Biden says transition is cooperating with Trump staff on Covid-19

Joe Biden has promised to seek multilateral approaches to common problems like the coronavirus and arms control. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG, REUTERS) - US President-elect Joe Biden said his transition team will not be "so far behind the curve" now that the Trump administration has begun cooperating on the fight against the coronavirus and providing access to intelligence reports after a three-week delay.

"We're already working out meeting with the Covid team in the White House," Biden said in an interview on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt to air Tuesday (Nov 24).

"And how to not only distribute, but get from a vaccine being distributed, to a person being able to get vaccinated. So I think we're going to not be so far behind the curve, as we thought we might be in the past," he said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also indicated on Tuesday that the State Department has begun the transition process after the General Services Administration (GSA), the federal agency that must sign off on presidential transitions, on Monday told President-elect Joe Biden he could formally begin the hand-over.

"Today we began the process to see what the GSA's decision was, and will do everything that's required by law. We'll make this work," Pompeo said in an interview with Fox News.

The long-delayed transfer of power freed up funds, access to current administration officials and classified information for Biden and his team. Most significantly, Biden will now have access to the presidential daily briefing from the intelligence community and to the Trump administration's vaccine distribution plans.

"There's a lot of immediate discussion, and I must say, the outreach has been sincere," Biden said Tuesday. "There's has not been begrudging so far. And I don't expect it to be. So yes it's already begun."

The S&P 500 Index closed at an all-time high and the Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 30,000 for the first time as Biden's transition gathered speed and a third promising vaccine candidate emerged.

The move to begin the formal transition came after Trump had faced increasing pressure from lawmakers, former officials and business leaders to start the transition process, three weeks after the vote that Biden won decisively.

Trump still hasn't conceded the election and his team is arguing against the result in multiple court fights, though those efforts have not yielded results.

The NBC interview also took place hours after Biden formally announced his foreign policy and national security teams, including Antony Blinken as secretary of state, signalling an effort to calm international relations after a tumultuous four years under Trump.

Biden has promised to seek multilateral approaches to common problems like climate change, the coronavirus pandemic and arms control.

"It's a team that reflects the fact that America is back," Biden said as he announced the team, which also includes Jake Sullivan as national security adviser, Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence, Alejandro Mayorkas as homeland security secretary, Linda Thomas-Greenfield as UN ambassador and John Kerry as climate envoy.

"Ready to lead the world, not retreat from it. Ready to confront our adversaries, not reject our allies. And ready to stand up for our values."

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