President-elect Joe Biden will focus on shaping his core White House team on Tuesday while President Donald Trump presses on with his increasingly tenuous legal fight to reverse his loss in the US election.
Biden is also due to be briefed on national security matters on Tuesday by his own team of advisers, rather than government experts, as the White House has blocked him from receiving the benefits normally accorded to an incoming president ahead of taking power on Jan. 20.
Biden’s senior campaign aides have been discussing their roles in the transition and in a Biden White House, and new announcements could come as soon as Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the matter.
US Representative Cedric Richmond, who was a national co-chair of Democrat 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, though it is considered safely Democratic.
Campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon, the first woman to lead a winning Democratic presidential bid, is expected to be named a deputy chief of staff.
Other appointments could also be disclosed this week, though Biden could still be weeks away from finalizing his Cabinet appointees. A spokesman for Biden’s transition team declined to comment.
Biden will meet with advisers in the afternoon to discuss national security threats. Trump, a Republican, has blocked him from receiving the classified intelligence briefings usually provided to the president-elect while he pursues a long-shot bid to overturn the election results.
General Services Administrator Emily Murphy has not yet recognised Biden as the “apparent winner,” which is needed to release government funding and office space to the president-elect. A Murphy spokeswoman said the administrator was following precedent and would make a decision once the winner is clear.
Trump has remained angry and defiant on social media even as a handful of Republicans have said Biden should be considered the president-elect. The president, who has not conceded, has repeatedly claimed without evidence he is the victim of widespread voter fraud, and his campaign has filed a flurry of lawsuits in battleground states.
Election officials in both parties have said they see no evidence of serious irregularities.
Trump campaign spokeswoman Erin Perrine on Tuesday defended the campaign’s effort, even as courts in multiple states have rejected their legal challenges.
Asked what evidence Trump campaign had, Perrine told Fox News, “That’s part of what our pursuit is at this point … There’s no silver bullet here. It’s going to take a little bit of time.”
CLEAR BIDEN VICTORY
Biden won the national popular vote by at least 5.6 million votes, or 3.6 percentage points, with some ballots still being counted.
In the state-by-state Electoral College that determines the winner, Biden has secured 306 votes to Trump’s 232.
One of Trump’s legal challenges will get a hearing on Tuesday in a Pennsylvania federal court, where another setback would likely doom his already slim chances.
US District Judge Matthew Brann will hear arguments in a Trump campaign lawsuit that seeks to block the state’s top election official from certifying Biden as the winner.
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.
Perrine, the Trump campaign spokeswoman, said the campaign would decide whether to pursue a Wisconsin recount in the next few days. Biden won Wisconsin by around 20,000 votes.
Georgia’s top elections official, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, told the Washington Post he has come under pressure from fellow Republicans who have questioned the legality of valid votes.
He also said he and his wife have received death threats.
“Other than getting you angry, it’s also very disillusioning, particularly when it comes from people on my side of the aisle,” Raffensperger told the Post.