President-elect Joe Biden will focus on shaping his core White House team on Tuesday while outgoing President Donald Trump presses on with his increasingly tenuous legal fight to reverse his loss in the U.S. election.
Several of Biden’s senior campaign staff have been discussing their roles in the transition and the new administration that takes over Jan. 20. Some roles could be announced as soon as Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the matter.
U.S. Representative Cedric Richmond, who was a national co-chair of Biden’s campaign and former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, is expected to join the administration in a senior capacity, as is Steve Ricchetti, who has long been a close adviser to Biden, the person said. Richmond’s move would leave his Louisiana congressional seat open.
Jen O’Malley Dillon, who was brought in early this year as Biden’s campaign manager and is the first woman to lead a winning Democratic presidential bid, is expected to be named a deputy chief of staff, media outlets reported.
None of the potential appointees replied to requests for comment. A spokesman for Biden’s transition team declined to comment.
Biden, a Democrat, is also set to receive a briefing on national security threats from his own advisers. Trump, who has not conceded the Nov. 3 election, has blocked him from receiving classified intelligence briefings usually provided to the successor in a transition.
In an indication of the national security challenges that Biden will inherit, Reuters reported on Monday that Trump last week asked for options on attacking Iran’s main nuclear site but ultimately decided against taking the step.
The Republican Trump has remained angry and defiant on social media even as some prominent Republicans have asserted that Biden should be considered the president-elect.
His national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, said on Monday he would ensure a professional transition in the likely event that Biden is deemed the winner.
“If the Biden-Harris ticket is determined to be the winner, and obviously things look like that now, we’ll have a very professional transition from the National Security Council, there’s no question about it,” O’Brien told the Global Security Forum.
At a news conference on Monday, Biden again called upon Trump to cooperate with the transfer of power, saying that the resurgent COVID-19 pandemic meant lives were in the balance.
“More people may die if we don’t coordinate,” he said.
But Biden also said Trump’s refusal to concede was not inhibiting his transition efforts.
“I find this more embarrassing for the country than debilitating for my ability to get started,” he said.
CLEAR BIDEN VICTORY
Though a definitive winner from the election did not emerge until four days later, Biden’s victory has become clearer as more votes have been counted.
Though legally meaningless, Biden won the symbolically important national popular vote by at least 5.6 million votes, or 3.6 percentage points, with some ballots still being counted.
In the all-important state-by-state Electoral College, Biden surpassed the 270 votes needed to win with 306 to Trump’s 232.
As states work to certify those results before a Dec. 8 deadline, Trump and his supporters have claimed he was cheated by fraud, but so far those baseless allegations have failed to gain traction in court.
Election officials from both parties and at the state and national levels have said there is no evidence of irregularities that could change the outcome.
One of Trump’s legal challenges will get a hearing on Tuesday in a Pennsylvania federal court, where another legal setback would likely doom his already long-shot prospects.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann will hear arguments in a Trump campaign lawsuit that seeks to halt the state’s top election official from certifying Biden as the winner.
The Trump campaign, after narrowing the scope of the case, is focusing on a claim that voters were improperly allowed to fix their flawed ballots.
In order to remain in office, Trump would need to overturn results in at least three of the closely contested states in unprecedented fashion, and has no apparent legal means to do so.
Trump supporters are also clinging to hope that recounts could reverse state results, even though experts have said Biden’s margins appear insurmountable.
Georgia is undertaking a manual recount on its own, but in Wisconsin the Trump campaign would have to pay for a recount in advance. The Wisconsin Elections Commission on Monday estimated such a recount would cost $7.9 million.