By 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 one week after Biden was projected as the winner.
Trump has largely hunkered down inside the White House since the election, but Biden is pressing forward and stepping into the presidential spotlight, receiving a briefing on national security Tuesday and continuing to meet with his own transition advisers. He’s also expected to name the first wave of White House senior staff as soon as this week — despite the Trump administration refusing to grant him access to federal resources allocated for the transition of power.
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 several of their lawsuits already being thrown out in court.
Here is how the transition is unfolding. All times Eastern:
Nov 17, 12:17 pm
Congressman makes ‘hardest decision’ of his life to resign and join Biden’s team
Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana officially announced his plans Tuesday to resign from Congress sometime before Inauguration Day so that he can take a senior adviser role in the incoming Biden-Harris administration.
“The future has a habit of arriving unannounced, and I am here to announce the hardest decision of my life,” Richmond said at a press conference in New Orleans, as Biden separately announced that Richmond would serve as an assistant to the president and director of public engagement.
The Louisiana congressman joined as the first co-chair of Biden’s campaign in May 2019, advising on strategy and serving as a top surrogate, particularly on African American outreach for the former vice president’s team. He has been serving in Congress since 2011.
Richmond said he’s expecting an “orderly transition” despite the Trump administration’s continued refusals to recognize Biden as the president-elect.
-ABC News’ Mariam Khan
Nov 17, 11:57 am
Rudy Giuliani files to appear in Pennsylvania election case
Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, has filed papers to appear on behalf of the Trump campaign in the federal election lawsuit filed in Pennsylvania.
The request follows the primary lawyer handling the case, Republican attorney Linda A. Kerns, submitting papers with the U.S. District Court Monday saying she had “reached a mutual agreement that Plaintiffs will be best served” if she withdrew.
She’s the second lawyer helping lead Trump’s effort to contest the outcome of the 2020 election who has asked to step aside, according to federal court filings.
The president installed Giuliani to lead legal efforts he has mounted to resuscitate his failed bid for a second term in office, a move that came after a series of defeats in court on Friday.
-ABC News’ Matthew Mosk and Alex Hosenball
Nov 17, 11:57 am
Harris will join Biden transition briefing virtually
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will join Biden’s transition briefing on national security remotely from Washington, D.C., according to an aide.
She joined Biden in-person at The Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware, on Monday for their first joint remarks on the economy since they were projected winners of the election.
-ABC News’ Averi Harper
Nov 17, 10:56 am
Biden announces members of White House senior staff
Biden, forging ahead with his transition despite Trump’s refusals to concede, has named new members of his senior White House staff, bringing several of his closest campaign advisers into the fold.
“I am proud to announce additional members of my senior team who will help us build back better than before,” Biden said in a release Monday. “America faces great challenges, and they bring diverse perspectives and a shared commitment to tackling these challenges and emerging on the other side a stronger, more united nation.”
Biden announced the following:
- Mike Donilon, senior adviser to the president
- Jen O’Malley Dillon, deputy chief of staff
- Dana Remus, counsel to the president
- Steve Ricchetti, counselor to the president
- Cedric Richmond, senior adviser to the president and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement
- Julie Rodriguez, director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs
- Annie Tomasini, director of Oval Office Operations
Also on the list are some members of Jill Biden’s staff, who worked with her during the campaign:
- Anthony Bernal, senior adviser to Jill Biden
- Julissa Reynoso Pantaleon, chief of staff to Jill Biden
Nov 17, 9:46 am
Overview: Biden team hindered by lack of formal transition from Trump
While Biden forges ahead and continues to build out his White House team, he remains hindered by the lack of a formal concession from Trump.
The Trump administration is still not recognizing Biden as the president-elect, and Biden warned Monday “more people may die” without a the process of a formal transition as the country battles the coronavirus pandemic on top of ongoing national security concerns.
Taking matters into his own hands, Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will receive a briefing on national security from security and defense advisers in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday, as they stress their work must begin now and not on Jan. 20.
The briefing comes as Trump makes [geo-political moves not typical of a lame-duck commander-in-chief. Two officials confirmed to ABC News on Monday that orders were expected by the end of this week to reduce troop levels in Afghanistan to 2,500 and in Iraq to 2,500 by mid-January.
Notably, Biden has said Harris is still getting briefings based on her role on the Senate Intelligence Committee, but it’s unclear how much she can pass on to Biden.
Pressing forward, Biden is also expected to name a number of senior White House staff as soon as this week, a group that will likely include Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., a key surrogate and his campaign’s first national co-chair. Biden’s campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon is expected to join the administration as deputy chief of staff, sources confirmed to ABC News.
While Trump has no public events on his schedule for Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence will lead a coronavirus task force meeting at the White House as the administration faces criticism on Trump’s apparent lack of interest in managing the virus. Trump hasn’t attended a task force meeting for months.
It all comes as state certification deadlines approach for the 2020 election, and the Trump campaign, working against those deadlines, also fights against the results which voted him out of office.
Nov 17, 9:56 am
Biden tries end-around of defiant Trump
Biden is making clear that he wants Trump’s help with the transition — and is even warning that lives could be lost if he doesn’t get it.
But Biden is signaling that he doesn’t truly expect that help. He is acting in ways that say he doesn’t really need it, much as it might boost his incoming presidency — and maybe help the health of the nation.
The former vice president is outlining an agenda that actually starts before Jan. 20, with more stimulus spending now and mask mandates designed to slow the spread of COVID-19. He is setting up task forces and working groups along with a revamped West Wing staffing operation designed to adapt to the particular challenges of the moment.
“It would make it a lot easier,” Biden said Monday, “if the president were to participate.”
Biden remains among the more calm Democrats in official circles. He’s letting his surrogates and lawyers do battle with sputtering legal efforts and a torrent of falsehoods about the election propagated by the president.
It’s appropriate to ask Republican members of Congress to say that Trump should acknowledge the facts and help assure smooth governance. Democrats, of course, have strong opinions on the subject as well.
What’s becoming clear, though, is that state authorities and ultimately the judicial branch will be forced to end scattered election disputes. Trump will still be president when that happens; in some states, finality might be just days away.
But by then, Biden’s plan is to be well on his way to doing a job Trump isn’t showing particular interest in at the moment.
-ABC News’ Political Director Rick Klein
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