Biden moves forward as GOP breaks with Trump rise
President-elect Joe Biden on Monday began filling out his Cabinet positions, even as President Trump’s campaign launched new long-shot efforts to challenge the results of this month’s presidential election.
Biden rolled out his national security team on Monday, announcing his intent to nominate longtime aide Antony Blinken as secretary of State — a decision that had leaked out a night earlier.
Biden also tapped the first ever Latino to run the Department of Homeland Security, the first ever woman to be Intelligence chief, and announced that former secretary of State John Kerry would lead his administration’s efforts to combat climate change.
The Biden announcements pointed toward the inevitability of his taking office on Jan. 20, something Trump’s team has resisted but that more and more Republicans are signaling will happen.
“We have no time to lose when it comes to our national security and foreign policy,” Biden said Monday. “I need a team ready on day one to help me reclaim America’s seat at the head of the table, rally the world to meet the biggest challenges we face, and advance our security, prosperity, and values.”
Earlier on Monday, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who held Cabinet positions under President George W. Bush, said there is no evidence that widespread fraud impacted the outcome and that it’s time to move on.
“It is now time to expeditiously resolve any outstanding questions and move forward,” he wrote in an op-ed for the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Trump has sought to slow the transition to the growing consternation of Republicans and business groups.
His legal team has tried to overturn the results in court, and sow confusion around the outcome by making unsubstantiated claims about the election being stolen from them.
Republicans are increasingly speaking out against Trump’s refusal to accept the election results and are calling on the General Services Administration to ascertain Biden as the winner, which would free up transition resources and ensure the president-elect receives government intelligence briefings.
Biden and his aides have warned the GSA’s refusal to ascertain the election results could imperil national security and set back their efforts to distribute a vaccine at a time when the nation is experiencing a deadly resurgence of the coronavirus.
Portman also urged Emily Murphy, GSA’s head official, to provide the Biden transition team with access to government funds and facilities to expedite the transfer of power.
“This is only prudent. Donald Trump is our president until Jan. 20, 2021, but in the likely event that Joe Biden becomes our next president, it is in the national interest that the transition is seamless and that America is ready on Day One of a new administration for the challenges we face,” he argued.
Biden has been getting briefed on national security and the coronavirus by his own team of advisers, but he’s been shut out from meeting with current government officials because of the GSA administrator’s refusal to acknowledge that he’s the likely winner.
The president-elect has also moved forward with staffing his White House, making hires for top positions including his chief of staff and legislative affairs director.
Biden has met with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), although he still has not spoken with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
This afternoon, Biden will address the nation’s mayors about how he intends to address the coronavirus pandemic. The president-elect has been taking calls from world leaders, including several who are friendly with Trump.
Biden is projected to win 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232. The president-elect has also run up a lead of about 7 million votes nationally, with easy victories in Michigan and Pennsylvania, and closer wins in Wisconsin, Georgia and Arizona pushing him over the top.
Election officials in Michigan and Pennsylvania are expected to certify their results on Monday.
The Trump campaign and its allies have launched 11th hour emergency petitions seeking to throw out millions of ballots in Pennsylvania, where Biden leads by more than 80,000 votes.
A federal judge dismissed the campaign’s complaint over the weekend, but Trump is expected to appeal.
Georgia certified Biden as the winner late last week after a state-mandated hand recount. The Trump campaign is expected to ask for an additional recount in the state, which Biden carried by about 13,000 votes.
A recount is already underway in Wisconsin, where Biden leads by about 20,000 votes.
Recounts do not generally change the outcome of elections unless they are decided by a couple of hundred votes or less.
Nearly all of the president’s legal challenges have been met with defeat, and the president’s team has grown more desperate, asking courts to throw out millions of ballots over technicalities.
In addition to the legal setbacks, the Trump campaign’s legal team is beset by bickering and internal strife.
Over the weekend, the campaign sought to separate itself from attorney Sidney Powell, who only days earlier had participated in a press conference at the Republican National Committee alongside Rudy Giuliani.
Powell has claimed that elected Republicans in Georgia and elsewhere were bribed by foreign governments and aided in a scheme to alter machine voting systems so that they would register Trump votes for Biden.
Powell has refused to reveal any evidence for those claims.
Conservative Republicans are increasingly expressing alarm at the president’s efforts to undermine faith in the system. They’re also worried the claims about voter fraud in Georgia could suppress GOP turnout for Sens. David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) ahead of the January special election that will determine the balance of power in the Senate.
Some of the president’s staunchest allies, such as former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a former prosecutor, are growing frustrated by what they view as a legal strategy that makes sweeping claims on television but does not back them up in court.
Over the weekend, Christie called Trump’s legal team a “national embarrassment.”
Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman, one of the president’s biggest supporters in the business community, told Axios that it’s clear that Biden is the winner.
“The outcome is very certain today, and the country should move on,” Schwarzman said.
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