Joe Biden’s transition team is getting tough and demanding access to critical national security briefings amid Donald Trump continued refusal to admit election defeat.
Mr Biden has reportedly been barred from receiving daily intelligence briefings given to the President, which includes summaries of national security threats.
Democrats and a handful of Republican senators have said Mr Biden should be getting access to that information.
Jen Psaki, an official from Mr Biden’s transition team, said his inability to access the intelligence briefings could harm his preparations to govern the nation.
“It’s been six days, but with every day that passes on, it becomes more concerning that our national security team and the President-elect and the Vice President-elect (Kamala Harris) don’t have access to those threat assessments, intelligence briefings, real time information about our engagements around the world,” she said.
Ms Psaki said the transition team was “charging ahead with the transition”, although direct engagement with federal agencies would “significantly help”.
“You need real-time information to deal with crises of the moment,” she said. “It’s imperative that our team and our experts have that access.”
Ms Psaki said Mr Biden would be briefed by national security experts next week.
New York’s Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo has called Donald Trump’s refusal to admit election defeat “delusion”.
Mr Cuomo has been speaking on CNN about Mr Trump’s unwillingness to particulate in a smooth transition to President-elect Joe Biden.
“For him not to have the Biden people in an orderly transition is just the height of irresponsibility and narcissism,” Mr Cuomo said.
“It’s shameful that he is still in denial. The numbers couldn’t be any clearer … it’s inexcusable.”
Mr Cuomo, who is working with the Biden transition team, clashed with Mr Trump repeatedly over the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier, Donald Trump singled out Mr Cuomo in his White House press conference, saying the Pfizer vaccine could be rolled out by April – but New York would have to wait.
More than a few people who tuned into Donald Trump’s Rose Garden press conference today noticed something particularly different about his appearance.
Specifically, his signature blonde hairdo seems to have faded into a wash of white.
Stressful week at work, perhaps?
Operation Warp Speed has gone horribly wrong https://t.co/be26URoCeH
— TrivWorks (@TrivWorks) November 13, 2020
Is it my TV or is Trump’s hair not looking it’s usual dog-piss yellow today? pic.twitter.com/9zBDHBR6RM
— Ana Navarro-Cárdenas (@ananavarro) November 13, 2020
We need to talk about how Trump’s hair colourist bailed out on him pic.twitter.com/t0JzldlTGq
— Jesse Hawken (@jessehawken) November 13, 2020
Is it me or has Trump’s hair gone from blonde to grey this week? Sad. pic.twitter.com/8odV2CKji2
— Ms Klos is a do-gooder 😷⭐️🕯🇬🇧🇵🇱🇪🇺🌾 (@mariaklosgibson) November 13, 2020
Anybody wanna talk about how Trump’s hair is suddenly white as a sheet of paper??? 👀 pic.twitter.com/TAg7cITjTB
— blep (@nikobloop) November 13, 2020
Donald Trump has just taken to Twitter to declare he has won the key battleground state of Pennsylvania, even though he has not.
His tweet was quickly slapped with a note from Twitter that read: “Official sources have called this election differently.”
700,000 ballots were not allowed to be viewed in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh which means, based on our great Constitution, we win the State of Pennsylvania!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 14, 2020
Multiple news agencies including the Associated Press and Fox News have already called Pennsylvania for Joe Biden.
Pennsylvania is one of the states where the Trump campaign is challenging votes in court.
It isn’t going well at the moment. Pennsylvania’s Secretary of State has said she would not order a recount in the state, “as no statewide candidate was defeated by one-half of one percent or less of the votes cast”.
Some states allow an automatic recount if a candidate’s win is within a particularly small range.
In a rather strange interview, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany has insisted Donald Trump will attend “his own inauguration” in January.
Asked on Fox Business whether Mr Trump would attend the January 20 inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, Mr McEnany said yes, he would be there – because it would be, in fact, his own inauguration.
“You know, that’s many steps away here, we’re talking January, and President Trump believes he will be President Trump (and) have a second term,” Ms McEnany said.
“Litigation is the first step, many steps away from that.”
Host Stuart Vareny suggested it would look “pretty bad” if Mr Trump did not attend the inauguration ceremony. “It would look like sour grapes,” he said.
“I think the President will attend his own inauguration,” Mr McEnany replied.
“He would have to be there, in fact.”
Important to note Ms McEnany was speaking in her role as the Trump 2020 campaign adviser here, and not the White House spokeswoman.
WH Press Sec. Kayleigh McEnany, appearing on Fox Business as Trump Campaign Adviser, on whether Trump will attend President-elect Biden’s inauguration ceremony:
“I think the president will attend his own inauguration.” pic.twitter.com/uHTDneIiXx
— The Recount (@therecount) November 13, 2020
As expected, Donald Trump has won North Carolina, raising his electoral vote tally to 232 behind Joe Biden’s 290.
The Associated Press called the battleground state for Mr Trump a short time ago.
There are no surprises here, as North Carolina is a reliably red state – the only Democrat to win there in decades was Barack Obama in 2008.
Mr Trump campaigned hard in North Carolina in the lead-up to the election, holding a series of in-person rallies at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to motivate his mostly white working class and rural voter base.
Donald Trump ended his media conference without taking questions, so we didn’t get anything apart from his prepared statement and those of a few government officials.
Anyway, as promised, I’ve gone back and checked New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s remarks. They came during an appearance on Good Morning America a few days ago, where host George Stephanopoulos asked Mr Cuomo about the news from Pfizer’s vaccine trials.
I’m going to hit you with the relevant part of the transcript, and you can judge for yourself whether Mr Trump mischaracterised his comments.
Stephanopoulos: “Governor Cuomo, thanks for coming back. Again, this morning we were talking about the importance of vaccine distribution in the next two months. What do you make of this news?”
Cuomo: “It’s good news, bad news, George. The good news is that the Pfizer tests look good and we’ll have a vaccine shortly. The bad news is that it’s about two months before Joe Biden takes over, and that means this administration is going to be implementing a vaccine plan. The vaccine plan is very important. It’s probably the most ambitious undertaking since COVID began. Just to put it in focus, we did 120 million COVID tests in this nation over seven months, scrambling, doing everything we can. We now have to do 330 million vaccinations, maybe twice. My state does more testing than any state in the United States. We did 12 million tests. We have to do 20 million vaccines. The Trump administration is rolling out the vaccination plan and I believe it’s flawed. I believe it learns nothing from the past. They’re basically going to have the private providers do it and that’s going to leave out all sorts of communities that were left out the first time when COVID ravaged them.”
Stephanopoulos: “So what needs to be done that the Trump administration won’t do that president-elect Biden could do?”
Cuomo: “When you deny a problem the way Trump did, you can never solve it and that’s true in life. The Trump administration denied COVID, so they were never ready for it. There was no mobilisation of the government. They’re still doing the same thing. They’re going to take this vaccine and they’re going to go through the private mechanism: through hospitals, through drug market chains, et cetera. That’s going to be slow and that’s going to bypass the communities that we call health care deserts. If you don’t have a Rite Aide or a CVS, then you’re in trouble. That’s what happened the first time with COVID. Why do we have such a disparity in the infection rate and the mortality rate in COVID? Because some communities don’t have the same access to health care. I’m sure the Biden administration is going to address that. I think his first step saying let’s focus on the science, let’s depoliticize testing data. Listen to the science is the exact opposite of Trump, but you have two months, and we can’t let this vaccination plan go forward the way the Trump administration is designing it. Biden can’t undo it two months later. We’ll be in the midst of it. I’ve been talking to governors across the nation about that – how can we shape the Trump administration vaccine plan to fix it or stop it before it does damage?”
While promising a coronavirus vaccine would be distributed quickly, Donald Trump also said the state of New York would not be getting it.
He cited remarks by the state’s Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“As soon as April, the vaccine will be available to the entire general population, with the exception of places like New York State, where for political reasons the governor decided – I don’t think it is good politically, I think it is very bad from a health standpoint – but he wants to take his time on the vaccine,” Mr Trump said.
“We won’t be delivering it to New York until we have authorisation to do so, and it pains me to say that.
“The governor will have to let us know when he’s ready for it. We can’t be delivering it to a state that won’t be giving it to its people immediately.
“He’s had some very bad editorials recently about this statement and what’s happened with respect to nursing homes. I hope he doesn’t handle this as badly as he’s handled the nursing homes.”
I’ll note, right off the bat here, that Mr Cuomo did screw up his initial response to the coronavirus and much of the criticism he’s copped is well deserved.
For example, as Mr Trump mentioned, New York sent infected people back into nursing homes, resulting in outbreaks among vulnerable populations.
I’ll go back and check the remarks Mr Trump was referring to more thoroughly when this media conference is over. From memory, the President’s words here feel like a mischaracterisation of what the New York governor said, but if I’m wrong about that I’ll be sure to note it later.
“The good news is that the Pfizer tests look good and we’ll have a vaccine shortly,” Mr Cuomo said.
“The bad news is that it’s about two months before Joe Biden takes over, and that means this administration is going to be implementing a vaccine plan.”
He said the Trump administration’s plan for rolling out the virus was “flawed”.
I don’t recall Mr Cuomo saying he wouldn’t distribute the vaccine. Maybe I’m wrong. Again, I’ll check that in a few minutes.
Mr Trump went on to repeat some of his more frequent boasts from the campaign trail, such as his claim that America’s economic contraction due to the pandemic was the smallest among Western nations and had been followed by the fastest recovery.
“We went down less, and we went up more, which is quite a combination of facts,” he said.
This is false. America’s numbers on these metrics were far from the worst in the developed world, but they weren’t the best either.
Mr Trump also said he would not be imposing any lockdowns due to the current surge in infections. He alluded, briefly, to the election result.
“I will not be going to a lockdown. Hopefully the, the ah – whatever happens in the future, who knows which administration it will be, I guess time will tell – but I can tell you this administration will not go to a lockdown.
“The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself. I’ve said it many times.
“When you look at what happens during a lockdown, I say it very loudly, it’s horrible.
“This administration will not go, under any circumstances, into lockdown.”
He asked Americans to “remain vigilant”, especially heading into winter.
In his first public remarks since losing the election, Donald Trump praised his administration’s program, Operation Warp Speed, for its part in enabling Pfizer to research and develop its coronavirus vaccine.
That vaccine has yet to be approved, but clinical trials have shown it is 90 per cent effective in protecting against the virus.
The US government has promised Pfizer $US2 billion for the vaccine, once it’s ready. The certainty of that future payoff has enabled the company to invest heavily in research and development.
“No medical breakthrough of this scope and magnitude has ever been achieved this quickly. And we’re very proud of it,” Mr Trump said.
“Operation Warp Speed is unequalled and unrivalled anywhere else in the world.
“This far exceeds any and all expectations.
“Our investment will make it possible for the vaccine to be provided by Pfizer free of charge.”
The President called out comments by Dr Kathrin Jansen, head of vaccine research and development at Pfizer.
“We were never part of the Warp Speed,” Dr Jansen told The New York Times.
“We have never taken any money from the US government, or from anyone.”
Pfizer had to issue a clarification correcting those comments.
“Pfizer said it was not party to Warp Speed, but that turned out to be an unfortunate misrepresentation,” said Mr Trump.
“We will work to secure an emergency use authorisation, which should be coming down extremely soon.
“It will be approved very, very quickly, we hope.
“If you had a different administration, with different people, what we’ve done would have taken four, five years.
“Three other vaccines are also in the final stages of trial. They’ll arrive within a few weeks, and they’ll also be mass produced, and they’ll be distributed very quickly. We’re ready to go.
“Any schedule that I said, we’re going to be far ahead of that.”
This bit is incorrect. Mr Trump’s vaccine timeline has shifted repeatedly. At one point he was predicting one would be ready by mid-October.
Broadly though, his remarks on Operation Warp Speed just now were fair. The program has played a part in Pfizer’s progress, and will be essential when the time comes to distribute the vaccine.
“Case levels are high, but a lot of the case levels are high because of the fact that we have the best test program anywhere in the world,” Mr Trump continued, returning to one of his recurring falsehoods.
Coronavirus infections have risen much more sharply than the number of tests in the US. According to Johns Hopkins University, the country has now recorded more than 100,000 new cases ten days in a row, and it just passed 150,000 in a single day for the first time.
“By vaccinating the elderly and the high risk, we will effectively end this phase of the pandemic, and allow seniors to reclaim their golden years. It’s about time that they can have their golden years,” said the President.
“Millions of doses will soon be going out the door. They’re all ready, waiting for that final approval.”
Donald Trump was supposed to appear five minutes ago, but as you will know if you’ve read one of these live politics blogs before, no politician is ever on time. And I do mean ever.
Anyway stand by and hopefully he won’t be much longer.