Biden Says Standoff With Trump Administration Won’t Stop Transition

Joe Biden has called President Trump’s unwillingness to concede the presidential election an “embarrassment” but said it wouldn’t impede his White House transition, despite a standoff with the administration that is preventing the president-elect’s team from accessing key resources.
The Trump administration hasn’t issued a typically routine technical designation that would allow Mr. Biden’s staff to view detailed classified information, send representatives to embed with government agencies and have the State Department facilitate calls with foreign leaders. The delay could also hamper Mr. Biden’s selection of cabinet officials because the ability to conduct background investigations for security clearances is frozen.
Mr. Biden said Tuesday at a news conference in Wilmington, Del., that his team could manage without those resources, and he said he wasn’t planning to take legal action to try to force the Trump administration to identify him as the winner of the election.
“I’m confident that the fact that they’re not willing to acknowledge we won at this point is not that much consequence in our planning and what we’re able to do between now and Jan. 20,” he said.
“I just think it’s an embarrassment, quite frankly,” he said about Mr. Trump’s refusal to concede. “How can I say this tactfully? I think it will not help the president’s legacy.”
Mr. Biden said he has spoken to six world leaders, and on Tuesday afternoon, his team announced groups of people who will study each department, though they cannot yet embed at government agencies.
The president-elect said he would name “at least a couple” of choices for his cabinet before Thanksgiving. He is also expected to detail top White House positions including chief of staff in the coming days.
Mr. Biden said he hadn’t spoken to the president or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican with whom he has a longstanding relationship from his time in the Senate and as vice president, since his victory was declared.
“I think that the whole Republican Party has been put in a position, with a few notable exceptions, of being mildly intimidated by the sitting president. There’s only one president at a time, he’s president,” Mr. Biden said. “We’re going to have the Electoral College make their judgment in December. It will be announced in early January, but in the meantime I hope to get the chance to speak to Mitch.”
Mr. Biden, appearing with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, expressed confidence that Republicans would eventually recognize his win and work with his administration. He also said his transition team already was fleshing out details of a health-care plan, which he hoped to work on with Congress right after he takes office.
Mr. Trump is mounting a series of legal challenges to the election process. Asked on Tuesday whether the State Department is hampering a smooth transition to a Biden administration, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said with a smile, “There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.”
Mr. Pompeo added, “I’m very confident that we will do all the things that are necessary to make sure that the United States government will continue to perform its national-security function as we go forward.”
Mr. Trump tweeted on Tuesday, “WE WILL WIN!” /The Wall Street Journal, November 11, 2020