U.S. President-elect Joe Biden continues his transition to power, meeting virtually on Thursday with leading state governors even as President Donald Trump continues his long-shot legal efforts to overturn the election results and retain the presidency.
Biden, two months ahead of his inauguration on January 20, is meeting with Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and other state leaders from his home city of Wilmington, Delaware.
Their discussions are likely to center on Biden’s plans when he takes office to control the surging number of coronavirus infections in the U.S. and what can be done before he starts his four-year term in the White House.
Hundreds of thousands of new infections are being recorded in the U.S., with the figure topping 180,000 on some recent days and the death toll now totaling more than a quarter million, the most in any country across the globe, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Dozens of public health experts on Thursday urged the Trump administration to allow the presidential transition process to officially start to confront the pandemic, giving incoming Biden officials access to information the Trump administration has compiled about medical supplies and the vaccines that are being developed. Preventative shots may soon be available for the most vulnerable Americans.
The health officials’ letter was written to Emily Murphy, administrator of the General Services Administration, who has yet to sign paperwork declaring that Biden had won the election so the transition can officially start.
“In light of the public health crisis facing the nation, it is imperative that you ascertain Joe Biden as President-elect immediately under the Presidential Transition Act,” they wrote, adding: “Doing so will enable the incoming Biden team to liaise with key health officials in the Trump Administration and prepare a robust, coordinated response to the pandemic.”
But to date the country’s 45th president has refused to concede defeat to the prospective 46th chief executive after their bitter, months-long election campaign. As a result, Trump has kept Biden from seeing government intelligence about national security threats the U.S. might be facing or granted Biden aides access to a long list of government agencies.
The Republican Trump is clinging to the hope that he yet can overturn the results in a handful of battleground states that Biden won and retain the presidency, even as national news media say that the Democrat won well more than the 270-majority in the 538-member Electoral College that is determinative in U.S. presidential elections, not the national popular vote, which Biden also won.
Trump has lost numerous lawsuits claiming voting and vote-counting irregularities, and final vote tabulations are upholding Biden’s victories in key states.
The southern state of Georgia has completed its recount, which cut Biden’s advantage from slightly more than 14,000 votes to 12,781 after it was discovered that some ballots in two Trump-leaning counties had not originally been counted. But Biden is still projected to win the state’s 16 electoral votes.
Staying at the White House without venturing out for public appearances, Trump said on Twitter, “Thousands of uncounted votes discovered in Georgia counties. When the much more important signature match takes place, the State will flip Republican, and very quickly. Get it done!”
He complained, “Almost ZERO ballots rejected in Georgia this election. In years past, close to 4%. Not possible. Must have signature check on envelopes now. Very easy to do. Dems fighting because they got caught. Far more votes than needed for flip. Republicans must get tough!
The Trump campaign withdrew a lawsuit against officials in the Midwestern state of Michigan that sought to stop the state from certifying its election results, which showed Biden winning by 155,000 votes. The lawsuit dealt with minor issues that would not have overturned the statewide result and did not provide proof of fraud.