Biden blasts Trump for refusal to concede

President-elect calls for access to details on virus vaccine, plan for its distribution

Pro-Trump protesters attending a "Stop the Steal" rally against the results of the US presidential election outside the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta on Wednesday. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Pro-Trump protesters attending a "Stop the Steal" rally against the results of the US presidential election outside the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta on Wednesday. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WASHINGTON • United States President-elect Joe Biden has assailed the Trump administration's lack of cooperation on the presidential transition, which he says hinders his team's ability to get up-to-date information on the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Biden said he could not "fathom" President Donald Trump's refusal to concede the election, saying he would "go down in history as being one of the most irresponsible presidents".

"Far from me to question his motives, it's just outrageous what he's doing," Mr Biden said, referring to Mr Trump's legal manoeuvres to overturn the election result.

Mr Biden called on the administration to allow his team to get details on a coronavirus vaccine and plans for distribution. "I would like to know exactly what this administration has in mind in terms of their Operation Warp Speed and how they plan it," he said.

He said he has not ruled out legal action to force the hand of the General Services Administration, which has so far declined to sign an ascertainment that Mr Biden likely won the election and free up money and access to government officials. Until the paperwork is signed, he cannot get national security briefings or real-time data on the coronavirus.

The President-elect also spoke to governors, who briefed him on the status of the pandemic in their states as the virus surges around the country. "Governors made clear that beating Covid-19 will require all of us working together," he said.

Noting that state and local budgets have been devastated by pandemic-related slowdowns, Mr Biden said: "We've got to come together. The federal government has to deliver this relief."

Biden advisers have warned of serious consequences if the Trump administration continues to deny access to the federal government, especially with regard to real-time data about the pandemic and plans for distributing a vaccine.

Separately, in the strongest criticism of Mr Trump by a fellow high-ranking Republican, Senator Mitt Romney of Utah on Thursday night excoriated the President on Twitter for his continuing and overwhelmingly unsuccessful efforts to overturn his election defeat.

Mr Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, said that the President had exhausted his legal challenges in several battleground states and resorted to trying to defy the will of the voters.

"It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American president," he wrote.

His rebuke of Mr Trump came on the same day that the President invited Republican state leaders in Michigan to the White House to discuss their efforts to stop the certification of the election results in the state.

The Trump campaign's latest strategy, as described by three people familiar with the plan, is to convince Republican-controlled legislatures in battleground states won by Mr Biden, such as Michigan, to undermine the results.

"The entire election, frankly, in all the swing states should be overturned and the legislatures should make sure that the electors are selected for Trump," Mr Sidney Powell, one of Mr Trump's lawyers, told Fox Business television on Thursday.

Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska said in a statement on Thursday night that it was telling that Mr Trump's campaign lawyers had refused to "actually allege grand fraud".

"Because there are legal consequences for lying to judges," said Mr Sasse.

BLOOMBERG, NYTIMES, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2020, with the headline 'Biden blasts Trump for refusal to concede'. Print Edition | Subscribe