Biden: Successful transition despite Trump's "embarrassing" defiance
President-elect Joe Biden. EFE/Tracie Van Auken/File
President Donald J. Trump. EFE-EPA/Yuri Gripas/File
(Update: Releads, recasts)
By Lucia Leal
Washington, Nov 10 (efe-epa).- President-elect Joe Biden said Tuesday that President Donald Trump's refusal to publicly admit defeat in the Nov. 3 election was "an embarrassment" but will not hinder him from preparing properly to assume power in January.
In his first press conference since he became president-elect last Saturday, Biden downplayed the impact that Trump's defiant obstruction of the transition process would have while his team was planning to take legal measures to attempt to open up the transition process, which so far the Trump administration has been attempting to stymie.
"I just think it's an embarrassment, quite frankly. It will not help the president's legacy," Biden said of the outgoing president's obstruction.
The press conference came exactly four years after former President Barack Obama welcomed President-elect Trump at the White House and committed himself to a "smooth" transition process, a tradition in US politics that the current outgoing president has - so far - failed to follow.
Trump's defiance goes beyond the symbolism of not receiving his successor in the Oval Office. Given that he does not recognize the results of the election, his administration is not cooperating with Biden's team to guarantee that everything is ready for the handover on Jan. 20.
Specifically, Biden's team has admitted being concerned that the General Services Administration has not yet certified the former vice president's election victory, an omission that hinders his team from gaining access to the resources and the government agencies it needs to prepare for the transition.
Biden's campaign is planning to sue the GSA to unblock the process, according to severel media outlets, but Biden tried to minimize that issue and told reporters that his team has enough resources to develop the incoming administration's plans to secure that certification.
Biden said, in fact, that his team was going to do exactly what it would do if Trump had already acknowledged his defeat.
"We are already beginning the transition. We are well underway. The ability for the administration in any way by failure to recognize us - our win - does not change the dynamic at all of what we are able to do," Biden said.
The president-elect's transition team on Tuesday released a list of some 500 experts in different areas of government who will help them - that is, Biden and whoever he selects for his cabinet - to prepare to assume their duties on Jan. 20.
That group - more than half of whom are women and 40 percent of whom are black, Latino, Asian-Americans, LBGTQ+ community members or people with disabilities - will be able to begin coordinating with federal agencies only if the GSA ultimately certifies Biden's victory.
The former vice president insisted that Trump's obstruction ultimately won't matter in terms of his own activities to prepare for governing, despite the fact that - so far - the president is preventing Biden's team from receiving access to classified intelligence information.
Biden, who is intimately familiar with the workings of government as per his eight years of experience as vice president, said that although it would be useful to have access to that information, he would not be able to act on any of it anyway until he actually is sworn in as president.
He also said that he expects to name at least a couple of members of his cabinet before Thanksgiving on Nov. 26, adding that Republicans in Congress will end up recognizing his election win.
Biden said that, at present anyway, there is no evidence for any of the claims of election irregularities that Trump or Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have made, the latter having publicly backed the president's stance on Tuesday.
The Trump reelection campaign has filed lawsuits in several key battleground states to challenge the result of the election, alleging without providing any evidence that fraud was committed in the vote.
Almost all of Trump's close associates have admitted in private that the lawsuits have no chance of success because they would need to prove fraud in multiple states to have any chance of overturning the national election result, and Trump would need to gain 56 electoral votes in all to get him to the 270 threshold required to win the presidency.
Currently, Biden has 290 electoral votes and Trump has 214, according to election projections with virtually all of the votes counted in all states except for Alaska, with its 3 electoral votes, which is certain to align with Trump. Biden, however, is comfortably ahead in Georgia, while Trump is leading in North Carolina, neither of which has been "called" by media outlets yet.
Trump defiantly blocking transfer of power to Biden
By Alfonso Fernandez
Washington, Nov 10 (efe-epa).- The refusal of President Donald Trump and many of his supporters to accept defeat in last week's election opens up a chaotic scenario in the US with the Department of Justice backing the president's unfounded complaints of election fraud, even as he continues to block any cooperation with President-Elect Joe Biden's transition team.
Four days after Biden was projected by major media outlets to have won the election, Trump remains barricaded behind a wall of accusations for which he and others have been unable to present any evidence.
"WE ARE MAKING BIG PROGRESS. RESULTS START TO COME IN NEXT WEEK. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!" wrote Trump on Twitter early Tuesday morning, without offering any further details on the matter.
Although at first Republicans had opted to maintain their silence on the matter, little by little GOP leaders have been providing qualified support for the president's complaints.
Trump is "100 percent within his rights" to order an examination of allegations of "irregularities," pursue court cases and request vote recounts in assorted states, said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday in a speech on the Senate floor, refusing to acknowledge Biden's victory in the Nov. 3 vote.
"No states have yet certified their election results," McConnell said, adding "I believe the president may have legal challenges underway in at least five states."
The current situation comes in marked contrast to what occurred four years ago, when Trump defeated Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
Just a few days after the 2016 result became known, Trump was welcomed to the White House by outgoing then-President Barack Obama, thus kicking off the process of an orderly transfer of power.
That scenario seems unthinkable now.
Given this unusual situation, internal turmoil and agitation within federal agencies is becoming plain.
Just minutes after US Attorney General William Barr ordered the president's complaints of alleged fraud in the presidential election investigated, the election crimes director at the Department of Justice, Richard Pilger, announced his immediate resignation.
"Having familiarized myself with the new rule and its ramifications ... unfortunately I must resign my position as director of the Electoral Crimes Division," Pilger wrote in an internal communication that was leaked to US media outlets on Monday night.
Pilger also said he regretted that Barr's order "repeals a 40-year rule of non-interference (federal) in electoral fraud investigations during the period prior to the certification of the elections."
Barr had criticized the role of Pilger's office and had obligated all DOJ prosecutors to investigate alleged irregularities in the presidential vote before the election results would be declared to be definitive.
The government agency tasked with launching the transition process is the General Services Administration, once it has been determined that there is an "apparently successful" election winner.
That is something that, for the moment, GSI director Emily Murphy, who was appointed by Trump, has not done.
Although Biden felt it was appropriate to give the Trump administration a few days to absorb and assimilate the defeat, little by little the president-elect's campaign's unease has been growing in the face of the president's belligerent stance.
A Biden advisor said in a telephone call to the media Monday night that the Biden campaign believes that the time has come for the GSA director to quickly certify the former VP and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, as the president- and vice president-elect.
This certification is necessary so that the mechanics of the transition can begin to operate, thus authorizing access to members of the president-elect's transition team to government information and so that they may establish contact with officials at federal agencies.
Biden considers this step to be particularly necessary given the seriousness of the coronavirus crisis, which has infected more than 10 million Americans and killed more than 237,000.
Trump's campaign, meanwhile, as well as the Republican Party, have been filing more than a dozen lawsuits - some of which have already been thrown out by the courts - in several states complaining about alleged irregularities, but even if those cases are deemed to have merit it does not seem that any or all of them would be enough to reverse the projected election outcome and give the president a reelection win.
To win the election in the courts, Trump would have to turn around the vote counts in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada and Arizona, all of them states where Biden has been declared the winner and is clearly leading in the final leg of the vote counts.
According to the latest tally, Biden has 290 electoral votes, over the magic 270-vote threshold that a candidate needs to be elected president, regardless of what the popular vote total may be - although Biden is leading there, too, by some 4.5 million votes.