President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. narrowly defeated President Trump in Georgia, and Mr. Trump won North Carolina, as the two final states were called on Friday, a week and a half after Election Day.
Mr. Biden now has 306 electoral votes and Mr. Trump has 232. Mr. Biden became president-elect when he won Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes on Saturday, passing the required 270-vote threshold.
The victory for Mr. Biden in Georgia — a once reliably Republican state whose politics have shifted to the left — means that he flipped five states Mr. Trump won in 2016. The others were Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Mr. Trump did not flip any state that Hillary Clinton won in 2016.
All told, Mr. Biden won 25 states and the District of Columbia, home to a combined 57 percent of the country’s population. Mr. Trump won the other 25 states. With more than 78 million votes nationwide, Mr. Biden also beat Mr. Trump in the popular vote by more than 5.3 million votes.
Mr. Biden’s margin in Georgia currently stands at just over 14,000 votes, or 0.3 percentage points. Mr. Trump’s margin in North Carolina is more than 73,000 votes, or 1.3 percentage points.
Mr. Biden’s late surge in Georgia, thanks to his dominance in Atlanta, Savannah and the increasingly Democrat-friendly suburbs around both, transformed what had seemed to be a safe Trump state in early tabulations last week into one of the closest contests in the nation.
Mr. Trump spurred near-record turnout in the rural southwestern parts of the state bordering Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, the white outer suburbs and small cities, and the Appalachian northwest, which touches deep-red Tennessee. Mr. Biden was powered by high turnout among Black voters in Atlanta, and flipped some white voters in the suburban counties that ring the city.
Brad Raffensperger, the secretary of state overseeing Georgia’s elections, came under fire this week from fellow Republicans when the Trump campaign and the Georgia Republican Party demanded a hand recount. On Friday, the state began one. State officials say it is unlikely to change the results.
Georgia’s election drama is far from over: Both of the state’s Senate races are going to January runoffs that will determine whether Republicans retain control of the chamber
In North Carolina, Black voters shattered early-voting records in the lead-up to Election Day. But despite a late get-out-the-vote push by Democrats to motivate Black and Latino voters, Mr. Trump — who visited North Carolina a half-dozen times toward the close of the campaign — was more effective in motivating his base of white working-class and rural voters.
Mr. Trump defeated Mrs. Clinton in North Carolina in 2016 by fewer than four percentage points, but the state has been reliably red for decades: Since 1976, the only Democrat to prevail has been Barack Obama, in 2008.
That Mr. Biden flipped Georgia, a state last won by a Democrat in 1992, was dramatic, but it was years in the making: Mr. Trump defeated Mrs. Clinton there in 2016 by five percentage points, a far slimmer margin than Republicans enjoyed in previous presidential elections.
MARIETTA, Ga.— The arduous slog of recounting nearly 5 million Georgia ballots by hand got off to a smooth and rather mundane start on Friday, as auditors began the process of checking basic math, and some voters’ intentions, in a race in which President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. leads President Trump by more than 14,000 votes.
It continued even as Mr. Biden was declared the winner of the state and its 16 electoral votes on Friday afternoon.
The Georgia count, technically an audit, is a logistically challenging lift occurring in each of the state’s 159 counties. Local officials must submit new counts by Wednesday night, two days before the statewide certification deadline of Nov. 20.
The Trump campaign can then request a third tally — a formal recount — if Mr. Biden leads by less than half a percentage point. As of Friday afternoon, he was ahead by 0.3 percentage points.
Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, ordered the audit after the Trump campaign and the state Republican Party demanded a hand recount, claiming that ineligible and even dead people voted. Mr. Raffensperger has said that while his office would investigate accusations of irregularities, the overall process had been legitimate.
Mr. Biden’s legal team said on Friday that they were confident that the audit would reinforce the results of a race that has been called for him.
“We agree with the secretary of state that there is no reason whatsoever to believe that any widespread irregularities will be found,” Patrick Moore, a lawyer for the Biden campaign, said. “The Trump campaign has been loud, but so far they have not pointed to any concrete proof of any irregularity or wrongdoing.”
In Cobb County, even as election officials certified the initial count on Friday — Mr. Biden won by more than 56,000 votes — the recount got underway.
Poll workers gathered in a cavernous room as a county employee barked out instructions. “The first thing you’ve got to do with these boxes is figure out what the name of it is,” the employee said.
At each table, workers opened taped-up boxes and removed stacks of ballots sealed in plastic bags. At one table, a man held a sheaf of ballots, declared the name of the candidate on each, and handed it to a woman standing across the table who double-checked him, then placed the ballot in a bin with the candidate’s name.
Any ambiguous ballots — including five or six boxes’ worth that have already been set aside and adjudicated once — will be sent to a county adjudication panel consisting of a Democrat, a Republican and a representative from the county election board that will meet publicly on Saturday.
If there is a discrepancy in the total after this new count, the total would be recertified.
Observers were allowed to watch on Friday from an area separated off by tape. Three or four of them were concerned citizens of a conservative bent. Despite the careful and meticulous process he was watching, one Cobb County resident, Hale Soucie, 28, said he remained concerned that the count was corrupt.
“This is kind of just, you know, a show,” he said.
President Trump has put his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, in charge of his campaign lawsuits related to the outcome of the election, as well as all public communications related to them, four people familiar with the move said on Friday.
Mr. Trump turned to Mr. Giuliani earlier on Friday in reaction to the latest setback he faced in court, this one relating to votes in Maricopa County, Ariz., the people said.
The president’s advisers had warned him that they were likely to lose in that case, and he faces increasingly dim hopes of overturning the election results. Nonetheless, Mr. Trump has been trying every possible option to change the outcome and trying to get what he sees as “fighters” making his case, often conflating a media strategy with a legal one.
But the involvement of Mr. Giuliani, who held a widely mocked news conference in front of a landscaping company in Philadelphia last weekend in which he claimed widespread fraud, has vexed people on the campaign and in the White House.
A half-dozen other Trump advisers have described Mr. Giuliani’s efforts as counterproductive and said that he was giving the president unwarranted optimism about what could happen. Those advisers have said that they are concerned Mr. Giuliani is damaging not only Mr. Trump’s remaining legal options, but his legacy and his future opportunities in politics as he considers another campaign in 2024.
A campaign spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. Mr. Giuliani did not respond to a message seeking comment.
In an Oval Office meeting with aides on Thursday, Mr. Trump put Mr. Giuliani on speakerphone so the others could hear him. He angrily accused the aides of not telling the president the truth, according to people briefed on the meeting. Justin Clark, the deputy campaign manager, pushed back aggressively on Mr. Giuliani, said the people briefed on what took place.
In a blow to its efforts to try to overturn the results of the national election, the Trump campaign faced legal setbacks in three states on Friday.
In Michigan, a state court judge rejected a Republican request to halt the certification of the vote in Wayne County — home to Detroit — pending an audit of the count. In Pennsylvania, a Philadelphia judge denied the campaign’s petition to dismiss thousands of absentee and mail-in ballots. And in Arizona, the Trump campaign effectively dropped its so-called “Sharpiegate” lawsuit.
The Michigan ruling ended an unusual legal effort that could have disrupted the certification of the vote there. Judge Timothy M. Kenny noted that the audit requested by the two Republican plaintiffs in the case would have been “unwieldy” and forced the rest of Michigan to wait for its results to be certified.
The Republican plaintiffs had maintained that some poll workers were coaching voters on who to vote for and that poll challengers were not allowed to monitor vote-counting. Lawyers for Detroit had argued that about 100 Republican challengers were in fact let into a vote-counting site but that some were not allowed to return after leaving once the room filled up.
Judge Kenny wrote that some of the allegations were too general to be proven and others were “rife with speculation and guesswork.”
Less than two hours before that ruling, the Trump campaign abandoned a lawsuit in Arizona that had claimed that some ballots cast for Mr. Trump were invalidated after voters used felt-tip markers, admitting that not enough presidential votes were at stake in the case to affect the outcome of the race.
The Arizona suit stemmed from a viral rumor that falsely claimed that the state’s voting machines were incapable of tabulating ballots filled out with Sharpies.
And in Pennsylvania — in a case separate from a federal suit that is still pending there — Judge James C. Crumlish III of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas turned down the Trump campaign’s request to dismiss more than 8,000 ballots in Philadelphia County.
In five separate appeals filed on Tuesday, the Trump campaign had sought to dismiss ballots it claimed were deficient. Each appeal focused on a different technical issue, such as a lack of a date next to a voter’s signature or a missing handwritten street address.
In the hearing on Friday, Judge Crumlish signaled concern that if he ruled for the plaintiffs, thousands of people would have their votes invalidated without the opportunity to defend them.
As the Trump campaign continues its efforts to litigate the election, law firms who have represented it have begun backing away.In Pennsylvania, the firm Porter Wright Morris & Arthur withdrew from a federal suit it had filed on behalf of the campaign. And a top lawyer at Jones Day, which has represented Mr. Trump’s campaigns for more than four years, told colleagues that the firm would not get involved in additional suits in this election.
Since Election Day, Mr. Trump and his allies have relentlessly attacked the integrity of the vote with a series of lawsuits in states and counties across the country. The complaints have claimed systemic fraud in at least five states, but the evidence they have offered has so far been limited. They appear unlikely to affect — let alone overturn — the outcome of the race.
President Trump came close on Friday to acknowledging that Joseph R. Biden Jr. would be the next president, a reality he has tried to deny for days.
Then, he caught himself.
Mr. Trump was delivering remarks in the White House Rose Garden about Operation Warp Speed, the administration’s effort to develop and distribute a coronavirus vaccine, when he discussed the possibility of more extensive restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.
“This administration” will not have another lockdown similar to what took place in March, Mr. Trump said, before adding: “I will not go — this administration will not be going to a lockdown. Hopefully the, whatever happens in the future, who knows which administration it will be. I guess time will tell.”
The president has refused to concede the election to Mr. Biden despite the fact that the former vice president has amassed 306 electoral votes — what Mr. Trump called a landslide when he won the same number of votes in 2016.
Mr. Trump declined to take questions from reporters at the White House event, including one who asked when he would “admit” to losing.
The Progressive Change Institute, a group aligned with Senator Elizabeth Warren, sent an extensive list on Friday to Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s transition team that included about 400 recommended names for positions in his administration beyond his cabinet, the latest instance of the left’s attempts to help shape the president-elect’s executive branch.
The group, a sister organization to the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, also released a public-facing version of the list with hundreds of names and biographies to highlight what it called a roster of highly qualified progressive leaders.
The public list does not recommend specific candidates for positions, as some other progressive groups have done. Rather, it contains a diverse collection of potential hires, many of them not well-known outside of progressive circles, who could serve in the Office of Management and Budget, the Patent and Trademark Office, the Internal Revenue Service and other agencies.
In keeping with the views of Ms. Warren and other progressives, the list includes people who are not corporate lobbyists but instead have backgrounds in public service.
“Our assumption is that the transition wants to appoint good people, and so we are making it easy for them to appoint good people by doing the heavy groundwork,” said Stephanie Taylor, the co-founder of the group.
The personnel recommendations come as progressives are urging Mr. Biden to limit corporate influence in his administration. They want him to adopt practices that go far beyond policies embraced by his old boss, President Barack Obama, who barred officials in his administration from working on issues on which they had lobbied in the prior two years.
The push is part of a broader campaign to exert pressure on Mr. Biden over personnel and his administration’s agenda, which is complicated by the possibility of a Republican-controlled Senate.
Two other progressive groups, the Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats, released lists this week of recommendations for cabinet positions and other posts. Another group, the Revolving Door Project, has a lengthy blacklist of potential appointees it views as problematic.
The Progressive Change Institute, in collaboration with more than 40 think tanks and progressive organization, has been compiling candidates for the past year in a database that currently has more than 600 names, with the initial set of about 400 turned over on Friday. The group plans to put together another list on foreign policy.
“We really do see this as a long-term infrastructure project for progressives to identity important public service talent,” Ms. Taylor said.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Friday warned that urgent federal action was needed immediately to stop the surging coronavirus outbreak, and that a strong response could not wait until he assumed leadership of the country in January.
“This crisis demands a robust and immediate federal response, which has been woefully lacking,” Mr. Biden said in a statement, while noting that he had been briefed on the current health crisis. “I am the president-elect, but I will not be president until next year. The crisis does not respect dates on the calendar, it is accelerating right now.”
“Urgent action is needed today, now, by the current administration — starting with an acknowledgment of how serious the current situation is,” Mr. Biden added.
Mr. Biden’s statement came as Mr. Trump has refused to concede the election and allow Mr. Biden’s team access to key health officials, which a top Biden adviser warned could make it harder for the federal government to distribute a vaccine once one is approved.
“Right now — right now — there are officials inside the Department of Health and Human Services who are busy planning a vaccination campaign for the months of February and March, when Joe Biden will be President,” Mr. Biden’s incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, said Thursday evening on MSNBC. “And so, the sooner we can get our transition experts into meetings with the folks who are planning the vaccination campaign, the more seamless the transition.”
Since Mr. Biden became the president-elect, states across the country have reported 738,709 new coronavirus cases and 6,283 deaths. Some governors are considering new lockdowns, and hospital systems in hard hit areas are filling rapidly.
Mr. Trump, who dismissed the seriousness of the virus for months ahead of the election, has remained mostly silent about the pandemic raging across the nation.
Mr. Biden has said efforts to get the virus under control would begin on the first day of his administration. But not having these months to prepare for the transition will make that difficult, putting even more American lives in peril.
Mr. Biden’s advisers say that they understand very little about the workings of Warp Speed, the Trump administration project that has vaccine distribution planning well underway.
For now, Mr. Biden’s coronavirus-related teams are focusing on logistical challenges and policy questions, like how to prioritize who gets a vaccine, and how to make distribution equitable along racial and socioeconomic lines — a priority of Mr. Biden’s, but one rarely discussed by Mr. Trump — one senior adviser to the president-elect said.
Access to the Trump distribution plan will become increasingly important “from an operational perspective,” so the Biden team can take over without any hiccups, said the senior adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal transition details.
The Biden team also hopes to implement a national testing strategy but will have to start from scratch, because the Trump administration does not have one. Biden advisers are seeking guidance from groups including the Rockefeller Foundation, which has drafted a national Covid-19 testing plan and is partnering with states and cities to expand testing efforts.
More than 160 former public officials from both parties, many with deep national security and military experience, warned on Friday that the Trump administration’s refusal to give President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. immediate access to intelligence briefings and other transition services “poses a serious risk to our national security.”
The former officials include military generals and admirals, ambassadors and members of Congress — some who worked for President Trump. And they join a handful of Republicans who have broken rank with party leaders this week to compel the Trump administration to start briefing Mr. Biden and his team on intelligence matters.
“The time has come for you to recognize that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the apparent victors of the presidential election and are therefore the President-elect and Vice President-elect,” the officials wrote in a letter to Emily W. Murphy, the administrator of the General Services Administration. “Although counting is still ongoing in some states, the math makes apparent what will soon become official: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have clearly prevailed.”
Ms. Murphy has taken the nearly unprecedented step of refusing to issue a letter of “ascertainment,” which would allow Mr. Biden’s transition team to begin the transfer of power.
The letter’s signatories include a string of boldface names: Chuck Hagel, the former Republican senator from Nebraska and Secretary of Defense; Michael V. Hayden, a retired general and former director of the Central Intelligence Agency; Wesley Clark, a retired general who sought the presidency in 2004; Michael McFaul, a former ambassador to Russia, and others.
They noted that delays in the transition after the contested election of 2000 left the country vulnerable to the 9/11 attacks, and that the 9/11 Commission had recommended minimizing disruption during presidential transitions. “That recommendation carries all the more force amidst a once-in-a-century pandemic,” they wrote.
Earlier this week, Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the majority whip; Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the longest-serving Republican in the Senate; Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a close ally of Mr. Trump’s; and Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma said Mr. Biden should receive the briefings as well — in particular, the President’s Daily Brief, which is a compendium of the nation’s most closely guarded intelligence secrets and assessments of threats like terrorist plots and cyberattack vulnerabilities.
Only four sitting senators in the president’s party have publicly congratulated Mr. Biden on his victory. One of them, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, made her view on the concerns about the national security transition plain on Thursday: “President-elect Biden should be receiving intelligence briefings right now,” she said. “It’s probably the most important part of the transition.”
President Trump on Friday falsely maintained that the election he lost was “rigged” against him, even as he claimed credit for his administration overseeing “the most secure election ever.”
“For years the Dems have been preaching how unsafe and rigged our elections have been. Now they are saying what a wonderful job the Trump Administration did in making 2020 the most secure election ever,” Mr. Trump wrote in a tweet. “Actually this is true, except for what the Democrats did. Rigged Election!” (Twitter added a label to the message saying, “This claim about election fraud is disputed.”)
That the two sentiments are at odds didn’t appear to bother Mr. Trump, who also insisted, in an interview with the Washington Examiner, that he would win several states that have already been called for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.
“We’re going to win Wisconsin,” Mr. Trump said about a state that Mr. Biden has already won and where he is leading by more than 20,000 votes.
“Arizona — it’ll be down to 8,000 votes, and if we can do an audit of the millions of votes, we’ll find 8,000 votes easy,” Mr. Trump added. “If we can do an audit, we’ll be in good shape there.” Mr. Biden also won Arizona, where he leads Mr. Trump by more than 11,000 votes.
Later, he claimed it would take about “two weeks, three weeks” to overturn the results of the election, and he warned, “Never bet against me.”
In Georgia, where Mr. Biden leads by over 14,000 votes, auditors are reviewing ballots by hand, but elections officials said the audit was unlikely to change the outcome in the state. Similar audits are not underway in other states.
Karl Rove, the Republican heavyweight who served as an adviser to the Trump campaign, penned an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal this week headlined “This Election Result Won’t Be Overturned.” In it he wrote, “The president’s efforts are unlikely to move a single state from Mr. Biden’s column.”
In his first big interview as a senator-elect, Tommy Tuberville, Republican of Alabama, misidentified the three branches of the federal government, claimed erroneously that World War II was a battle against socialism and wrongly asserted that former Vice President Al Gore was president-elect for 30 days.
Mr. Tuberville, a former Auburn University football coach who decisively defeated Senator Doug Jones, a Democrat, last week, gave the remarkable interview to The Alabama Daily News on Thursday after attending orientation for new senators in Washington.
Asked if he thought Republicans could still use their potential Senate majority to pass legislation in divided government, with Democrats controlling the White House and House of Representatives, Mr. Tuberville replied that he had been given a mandate to “help people,” adding, “I don’t care if you’re a Republican or Democrat.”
“Our government wasn’t set up for one group to have all three branches of government — wasn’t set up that way,” Mr. Tuberville said. “You know, the House, the Senate, and the executive.”
The three branches of the federal government, as laid out in the Constitution, are the legislative, including both the House and Senate; the executive, or presidency; and judicial, which includes the Supreme Court.
Asked to opine on the key takeaways from the election, Mr. Tuberville said he was concerned that Mr. Biden, a mainstream, centrist Democrat, had promoted a vision that he claimed “leads more to a socialist type of government.”
“That’s concerning to me, that we’re to the point now where we’ve got almost half the country voting for something that this country wasn’t built on,” Mr. Tuberville said. “I tell people, my dad fought 76 years ago in Europe to free Europe of socialism.”
World War II was a global battle against fascism.
Mr. Tuberville also said he planned to use his Senate office to raise money for two Republican senators in Georgia who are facing runoff elections that will determine control of the chamber. Senate ethics rules bar the use of official resources for campaign purposes.
And in another exchange, he erroneously said that Mr. Gore, the Democratic presidential nominee in 2000, was president-elect for 30 days during an intense, protracted recount and legal battle. Neither Mr. Gore nor George W. Bush were considered the president-elect during that process.
The interview amounted to the most in-depth remarks Mr. Tuberville had given since he was elected last week. He cut a low profile on the campaign trail, rarely making himself available to reporters other than those at conservative outlets, but had positioned himself as a staunch supporter of President Trump.
President Trump lost the election last week, and even if he refuses to acknowledge it, the moment he is out of office, he will lose the constitutional protection from prosecution afforded to a sitting president. And then he will become more vulnerable than ever to a pending grand jury investigation by the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., into his family business and its practices, as well as his taxes.
The two-year inquiry, the only known active criminal investigation of Mr. Trump, has been stalled since last fall, when the president sued to block a subpoena for his tax returns and other records, a bitter dispute that for the second time is before the U.S. Supreme Court.
A ruling is expected soon, and if the Supreme Court rules that Mr. Vance is entitled to the records, and he uncovers possible crimes, Mr. Trump could face a reckoning with law enforcement — further inflaming political tensions and raising the startling specter of a criminal conviction, or even prison, for a former president.
Mr. Trump has contended that the investigation by Mr. Vance, a Democrat, is a politically motivated fishing expedition, a claim he has made about federal inquiries into his 2016 campaign and some of his associates.
The president has already used his presidential powers to pardon those close to him who were charged with federal crimes. And in his remaining days in office, he will likely make liberal use of the pardon pen on behalf of associates, family members and possibly even himself, as he claimed he has the right to do.
But the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation has taken on even greater significance because the president’s pardon power does not extend to state crimes, like the possible violations under investigation by Mr. Vance.
President Trump on Friday teased the possibility of showing up at a demonstration planned for Saturday in Washington, D.C., of supporters who back his refusal to concede the election.
“Heartwarming to see all of the tremendous support out there, especially the organic Rallies that are springing up all over the Country, including a big one on Saturday in D.C. I may even try to stop by and say hello,” the president wrote on Twitter. “This Election was Rigged, from Dominion all the way up & down!”
Mr. Trump has been promoting false claims that machines made by Dominion Voting Systems deprived him of votes. Like many of his recent tweets that baselessly claim election fraud, Twitter labeled this post with a warning.
Several demonstrations supporting Mr. Trump’s effort to overturn the election are set to take place in Washington on Saturday, including a “Million MAGA March,” a “Stop the Steal” rally and a “Women for Trump” event.
While the election has been called for Mr. Biden and many of Mr. Trump’s legal challenges in different states have already been dismissed or dropped, the president insists that the election was stolen.
Advisers to Mr. Trump asked supporters of the president a week ago to attend rallies that may pop up, hoping he would be comforted by their presence. Mr. Trump has joined such rallies before: In October 2016, the day after the infamous “Access Hollywood” recording of him boasting about forcing himself on women became public, Mr. Trump immersed himself in a demonstration by supporters outside Trump Tower in Manhattan.
Several advisers to the president have said that he has spent the past week floating one improbable scenario after another for staying in office while he contemplates an uncertain post-presidential future, which could include prosecution over his taxes and business practices.
Republican officials and donors have said they would like Mr. Trump to move past the fight and focus on the upcoming runoffs in Georgia, which are likely to determine control of the Senate.
“Members of the Republican Party should want the party’s brain trust focused on the Georgia Senate races, not litigating the already lost presidential election,” said Dan Eberhart, the chief executive of Canary LLC, an oilfield services company, and a Trump donor with ties to Georgia.