Biden ramps up transition planning as Trump clings to power

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden will further lay the groundwork for his new administration on Wednesday as President Donald Trump pursues a flurry of lawsuits challenging the U.S. election results in an effort to cling to power.

Trump has declined to concede, instead lodging unsupported charges of election fraud that have gained little traction. His campaign said on Tuesday it planned to file a lawsuit in Michigan to halt the state from certifying its results, a day after it brought a similar action in the battleground state of Pennsylvania.

Judges so far have tossed out lawsuits in Michigan and Georgia brought by Trump’s campaign, and legal experts say the litigation has little chance of changing the outcome of the Nov. 3 election.

Some 80 per cent of Americans, including half of Republicans, say Biden is the rightful winner, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday.

Trump suffered another possible setback on Tuesday when Democrats on the House of Representatives Oversight Committee said a postal worker who claimed he witnessed ballot tampering in Pennsylvania had recanted his allegations, according to the Postal Service’s internal watchdog.

The Trump campaign had attempted to use the postal worker’s statement to promote an FBI investigation.

Meanwhile, Trump supporters raised more than $136,000 for him on the fundraising website Go Fund Me, but the page was removed after news broke that he recanted his statement, the Washington Post reported.

Biden plans to meet with advisors on Wednesday who are helping him prepare to take office on January 20, 2021.

He has tapped finance, trade and banking regulation experts for his transition team that range from core Democrats to progressive activists, reflecting ongoing debate within the party about how to address climate change, wealth inequality and other issues.

Biden is also tapping people who crafted tougher environmental rules while serving under President Barack Obama.

Biden secured the presidency on Saturday after television networks concluded he had won Pennsylvania and Nevada, giving him 279 Electoral College votes, more than the 270 needed to take the White House.

The outcome is still undecided in several states. Trump leads 50.0 per cent to 48.7 per cent in North Carolina, while Biden leads 49.5 per cent to 49.2 per cent in Georgia and 49.4 per cent to 49.0 per cent in Arizona, according to Edison Research.

Nationwide, Biden is leading Trump by 3.2 percentage points or nearly 5 million votes as final tabulations trickle in.

Recounts are expected in several states, though they are unlikely to change the outcome.

In order to remain in office, Trump would need to win all three undecided states plus overturn the results in one or more states already in Biden’s column.

Trump’s fellow Republicans have largely stuck with him, saying he has a right to contest the result.

But privately, some say Trump has a limited amount of time to make his case.

Trump will place a memorial wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday to mark Veterans Day. It will be his first public appearance, other than two golf outings, since an angry White House news conference last Thursday.

Biden says Trump’s refusal to admit defeat – a break from traditional norms – is not affecting his plans. He said on Tuesday he thought it was an “embarrassment” that Trump had not conceded.

The Trump administration is not cooperating with Biden’s team. Government analysts have been instructed to continue assembling a budget proposal that would be released in February, after Trump is due to leave office.

The Biden transition team has been unable to move into federal government office space or tap funds to hire staff because a Trump appointee who heads the federal office charged with recognizing election results has not yet done so.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday predicted a “second Trump administration,” in comments at odds with congratulatory phone calls from the leaders of Britain, France, Germany and Ireland to Biden.

Trump installed loyalists in top positions at the Pentagon, one day after firing Defense Secretary Mark Esper, which could potentially make it easier to use U.S. troops to respond to domestic protests.

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