A day after taking office as the U.S. presidency, Democrat Joe Biden and his advisors worked Sunday on how to address the country’s coronavirus crisis, reaffirming Biden’s intention to bridge America’s gaping political divisions.
Republican Donald Trump, the first incumbent U.S. president to lose a re-election bid in 28 years, showed no sign of concessions as his campaign fueled legal battles against the outcome.
Top Republicans in Congress on Sunday still hadn’t recognized the former vice president as the winner, to illustrate the tough battle Biden faces after taking office on Jan. 20, working with Trump party lawmakers.
“Work starts now,” said Kate Bedingfield, assistant campaign manager for Biden, on NBC on Sunday.
Bedingfield said Biden planned to set up a coronavirus task force on Monday to plan the path ahead, led by former surgeon general Vivek Murthy and former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration David Kessler.
More than 237,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and the number of coronavirus cases has increased in the past few days. Biden made his criticism of Trump’s incoherent response to the pandemic the centerpiece of his campaign.
Biden has pledged to improve access to coronavirus testing and, unlike Trump, heed the advice of leading health officials and scientists. Around 10 million Americans who became unemployed during the coronavirus lockdown remain unemployed and federal aid programs have expired.
President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris in Wilmington, Delaware [Andrew Harnik/Pool via AP Photo]Biden and his advisors will also advance the work of selecting officials for his administration.
Biden advisor Jen Psaki urged the Trump-appointed head of the General Services Administration to quickly recognize Biden as president-elect, which would free money for the transition and clear the way for Biden’s team to set up the transition process at agencies.
“America’s national security and economic interests depend on the federal government signaling clearly and quickly that the United States government will respect the will of the American people and work for a smooth and peaceful transfer of power,” Psaki said in a Twitter post .
A GSA official said Sunday that the move had not yet been taken.
Trump has yet to admit
Unlike other US presidential candidates defeated in the past, Trump has not made a concession declaration or turned to Biden.
Trump was playing golf on Saturday when major media forecast his rival had won. Trump returned to the golf course on Sunday wearing his red Make America Great Again baseball cap.
He posted on Twitter comments from commentators casting doubts about the integrity of the election, including: “This was a stolen election.” Recalling the comments, Twitter noted that “this election fraud claim is controversial,” the latest social media platform to flag its posts.
“Since when has the Lamestream media been calling who our next president will be?” Trump wrote on Twitter after golfing.
Trump and his advisors have provided no evidence to support their allegations of election fraud. Election officials in states across the country said there was no evidence of significant fraud.
Former Republican President George W. Bush said in a statement that he spoke to Biden and congratulated him on his victory.
“Although we have political differences, I know that Joe Biden is a good man who won his chance to lead and unite our country,” said Bush. “The American people can be confident that this election was fundamentally fair, that its integrity is upheld, and that the outcome is clear.”
After visiting Church in Wilmington, Biden and his family visited the Church graveyard where his son Beau and other relatives are buried – as they did on Election Day morning on Tuesday.
Biden said he plans to sign executive orders lifting bans on travelers from multiple Muslim-majority countries, re-joining the international Paris Agreement on climate change, undoing Trump’s withdrawal from the World Health Organization and a program to protect “dreamers” from deportation -Assist immigrants would be illegally brought to the US as children.
A Biden adviser said he intended to implement these plans soon after he took office.
Biden has called for cooperation between the two major US political parties as he faces political dysfunction and party-political deadlock in Washington.
Symone Sanders, a senior advisor to Biden, told CNN that “a number of Republicans” have reached out to the president-elect, but added, “I don’t think anyone in the White House did.”
Trump, who has been criticized by critics for violating democratic norms as president, has filed a number of lawsuits to question the results, but state election officials have denied his fraud allegations. Legal experts have said Trump’s efforts are unlikely to be successful.
Senator Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential candidate, told CNN that he understands why Trump wants to keep fighting.
“It is destructive to the cause of democracy to point out widespread fraud or corruption. Right now there is just no evidence of it, ”said Romney.
“I would prefer the world to see a more graceful awakening, but that’s just not in man’s nature,” added Romney, referring to Trump.
Jim Clyburn, a Democratic Congressman whose approval helped secure the party’s nomination for president, said he didn’t care if Trump conceded.
“What is important to me is whether the Republican Party strengthens itself and helps us maintain the integrity of this democracy,” said Clyburn on CNN.
Trump’s allies in Congress refused to recognize Biden as elected president.
Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the House of Representatives, told Fox News, “We must ensure in the president’s race that every legal vote is counted, every recount is completed, and every legal challenge heard. Then and only then will America decide who won the race. “
Francis Rooney, a Florida Congressman, was one of the first seated members of the Republican House on Sunday to publicly acknowledge Biden’s victory and wrote on Twitter: “All Americans must come together to support President-elect Biden. Our nation will only be successful if the new administrator is. “
Chris Christie, the former Republican governor of New Jersey and an ally of Trump, said the president needed to back up his claims the election was stolen.
“If your basis is that there was no fraud, show us,” Christie told ABC. “We cannot blindly support you without evidence.”
Biden advisors have told reporters that if Republicans retain control of the U.S. Senate, they may need to appoint cabinet officials with a more centrist bias in order to get confirmation in the chamber.
Control of the Senate could depend on the outcome of four indecisive Senate races, including two in Georgia, which won’t be cleared until after the January runoff elections.