The US electoral college has met today and while the summit is usually a rather dull formality, it has garnered a lot of attention this year because President Donald Trump has refused to concede defeat.
The event resulted in what was perhaps the biggest news day since Joe Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election.
Here’s what happened.
Biden officially defeated Trump
The electoral college elected Mr Biden as the 46th president of the United States, with Kamala Harris the next vice-president.
This was confirmed when California reported its 55 votes, which tipped Mr Biden over the 270 threshold needed to win the presidency.
A few hours later, once all the states had voted, the officially tally confirmed Biden had won 306 electoral votes, while Trump had won just 232.
These votes will be sent to Washington, where they will be tallied in a joint session of Congress presided over by Vice-President Mike Pence on January 5 (January 6 in Australia).
While Biden’s victory has been confirmed, he will continue to be the president-elect until inauguration day on January 20.
Trump is still President and will continue to be right up until the inauguration.
Biden compared his ‘landslide’ victory to Trump’s
Biden made a televised victory speech praising Americans for a record voter turnout.
More than 81 million people voted for Biden and Harris, giving them a winning margin of more than 7 million.
“Together, the vice-president-elect Harris and I earned 306 electoral votes while exceeding the 270 electoral votes needed to secure victory,” he said.
“306 electoral votes is the same number of electoral votes that Donald Trump and Vice-President Pence received when they won in 2016.
“At the time, President Trump called the electoral college tally a landslide.
“By his own standards, these numbers represented a clear victory event and I respectfully suggest they do so now.”
Biden shot down Trump’s claims of electoral fraud
The president-elect also used his speech to rip into the Trump campaign’s false claims of election fraud.
“The Trump campaign brought dozens and dozens and dozens of legal challenges to test the result,” Biden said.
“They were heard. Again and again. And each of the time they were heard, they were found to be without merit.
“Time and again President Trump’s lawyers presented arguments to state officials, state legislatures, state and federal courts, and ultimately, to the United States Supreme Court — twice.
“They were heard by more than 80 judges across this country, and in every case no cause or evidence was found to reverse or question or dispute the results.
“A few states went for recounts. All the counts were confirmed.
“And yet, none of this has stopped baseless claims about the legitimacy of the results.”
Biden also condemned threats made against election workers and officials as the election played out, saying intimidation attempts were “simple unconscionable”.
“It is my sincere hope we never again see anyone subjected to the kind of threats and abuse we saw in this election,” he said.
“We owe these public servants a debt of gratitude.”
Republicans acknowledged Biden’s win
Biden’s electoral college victory has been publicly acknowledged by several Republicans, despite Trump’s refusal to admit defeat.
“I’m pleased but not surprised by the number of my former Republican colleagues in the Senate who have acknowledged already the results of the electoral college,” Biden said.
“I’m convinced we can work together for the good of the nation on many subjects. That’s the duty owed to the people, to our constitution, to our history.”
One of Trump’s closest congressional allies, senator Lindsey Graham, said he had a “pleasant” 10-minute conversation with Biden.
Senator Graham said he told Mr Biden he would “be helpful where I can”.
He also said he would support a waiver for Biden’s pick as defence secretary, retired General Lloyd Austin, to serve in the role.
Senator Graham said he expected Trump to let continuing legal challenges over the election results “play out” and he saw a “very, very narrow path” for the President to achieve a second term.
Indiana senator Mike Braun said the electoral college vote marked “a watershed moment where we must put aside politics and respect the constitutional process”.
Barr is set to walk away from the A-G role
Shortly after the California voted affirmed Biden’s election victory, Trump had his own news to report.
He revealed on Twitter that Attorney-General William Barr would leave his post on December 23 to “spend the holidays with his family”.
News of Barr’s departure came shortly after he briefed the President about the Justice Department’s review into the Trump campaign’s allegations of voter fraud in the 2020 election.
In a letter to Trump, Barr pledged the allegations “would continue to be pursued”.
Barr’s fate in the waning days of the Trump administration had been in question since he last week said a Justice Department investigation had found no sign of major fraud in the November election, contradicting Trump’s false claims.
Trump’s legal team accused Barr of failing to conduct a proper inquiry.
Deputy Attorney-General Jeff Rosen will become Acting Attorney-General once Barr is gone.
The Wall Street Journal won’t retract its Jill Biden op-ed
You might remember the Wall Street Journal came under fire over an op-ed from columnist Joseph Epstein, who said future first lady Jill Biden should drop her Dr honorific because she wasn’t a medical doctor.
He argued she should focus on supporting her husband, mocked her research and likened her academic title to an honorary doctorate.
The piece prompted an angry backlash but the paper’s editorial page editor, Paul A Gigot, has since said he won’t retract the piece.
“My guess is that the Biden team concluded it was a chance to use the big gun of identity politics to send a message to critics as it prepares to take power,” he said.
“There’s nothing like playing the race or gender card to stifle criticism.
“It’s the left’s version of Donald Trump’s ‘enemy of the people’ tweets.”
Former first lady Michelle Obama wrote an Instagram post in support of Dr Biden.
“We’re doubted by those who choose the weakness of ridicule over the strength of respect. And yet somehow, their words can stick — after decades of work, we’re forced to prove ourselves all over again,” she wrote.
“Is this really the example we want to set for the next generation?”
In cod we trust
It wouldn’t be 2020 US election coverage without at least one whacky side story and today’s was a massive fish.
In our live blog covering the electoral college action, we used an image of the Massachusetts House of Representatives chamber in the Massachusetts State House in Boston:
Our bloggers Peter Marsh and Emily Olson received a lot of questions about it … and at least one “in cod we trust” comment.
It turns out that “fish” hanging above the chamber is a large carved wooden sculpture of a cod.
Old mate up there is about 1.5 metres long.
It’s known as the “sacred cod” and is a tribute to the industry to which the state owes its survival and success.
According to MassMoments.org, a large wooden fish has been hanging in the seat of Massachusetts government chambers since the 1700s, with this current one most likely to be the third iteration.
The first was destroyed in a fire and the second was lost during the British occupation.
This current one has survived a “cod-napping” by the Harvard Lampoon.