WASHINGTON - U.S. President-elect Joe Biden continued to work on his transition to power Thursday after naming a longtime aide, Ron Klain, to be his White House chief of staff.
Klain previously served as Biden’s vice-presidential chief of staff during the administration of President Barack Obama, and was the official whom Obama put in charge of the U.S. response to the Ebola outbreak in 2014.
“His deep, varied experience and capacity to work with people all across the political spectrum is precisely what I need in a White House chief of staff as we confront this moment of crisis and bring our country together again,” Biden said in a statement Wednesday night.
Klain called the new appointment “the honor of a lifetime.”
Klain’s appointment was the first and one of the most important for Biden, with the appointment of Cabinet members likely in the coming weeks.
The president-elect met again Thursday with his transition advisers, who include experts familiar with issues he will face early in his administration, as he plans for taking control of the U.S. government after being inaugurated on January 20.
Biden’s transition to power has been complicated by President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede. Trump continues to pursue legal claims, with scant evidence, that voting and vote-count irregularities cheated him out of winning.
No plans to concede yet
The CNN television network reported that Trump would not concede the election before a recount of the vote is completed in the southern state of Georgia, which officials hope to finish by November 20. Biden is ahead in the state by 14,000 votes.
A growing number of Republican lawmakers have acknowledged Biden's victory, but most have stayed quiet or urged Trump to continue his uphill legal fight to claim a second four-year term. Ohio's Republican governor, Mike DeWine, and veteran Republican political adviser Karl Rove both said Thursday that Biden had won the election.
Unofficial vote counts in the country’s 50 states show that Biden has more than the 270 votes needed for a majority in the 538-member Electoral College that determines the winners of U.S. presidential elections. So far, Trump has lost all his legal challenges affecting the outcome. Numerous cases have yet to be considered by judges, but election analysts in the U.S. say they do not expect Biden’s victory to be reversed.
Trump has blocked federal agencies from cooperating with Biden’s transition advisers. But transition team members have been talking with recently departed officials and other experts familiar with crucial defense, national security, health care and environmental issues and more to set the course for the early weeks of the prospective Biden administration.
Out of public view
Other than a brief appearance Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery to mark the annual Veterans Day holiday in the U.S. and two golf outings last weekend, Trump has stayed out of public view, He has, however, frequently commented on Twitter that he yet will win his fight for re-election.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told the "Fox & Friends" show Thursday that the president is “letting this litigation play out, letting his lawyers take the lead on this, while he stays hard at work for the American people on COVID and other matters.”
“But you will be hearing from the president,” McEnany said. “You hear from him on Twitter. You’ll be hearing from him at the right moment.”
In addition to Georgia, the outcome still has not been called definitively in the western state of Arizona, where Biden leads by nearly 12,000 votes.
If Biden wins both states, it would give him a 306-232 advantage in the Electoral College, where the most populous states have the most votes. Biden’s possible final Electoral College tally is the same total as in 2016, when Trump came out on top, unexpectedly defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton.