By 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, 3:59 pm
Republicans won’t acknowledge they are planning Biden’s inauguration
Republicans and Democrats on the congressional committee planning next month’s inauguration squabbled Tuesday morning over the election results, with Republicans voting against a measure from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer acknowledging Biden’s victory.
“I made a motion that the committee notify the American people that it is preparing for the inauguration of Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris, and in consultation with them and health experts are doing so to protect the health of our people,” Hoyer told reporters after the meeting. “That motion was defeated three to three.”
All three Republicans on the panel — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Rules Committee Chairman Roy Blunt and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — voted against the measure, while Democrats on the panel — Hoyer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. — voted in favor.
Even as they refuse to acknowledge Biden’s victory, Republicans called Hoyer’s move a stunt that has no bearing on planning the inauguration: They are already working with Biden’s inaugural committee, and the measure wasn’t relevant to the day’s meeting.
“It is not the job of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies to get ahead of the electoral process and decide who we are inaugurating. The JCCIC is facing the challenge of planning safe Inaugural Ceremonies during a global pandemic,” Blunt said in a statement. “I would hope that, going forward, the members of the JCCIC would adhere to the committee’s long-standing tradition of bipartisan cooperation and focus on the task at hand.”
-ABC News’ Benjamin Siegel
Dec 08, 3:25 pm
CDC director nominee says ‘coding’ nation called her to serve
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, chief on infectious diseases as Massachusetts General who was tapped as Biden’s pick to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said her work on the HIV/AIDS pandemic brought her to this moment and said she is “honored” to serve an administration that will let science lead.
“I’ve dedicated my career ever since to researching and treating infectious diseases, and to ending the HIV/AIDS crisis for good. Now a new virus is ravaging us. It’s striking hardest once again at the most vulnerable: the marginalized, the underserved,” she said. “The pain is accelerating. Our defenses have worn down. We are losing life and hope at an alarming rate.”
Walensky said she never anticipated taking on the role in government but compared the nation to a dying patient, said it’s her calling as a doctor to respond.
“Every doctor knows that when a patient is coding, your plans don’t matter. You answer the code. And when the nation is coding, if you are called to serve, serve. You run to take care of people, to stop the bleeding, to stabilize, to give them hope and a fighting chance to come back stronger,” she said.
Dec 08, 3:08 pm
Fauci deems Biden’s objectives on masking and vaccinations in 1st 100 days ‘essential’
Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci, who will stay on Biden’s COVID-19 equity task force and take on the elevated role of chief medical adviser, appeared virtually at Biden’s rollout and expressed support for Biden’s initiatives around masks and vaccinations in his first 100 days in office.
“I believe, as you do, that in the fight against this pandemic, we must lead with science and that a key piece of our ongoing work is communicating consistently with the American people,” Fauci began.
“Whether it’s maintaining social distancing and not congregating indoors, or the 100-day challenge you described on masking or to get as many people vaccinated as possible, these actions are bold, but they are doable and essential to help the public avoid unnecessary risks, to help us save lives, reopen schools and businesses and to eventually beat the pandemic,” he continued.
Acknowledging he’s dealt with many public health crises in his career, Fauci said the COVID-19 pandemic is “the toughest one we have ever faced as a nation,” and repeated Biden’s warnings that a dark winter is ahead.
“The road ahead will not be easy. We have got a lot of hard and demanding work to do in the next year, but as we have done during previous crises, I also know we can get through this pandemic together as a nation,” Fauci added, thanking Biden for the opportunity to serve in this capacity.
Fauci explained he wasn’t able to attend the event in-person because his colleague at the NIAID is receiving the Nobel Prize in medicine Tuesday.
Dec 08, 3:03 pm
Vivek Murthy says nation must overcome fear and mistrust amid pandemic
Biden’s nominee for surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy, who served in the same role in Obama administration, reminded in his remarks that COVID-19 is not the only health crisis devastating families and shortening life spans in America while warning that even with the best policies, the nation must overcome the fear and distrust that many are feeling amid the pandemic.
“In my new expanded role, I will work to bring a health focus to our policies across government so that our schools, our workplaces and our communities can be forces for strengthening our health and wellbeing, but the truth is that the very best policies, and even the best vaccines and treatments, will not heal our nation unless we also overcome the fear, anxiety, anger and distrust that so many Americans are feeling right now,” Murthy said.
“So more than anything, I will come to this role as a doctor, one who learned the most important lessons about medicine not in medical school, but from the clinic that my parents opened when they first came to America as immigrants decades ago,” he added.
Drawing from personal experience, Murthy went on to say he is “endlessly grateful to serve one of the few countries in the world where the grandson of a poor farmer in India could be asked by the president-elect to look out for the health of an entire nation.”
Dec 08, 2:49 pm
Xavier Becerra says human services will ‘stand tall’ in the Biden administration
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Biden’s nominee to lead the Health and Human Services Department who would be the first Latino in the position if confirmed, said the incoming Biden administration will elevate the knowledge of medial professionals and build a country where health care is a right, not a privilege.
“At HHS, tackling pandemics, saving lives, keeping us healthy, should be our calling card. And we won’t forget that there is a second “H” in HHS, the human services: the work we do for our children, the seniors and and disabled. They will stand tall in a Biden-Harris HHS,” Becerra said.
Becerra also shared a personal story, of his father passing away peacefully at home on New Year’s Day, contrasting it to the present moment.
“No one should ever have to die alone in a hospital bed, loved ones forced to stay away. That seems so contrary to the values of a great nation, the values that drew my parents like generations before and after them to come to America,” he said.
Becerra led the states’ defense of the Affordable Care Act after the Trump administration sued to dismantle the program earlier this year.
Dec 08, 2:24 pm
Biden asks everyone to wear masks for first 100 days of presidency
Ahead of introducing his health care picks, Biden made his mask campaign official and called on all Americans to wear a mask for the first 100 days of his presidency as part of three key objectives he’s asking his health care team to complete in his first 100 days in office.
“My first 100 days won’t end the COVID-19 virus. I can’t promise that,” Biden said. “We didn’t get into this mess quickly. We’re not going to get out of it quickly. It’s going to take some time. But I’m absolutely convinced that in 100 days we can change the course of the disease and change life in America for the better.”
Biden said his team’s second initiative is to have “at least 100 million COVID vaccine shots into the arms of the American people in the first 100 days.” The initiative comes as the Biden team has said it’s seen “no detailed plan” on vaccine distribution from the Trump administration.
Finally, Biden said getting children back to school and keeping them in school will be a “national priority” for the team in the first 100 days, saying Congress can help make this happen with the appropriate funding.
“I’m encouraged by the bipartisan efforts in Congress around a $900 billion economic relief package which I’ve said is critical, but this package is only a start for more action early next year,” Biden added.
Dec 08, 2:09 pm
Biden introduces his health care picks
Biden is introducing a slate of health care experts and officials who will lead his administration’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
“Today, I’m very proud to be announcing our health care and COVID team at a critical time, as we near the end of one of the toughest years we’ve faced as a nation,” Biden said, adding this group of “world class experts” will be “ready on day one.”
California attorney general and former California congressman, Xavier Becerra, is Biden’s nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services. If confirmed, he would be the first Latino to lead the department.
Vivek Muthy has been nominated to be U.S. surgeon general, a role he served in during the Obama administration.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, a leading expert on virus testing, prevention and treatment, is nominated to serve as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, one of the country’s foremost experts on health care disparities, will serve as the COVID-19 equity task force chair.
As Biden said last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci will stay on in his current role as as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and will take on the elevated role of Biden’s chief medical adviser on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jeff Zients will serve as coordinator of the COVID-19 response and counselor to the president, and Natalie Quillian will serve as deputy coordinator of the COVID-19 response.
Dec 08, 1:11 pm
Harris vows to ‘right the wrongs’ of the Trump admin at immigration conference
During first speech post-election on immigration, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ told immigration activists that she’s focused on working to “right the wrongs of these past four years.”
Harris, during pre-taped remarks at the 13th Annual National Immigrant Integration Conference, ticked off a few immigration-related actions the Biden administration hopes to tackle in the first 100 days in office.
“In our first 100 days, we will send an immigration bill to Congress, reinstate DACA, repeal harmful and discriminatory policies like the Muslim ban, and during our administration, we will repeal indiscriminate enforcement policies that tear families apart and make us less safe,” Harris said.
The daughter of two immigrants, Harris later noted the sacrifice that immigrants have made during the pandemic as essential workers, vowing to create a “humane immigration system.”
-ABC News’ Beatrice Peterson
Dec 08, 1:16 pm
Trump called Pennsylvania Republican House Speaker last week
Trump reached out to Pennsylvania State Speaker of the House Brian Cutler last week asking about the legislature possibly overturning the election as part of his ongoing and apparent pressure campaign to have GOP-controlled legislatures flip results in his favor in battleground states he lost.
Mike Straub, a spokesman for Cutler, confirmed to ABC News reporting in The New York Times that Trump asked what options were available to the legislature on the phone call.
“Cutler made it very clear what power the legislature has and does not have,” Straub told ABC News, adding he is “not aware of the President explicitly asking to turnover [sic] the election results.”
Straub separately told ABC News that he was not present for the conversations between Cutler and the president, but he was briefed.
“The president wanted to know what options were available to the legislature to address those concerns… Speaker Cutler was very clear in explaining what power the legislature has and does not have within our state Constitution,” Straub said. “One remedy the Trump campaign is seeking in a court case involves the legislature seating electors — Speaker Cutler explained the legislature does not have that authority.”
Cutler separately signed onto a resolution last week imploring Pennsylvania Republicans in Congress to officially contest the election results in January. While this has happened in the past, including over the election of George W. Bush, it is highly unlikely to overturn the election results.
The Supreme Court may decide Tuesday to take up a challenge by Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Mike Kelly over the constitutionality of mail-in voting, but legal experts have told ABC News that is a long shot. With Tuesday being the constitutionally mandated “safe-harbor” deadline for electors, all legal challenges are meant to be resolved by the end of the day, thus ensuring the correct electors will cast their votes in statehouses on Dec. 14.
-ABC News’ Alex Hosenball
Dec 08, 12:40 pm
Former Trump admin official sues Trump campaign lawyer for defamation
Former Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Chris Krebs has sued Trump campaign lawyer Joe diGenova and Newsmax over comments the Trump campaign lawyer made on the TV network calling for Krebs to be “taken out at dawn and shot.”
Krebs’ lawyers say that the Trump campaign and “diGenova, spread, stoked, and instigated unfounded allegations of system-wide voter fraud, abuse, and interference—without proffering any evidence deemed credible by any state or federal court—in a naked and politically motivated effort to undermine public confidence in the election,” according to a complaint filed in Montgomery County, Maryland, court.
Trump fired Krebs last month after he repeatedly rebuked unfounded claims made by Trump and his campaign about widespread voter fraud, which the complaint also hits on.
The lawsuit says Krebs has received death threats through email and on Twitter by, in some cases, “angry Newsmax viewers,” with people calling Krebs a traitor who should be hung. These threats were so serious, according to the lawsuit, that Krebs’ 10-year-old child asked, “Daddy’s going to get executed?”
“Seeing the pain and fear in those closest to him has only elevated his own pain and fear,” the lawsuit says. Because of this, Krebs has had to leave his house, retain private security and reported threats to law enforcement.
Krebs is seeking Newsmax to remove the clip as well as monetary damages, with the suit saying that diGenova and the network have a “symbiotic relationship.”
-ABC News’ Luke Barr
Dec 08, 12:23 pm
Jenna Ellis says she’s positive for COVID-19: Sources
Trump campaign legal adviser Jenna Ellis has informed associates she’s tested positive for coronavirus only days after attending a Christmas party at the White House, igniting panic in the West Wing, multiple sources tell ABC News.
Ellis attended a senior staff Christmas party at the White House on Friday, where she was photographed not wearing a mask.
The news comes just days after it was revealed that Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has been hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19. Ellis has spent the last month traveling the country with Giuliani working to overturn the 2020 election results in states including Pennsylvania, Michigan and Arizona on behalf of the president. Both have attended hearings without wearing a mask.
-ABC News’ Katherine Faulders, John Santucci and Will Steakin
Dec 08, 11:57 am
Clyburn says majority of Biden inauguration will be virtual
Democratic Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, whose primary endorsement in South Carolina helped put Biden on a path to victory and who was tapped this week to chair Biden’s presidential inaugural committee, began to paint a clearer picture Tuesday of what the public can expect on Jan. 20, saying a majority of the inauguration will be virtual.
“I think the president will be sworn in in a a traditional way, but 75%, 80% of this inauguration will probably be virtual,” Clyburn told CNN Tuesday morning, comparing the look to this summer’s Democratic National Convention.
“This inauguration will be an example of what a President Joe Biden would like to see the people of America do,” Clyburn added, noting the worsening coronavirus pandemic. “We are not going to violate anything… We are going to discourage anything that could be a spreader.”
Providing an alternative, Clyburn said he’s hopeful there could be a celebration on the National Mall July 4, adding, “Hopefully things will be under control then.”
As Biden is expected to name retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin to lead the Pentagon at some point this week, Clyburn also offered praise for the “historic” choice of and encouraged Biden to consider more Black candidates he’s suggested — including Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms — for other senior-level Cabinet positions. The pressure comes ahead of Biden’s meeting with civil rights leaders Tuesday afternoon as they advocate for more people of color to be nominated to top spots.
“There are plenty of bodies to be found if you ask the right person,” Clyburn said.
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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