence briefings that would normally be given to presidents-elect. So far, Trump has denied Biden access to the briefings because he does not acknowledge his victory.

His comments came after the Republican governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine, said that Biden’s victory should be accepted. Even staunch Trump ally, senator Lindsey Graham, who has publicly stated that the president should not concede the election, said Biden should be invited to the briefings. This marks a significant blow to Trump, with most Republicans still supporting his refusal to concede.

Nancy Pelosi accuses Republicans of 'refusing to accept reality' of election result – video

Across the divide, senior Democrats are also increasing the pressure on the president to accept the election result. At a press conference hosted by house speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, Pelosi called the affair an “absurd circus” and said the president needed to “get to work on what really matters to the American people”.

  • Progressive candidates swept through Los Angeles during this year’s election, with voters in the city backing challengers over incumbents and choosing to allocate money to support services instead of the police. Lois Beckett asks how they did it.

The Trump-Fox News love affair is over

Trump speaking to Fox News in July 2020
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Trump said the news outlet ‘forgot the golden goose’. Pictured: Trump speaking to Fox News in July 2020. Photograph: Fox News

Trump launched a Twitter tirade against Fox News on Thursday, accusing them of forgetting “what made them successful”. Fox, which has long been supportive of Trump, was one of the first to call the election for Biden and has since told its viewers that Trump’s claims about the election are unsubstantiated.

It seems that the rightwing media outlet Newsmax has become Trump’s new favourite; he retweeted a number of comments from supporters saying they’d be relying on that instead. The outlet has seen an exponential rise in viewing figures since Trump publicly embraced it, jumping from 65,000 people prior to the election to 800,000 viewers of its primetime shows this week.

In other election news …

Barack Obama
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Barack Obama said that Donald Trump ‘promised an elixir for the racial anxiety’. Photograph: Larry Marano/Rex/Shutterstock
  • Barack Obama said Trump’s 2016 victory came from voters “spooked” by having a black president for the preceding eight years. Writing in a new memoir, Obama said that his “very presence in the White House triggered a deep-seated panic”. The book also reveals that Biden advised Obama to delay the raid to kill Osama bin Laden in 2011 when he served as vice-president.

  • A top cybersecurity official expects to be fired by Trump because his agency has been rejecting allegations that the 2020 election was fraudulent. Christopher Krebs is the government’s point person on securing voting technology.

  • Mark Zuckerberg has defended his decision not to suspend Steve Bannon from Facebook after the former Trump adviser called for the beheading of Dr Anthony Fauci. The Facebook CEO told staffers that Steve Bannon had not violated enough of the company’s policies to justify his suspension from the platform.

Stat of the day

The daily figure for new coronavirus cases in the US reached a record high on Thursday, at 143,231. This also marks the ninth consecutive day of cases topping 100,000, in a trend that is expected to make November the worst month of the pandemic so far.

Don’t miss this

A pro-democracy protester wears a face mask of Donald Trump during a March of Gratitude rally to say thank you to the US for their support in December last year in Hong Kong, China.
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A pro-democracy protester wears a face mask of Donald Trump during a March of Gratitude rally to say thank you to the US for their support in December last year in Hong Kong, China. Photograph: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

While it might seem like a contradiction, some pro-democracy supporters in Hong Kong and Taiwan have expressed their support for Trump’s bid to cling to power, despite Biden’s election win. The group of supporters, whom Helen Davidson describes as “small but noisy” in her report from Tapei, have been unleashing a torrent of abuse on journalists reporting or commenting on the election. Trump has long enjoyed support in Hong Kong as a result of his anti-China rhetoric and policy.

Last thing: Trump donors who downplayed Covid have contracted the virus

The mega donors were not present at the White House election night party for Trump’s financial backers, at which five people were infected with coronavirus.
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The mega donors were not present at the White House election night party for Trump’s financial backers, at which five people were infected with coronavirus. Photograph: Paul Morigi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Two billionaire Trump donors have contracted coronavirus, months after they downplayed the risks of the disease to their employees. Richard and Liz Uihlein, who own the Uline packaging company, are two of the GOP’s most significant donors. Back in April, Liz Uihlein told the Guardian the virus was “not as rampant as the press would have you make it”, while employees alleged the company had lax safety practices and had initially discouraged employees from working from home.

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