Political

Trump-Biden transition updates: GSA standoff continues as Biden moves forward

Bill Chizek/iStockBy LIBBY CATHEY, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) — President-elect Joe Biden is moving forward with transition plans, capping a tumultuous and tension-filled campaign during a historic pandemic against President Donald Trump, who refuses to concede the election, despite a growing list of foreign heads of states moving on and recognizing Biden as the winner.

For the first time in nearly a week, Trump has a public event on his schedule and will commemorate Veterans Day on a rainy Wednesday morning at Arlington National Cemetery, after hunkering down inside the White House for days — ceding the presidential leadership spotlight to the man he mocked.

Biden, meanwhile, is meeting with transition advisers in Wilmington, one day after he called Trump’s refusal to concede “an embarrassment.”

It all comes as the Biden transition team and Trump administration are in lockstep over whether Biden should be granted access to federal resources allocated for the transition of power.

Trump had falsely declared on election night, when he held a lead in several key states, that he won the contest and alleged without evidence, after the count started to swing the other way, that the election was being stolen from him and that fraud had been committed.

Now his legal team is waging battles in an effort to reverse the election results but so far have been unable to produce evidence of widespread fraud that would change the election.

The 2020 election has shattered voting records with votes totaling 150 million and counting, surpassing the 138 million who voted in 2016.

Here is how the transition is unfolding. All times Eastern:

Nov 11, 9:24 pm
Trump tweets support for McDaniel to continue leading GOP

The president tweeted Wednesday night his endorsement for current GOP Chair Ronna McDaniel to continue leading the Republican Party, and again falsely claimed he will win the election.

She is expected to seek a third term as RNC chairwoman, a source close to McDaniel tells ABC News.

Nov 11, 9:07 pm
Biden speaks with leaders from Australia, Japan and South Korea

Biden held more calls with world leaders Wednesday, speaking with Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan and President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea.

This brings Biden’s total number of calls with world leaders to eight, including his calls with leaders from France, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Germany from the previous two days.

Nov 11, 8:12 pm
Biden names Ron Klain White House chief of staff

President-elect Joe Biden has named Ron Klain his White House chief of staff, ABC News has confirmed.

The announcement of a chief of staff typically comes as one of the first big decisions for a president-elect — crucial because the person in that role can help determine a president’s style of governing.

Klain is Biden’s former chief of staff, who led the Obama administration’s response to the Ebola virus. He was considered a leading contender, in part because of the urgent need to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s the honor of a lifetime to serve President-elect Biden in this role, and I am humbled by his confidence,” Klain said in a news release about the announcement. “I look forward to helping him and the Vice President-elect assemble a talented and diverse team to work in the White House, as we tackle their ambitious agenda for change, and seek to heal the divides in our country.”

Klain served as a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016, and has served as an executive at Revolution LLC, an investment firm founded by AOL founder Steve Case.

“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 of Klain in the statement.

Nov 11, 6:55 pm
Trump met with senior advisers to discuss path forward: Sources

Trump earlier Wednesday met with senior advisers including Jared Kushner, Jason Miller and campaign manager Bill Stepien to discuss a post-election path forward as he publicly refuses to concede the election, multiple sources told ABC News.

It’s not necessarily unusual for the president to meet with senior advisers, but the meeting comes as the campaign continues pushing legal battles in several key states to dispute the election results. Trump has held several meetings with this group and other top aides since last week’s election.

Nov 11, 5:27 pm
Trump refusal to ease Biden transition opens ‘dangerous gaps’ in nation’s security: Experts

The refusal of a General Services Administration to acknowledge Biden’s election victory is stalling the president-elect’s ability to prepare for taking office, and opening what experts called “dangerous gaps” in the nation’s security heading into the transfer of power.

“It is deeply in our national interest to reduce the disruptions in a transition and try to make this go smoothly,” said Lee Hamilton, a former Democratic congressman from Indiana who has studied the issue. “The transition is a period of potential danger and increased risk to the country … and our adversaries know that.”

Years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the authors of the 9/11 Commission Report determined that the compressed transition timeframe ahead of George W. Bush’s inauguration “hampered the new administration in identifying, recruiting, clearing, and obtaining Senate confirmation of key appointees.”

Hamilton, who co-authored the 9/11 Commission Report, said Wednesday that those delays contributed to challenges in responding to the attacks and failure to address those delays opens up “dangerous gaps in the security posture of the United States.”

-ABC News’ Lucien Bruggeman

Nov 11, 3:55 pm
Biden to name chief of staff as soon as this week

Biden is expected to name his White House chief of staff as soon as this week, multiple sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.

The announcement of a chief of staff typically comes as one of the first big decisions for a president-elect — crucial because the person in that role can help determine a president’s style of governing.

Biden’s former chief of staff Ron Klain, who led the Obama administration’s response to the Ebola virus, is considered a leading contender, in part because of the urgent need to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

Other names on Biden’s short list are said to be Steve Richetti — a candidate opposed by progressives for his work as a lobbyist — and Bruce Reed, also both former chiefs of staff to Biden.

-ABC News’ Katherine Faulders, Molly Nagle, Benajmin Siegel and John Santucci

Nov 11, 3:50 pm
Presidential transition expert stresses stakes of a smooth transition

David Marchick, director of the Center for Presidential Transition, a nonpartisan group that helps candidates and presidents prepare for the transition of power, told ABC News Live’s “The Breakdown” Wednesday afternoon it’s “absolutely imperative” Biden’s transition goes smoothly and that it’s is a matter of national security.

“What history shows is that transitions are a time of vulnerability where our adversaries seem to take advantage of the United States, and this is perhaps the most important transition the United States will experience since 1932 when we were in the depth of the Great Depression,” Marchick said.

 

 

His comments come as the Biden transition team is in a standoff with the General Services Administration (GSA) which, typically, recognizes a candidate that has clearly won the election to allow the winning ticket’s team to access federal resources available to aid the transition process.

GSA Administrator Emily Murphy, who was appointed by Trump in 2017, has made no such determination.

“This act called ascertainment has never been politicized,” Marchick added. “It’s always been granted within 24 hours of the outcome of an election being clear.”

Marchick said the one exception was in 2000 with Bush vs. Gore, but stressed that delay was only caused by one state and 537 votes. In 2020, he said, Biden’s winning margins in several key states surpass Trump by more than 10,000 votes.

“Here the outcome, as former President Bush himself said, is clear and it’s critical that the ascertainment go forward,” he added.

Nov 11, 2:31 pm
Trump campaign touts Georgia recount, legal battles

On a Trump campaign press call Wednesday, Rep. Doug Collins touted the announcement of a hand recount in Georgia as a “victory for transparency,” while the campaign claimed it was a step “closer to our goal and that is the president winning these states and ultimately being reelected” — despite Biden’s apparent win.

Collins, who is leading the Trump team’s recount efforts in the state, hinted that the recount would allow it to continue to look for evidence of fraud, saying “it allows us to, again, be looking for the concerns.”

Trump campaign Communications Director Tim Murtaugh, when asked if the campaign’s legal efforts are enough to change the election results as Trump would need to overturn results in multiple states to beat Biden — openly suggested “[overturning] the entire election” will be a “methodical” “process.”

“It is going to be methodical and it may be somewhat lengthy, but we have the time to get there. If everyone is looking for one single action that will be the silver bullet that overturns the entire election, it’s going to be a process,” he said.

Notably, a Georgia judge has already denied and dismissed the campaign’s lawsuit in the state. The suit had sought to force Chatham County to separate out late-arriving ballots over a concern that the county may have been mishandling ballots, an allegation based on an incident involving just 53 ballots. The judge said he saw “no evidence” to back up that claim. Judges in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Nevada have also thrown out Trump campaign lawsuits.

-ABC News’ Will Steakin, Olivia Rubin, Terrance Smith and Justin Gomez

Nov 11, 1:15 pm
Biden meeting with his transition advisers amid GSA standoff

Aside from a brief public appearance to commemorate Veterans Day, Biden is meeting with transition advisers in Wilmington, Delaware, Wednesday as his transition team is in a standoff with the Trump administration over whether the General Services Administration (GSA) should recognize Biden as the president-elect, which would allow him access to federal resources for his transition.

Though the GSA is continuing to slow-walk its ascertainment of Biden, the Biden team is moving forward with its efforts, launching agency review teams and warning legal action is not off the table should the GSA administrator, a Trump appointee, continue to refuse to act.

Biden is also moving ahead, holding calls to world leaders, to tell them “America’s back,” and criticizing the president’s refusal to concede as “an embarrassment” that “will not help the President’s legacy.”

Meanwhile, Trump has stayed largely hidden in the White House following his apparent defeat — other than weekend golf outings and a Veterans Day event in Arlington Wednesday — but he and his allies are digging into legal battles and recounts as he maintains, “We will win.”

-ABC News’ Molly Nagle


Nov 11, 12:14 pm
Biden pens statement on Veterans Day with unity focus, Trump makes first public appearance since Biden projected winner

Ahead of a visit to the Philadelphia Korean War memorial at Penn’s Landing Wednesday morning, Biden issued a lengthy statement on Veterans Day, pledging his commitment to the “sacred obligation” the country has to those who serve and their families.

While Biden’s go-to line on the trail was slamming Trump on his “suckers” and “losers” comments reported in The Atlantic, Biden focused his statement on unity, pledging to “never treat you or your families with anything less than the honor you deserve.”

Trump, meanwhile, broke his five-day stretch of no public appearances when he ventured out of the White House to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. He also issued a proclamation in recognition of Veterans Day.
 

Nov 11, 11:20 am
Georgia to conduct hand recount of presidential election votes

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced this morning Georgia will conduct a “full, by hand recount in each county” of the presidential race.

“We have all worked hard to bring fair and accurate counts to assure that the will of the voters is reflected in the final count,” Raffensperger said.

Biden currently leads in the state by about 14,000 votes.

Nov 11, 9:48 am
Dan Sullivan projected to win Alaska Senate race, giving GOP at least 50 seats

Based upon the analysis of the vote, ABC News projects Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska will win reelection to the Senate, defeating Democrat Al Gross.

With this race, Mitch McConnell has 50 GOP Senate seats for the new Congress, meaning the best Democrats can hope for is a tied Senate — where they would have control by virtue of a Vice President Kamala Harris casting tie-breaking votes, in her role as president of the Senate.

The only two outstanding Senate races are now in Georgia, where both Senate seats are headed toward runoffs Jan. 5 — two days after the new Congress is sworn in.

Nov 11, 9:19 am
Biden opts out of Trump’s dangerous post-election game

To rekindle an infamous discussion, taking Trump literally at this precarious moment means the president believes the election was rigged against him; that he believes he received more lawful votes than his opponent; that he believes the vote count in a series of battleground states is flawed and corrupt; and that there are election officials and state and federal judges that are ready to deliver him a second term.
 
But this election was not particularly close — and, the above falsehoods notwithstanding, this period is exceedingly unlikely to end in any way other than with Biden being sworn in Jan. 20.

While Biden may have more reason than most to be offended by the behavior of Trump and Republicans in his Cabinet and in Congress, he isn’t sounding particularly concerned about the hold-up.
 
Asked by ABC News senior congressional correspondent Mary Bruce Tuesday for his message to Trump, Biden responded, “Mr. President, I look forward to speaking with you.”
 
It’s a revealing response — not just because Biden and his team know the White House and transitions well. Biden is keeping his faith in the processes and systems that govern elections, in state capitals and in Washington.

Some Democrats may bristle at Biden’s refusal to condemn Republicans who are backing Trump.
 
Notably, Biden also said he looks forward to “a negotiation” with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over his Cabinet picks Many progressives, of course, view McConnell as not worthy of negotiating with, and still more hope he will actually be minority leader in anyway.

Ugly as this moment is, and awful as it may get, Biden’s team sees this as the system holding its ground. Biden’s faith in a sturdy middle drove his campaign from the start and looks like a defining feature of what will become his presidency.
 
-ABC News’ Political Director Rick Klein

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