President-elect Joe Biden has denounced Donald Trump as one of the “most irresponsible presidents in the history of the United States,” calling the incumbent president’s challenges against the results of the November elections as “incredibly damaging.”
Speaking after a call with state governors on Thursday, Biden said he was not concerned that Trump’s refusal to grant the election would prevent a transfer of power, but said it “sends a horrible message about who we are as a country.”
“What the president is doing now … will be another incident in which he will go down in history as one of the most irresponsible presidents in American history,” Biden told reporters in Wilmington. “It’s just not within the norm at all, and there is a question whether it is even legal.”
Americans are “witnessing incredible irresponsibility, incredibly damaging messages being sent to the rest of the world about how democracy works,” Biden said. “I don’t know his motive, but I think he is totally irresponsible.”
Trump has launched legal challenges in several states and claimed, without evidence, that he is the rightful winner of the election. His administration has refused to recognize Biden as the likely winner, preventing Biden’s transition team from obtaining funding and office space and preventing the president-elect from receiving classified reports.
So far, the Trump campaign has filed at least nine lawsuits challenging the election and its results, many of which legal experts have called weak. Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, told a news conference Thursday that he planned to file more lawsuits and that Democrats had engaged in a “national conspiracy” to manipulate vote totals, though he admitted he had no evidence.
“It’s about trying to set the conditions where half the country believes there are only two chances, either win or the election is stolen,” said Justin Levitt, a constitutional law scholar and professor at Loyola Law School. “And that is not a democracy.”
In Michigan, Trump has mounted an all-out assault on the election result, reportedly planning to blow up state lawmakers to meet him in Washington on Friday after calling county officials in an apparent attempt to derail the victory certification. Biden with 150,000 votes in status.
While no explanation has been given for the meeting, Trump has been pressuring Republican state lawmakers to try to hijack the electoral college by advancing lists of voters that could compete with those selected by state voters.
Tuesday night, Trump made phone calls to two Republican members of a county-level vote certification board the night before the couple tried to reverse their previous endorsement of a large chunk of the vote in Michigan.
Trump’s own election security agency has declared the 2020 presidential election to have been the safest in history. Days after that statement was issued, Trump fired the agency leader.
Biden said the Trump administration’s refusal to give his team access to key federal agencies was affecting his ability to create a plan to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, particularly around the distribution of vaccines.
Biden referenced the refusal of the General Services Administration (GSA) to name him as the apparent winner of the election. The refusal has prevented Biden’s team from receiving federal funds allocated for the transition and has prevented his team from meeting with their counterparts to gather relevant information.
Biden said his transition team does not have “all the information we need to get from all agencies” and that, as a result, “we cannot deal with everything from testing to counseling to the whole important issue of distribution of vaccines “.
Biden has launched his own task force focused on crafting a workable plan to curb the pandemic. But he and his aides have said the lack of access to current planning in the federal government will make the answer that much more difficult when Biden takes office in January.
Biden He vowed he would not seek a nationwide lockdown after his January inauguration, despite the recent surge in coronavirus cases. More than 250,000 people in the US have died after contracting the coronavirus and millions have been infected, far more than in any other country.
“There is no national closure,” the president-elect told reporters. “I am not going to shut down the economy. I’m going to turn off the virus. “
Biden said he had discussed a possible nationwide mask mandate with state governors during a call, as the Covid-19 case and death rates spike across the United States.
Biden said wearing a mask “is not a political statement, it is a patriotic duty” during post-call remarks with Republican and Democratic state governors.
Later Thursday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the nation’s leading epidemiologists, spoke during the first briefing of the White House coronavirus task force in months. Led by Vice President Mike Pence, the briefing touted recent developments in coronavirus vaccine candidates.
Fauci celebrated positive news about the Pfizer and Moderna coronavirus vaccine candidates, but emphasized the need to remain vigilant about social distancing and the use of masks.
“If you’re fighting a battle and the cavalry is on the way, don’t stop firing,” Fauci added. “You keep going until the cavalry arrives, and then you might even want to keep fighting.”
Instead, Fauci said the Americans need to “redouble public health measures while we wait for that help to come, which will be soon.”
“We are not talking about closing the country. We are not talking about blocking. We are talking about intensifying the simple public health measures that we all talk about, ”said Fauci.
While several of America’s leading health experts appeared at the briefing, Trump did not – a departure from the briefings of the summer, when the president used to largely deliver powerful reporting.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
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