Wisconsin, Arizona certify Biden's victory over Trump
Former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen nominated for treasury secretary
U.S. president-elect Joe Biden's election victories in Arizona and battleground Wisconsin were certified Monday, dealing further blows to President Donald Trump's efforts to discredit the results of the Nov. 3 election.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, signed a certificate that completed the process after the canvass report showing Biden as the winner was approved by the chair of the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission. That approval came after a recount of presidential ballots in two of the state's largest counties requested by the Trump campaign.
Evers's signature was required by law and is typically a procedural step that receives little attention.
"I want to thank our clerks, election administrators and poll workers across our state for working tirelessly to ensure we had a safe, fair and efficient election. Thank you for all your good work," Evers said in a statement.
The signing Monday now starts the clock on a five-day countdown to the deadline for filing a lawsuit contesting the result. Trump has promised he would file such a suit no later than Tuesday, part of a long-shot attempt to overturn the result by disqualifying as many as 238,000 ballots.
Trump's attorneys have alleged without evidence that there was widespread fraud and illegal activity in the voting process.
Biden's campaign has said the recount showed that Biden won Wisconsin decisively and there was no fraud. Even if Trump were successful in Wisconsin, the state's 10 electoral college votes would not be enough to undo Biden's overall victory.
Wisconsin recount increased Biden lead
"There's no basis at all for any assertion that there was widespread fraud that would have affected the results," Wisconsin's Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul said in a statement Monday.
He noted that Trump's recount targeted only the state's two most populous counties where the majority of Black people live.
"I have every confidence that this disgraceful Jim Crow strategy for mass disenfranchisement of voters will fail," Kaul said. "An election isn't a game of gotcha."
Biden and vice-president-elect Kamala Harris were also set to receive their first classified presidential daily intelligence briefing on Monday, which the Trump administration had previously refused to provide.
Trump paid $3 million US for recounts in Dane and Milwaukee counties, the two largest Democratic counties in Wisconsin, but the recount ended up increasing Biden's lead by 87 votes. Biden won statewide by nearly 20,700 votes.
Earlier Monday in Arizona, one of several states where the Trump campaign made last-ditch efforts to challenge Biden's win, election results were certified in favour of the Democratic candidate.
"We do elections well here in Arizona. The system is strong and that's why I bragged on it so much," said Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican.
The electoral college, which selects presidents based on state-by-state vote totals, meets on Dec. 14. Biden beat Trump by 306 electors to 232, a margin that Trump described as a "landslide" when it was to his benefit in 2016.
Trump has had no significant success in a series of lawsuits challenging the election and would need to overturn the result in several states to win.
Yellen nominated for treasury secretary
Biden also named several women to his top economic policy team on Monday, including former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen as treasury secretary nominee, setting the stage for diversity and a focus on recovery from the pandemic.
The advisers, several of whom would need to be approved by the U.S. Senate, come from liberal research organizations and worked in previous Democratic administrations. Their aim will be to set policies that can help people and businesses recover from the damage done by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 266,000 people in the United States and cost millions of jobs.
"This team looks like America and brings seriousness of purpose, the highest degree of competency, and unwavering belief in the promise of America," Biden said in a statement. "They will be ready on day one to get to work for all Americans."
Biden is expected to formally introduce the new economic team members on Tuesday, the transition team said.
The president-elect said he would nominate Wally Adeyemo as Yellen's deputy at Treasury. Adeyemo was a deputy national security adviser under former president Barack Obama, and was later the president of the Obama Foundation, which is overseeing the planning for the Democratic former president's library.
Yellen, 74, was head of the U.S. central bank from 2014 to 2018 and had served as the chair of former president Bill Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers.
Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, welcomed Yellen's nomination. "It will be great to have a strong, tried and tested, exceptionally talented woman at Treasury!"
We face great challenges as a country right now. To recover, we must restore the American dream—a society where each person can rise to their potential and dream even bigger for their children.<br><br>As Treasury Secretary, I will work every day towards rebuilding that dream for all.—@JanetYellen
Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate finance committee, said the chamber should hold Yellen's confirmation hearing before the Jan. 20 inauguration, as it did for current Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
"When millions of workers are unemployed through no fault of their own and sectors of the economy are struggling mightily, there is no excuse for delay," Wyden said in a statement.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who like many top Republicans in that chamber has not yet acknowledged Biden as president-elect, did not respond to questions about pre-inauguration hearings.
His colleagues have signaled that Biden's appointees may face a rough road to confirmation.
Control of the Senate — and the power to confirm or block Biden's cabinet appointees — will be determined by a pair of runoff elections in Georgia on Jan. 5.
With files from Reuters