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Biden plans administration as Trump allies ignore election outcome
“There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday, cracking a smile.
Earlier in the day, Vice President Mike Pence reportedly told Republican senators that he expected to continue in office for another four years.
Inside the White House, the Office of Management and Budget is preparing President Trump’s next annual budget, while the Presidential Personnel Office is vetting staffers to serve in a second Trump term.
The only problem? Trump lost his re-election bid last week, and by a fairly decisive margin. President-elect Joe Biden currently leads Trump by about 5 million votes nationwide, and in states totaling 306 electoral votes — the exact Electoral College margin Trump has repeatedly described as a “landslide” since 2016. Every major media organization has declared the race for Biden.
But despite Trump’s loss, his allies and appointees are carrying on as if a winner is not yet known. “The president wasn’t defeated by huge numbers,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) told reporters Tuesday. “In fact, he may not have been defeated at all.”
It is true that the election results have not been officially certified in most states, as President Trump continues to contest their legality. But Biden’s advantages — 149,000 votes in Michigan; 46,000 votes in Pennsylvania; 37,000 votes in Nevada; 21,000 votes in Wisconsin; 14,000 votes in Georgia; 13,000 votes in Arizona — are large enough to withstand legal challenges. According to a study of statewide recounts conducted between 2000 and 2015, the average swing in votes was 282 ballots, which would not be nearly enough to overturn Biden’s victory in any battleground state.
The Trump campaign’s challenges are mostly focused on chunks of votes much too small to be decisive: in Pennsylvania, for example, the GOP has gone all the way to the Supreme Court to fight against mail-in ballots that arrived in the three days after the election. But the state’s chief election officer announced Tuesday that only around 10,000 ballots had been received late, meaning Biden would still lead more by than 35,000 votes if they were all thrown out.
Overall, NPR reported Tuesday, Trump’s election lawsuits “have mostly failed.” And despite repeated claims by the president, Republicans have yet to offer any evidence of systematic fraud taking place in the election. The New York Times contacted election officials in all 50 states, representing both political parties; each “said that there was no evidence that fraud or other irregularities played a role in the outcome of the presidential race,” according to the report.
According to ABC News, the president’s aides and family members privately admit “there is no path forward at this point.” But, according to Politico, there are two main reasons congressional Republicans refuse to acknowledge Biden’s election: “Georgia and Georgia.” Party leaders are reportedly afraid that accepting the presidential results will anger Trump and dampen turnout among his core supporters in the pair of Georgia runoffs on January 5 that will determine control of the Senate.
Just as Trump and his congressional allies have ignored Biden’s victory, his administration appointees have done the same, refusing to cooperate with the president-elect’s transition team. The delay has blocked Biden’s aides from being able to take advantage of government resources and has prevented the president-elect from receiving full, daily intelligence briefings, which have been provided to every incoming president since the 1960s.
“Our adversaries aren’t waiting for the transition to take place. @JoeBiden should receive the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) starting today,” former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) tweeted Tuesday. “He needs to know what the latest threats are & begin to plan accordingly. This isn’t about politics; this is about national security.”
“I can’t think of a worse time to stall a transition than amid a deadly pandemic,” Gov. Charlie Baker (R-MA) said in a statement. Baker also criticized Attorney General William Barr for empowering federal prosecutors to investigate voter fraud, despite the lack of credible allegations.
Former White House chiefs of staff John Podesta (who served under Bill Clinton) and Andy Card (who served under George W. Bush) echoed Rogers and Baker in a Washington Post op-ed, describing the consequences of a delayed transition as “life-threatening.” After the 2001 terrorist attacks, the 9/11 Commission pointed to Bush’s delayed transition as having hurt the new administration’s ability to fill key positions and protect national security.
Accordingly, Biden is already preparing to take office, despite the Trump administration’s attempts to ignore the outcome. The president-elect on Tuesday appointed his agency review teams, identifying the roughly 500 individuals who will make plans for the new administration in a variety of top government agencies. Biden has also spoken to several world leaders, taking calls on Tuesday with President Emmanuel Macron of France, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Taoiseach Micheál Martin of Ireland, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom.
“We’re already beginning the transition. We are well underway,” Biden told reporters Tuesday, brushing aside the comments from Trump, Pompeo, and others.
Asked about the president’s refusal to accept the results, Biden responded bluntly: “I just think it’s an embarrassment, quite frankly. It will not help the president’s legacy.”
The United States reported 1 million new cases of coronavirus in the first 10 days of November. The U.S. recorded 130,989 new cases on Tuesday, according to the COVID Tracking Project, a single-day record. The project said that hospitalizations in the U.S. have also reached an all-time high: 61,964. “There are now 40 percent more people hospitalized with COVID-19 than there were two weeks ago,” The Atlantic reported, calling Tuesday “the worst day of the pandemic since May.”
The Affordable Care Act appeared likely to survive after oral arguments at the Supreme Court on Tuesday. “Two members of the court’s conservative majority — Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh — suggested they’re unlikely to throw out the entire health care law, as Republican attorneys general and the Trump administration have urged,” Axios reported. “Their votes would be enough to save it.”
Democrats will remain in control of the House of Representatives for the next two years, the Associated Press said Tuesday. “Democrats lost several seats to Republicans in the Nov. 3 election, shrinking their majority in the House, in part due to President Trump and Republicans clawing back seats they had won in 2016 and lost in 2018,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Republicans also notched a key victory in the race for control of the Senate, as Democrat Cal Cunningham conceded to Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), ensuring Republicans will have at least 49 seats in the next Senate, with three races yet to be decided.
All times Eastern.
President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Second Lady Karen Pence will participate in a Veterans Day observance at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, at 11 a.m.
President-elect Joe Biden will hold meetings with his transition advisers in Wilmington, Delaware.
The House, Senate, and Supreme Court are not in session due to Veterans Day.
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