Biden Scoffs at Trump’s Refusal to Concede as an ‘Embarrassment’

by BLOOMBERG/ pic by TMR FILE

PRESIDENT-elect Joe Biden (picture) said Donald Trump’s refusal to accept the result of the election was an “embarrassment” that will stain his White House legacy.

Biden, in his first news conference as president-elect, said he was moving forward regardless of Republican legal challenges and Trump’s refusal to allow his administration to cooperate in the smooth transition of power.

“I just think it’s an embarrassment, quite frankly,” Biden told reporters in Wilmington, Delaware. “How can I say this tactfully? I think it will not help the president’s legacy.”

Biden said he is not receiving the full intelligence briefing normally afforded to presidents-elect. The Trump administration has refused to give Biden’s transition team access to the secure facilities required for such a briefing.

“Obviously the PDB would be useful,” Biden said of the Presidential Daily Brief. “Access to classified information would be useful,” he said but noted that the stand-off “does not change the dynamic at all of what we’re able to do.”

Republicans have escalated their efforts to challenge Biden’s victory.

On Monday, Attorney General William Barr authorized Justice Department officials to open inquiries into potential irregularities in the presidential election, though he acknowledged there’s no conclusive evidence.

Barr received cover from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who delivered a floor speech earlier Monday saying that the president is “100% within his rights” to challenge the election results. The attorney general’s announcement came after he met with the top Senate Republican at the US Capitol.

Biden, a long-serving senator, said he had not yet spoken to the Senate leader, who he referred to as “Mitch,” but said he expects to do so soon.

The Justice Department said neither Trump nor anyone at the White House had asked Barr to take action, but some Republican lawmakers signed a letter recently asking him to intervene.

Trump signaled that he’s emboldened about his chances of a second term. “WE WILL WIN!” Trump tweeted on Tuesday morning.

Taken together, Democrats say the moves represent what could be an effort by the federal government to change the results of a US election – something that would be unparalleled in the nation’s modern history. Trump’s refusal to concede has also bogged down the legal transition process, leaving Biden to hold public events that emphasize his presidential posture.

Legal Deadline

Trump and his supporters have until Dec. 8 to complete any legal challenges. That’s the so-called “safe harbor” day in order for a state’s electors to be automatically accepted by Congress.

Before Barr’s intervention, the Trump team’s legal push was sputtering. Several lawsuits were thrown out in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Michigan, Arizona and Georgia – all states where Biden has a lead. The public front-man for the effort has been Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney who railed against media organizations for projecting Biden as the winner over the weekend.

Meanwhile, Biden is forging ahead with forming his government in waiting. He is expected to name a chief of staff as early as this week and plans to make additional policy announcements.

Tuesday he addressed the need to protect the Affordable Care Act, the same day the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that could gut the Obama administration’s signature health-care law.

“These ideologues are once again trying to strip health coverage away from millions of people,” he said of Republican lawmakers. He vowed to start in January to work with Congress to increase protections for coverage.

“We will not abandon you. That is a promise,” Biden said.

Late Monday, Biden’s transition team insisted that the Trump administration affirm the Democrat as the winner releasing millions of dollars in funding and unlocking access to federal resources.

Transition officials would not rule out legal action to force the issue, but Biden dismissed such a move as unnecessary.

Biden has secured 290 Electoral College votes, according to the Associated Press and networks, more than the 270 required for election. Trump has 213.

‘His Campaign’s Job’

Senior Republican lawmakers said they were willing to let Trump make his challenges. But they mostly haven’t repeated the president’s unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud and indicated there may be a limit to how long the challenges could play out.

Asked whether he saw evidence of improper voting or tabulations, Texas GOP Senator John Cornyn said that’s the responsibility of the Trump campaign.

“In the end, they’re going to have to come up with some facts and evidence,” Cornyn said. “But that’s not my job, that’s his campaign’s job.”

Acknowledging Biden Win

Only four Republican senators have publicly acknowledged Biden’s victory: Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Ben Sasse of Nebraska. Former President George W. Bush, a Republican, spoke with Biden and has congratulated him on his election.

Biden may have to work with McConnell once he is sworn in in January if Democrats do not win the two Senate races in Georgia that will be decided by a Jan. 5 run-off. The two seats would essentially give Democrats the narrowest of majorities by dividing the Senate 50-50. As vice president, Kamala Harris would break any ties.

The incumbent Republicans in the race — David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler — made clear they were sticking with Trump’s insistence that he won, assailing the state’s Republican elections official and demanding his resignation for failing “to deliver honest and transparent elections.” They offered no evidence for their claims and he promptly refused.

Biden could announce some roles, including the key role of chief of staff, as early as this week, according to people familiar with the timeline. Ron Klain, Biden’s chief of staff when he served as vice president, is widely expected to fill that role in the White House, and Ted Kaufman, Biden’s longtime chief of staff in the Senate, is likely to join the administration in a counselor to the president role.

Others likely to be chosen for top positions include Jake Sullivan, Mike Donilon, Bruce Reed, Steve Ricchetti, Kate Bedingfield and Symone Sanders.

The transition effort is being led by Jeff Zients and Yohannes Abraham, who both served in the Obama administration, and they could join the administration in key roles.