US Election: Biden unfolds transition plan, launches Covid-19 task force

Biden, aiming at Trump, says he won’t use military as ‘prop’…Ex-President Bush, world leaders congratulate President-elect

…Republican lawmakers support Trump’s legal war

A day after clinching the U.S. presidency, Democrat Joe Biden and his advisers have started work on how to address the nation’s coronavirus crisis while reinforcing his intention to bridge America’s gaping political divisions.

The president-elect at weekend made clear that tackling the pandemic was a top priority just as former President George Bush and world leaders congratulated him on his victory.

While Biden forge ahead with his transition plans, some key Republican lawyers have expressed their support for Trump’s plethora of law suit challenging the outcome of the election.

Disclosing Biden immediate plans to begin work after his victory, Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield said the incoming president will launch a Coronavirus task force on Monday (today) to plot the way forward, led by former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and former Food and Drug Administration commissioner David Kessler.

More than 237,000 Americans have died of coronavirus and cases have spiked to record numbers in recent days.

In addressing the pandemic, Biden has promised to improve access to testing and, unlike Trump, to heed the advice of leading public health officials and scientists.

Some 10 million Americans thrown out of work during coronavirus lockdowns remain idled as federal relief programs have expired.

Bedingfield also disclosed Biden and his advisers will also move forward with the work of choosing officials to serve in his administration.

“The work starts right away,” Bedingfield said yesterday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program. “He’s going to … begin transition work in earnest this week.  He’ll be making calls. He’ll be making announcements to the American people about how he’s going to make good on these campaign promises.”

Bedingfield added that Biden will “address a mandate to bring the country together – to unify, to lower the temperature, to set aside the harsh rhetoric of

Election was fundamentally fair — Ex-President Bush

Former President George W. Bush congratulated Biden  in a phone call Sunday and said that, while President  Trump  has the right to pursue legal challenges and recounts, the 2020 race was “fundamentally fair” and “its outcome is clear.”

The gesture by Bush, the only living former Republican president, was a break from his party’s outgoing president, Trump, who has so far refused to concede the race.

In the statement, Bush said he had called Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Sunday.

“Though we have political differences, I know Joe Biden to be a good man, who has won his opportunity to lead and unify our country,” Bush said. “The President-elect reiterated that while he ran as a Democrat, he will govern for all Americans.  I offered him the same thing I offered Presidents Trump and Obama: my prayers for his success, and my pledge to help in any way I can.”

Bush also offered congratulations in the statement to Trump “on a hard-fought campaign,” nodding to his “extraordinary political achievement” of winning the votes of more than 70 million Americans, the second-most in history behind Biden. “They have spoken, and their voices will continue to be heard through elected Republicans at every level of government,” Bush said.

World leaders congratulate Biden

With many striking a jubilant tone on social media, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson twitted his congratulations with the note: “The US is our most important ally and I look forward to working closely together on our shared priorities, from climate change to trade and security.”

French President Emmanuel Macron who also posted a lively tweet, stated: “The Americans have chosen their President. We have a lot to do to overcome today’s challenges. Let’s work together!”

Canadian leader Justin Trudeau in his remarks on Twitter emphasized the close alliance between Canada and the US.

“Congratulations Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, Our two countries are close friends, partners and allies. We share a relationship that’s unique on the world stage. I’m really looking forward to working together and building on that with you both.”

In Europe, Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin tweeted “I want to congratulate the new President Elect of the USA [Joe Biden],” Martin also referenced Biden’s Irish-American heritage, adding: “Joe Biden has been a true friend of this nation throughout his life and I look forward to working with him in the years ahead. I also look forward to welcoming him back home when the circumstances allow!”

Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison in a statement said: “The President-elect has been a great friend of Australia over many years,” and noted that Biden will step into the role at a crucial time as the world battles the Covid-19 pandemic.

“American leadership is indispensable to meeting these challenges and upholding the rules, norms and standards of our international community,” Morrison said.

Morrison thanked current US President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for their work with Australia over the past four years.

South Korean President, Moon Jae-in tweeted he looked forward to working with Biden and Harris.

“Our alliance is strong and the bond between our two countries is rock-solid,” Moon said.

In France Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo also reacted on Twitter, declaring “Welcome back America!”

“While we are about to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement, this victory symbolizes our need to act together more than ever, in view of climate emergency,” she wrote.

Norbert Röttgen, Chairman of the German Foreign Affairs Committee, said he was “very happy for all my American friends and for this great chance to revive our transatlantic friendship,” while Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Germany wanted “to invest in our cooperation for a new transatlantic beginning, a new deal.”

READ ALSO: Trump falls as Biden emerges 46th US President

London mayor Sadiq Khan said Biden and Harris’ win meant it was “time to get back to building bridges, not walls” in a dig at President Trump’s policy of building a wall at the US-Mexico border.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán also congratulated Biden, according  to Orbán’s spokesman Zoltan Kovacs in a letter to Biden: “I wish you good health and continuous successes in fulfilling your duties of extraordinary responsibility.”

Netanyahu reflect on Trump’s achievements

In the same vein, some politicians who had closer ties to President Donald Trump took the time to reflect on the sitting president’s achievements.

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted his congratulations on Twitter several hours after other world leaders.

Netanyahu said he and Biden have had a “long & warm” personal relationship for almost 40 years and sees him as “a great friend of Israel” and looks forward to working together.

In a separate Twitter  post, Netanyahu thanked Trump “for the friendship you have shown the state of Israel and me personally, for recognizing Jerusalem and the Golan, for standing up to Iran, for the historic peace accords and for bringing the American-Israeli alliance to unprecedented heights.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also offered his congratulations to the winners of the US Presidential election.

It’s too early to congratulate Biden— President Obrador

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador differed with other world leaders saying it is too early to congratulate Biden

Speaking with reporters at the weekend, Obrador said he would wait for “all legal issues” in the US presidential election to be resolved before congratulating the winner.

“We don’t want to be imprudent. We don’t want to act lightly and we want to respect people’s self-determination and rights,” Obrador said.

“We have a very good relationship with the two candidates. President Trump has been very respectful with us and we have reached very good agreements, and we thank him because he has not interfered and has respected us. And the same goes for Biden.”

GOP lawmakers back Trump’s legal war

One of the most prominent Republicans in the US Congress on Sunday urged Donald Trump to “fight hard” and not concede his loss to Biden saying unfounded allegations of fraud by the president must be investigated.

Other Republicans sought to walk a fine line, saying legal challenges must be allowed to play out. “We will work with Biden if he wins, but Trump has not lost,” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said on Fox News.

“Do not concede, Mr. President. Fight hard. It’s the wild-wild west when it comes to mail-in balloting,” said Graham, a former Trump critic turned unstinting supporter.

There is no evidence that fraud has ever been a significant problem affecting mail-in voting in US presidential elections. “Everything we worried about has come true, so if we don’t fight back in 2020 we’re never going to win again presidentially,” he nevertheless added.

“What we need in the presidential race is to make sure every legal vote is counted, every recount is completed, and every legal challenge should be heard,” Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the House of Representatives, said adding that, “Then and only then that America will decide who won the race.”

Other top Republicans were more guarded in their comments but nonetheless refused to acknowledge Biden had won, saying legal challenges must go forward and vote counting must continue.

Vanguard

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