November 23, 2020 08:20
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden plans to name the first members of his Cabinet on Tuesday, a key aide said Sunday, even as President Donald Trump urged on Republicans to help him in his longshot legal effort to overturn his re-election defeat.
Ron Klain, Biden's incoming White House chief of staff, declined in an interview on ABC's "This Week" show to say which agency heads Biden would name. But the president-elect said last week he had settled on a new Treasury secretary and that his selection would appeal to "all elements of the Democratic Party... progressive to the moderate coalitions."
While Biden is transitioning to become the country's 46th president at his inauguration on Jan. 20, Trump has refused to concede. On Sunday, the outgoing U.S. leader told his followers on Twitter, "We will find massive numbers of fraudulent ballots... Fight hard Republicans."
But Trump's legal fight has been fruitless so far, with his campaign losing or withdrawing 34 lawsuits claiming vote and vote-counting fraud in key battleground states Biden was projected to win to claim a four-year term in the White House.
Trump has not upended the vote count in any state, leaving intact Biden's unofficial 306-232 majority vote in the Electoral College. It determines U.S. presidential elections, not the national popular vote, although Biden leads there, too, by more than 6 million votes.
Trump's latest legal defeat contesting the election came late Saturday in Pennsylvania, whose 20 electoral votes Biden won by an 81,000-vote margin after Trump won the state over Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 en route to the presidency.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann declared that the Trump campaign had presented "strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations" in its effort to throw out millions of votes and hand the state's electoral votes to Trump. "In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state," Brann wrote.
After Brann's decision was announced, a key Republican Trump supporter in the state, Senator Pat Toomey, urged Trump to accept his election loss. "President Trump has exhausted all plausible legal options to challenge the result of the presidential race in Pennsylvania," Toomey said. "I congratulate President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their victory. They are both dedicated public servants and I will be praying for them and for our country."
Another Trump adviser, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, told the ABC show, "The conduct of the president's legal team has been a national embarrassment." Christie said Trump should concede and that Republicans should instead focus on winning two Senate run-off elections in the southern state of Georgia in early January that will determine whether Republicans or Democrats control the Senate for the next two years. "The rearview mirror should be ripped off," Christie said.
After a hand-by-hand recount of 5 million votes, the southern state of Georgia certified Biden's victory there on Friday, while Pennsylvania and the midwestern state of Michigan could do the same on Monday. The Trump campaign has since requested another recount of the votes in Georgia.
Despite his legal setbacks, Trump has refused to authorize his administration to cooperate with Biden on his transition to power. Biden aide Klain rebuked Emily Murphy, the Trump-appointed head of the General Services Administration, for so far refusing to ascertain that Biden is the apparent election winner so that federal funding can be made available for the transfer in control of the government and Biden aides can talk with officials at numerous agencies.
"I hope that the administrator of the GSA will do her job," Klain said, referring to Murphy. Klain said the Republican president's efforts to overturn the results were a disgrace, "definitely not the democratic norm." "A record number of Americans rejected the Trump presidency, and since then Donald Trump's been rejecting democracy," Klain said.
Klain said that with the surging outbreak of the coronavirus in the United States, Biden's inauguration would be "scaled down" from the normal large event on the steps of the U.S. Capitol followed by a luncheon with key lawmakers, a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House and gala inaugural balls in the evening. But he said plans have not been finalized. "There is something here to celebrate," Klain said. "We just want to do it in a safe way."
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