President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenManufacturers association calls on GSA to begin transition process Biden vote tally getting close to 80 million AOC, progressive Dems attack corporate greed during health care discussion MORE on Thursday sought to raise pressure on President TrumpDonald John TrumpManufacturers association calls on GSA to begin transition process Biden vote tally getting close to 80 million Brent Budowsky wins The Hill’s 2020 election prediction contest MORE to concede defeat and grant him access to government intelligence, warning that the president’s efforts to overturn the election are sending a “damaging” message to the rest of the world about American democracy, as well as putting lives at risk during a global pandemic.
Speaking from near his home in Wilmington, Del., after a meeting with a bipartisan group of governors, Biden said there was “no excuse” for the Trump administration to continue to deny him access to government officials and intelligence briefings, as is customary in a transition process.
Asked about the president’s efforts to overturn the election, Biden paused and looked off into the distance to collect his thoughts, saying he wanted to choose his words carefully.
“I think we’re witnessing something that is incredibly irresponsible,” Biden said. “Incredibly damaging messages being sent to the rest of the world about how democratic functions…I don’t know his motives, but it’s totally irresponsible.”
Trump’s General Services Administration has refused to ascertain Biden as the likely winner of the election, despite the president-elect holding a comfortable margin in the Electoral College.
Trump’s lawyers are making baseless claims about widespread fraud and an international conspiracy to steal the election from him, but their efforts to overturn the results have repeatedly been swatted away by the courts.
Until GSA administrator Emily Murphy, a Trump appointee, ascertains Biden as the winner, he’s barred from accessing transition resources and government intelligence.
The Trump administration has also refused to coordinate its vaccine distribution plans with the incoming administration, leading Biden to warn that lives will be lost as he rushes to get up to speed once he’s sworn in on Jan. 20.
“There is no excuse not to share the data and let us begin to plan because on day one it will take us time if we don’t have access to this data, it will put us behind by a month or more,” Biden said. “And that’s lives. How many would be lost as a consequence of that, I can’t tell you.”
“Until [Murphy] does that, we don’t have access to all of the information we have to have from all the various agencies,” he continued. “We’re not able to deal with everything from testing to guidance, to vaccine distribution, and even more importantly, vaccination plans to actually get vaccinations.”
Biden was asked if he’d consider suing to force the GSA to ascertain his victory or to gain access to government briefings.
Biden said he has not taken that option off the table, but that in his judgment it would “take a lot of time” and ultimately may not speed the process up.
Instead, he said he would continue outreach to Republicans in the hopes that they would coordinate with him apart from Trump.
“I’m making a judgment based on many years of experience on how to get things done with the opposition and my judgment is we’ll get further along by actually working with our Republican colleagues now, because the time in which we’d win would not materially change necessarily,” Biden said. “But it’s still an open question. It could still change….We haven’t ruled it out.”
As Trump’s legal challenges fail, the president has encouraged local GOP officials to refuse to certify the election results at the state and county level.
In Wayne County, Mich., a Democratic stronghold, two GOP officials initially refused to certify the election results, saying that they wanted allegations of fraud to be addressed first. Those officials later relented, before alleging they were bullied into submission.
Trump has invited both officials to the White House.
“What the president is doing now is really, it’s going to be another incident where he will go down in history as being one of the most irresponsible presidents in American history,” Biden said. “=It’s not even within the norm at all. There are questions as to whether it’s even legal…but we’ve won Michgigan, it will be certified. We’ll end up making clear that we won.”
Biden leads Trump by more than 150,000 votes in Michigan, the largest lead he has in any of the states that the president’s team is contesting.
“It’s hard to fathom how this man thinks,” Biden said. “I’m confident he knows he hasn’t won and can’t win and we’ll be sworn in on Jan. 20…it’s just outrageous what he’s doing.”