Political

Trump-Biden transition live updates: Biden begins to build Senate confirmation team

Vacclav/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 still refuses to concede the election more than 10 days after Biden was projected as the winner.

Trump has largely hunkered down inside the White House since the election while his administration stonewalls recognizing Biden as the president-elect, refusing to grant Biden access to federal funds and resources allocated for the transition of power. Biden, meanwhile, is forging ahead and stepping into the presidential spotlight, participating in a virtual roundtable with frontline health care workers in Wilmington, Delaware, Wednesday.

A growing number of Republican senators are calling on the administration to start giving Biden classified intelligence briefings, a sign that support for Trump’s refusal to concede the election may be waning among his allies on Capitol Hill.

Though Trump has alleged widespread voter fraud, he and his campaign haven’t been able to provide the evidence to substantiate their claims with the majority of their lawsuits already resulting in unfavorable outcomes.

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

Nov 18, 9:19 am
Biden begins to build out team for Senate confirmation battles

Biden has yet to make any Cabinet announcements, but he is staffing up for Senate confirmations and will take a different approach to the nomination process.
 
According to a transition official, Biden’s team is preparing to introduce nominees to the American people and plans to use a different strategy to establish nominees as leaders in the Biden administration, doing away with the “the old playbook dictating that nominees say nothing in public until their hearings.”

The overall nominations team will be led by former Obama administration official Jen Psaki, while Stephanie Valencia, the former deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement will be handling outreach, and Louisa Terrell, who worked for Biden in the Senate and in the Obama White House, will handle congressional affairs for the transition with both teams supporting the nominations arm.

The confirmations team will expand over the coming days with campaign staff and more volunteers from Capitol Hill but has already filled a few key roles in communications and outreach.

Reema Dodin, floor director for Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., will oversee legislative strategy, Jorge Neri, former senior advisor to the campaign will be the deputy outreach director for confirmations, and Olivia Alair Dalton, a former Biden Senate aide who also served in senior Obama administration and campaign roles, will run point on communications.
 
Andrew Bates, Biden’s rapid response director from the campaign will also serve in a leadership role, as will Saloni Sharma, most recently deputy communications director to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sean Savett, formerly press secretary to Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and rapid response director for former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttegieg, will also be key members of the team.

Nov 18, 9:22 am
Trump, GOP test limits as legal walls close in

From the top down and from the bottom up, the consequences of Trump and his Republican Party continuing to defy reality are making themselves evident.
 
Trump firing a top Homeland Security official for contradicting his unfounded claims about the election, while local Republican officials in Michigan initially refused to certify results — these mark new lows that threaten to shake the foundations of the electoral process.

But such actions are going to get more expensive — whether Rudy Giuliani gets his asking price or not. Real state deadlines and legal rulings are already starting to close out paths to the presidency that Trump might imagine still exists.
 
The Trump campaign faces a Wednesday deadline to request a recount in Wisconsin — where the president is trailing by more than 20,000 votes and where initiating a recount carries a price tag of an estimated $7.9 million.
 
The political costs are perhaps more substantial in Georgia, where the state’s hand audit of ballots will wrap up Wednesday. Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, is saying he sees no way that Biden’s nearly 14,000-vote margin will be reversed — and is lashing out at fellow Republicans who are peddling “vitriol and outright lies” in addition to threats.

“I would have thought Republicans were better than that,” Raffensperger told ABC News senior congressional correspondent Mary Bruce.

The Trump campaign’s legal options are no rosier in Michigan, where Biden leads by nearly 150,000 votes, or Pennsylvania, where Biden leads by more than 70,000 votes. Judges in both states are expected to hand down rulings in the coming days that would effectively end remaining legal avenues for the president.

It may be political self-interest that has so many national Republicans holding their tongues about what Trump needs to do and when he needs to do it. It may also be that, in the words of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, that what senators say about the topic is “frankly irrelevant.”
 
But from here, if the president and his legal team want to hold out, it could get lonely as well as costly. There could be more firings and defiance — though nothing from official channels that makes it any more likely that Trump will retain the presidency.

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