Biden takes Arizona, cementing presidential win despite Trump’s refusal to concede

Biden takes Arizona, cementing presidential win despite Trump’s refusal to concede
Biden’s win in Arizona gives the Democrat 290 electoral votes in the state-by-state Electoral College. (File/AFP)
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Updated 13 November 2020

Biden takes Arizona, cementing presidential win despite Trump’s refusal to concede

Biden takes Arizona, cementing presidential win despite Trump’s refusal to concede
  • The Republican president has repeatedly claimed the election was marred by widespread fraud
  • The Trump campaign has filed lawsuits challenging the vote counts in individual states

WASHINGTON/WILMINGTON, Delaware: President-elect Joe Biden will win the battleground state of Arizona, Edison Research projected on Thursday, dealing another blow to President Donald Trump’s struggling effort to overturn the results of the Nov. 3 presidential election.
Biden’s win in Arizona gives the Democrat 290 electoral votes in the state-by-state Electoral College that determines the winner, more than the 270 needed to claim victory. Biden is also winning the popular vote by more than 5.2 million votes, or 3.4 percentage points.
With a few states still counting votes, the electoral math is daunting for Trump. The Republican president has repeatedly claimed the election was marred by widespread fraud, with no evidence to support his assertions. He would need to overtake Biden in at least three battleground states where Biden currently leads by varying margins.
The Trump campaign has filed lawsuits challenging the vote counts in individual states, although some have already been thrown out by judges. Legal experts have said the litigation stands little chance of altering the outcome, and state election officials have said they see no evidence of serious irregularities or fraud.
Hand-count audits in more than six Arizona counties, including Maricopa County, where a majority of the state’s residents live, found only minor discrepancies, the secretary of state’s office reported earlier on Thursday. The audits involve hand counts of a random sampling of ballots.
Thus far, most Republican officials and lawmakers have publicly backed Trump’s attempt to contest the election results and declined to recognize Biden as the president-elect.
But a handful of Republican senators on Thursday urged the Trump administration to allow Biden to receive intelligence briefings, implicitly acknowledging he could eventually occupy the White House even as they refused to recognize his win.
The president-elect traditionally receives such briefings from the intelligence community to learn of threats facing the United States before taking office.
“I don’t see it as a high-risk proposition. I just think it’s part of the transition. And, if in fact he does win in the end, I think they need to be able to hit the ground running,” Senator John Cornyn told reporters.
Other Republican senators also said Biden should have access to classified briefings, including Lindsey Graham, a vocal Trump supporter, as well as Ron Johnson, James Lankford and Chuck Grassley.
The top House Republican, Kevin McCarthy, opposed the idea.
“He’s not president right now. I don’t know if he’ll be president January 20th,” McCarthy said.
Biden remained focused on preparing to govern. The former vice president, who is set to become America’s second Roman Catholic president, following John F. Kennedy in the 1960s, spoke with Pope Francis on Thursday, thanking him for his “blessing and congratulations” and vowing to work together on issues such as climate change and poverty, his transition team said.


US gun lobby NRA declares bankruptcy, plans to incorporate in Texas

US gun lobby NRA declares bankruptcy, plans to incorporate in Texas
Updated 27 min 40 sec ago

US gun lobby NRA declares bankruptcy, plans to incorporate in Texas

US gun lobby NRA declares bankruptcy, plans to incorporate in Texas
  • NRA execs are facing charges of illegally diverting funds for lavish personal trips and other questionable expenditures
  • New York Attorney General Letitia James said she would not allow the NRA to “evade accountability” or oversight

AUSTIN, Texas: The National Rifle Association announced Friday it has filed for bankruptcy protection and will seek to incorporate the nation’s most politically influential gun-rights group in Texas instead of New York.
The announcement came months after New York’s attorney general sued the organization over claims that top executives illegally diverted tens of millions of dollars for lavish personal trips, no-show contracts for associates and other questionable expenditures.
The coronavirus pandemic has also upended the NRA, which last year laid off dozens of employees. The group canceled its national convention and scuttled fundraising. The NRA’s bankruptcy filing listed between $100 million and $500 million in assets and between $100 million and $500 million in liabilities. Still, the NRA claimed in announcing the move that the organization was “in its strongest financial condition in years.”
The NRA filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in federal court in Dallas and said it planned to incorporate in Texas, where records show it formed a limited liability corporation, Sea Girt LLC, in November 2020. Sea Girt LLC made a separate bankruptcy filing Friday, listing fewer than $100,000 in liabilities.
In its filing, the NRA said its longtime leader, Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, made the decision to file for bankruptcy protection in consultation with a “special litigation committee” comprised of three NRA officials that was formed in September to oversee its legal strategies. The NRA board voted Jan. 7 to clarify LaPierre’s employment agreement, giving him the power to “reorganize or restructure the affairs” of the organization.

National Rifle Association executive Wayne LaPierre and other officials of the gun lobby are facing charges of diverting the gun lobby's money for lavish personal expenses. (AFP file photo)

“The move will enable long-term, sustainable growth and ensure the NRA’s continued success as the nation’s leading advocate for constitutional freedom – free from the toxic political environment of New York,” the NRA said in a statement.
A message seeking comment was left with a Dallas lawyer who made the bankruptcy filings on behalf of the NRA and Sea Girt LLC.
Shortly after the announcement, New York Attorney General Letitia James said she would not allow the NRA to “evade accountability” or oversight. Her office’s lawsuit last year highlighted misspending and self-dealing claims that have roiled the NRA and LaPierre in recent years— from hair and makeup for his wife to a $17 million post-employment contract for himself.
“The NRA’s claimed financial status has finally met its moral status: bankrupt,” James said.
The gun-rights group boasts about 5 million members. Though headquartered in Virginia, the NRA was chartered as a nonprofit in New York in 1871 and is incorporated in the state. Going forward, the NRA said a committee will study opportunities to relocate segments of its operations to Texas and elsewhere.
The NRA’s largest creditor, owed $1.2 million, is Ackerman McQueen, which is the group’s former advertising agency that was behind the now-shuttered NRA TV service. The NRA sued the Oklahoma-based company in 2019, alleging it was being overbilled and said in Friday’s bankruptcy filing that the debt it is owed is disputed. The lawsuit is pending. A message seeking comment was left with Ackerman McQueen.
In the New York lawsuit, Ackerman McQueen was accused of aiding lavish spending by LaPierre and other NRA executives by picking up the tab and then sending a lump sum bill to the organization for “out-of-pocket expenses.”
“No financial filing can ever shroud the moral bankruptcy of Wayne LaPierre and his wife and their lap dogs on the NRA board,” said Bill Powers, an Ackerman McQueen spokesperson and former public affairs director for the NRA.
Court records also show more than $960,000 owed to Membership Marketing Partners LLC, a firm that lists its headquarters at the same address as the NRA. Another $200,000 is owed to Speedway Motorsports, the North Carolina-based company that owns and operates NASCAR tracks, according to the records.
Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott quickly welcomed the news, tweeting: “Welcome to Texas — a state that safeguards the 2nd Amendment.” The NRA said it has more than 400,000 members in Texas and plans to hold its annual convention in Houston later this year.