Biden tears into Trump's refusal to concede, meets with governors about Covid

Adam Edelman and Mike Memoli and Rebecca Shabad and Dareh Gregorian
·5 min read

President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday tore into President Donald Trump for refusing to concede the election and formally commit to a peaceful transfer of power, while also blasting the General Services Administration's delay of the presidential transition.

In a press conference in Wilmington, Delaware, that came after he met virtually with several governors, Biden also revealed he'd made his decision on who he would nominate for Treasury Secretary. He didn’t name his choice, but said he would reveal the person "just before or just after" Thanksgiving and that it was someone "who is accepted by all elements of the Democratic Party."

Biden, however, saved most of his breath for criticism of Trump and his administration.

Replying to a question from a reporter over what he felt the U.S. was witnessing regarding Trump’s refusal to concede the race, Biden said “they’re witnessing incredible irresponsibility, an incredibly damaging message being sent to the rest of the world about how democracy functions.”

Biden reiterated his frustration with the Trump administration for holding up the ascertainment process — a previously uncontroversial process that allows the presidential transition to move forward.

He said he would not yet rule out legal action in the future to obtain a completed ascertainment process, but said that was not his plan at the moment, because "it's not going to speed it up considerably in my view." He also said he hoped his patience might better foster a spirit of bipartisanship.

“I’m making a judgment based on many years of experience on how to get things done with the opposition," he said. "My judgment is that we’ll get further along by actually working with our Republican colleagues now because the time in which we would win would not materially change."

Biden has repeatedly said that the GSA’s delay is seriously hindering his eventual administration's ability to hit the ground running in fighting the pandemic.

Prior to his press conference, Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris met virtually with several of the nation’s governors — both Democrats and Republicans — to discuss how their administration could best help states fight the Covid-19 pandemic once Biden takes office.

Biden said the group discussed the importance of mask mandates during the meeting, but he promised there would be "no national shutdown" of the economy in his administration.

"I am not going to shut down the economy period," he said. "No national shutdown. No national shutdown."

In the closing weeks of his 2020 presidential campaign, Biden said that if he’s elected, he would reach out to the governor of every state, as well as mayors and local officials, to figure out what support they need to respond to the ongoing pandemic.

In other transition news:

  • Georgia’s secretary of state released a report Thursday that showed while Trump picked up votes in a hand recount of the state's ballots, Biden still won the state by more than 12,000 votes.

  • Current and former Trump administration officials have privately reached out to Biden's transition team even as President Donald Trump continues to refuse admit defeat and falsely claims victory, according to sources familiar with the matter.

  • Biden phoned Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday to congratulate her on her nomination for another term as speaker, and to "express that he looks forward to working with her and Democratic leadership in the House on a shared agenda to get Covid-19 under control and build our economy back better."

  • Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., will travel to Wilmington on Friday to have a face to face meeting with Biden.

  • Some allies are urging Biden to name a person of color as his Health and Human Services secretary, citing the disproportionate burden the pandemic has placed on communities of color.

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said on CNN Wednesday night that Labor secretary would be "an attractive position" for him. This comes as progressive lawmakers, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Ro Khanna and Sen. Ed Markey, will call on Biden Thursday to "appoint a corporate-free Cabinet and an administration staffed with personnel committed to addressing the climate threat."

  • The Trump campaign's legal challenges to the election continued to falter. The campaign withdrew a federal suit in Michigan, and a federal judge in Georgia rejected the campaign’s efforts to block the vote certification there. Judge Steven Grimberg said doing so “would breed confusion and potential disenfranchisement.” Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani held a press conference with other Trump lawyers where they made a number of unfounded and baseless claims.

  • Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, who has split with Trump in the past, criticized Giuliani's performance, saying “Wild press conferences erode public trust. So no, obviously Rudy and his buddies should not pressure electors to ignore their certification obligations under the statute. We are a nation of laws, not tweets.”

  • Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, a member of Senate GOP leadership, called Trump counsel Sydney Powell’s allegations that candidates paid to change election results “outrageous.” “That is an offensive comment and for those of us who do stand up and represent our states in a dignified manner,” se said. “To insinuate that Republican and Democratic candidates paid to throw off this election, I think is absolutely outrageous and I do take offense to that.”

Trump had no public events on his schedule. He hasn't held a public event since last week when he delivered an update on Operation Warp Speed, his administration’s effort to develop and distribute a Covid-19 vaccine.

On Friday, he's slated to meet with top Republican state lawmakers from Michigan at the White House. Those lawmakers are being pressured by right-wing media to name the state's electors for the president, even though state law holds they can't select electors or award electors to anyone other than the person who received the most votes. Biden is leading Trump in the state by almost 160,000 votes.

Vice President Mike Pence held a coronavirus task force briefing on Thursday but did not take questions.