November 17, 2016

Even as Election Day 2016 inches ever farther into the rearview, votes are still being counted in several states as absentee and mail-in ballots reach vote-tallying facilities. And while President-elect Donald Trump clinched a decisive victory over Hillary Clinton on Nov. 8, with a likely 306 electoral votes (Michigan's 16 electoral votes haven't been officially appropriated yet) to Clinton's 232, the popular vote has yet to be decided — but Clinton's lead keeps growing.

On the night of the election, Trump's sweeping victories in several key battleground states — including ones mostly wrested from Democratic control in 2012 — carried him to victory, thanks to their crucial influence on the all-important Electoral College. But even last Tuesday it was apparent Clinton would likely carry the popular vote — that is, more individual ballots were cast for her. As Dave Wasserman noted at The Cook Political Report, Clinton's popular vote lead over Trump as of Thursday morning was up to 1.3 million:

Clinton is the second candidate in five elections to lose the presidency while winning the popular vote, after Democrat Al Gore was defeated by Republican George W. Bush in 2000 despite winning the national total by more than 500,000 votes. See the full breakdown of the 2016 popular vote here, courtesy of The Cook Political Report. Kimberly Alters

11:23 p.m.

A lot of Republicans agreed on a somewhat arbitrary rule in 2016 that the Senate should not confirm a Supreme Court nominee during an election year. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the current Judiciary Committee chairman, was so convinced by the righteousness of his argument that he said he would hold off on considering a nominee put forward by President Trump if it occurred during an election year — and he urged people to keep the tape and use his words against him if he changed his mind. Well, now he's changed his mind, and The Lincoln Project rolled the tape.

The Late Show used an earlier iteration of Graham's "use my words against me" offer and took him up on it Monday night. And Stephen Colbert's writers used a liberal interpretation of his pledge. Watch below. Peter Weber

10:19 p.m.

The Bobcat fire in Los Angeles County is continuing to threaten the historic Mount Wilson Observatory, as well as communications towers used by local television and radio stations and law enforcement.

Last week, flames were within 500 feet of the 116-year-old observatory, but firefighters were able to keep them at bay. Since the weekend, fire crews have been battling flareups at the top of the mountain, caused by winds out of the east. "Just when I thought the danger was over, it wasn't," Thomas Meneghi, the observatory's executive director, told the Los Angeles Times on Monday. Meneghi also said there is a 530,000-gallon water tank on the observatory grounds, and over the last several days, firefighters have used half of it to battle the blaze.

Since Sept. 6, the Bobcat fire has scorched more than 105,000 acres, making it one of the largest fires in L.A. County history. It is only 15 percent contained, and crews are having a hard time getting a handle on it due to the rocky terrain in the Angeles National Forest. The Bobcat fire has moved down into the Antelope Valley, where it has destroyed several homes and buildings and is quickly burning through low-lying desert shrubbery. Catherine Garcia

9:14 p.m.

Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted (R) was heckled on Monday by supporters of President Trump, who objected to Husted mentioning wearing masks.

Husted spoke at a Trump rally outside of Dayton, and came onstage sporting a red mask with "Trump 2020" printed on the front. "I'm trying to make masks in America great again," he said to jeers. Husted pulled out another mask that said "MAGA," which did nothing to get the crowd on his side — instead, the boos continued and one person shouted at him, "Get off the stage!"

"Hang on, I get it," Husted responded. "You don't like it. But when you go in a grocery store where you have to wear one ... just listen up! All right, I get it. But if somebody tells you to take it off, you can at least say you're trying to save the country by wearing one of President Donald Trump's masks."

It wasn't just the idea of wearing masks to protect others that got the crowd riled up — when Husted mentioned Gov. Mike DeWine (R), who made masks mandatory in most indoor areas, that opened him up to another round of boos. DeWine and Husted are co-chairs of Trump's campaign in Ohio, and when Trump later mentioned the governor during his speech, some jeering could be heard. Trump called DeWine "a real good friend of mine," and promised the audience, "He's opening up." Catherine Garcia

8:00 p.m.

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll released Monday shows Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden ahead of President Trump in Wisconsin, with a closer race in Pennsylvania.

In Wisconsin, 48 percent of respondents said they are voting for Biden, while 43 percent said they are supporting Trump. Regarding the coronavirus pandemic, 48 percent believe Biden would handle it better than Trump, with 40 percent saying Trump would do better than Biden. On the economy, 48 percent said Trump would do a better job managing it, and 42 percent said Biden would do better. One percent of respondents said they have taken advantage of early voting.

In Pennsylvania, 49 percent of respondents said they are voting for Biden, and 46 percent said they will vote for Trump. When it comes to the pandemic, 48 percent said Biden would be better at handling it, compared to 44 percent who said Trump would be better, and 51 percent said Trump would be better at managing the economy, with 45 percent saying Biden would be better. Two percent of respondents said they already voted in the election.

Reuters/Ipsos is surveying voters in six battleground states: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Florida, and Arizona. Additional polls are expected to be released on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Wisconsin and Pennsylvania polls were conducted online in English, from Sept. 11 to 16. In Wisconsin, 1,005 adults, including 609 likely voters, were surveyed, and in Pennsylvania, 1,005 adults, including 611 likely voters, were surveyed. Both polls have a credibility interval of five percentage points. Catherine Garcia

6:59 p.m.

A federal judge in Wisconsin on Monday extended the state's cutoff day for absentee ballots to be counted in the presidential election.

Under current law, for an absentee ballot to be counted, it must be returned by 8 p.m. on Election Day, but U.S. District Judge William Conley ruled that absentee ballots can be counted up to six days after the Nov. 3 election. He also extended the deadline for mail and electronic voter registration from Oct. 14 to Oct. 21.

The Democratic National Committee, Democratic Party of Wisconsin, and other organizations sued to extend the deadline, citing the long lines and shortage of staffers during April's presidential primary. Conley paused the ruling from going into effect for one week, and Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Andrew Hitt said the state GOP is determining next steps.

For the April primary, Conley extended the deadline to return absentee ballots for a week, and almost seven percent of all ballots cast came during that time, The Associated Press reports. The Wisconsin Elections Commission said that so far, more than one million absentee ballots have been requested for the Nov. 3 election, and the state expects as many as two million will be cast. Catherine Garcia

5:44 p.m.

President Trump on Monday said he'll probably announce his Supreme Court nominee on Saturday, and word is he's leaning toward the speculative favorite, appellate court judge Amy Coney Barrett, Bloomberg reports.

Barrett, whom Trump reportedly met with Monday, is well-regarded in conservative circles, Bloomberg notes, and, because she hails from the Midwest, there's reportedly a sense that her selection could help sway swing voters in Rust Belt and Great Lakes states. Trump also already interviewed Barrett when filling the last Supreme Court vacancy, and he reportedly considers her, per Bloomberg, to be a "smart, hard-nosed conservative jurist who would come across well during televised confirmation hearings" and hold steady on issues like abortion, gun rights, and health care when they come before the court.

Additionally, there's reportedly widespread support for Barrett within the White House, and she's also viewed as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) favorite contender.

Bloomberg reports that Barbara Lagoa, a Cuban-American from Florida, is reportedly the only other person Trump is seriously considering, but she's a distant second. While the president has spoken highly of her and her selection could help Trump electorally in Florida, he's apparently concerned that she received votes from 27 Democrats when she was confirmed to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. While that traditionally may sound like a bonus, the upcoming confirmation process will almost certainly be split along party lines so bipartisan credentials would seemingly be a non-factor, either way. Read more at Bloomberg. Tim O'Donnell

5:38 p.m.

A New York City police officer was arrested after allegedly spying on China's behalf for the past six years.

Baimadajie Angwang, 33, who worked as a community affairs liaison in Queens, spied on Tibetans living in the U.S. and reported back to New York's Chinese consulate, a criminal complaint unsealed Monday alleges. The Eastern District of New York federal court in Brooklyn charged Angwang with acting as an illegal foreign agent, as well as counts of wire fraud, making false statements, and obstruction.

Angwang was born in China and has Tibetan ancestry, and received asylum in the U.S. because he claimed he was persecuted for his ethnicity. But he still "maintained a relationship" with People's Republic of China officials at the consulate, including one whose department was "responsible for ... neutralizing sources of potential opposition to the policies and authority of the PRC," the complaint says. After first connecting with this member of the "China Association for Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture" in 2014, Angwang "reported on the activities of ethnic Tibetans," the complaint continues. He also allegedly connected consulate officials to senior NYPD officials.

As for the allegations of wire fraud, investigators found Angwang sent $100,000 to his brother in China, as well as $50,000 to another account in China. Angwang's NYPD job paid about $50,000 a year. Kathryn Krawczyk

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