President-elect Joe Biden will meet with healthcare workers on the front lines of the raging coronavirus health crisis in a virtual event on Wednesday, while President Donald Trump faces further legal hurdles to overturn his election loss. Biden has pledged to make the pandemic, which has killed more than 247,000 people in the United States and cost millions their jobs, a top priority when he takes office on Jan. 20.
As COVID-19 cases surge across the country, Biden and his top advisers have warned Trump’s refusal to cooperate with a White House transition could jeopardize the battle to contain the virus and inhibit vaccine distribution planning.
The General Services Administration, run by a Trump appointee, still has not recognized Biden’s victory in the Nov. 3 election, preventing the Democrat’s team from gaining access to government office space and funding normally provided to an incoming administration to ensure a smooth transition.
Trump is pursuing a flurry of lawsuits that legal experts say stand little chance of altering the election’s outcome. Election officials of both parties have said there is no evidence of major irregularities.
Biden won the national popular vote by more than 5.6 million votes, or 3.6 percentage points, with some ballots still being counted. In the state-by-state Electoral College that determines the winner, Biden captured 306 votes to the Republican Trump’s 232.
To remain in office, Trump would need to overturn results in at least three of the most closely contested states in unprecedented fashion. But he has been met with repeated failures in court, where many of his legal challenges already have been dismissed.
His supporters also are clinging to the hope that recounts could reverse the results in a few states, even though experts have said Biden’s margins appear insurmountable.
In Wisconsin, where Biden leads by more than 20,000 votes, the Trump campaign has until Wednesday afternoon to decide if it will pay the $7.9 million the state’s election commission estimated a recount would cost. Georgia, where Biden was the first Democrat to carry the state since Bill Clinton in 1992, is undertaking a manual recount ordered by secretary of state due to the slim margin.
While Biden participates in the virtual roundtable from his home state of Delaware on Wednesday, Trump again has no public events scheduled.
TRUMP FIRES CYBER OFFICIAL
Trump on Tuesday fired top US cybersecurity official Chris Krebs, who heads the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, accusing him without evidence of making a ”highly inaccurate” statement that affirmed the security of the U.S. election.
Krebs’ work in protecting the election from hackers and combating disinformation about the vote won praise from lawmakers of both parties, as well as election officials around the country. But he drew the ire of Trump and his allies, who were irked over his refusal to support allegations of election meddling.
Reuters reported last week that Krebs had told associates he expected to be fired.
A Biden spokesman said: ”Chris Krebs should be commended for his service in protecting our elections, not fired for telling the truth.”
Trump suffered a setback on Tuesday in Michigan, where Biden leads by more than 145,000 votes. Two Republicans on the board of canvassers in the largest county, Wayne, initially voted to block the county from certifying its results, citing slight inconsistencies in precinct totals in the majority-Black city of Detroit.
Their initial vote drew praise from Trump, who said on Twitter that ”having courage is a beautiful thing.”
But the Republicans reversed their decision after more than two hours of angry public comment and voted to certify the Wayne County results, with the caveat the Michigan secretary of state conduct an audit of precinct tallies.
At a federal court hearing in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann appeared skeptical of Trump’s request to block officials from certifying Biden’s win in that state.
A loss in the Pennsylvania case would deal a sharp blow to Trump’s fading chances of reversing the election outcome.
”At bottom, you are asking this court to invalidate 6.8 million votes, thereby disenfranchising every single voter in the Commonwealth (of Pennsylvania),” Brann said. ”Can you tell me how this result can possibly be justified?”
First Published: IST