Biden calls President's refusal to concede 'an embarrassment'

But President-elect downplays impact of Trump not assisting with transition

United States President-elect Joe Biden said on Tuesday that the unwillingness of President Donald Trump's administration to acknowledge that Mr Biden had won the election "is not of much consequence to our planning" in the transition to a new admini
An aerial view on Tuesday of a mural in Oakland, California, that encourages Americans to choose democracy over President Donald Trump's refusal to acknowledge defeat in the Nov 3 presidential election. Mr Trump's close ally and appointee, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said on Tuesday that once every "legal" vote was counted, it would lead to a "second Trump administration", appearing to reject Mr Joe Biden's election triumph over Mr Trump.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
United States President-elect Joe Biden said on Tuesday that the unwillingness of President Donald Trump's administration to acknowledge that Mr Biden had won the election "is not of much consequence to our planning" in the transition to a new admini
United States President-elect Joe Biden said on Tuesday that the unwillingness of President Donald Trump's administration to acknowledge that Mr Biden had won the election "is not of much consequence to our planning" in the transition to a new administration. PHOTO: REUTERS

WILMINGTON (Delaware) • President-elect Joe Biden said that Mr Donald Trump's refusal to concede the United States election was an "embarrassment" that will reflect poorly on his legacy.

"I just think it's an embarrassment, quite frankly," Mr Biden said on Tuesday when asked what he thinks about Mr Trump's refusal to acknowledge defeat in the Nov 3 election.

"How can I say this tactfully," Mr Biden told reporters in his home town of Wilmington, Delaware. "I think it will not help the President's legacy."

When asked what he would say to Mr Trump, given the chance, Mr Biden replied: "Mr President, look forward to speaking with you."

But the Democratic President-elect downplayed the impact of Mr Trump's refusal to assist with the transition towards a new US administration.

"The fact that they're not willing to acknowledge we won at this point is not of much consequence in our planning," Mr Biden said, looking ahead to his inauguration.

"I think, at the end of the day, it's all going to come to fruition on Jan 20, and between now and then, my hope and expectation are that the American people do know, and do understand that there has been a transition."

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo voiced confidence on Tuesday that once every "legal" vote was counted, it would lead to a "second Trump administration", appearing to reject Mr Biden's election victory over Mr Trump.

But hours after withering criticism over his comments, Mr Pompeo, a close ally and appointee of Mr Trump, appeared to soften his tone in a Fox News interview.

"I am very confident that we will have a good transition, that we will make sure that whoever is in office at noon on Jan 20 has all the tools readily available so we don't skip a beat with the capacity to keep Americans safe," Mr Pompeo said.

Earlier, at a State Department briefing, he had said: "There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration."

Those comments drew praise from Mr Trump, who tweeted a video late on Tuesday of Mr Pompeo's comments, saying, "That's why Mike was number one in his class at West Point!", referring to the US military academy.

Meanwhile, the White House installed a Trump loyalist in a key Pentagon post on Tuesday and promoted another one who has falsely called former president Barack Obama a terrorist.

Defence Secretary Mark Esper was replaced by Mr Christopher Miller, who had been the director of the National Counterterrorism Centre.

The Pentagon said Mr Kash Patel, who was the top counter-terrorism adviser on the White House National Security Council, would be Mr Miller's chief of staff.

Mr Patel was a top aide to Representative Devin Nunes, the pro-Trump Republican who chaired the House Intelligence Committee and is now its top minority member.

While working for Mr Nunes, Mr Patel helped produce a memo accusing the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice of bias against Mr Trump.

In the wake of Mr Esper's departure, the Pentagon's top policy adviser James Anderson resigned, allowing that post to be filled by Mr Anthony Tata, a retired army brigadier-general who has called Mr Obama "a terrorist leader".

Mr Tata failed to secure a Senate confirmation hearing in August and was performing the duties of the deputy undersecretary of defence for policy.

The reshuffle raises the possibility that Mr Trump will try to make good on still-unfulfilled campaign pledges before Jan 20, when Mr Biden takes office.

They include potentially ordering a full withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan.

Representative Elissa Slotkin, a Democrat who served as a senior Pentagon official in the Obama administration, called on Mr Miller to put national security interests ahead of loyalty to Mr Trump, saying "the country and the military he has dedicated his life to are counting on him to do the right thing".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 12, 2020, with the headline 'Biden calls President's refusal to concede 'an embarrassment''. Print Edition | Subscribe