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Joe Biden’s first Cabinet picks expected Tuesday amid Trump’s road blocks to transition

WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden’s first Cabinet picks are coming Tuesday and planning is underway for a pandemic-modified inauguration in January as his team moves forward despite road blocks from the Trump administration.

Ron Klain, Biden’s incoming chief of staff, offered no details Sundays about which department heads Biden would first announce. The Associated Press has reported that Biden could name his nominee for secretary of state or treasury secretary this coming week.

Biden has pledged to build the most diverse government in modern history, and he and his team often speak about their desire for his administration to reflect America. He is being watched to see whether he will make history by nominating the first woman to lead the Pentagon, the Treasury Department or the Department of Veterans Affairs, or the first African American at the top the Defense Department, the Interior Department or the Treasury Department.

Biden said last week he had settled on his pick for treasury secretary.

Klain said the Trump administration’s refusal to clear the way for Biden’s team to have access to key information about agencies and federal dollars for the transition is taking its toll on planning, including the Cabinet selection process. Trump’s General Services Administration has yet to acknowledge that Biden won the election — a determination that would remove those roadblocks.

“We’re not in a position to get background checks on Cabinet nominees. And so there are definite impacts. Those impacts escalate every day,” Klain told ABC’s “This Week.”

Even some Republicans have broken with Trump in recent days and called on him to accept the results of the election.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said there was a “very good chance” Biden would be president and that Biden and his team should have access to relevant information for the transition. After a federal judge’s ruling against the Trump campaign in an election challenge in Pennsylvania on Saturday, GOP Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said the president had “exhausted all plausible legal options” and Toomey congratulated Biden on his win.

And on Sunday, former Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a longtime Trump supporter, said on ABC that it was time for the president to stop contesting the outcome. Christie said Trump’s his legal team was a “national embarrassment.”

Looking ahead to the Jan. 20 inauguration, Klain said it is “definitely have to be changed” due to the coronavirus pandemic, and that the Biden team is consulting with Democratic leadership in the House and Senate over their plans.

“They’re going to try to have an inauguration that honors the importance and the symbolic meaning of the moment, but also does not result in the spread of the disease. That’s our goal,” Klain said.

Inaugurations typically include a traditional parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, remarks by the president and vice president from the Capitol, a lunch with lawmakers in the Capitol rotunda and numerous balls across Washington. All are events attended by hundreds and sometimes hundreds of thousands of people who travel to the nation’s capital.

It’s unclear how public health concerns will affect those traditions.

During the campaign, Biden drew a contrast with Trump on the coronavirus by paring down his own events in response to the pandemic. Biden held smaller gatherings where people were asked to wear masks and adhere to social distancing recommendations from public health experts. Since he won the presidency, Biden has emphasized the importance of mask-wearing.

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Trump seems to acknowledge Joe Biden’s win, but won’t concede

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Sunday appeared to acknowledge for the first time that Joe Biden won the White House, but made clear he would not concede and would keep trying to overturn the election result. Trump’s statements came in tweets that included several baseless claims about the Nov. 3 vote, which state and federal officials say was safe and secure.

Trump, without using Biden’s name, tweeted that “He won,” something Trump had not said before publicly, though he said the Democrat’s victory was only “in the eyes” of the media. Biden defeated Trump by winning back a trio of Midwestern battleground states: Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and topped the 270 electoral vote threshold to clinch the presidency. Biden so far has 77.5 million votes, the most ever by a winning candidate, to Trump’s 72.3 million.

“If the president’s prepared to begin to recognize that reality, that’s positive,” Biden’s incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Still, Klain said, “Donald Trump’s Twitter feed doesn’t make Joe Biden president or not president, the American people did that.”

The president has previously refused to accept the results of the election and he dug in again Sunday, saying, “I concede NOTHING! We have a long way to go.” Even while seemingly acknowledging Biden’s victory, he also argued without evidence that the former vice president only won because the election was “rigged.” Trump then made unsubstantiated complaints about access for poll watchers and about vote tabulations and asserted, “WE WILL WIN!” Twitter soon posted warning labels about the tweets.

There has been no widespread fraud in the 2020 election. In fact, election officials from both political parties have stated publicly that the election went well and international observers confirmed there were no serious irregularities.

Trump’s campaign has tried to mount legal challenges across the country, but many of the lawsuits have been thrown out and none has included any evidence that the outcome might be reversed.

More than a week after Election Day, Trump has neither called Biden nor made a formal concession, and White House officials have insisted that they are preparing for a second term.

In recent days, Trump appeared to be inching closer to acknowledging the reality of his loss. In comments Friday in the Rose Garden about a coronavirus vaccine, Trump said his administration would “not be going to a lockdown” to slow the spread of COVID-19, and added that “whatever happens in the future, who knows which administration it will be? I guess time will tell.”

Trump on Sunday renewed his groundless attacks on an election technology firm, Dominion Voting Systems, without evidence of any serious irregularities. Dominion has said it “denies claims about any vote switching or alleged software issues with our voting systems.”

The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, a federal agency that oversees U.S. election security, said in a statement last week that the “November 3rd election was the most secure in American history.” The agency said, ”There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”

In his latest fundraising email, Trump told supporters that “we are fighting to ensure EVERY SINGLE LEGAL ballot is counted” and that he had “legal teams on the ground in every critical state.”

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Joe Biden supporters 'harassed pro-Trump neighbor with chants and BLM chalking'

A family of Joe Biden supporters allegedly harassed their pro-Donald Trump neighbor with chants, as well as BLM and LGBTQI chalk slogans. Michael Mason, from Rocklin in California, has now sought a restraining order against the nearby family and their kids, who live two houses away.

He claims to have doorbell cam footage of the youngsters singing pro-Joe Biden songs. Mason says they also chalked Black Lives Matter and an LGBTQI rainbow, next to the words ‘We support LGBTQI’ outside his home to try and antagonize him.

Mason, who hangs a pro-Trump flag from his home, told CBS Sacramento: ‘I went down there and asked them, “Well, why didn’t you write this in front of your house, or anybody else’s house? Why mine?” And they just laughed at me.’

Explaining his decision to seek a restraining order, he added: ‘I didn’t want to do this. They’re making me have to do this. It’s horrible.’ Tensions between Mason and his unnamed neighbors reached boiling point as Biden was declared winner of the contest on Saturday, with police called to settle things down.

A judge will decide on whether or not to grant Mason’s application for a restraining order on Wednesday. He and his family plan to move as soon as possible.

Sean Millard lives in between Mason and the Biden supporting families, and branded their arguments ‘absolutely insane.’ He added: ‘2020 has been kind of a crazy year.’

This year’s election campaign was one of the most dramatic in recent history, with angry Trump and Biden supporters clashing with one another in the weeks leading up to polling day.

President-elect Biden, who will be inaugurated on January 20, appealed for calm and unity in his first speech since winning on Saturday.

President Trump insists he only lost because of election rigging, and has said he intends to fight this year’s result in court.

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Trump faces pressure to work with Biden on U.S. presidential transition plan

U.S. President Donald Trump is facing pressure to co-operate with President-elect Joe Biden’s team to ensure a smooth transfer of power when the new administration takes office in January.

The General Services Administration is tasked with formally recognizing Biden as president-elect, which begins the transition. But the agency’s Trump-appointed administrator, Emily Murphy, has not started the process and has given no guidance on when she will do so.

That lack of clarity is fueling questions about whether Trump, who has not publicly recognized Biden’s victory and has falsely claimed the election was stolen, will impede Democrats as they try to establish a government.

There is little precedent in the modern era of a president erecting such hurdles for his successor. The stakes are especially high this year because Biden will take office amid a raging pandemic, which will require a comprehensive government response.

“America’s national security and economic interests depend on the federal government signalling clearly and swiftly that the United States government will respect the will of the American people and engage in a smooth and peaceful transfer of power,” Jen Psaki, a Biden transition aide, tweeted Sunday.

The advisory board of the nonpartisan Center for Presidential Transition also urged the Trump administration to “immediately begin the post-election transition process and the Biden team to take full advantage of the resources available under the Presidential Transition Act.”

Biden, who was elected the 46th president on Saturday, is taking steps to build a government despite questions about whether Trump will offer the traditional assistance.

He is focusing first on the virus, which has already killed nearly 240,000 Americans. Biden will announce details on Monday of a task force that will create a blueprint to attempt to bring the pandemic under control that he plans to begin implementing after assuming the presidency on Jan. 20.

Biden has already named a former surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy, and an ex-Food and Drug Administration commissioner, David Kessler, as co-chairs.

Biden was also launching agency review teams, groups of transition staffers that have access to key agencies in the current administration. They will collect and review information such as budgetary and staffing decisions, pending regulations and other work in progress from current Trump administration staff at the departments to help Biden’s team prepare to transition.

But that process can’t begin in full until the GSA recognizes Biden as president-elect. The definition of what constitutes a clear election winner for the GSA is legally murky, making next steps unclear, especially in the short term.

The GSA’s leadership is supposed to act independently and in a nonpartisan manner, and at least some elements of the federal government already have begun implementing transition plans. Aviation officials, for instance, have restricted the airspace over Biden’s lakefront home in Wilmington, Delaware, while the Secret Service has begun using agents from its presidential protective detail for the president-elect and his family.

There were other signs that some leaders were preparing for a new administration.

Biden aides said the president-elect and transition team had been in touch with Republican lawmakers. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, one of Trump’s closest allies, opened a Cabinet meeting on Sunday by congratulating Biden, a former vice-president and longtime senator.

“I have a long and warm personal connection with Joe Biden for nearly 40 years, and I know him as a great friend of the state of Israel,” Netanyahu said.

George W. Bush, the only living Republican former president, called Biden “a good man, who has won his opportunity to lead and unify our country.”

But other Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, urged Trump to continue pursuing legal challenges related to the election, making a bumpy transition more likely.

Biden started his first full day as president-elect on Sunday by attending church at St. Joseph on the Brandywine near his home in Wilmington, as he does nearly every week. After the service, he visited the church cemetery where several family members have been laid to rest, including his son Beau.

He otherwise spent most of the day inside his home while some of his staff spent hours on a conference call focused on transition planning.

Those plans also may hinge on two Senate races in Georgia that have advanced to a Jan. 5 runoff. If Republicans hold those seats, they’ll likely retain the Senate majority and be in a position to slow confirmation of Biden’s top Cabinet choices and complicate his legislative goals, including sweeping calls for expanding access to health care and bolstering the post-pandemic economy with green jobs and infrastructure designed to combat climate change.

That could test Biden’s campaign pledge to move past the divisiveness of the Trump era and govern in a bipartisan manner.

During his victory speech on Saturday, he vowed to be a president who “seeks not to divide, but unify” and appealed to Trump supporters to “give each other a chance.”

Those close to Biden say he will navigate the period ahead by harnessing his sense of empathy that became a trademark of his campaign. Biden often spoke of the pain he experienced following the death of his wife and young daughter in a 1972 car crash, and Beau’s 2015 death due to brain cancer.

“My brother knows how to feel,” said Valerie Biden Owens, Biden’s sister and longtime top adviser. “Joe’s strength has been resilience and recovery and that’s what we need as a country.”

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Biden win forces Mexico to rebuild complicated US ties

MEXICO CITY (AFP) – After years of close ties with President Donald Trump, Mexico must now reshape its complex relations with the United States under Mr Joe Biden, including on the key issues of trade and immigration.

The country’s awkward position was underscored by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s reluctance on Saturday (Nov 7) to congratulate Mr Biden while Mr Trump is still mounting a slew of legal challenges.

The left-wing populist said he would wait for “all legal issues” in the US presidential election to be resolved.

“We don’t want to be imprudent. We don’t want to act lightly,” Mr Lopez Obrador told a news conference.

“We have a very good relationship with the two candidates,” he added, as messages of congratulations for Mr Biden and vice-president-elect Kamala Harris poured in from other world leaders.

Mr Trump sparked anger during his 2016 election campaign when he branded Mexican migrants “rapists” and drug dealers, and vowed to build a wall across the southern US border.

Even so, Mr Lopez Obrador maintained cordial relations with Mr Trump, and experts say that a Biden presidency will bring a different set of challenges for Mexico.

“Trump’s anti-Mexican rhetoric is very unpleasant, but in fact there were important agreements,” said Mr Miguel Angel Jimenez, analyst at the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations.

“The relationship with the Democrats has always been cold and Biden could keep more distance.”

‘UNPLEASANT SITUATION’

Mexico has previously gained more from Republican administrations, such as the immigration amnesty granted by Mr Ronald Reagan and the Nafta free trade agreement negotiated under Mr George H.W. Bush, Mr Jimenez said.

Mr Lopez Obrador’s cautious reaction to Mr Biden’s win reflects his close relationship with Mr Trump and the fact that the Republican still has weeks left in office, he said.

“It’s an unpleasant situation for the Mexican government,” Mr Jimenez added.

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The Mexican leader chose to visit Mr Trump in the United States in July on his first foreign trip since taking office.

Mr Lopez Obrador’s close ties with Mr Trump mean his defeat “could be a political setback”, said Ms Gabriela Siller, an analyst at Banco Base.

“Biden already omitted Mexico when congratulating Latin American countries celebrating their independence” anniversaries in September, she noted.

While Mr Biden is unlikely to make any radical policy announcements concerning Mexico, his victory could still have repercussions, particularly in trade, analysts said.

The renegotiation of the trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico was the climax of a complicated relationship with Mr Trump.

‘OBSTACLES IN PATH’

The future of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which entered into force in July, replacing Nafta, is a major concern for Mexican authorities as Mr Biden prepares to move into the White House.

“Trump already did what he wanted with Mexico, the risk with him would be less,” said Ms Siller.

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Ms Harris “was an opponent of USMCA and they could put obstacles in its path”, she added.

The Democrats are expected to demand punctual compliance with labour reform that they requested in return for approving the agreement with the key trading partner, Mr Jimenez said.

In 2019, Mr Trump threatened to slap tariffs on imports from Mexico if it did not stop a wave of Central American migrants heading overland to the United States.

Even if Mr Biden cancels Mr Trump’s planned construction of a border wall, strict restrictions against undocumented migration will continue, said Professor Maria Dolores Paris Pombo, an expert at the Colegio de la Frontera Norte in Tijuana, in north-west Mexico.

He may revive a programme put in place by then-president Barack Obama in 2012 to regularise the immigration status of hundreds of thousands of young people, known as “Dreamers”, who had arrived illegally as children.

Mr Biden has fiercely criticised Mr Trump’s efforts to shut down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

But previous Democratic administrations have also applied laws passed in the late 1990s criminalising undocumented immigration, Prof Paris Pombo noted.

“Barack Obama’s administration was tougher in terms of the number of deportations, but without the media impact or levels of Trump’s cruelty,” she said.

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Joe Biden edges closer to win as Pennsylvania focus intensifies

WASHINGTON — Democrat Joe Biden edged ever closer Saturday to a victory over President Donald Trump as the long, exacting work of counting votes extended into a fourth day after the election.

The delay in producing a verdict could be attributed to high turnout, a massive number of mail-in ballots and slim margins between the candidates. Biden held leads in Pennsylvania, Nevada and Georgia, putting him in a stronger position to capture the 270 Electoral College votes needed to take the White House.

There was intense focus on Pennsylvania, where Biden led Trump by more than 28,000 votes, and Nevada, where Biden was up by about 22,000. The prolonged wait added to the anxiety of a nation facing historic challenges, including the surging coronavirus pandemic and deep political polarization.

When Biden addressed the nation Friday night near his home in Wilmington, Delaware, he acknowledged the sluggish pace of the count “can be numbing.” But he added: “Never forget the tallies aren’t just numbers: They represent votes and voters.”

He expressed confidence that victory ultimately would be his. “The numbers tell us a clear and convincing story: We’re going to win this race,” the former vice president said.

Standing alongside running mate Kamala Harris, Biden wasn’t able to give the acceptance speech at that time that his aides had hoped. But he hit notes of unity, seemingly aimed at cooling the temperature of a heated, divided nation.

“We have to remember the purpose of our politics isn’t total unrelenting, unending warfare,” he said. “No, the purpose of our politics, the work of our nation, isn’t to fan the flames of conflict, but to solve problems, to guarantee justice, to give everybody a fair shot.”

Trump took to Twitter and remained out of sight as the results gradually expanded Biden’s lead in must-win Pennsylvania. On Saturday, Trump repeated baseless allegations of election fraud and illegal voting, but they were quickly flagged as potentially misleading by the social media platform.

Trump’s campaign was mostly quiet. It was a dramatic difference from earlier in the week, when officials vocally projected confidence and held news conferences announcing litigation in key states. But his inner circle was touched once again by the coronavirus.

Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, contracted the virus, according to two senior White House officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss private matters. Several other members of the White House staff and Trump’s campaign team also tested positive.

Trump’s handling of the pandemic has been the defining issue of the campaign. The president, first lady Melania Trump and several other people in Trump’s orbit have fallen ill and recovered.

A few states remained in play in the race: Georgia and North Carolina were still too early to call, along with Pennsylvania and Nevada. In all four states the margins between Trump and Biden were too narrow and the number of ballots left to be counted too great for The Associated Press to declare a winner.

The uncertainty left Americans across the nation glued to their TVs and smartphones, checking for updates to a vote count that, for many, appeared to inch along.

The delays — and the reasons — varied from state to state. In Pennsylvania, officials were not allowed to begin processing mail-in ballots until Election Day under state law. In Nevada, there were a number of provisional ballots cast by voters who registered on Election Day, and officials had to verify their eligibility. Recounts could be triggered in both Pennsylvania and Georgia.

With his path to reelection appearing to greatly narrow, Trump was testing how far he could go in using the trappings of presidential power to undermine confidence in the vote.

Trump did claim that he won late on Election Night. He also tweeted that he had “such a big lead in all of these states late into election night, only to see the leads miraculously disappear as the days went by,” although it was well known that votes cast before Tuesday were still being legally counted.

Pro-Trump protesters — some openly carrying rifles and handguns — rallied outside vote-tabulation centers in a few cities Friday, responding to Trump’s groundless accusations that the Democrats were trying to “steal” the White House. Roughly 100 Trump supporters gathered for a third straight day in front of the elections center in Phoenix, where hundreds of workers were processing and counting ballots.

Maryland GOP Gov. Larry Hogan, a potential presidential hopeful who has often criticized Trump, said there was “no defense” for Trump comments “undermining our Democratic process. America is counting the votes, and we must respect the results as we always have before.”

But others who are rumored to be considering a White House run of their own in four years aligned themselves with the incumbent, including Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who tweeted support for Trump’s claims, writing that “If last 24 hours have made anything clear, it’s that we need new election integrity laws NOW.”

Election officials in the battleground states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Nevada — both Republican and Democrat — have all said they saw no widespread voting irregularities or major instances of fraud or illegal activity.

Even Trump’s own administration has pushed back at the claims of widespread voter fraud and illegal voting, without mentioning that Trump was the one making the allegations. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which oversees U.S. election security, also noted local election offices have detection measures that “make it highly difficult to commit fraud through counterfeit ballots.”

Trump’s campaign has engaged in a flurry of legal activity across the battleground states.

On Friday evening, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito approved a GOP request ordering county boards to comply with Pennsylvania state guidance to keep the late ballots separate from those received before or on Election Day. Alito, however, did not direct election officials to stop counting the ballots, as the Republicans had also sought.

But judges in Michigan, Georgia and Pennsylvania quickly swatted down other legal action. A federal judge who was asked to stop vote counts in Philadelphia instead forced the two sides to reach an agreement without an order over the number of observers allowed.

Weissert reported from Wilmington, Delaware. Associated Press writers Colleen Long, Brian Slodysko and Alexandra Jaffe contributed to this report.

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When will Joe Biden be inaugurated?

After the excitement of a US election, comes the inauguration, and the new term for a President.

The 2020 US election was a tight race, Donald Trump surpassed many early poll predictions – holding on to Florida and Texas, two divisive swing states – but Joe Biden made strong moves claiming big wins in the likes of California and Arizona.

Joe Biden was finally announced as the next president on Saturday, November 7, after his win in Pennsylvania took him to 284 electoral votes – 14 more than the minimum number he needed to win the presidency.

When will the next president be inaugurated?

When is Joe Biden’s Inauguration Day?

Joe Biden is set to be inaugurated on Wednesday, January 20, 2021.

Inauguration Day marks the swearing in of the newly elected President and will take place even if there isn’t a ‘new’ president and the incumbent is sitting their second term.  

The inauguration has fallen on the same day for over 70 years.

Since 1937, it has taken place at noon Eastern Standard Time (EST) on January 20, the first day of the new term.

Even on the three occasions this date fell on a Sunday, the president was privately sworn in at this time, but the public ceremony was held the day after.

What happens on Inauguration Day?

The new President will take the Oath of Office, where they will recite to a Chief Justice: ‘I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.’

The well-known and often-repeated line of ‘So help me God’ is not actually part of the official oath, though it is often said after the oath has been taken.

It is thought Abraham Lincoln was the first President to say this line, and many others have followed.

Since the 1981 inauguration of Ronald Reagan, the inauguration has taken place at the west front of the United States Capitol facing the National Mall, the Washington Monument and the nearby Lincoln Memorial.

After being sworn in, the President will make their first official address of the term – referred to as the inaugural address.

Depending on the candidate, there could also be prayers, poems read out and performances from celebrity fans.

Beyoncé performed at Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration, and country star Toby Keith sang at Donald Trump’s in 2017.

What are Joe Biden’s key policies?

You can read more about Joe Biden’s plans and policies on his website.

When does the next president take office?

Joe Biden will take office as soon as he is sworn in on his Inauguration Day.

He will be given the full powers of the president, and can get to work in implementing his policies.

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US election 2020

Follow our US election live blog for the latest news and updates on the 2020 election.

  • People dancing in the streets across US as Joe Bidens wins election
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