Trump-Biden transition live updates: Trump, Biden hold dueling events on pandemic

narvikk/iStockBy LIBBY CATHEY, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump is slated to hand over control of the White House to President-elect Joe Biden in 43 days.

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

Dec 08, 9:34 am
Overview: Trump holds ‘vaccine summit,’ Biden introduces health care team

Trump and Biden hold dueling events on the pandemic response Tuesday with the president hosting a “vaccine summit” at the White House, just days before a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee holds a hearing on whether to authorize emergency use of a COVID-19 vaccine, while the president-elect is slated to formally roll out his health care picks on who will take over handling the COVID-19 pandemic in 43 days.

At his event, Trump is slated to sign an executive order touting his mantra of “America First” that would prioritize Americans’ access to COVID-19 vaccines before the United States helps other countries. But the chief science adviser to “Operation Warp Speed,” the U.S. government’s initiative to expedite vaccine development which Trump is also expected to tout, said Tuesday morning he doesn’t know about the vaccine-related executive order Trump is expected to sign.

“Frankly, I don’t know and, frankly, I’m staying out of this. I can’t comment,” Dr. Moncef Slaoui told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview Tuesday on Good Morning America, when asked to explain the executive order.

The event comes as a senior administration official familiar with the matter confirmed reporting to ABC News that the Trump Administration passed when Pfizer offered in later summer to sell the U.S. more COVID-19 vaccine doses — an approach which the White House has denied and Slaoui defended Tuesday. Representatives of Pfizer and Moderna — the two drug companies seeking emergency-use authorization — are not expected to attend the White House summit, nor is anyone from the Biden transition team.

Biden, meanwhile, is slated to introduce the health care team he will entrust with handling the pandemic. He has selected California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as Health and Human Services secretary, the first Latino to hold the post if confirmed. Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is taking on the elevated role of chief medical adviser to Biden in the incoming administration, is expected to dial into Biden’s meeting, though not the one at the White House.

Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are also meeting Tuesday with several civil rights leaders including NAACP representatives to discuss policy issues around racial equity as well as diversity and representation on the incoming Cabinet. It comes after news leaked that Biden is expected to name retired four-star Army Gen. Lloyd Austin as his defense secretary, who would be the first African American in the post if confirmed, this week.

Tuesday is also the congressionally mandated “safe harbor” deadline — the date, under federal law, by which the “final determination of any controversy or contest concerning the appointment” of electors “shall be conclusive” — making it extremely difficult to dispute election results in the courts, where pro-Trump efforts have seen at least 39 defeats to date.

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