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Joe Biden’s aides say traditional Oval Office meeting with Trump is ‘not mission critical’

Joe Biden’s team said it’s not necessary for the president-elect to speak with Donald Trump but they are willing should the president want the sit-down.

It’s not ‘mission critical,’ Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager said on Wednesday. 

Trump has refused to concede the election to his Democratic rival, a stance that held up the transition process from formally beginning until Monday. The president also has not yet invited Biden to a meeting in the Oval Office, a traditional sit-down between the outgoing and incoming commanders in chief.

But the Biden team shrugged that off when they briefed reporters, saying they were getting the critical information needed for the transition process through federal officials.

‘We do not feel that it is necessary for a President-elect Biden to speak with President Trump in order to get that information. We believe that we’ve been getting the information that that our teams need,’ Bedingfield said. ‘You know certainly should President Trump want to speak with President-elect Biden, and that’s something we would work out in the future.’

‘But in terms of whether it is mission critical to being able to move the transition forward efficiently. No, we believe that the information that has been shared thus far and that the processes that are being set up, have been very helpful and will continue to be moving forward,’ she added.  

Joe Biden’s team said it’s not necessary for the president-elect to speak with Donald Trump but they are willing should the president want the sit-down

President Donald Trump continues to refuse to concede the election

President Donald Trump continues to refuse to concede the election 

The press briefing came two days after General Services Administration Chief Emily Murphy sent a letter to Biden on Monday evening saying that the transition process could formally begin. 

Trump, however, continues to try to overturn the election result. Shortly before the briefing began he canceled a trip to Gettysburg, Penn., where he was to join his attorney Rudy Giuliani at a hearing on the election in that state. On Tuesday, Pennsylvania certified its 20 electoral votes for Biden. 

‘Look, the election is over. Virtually everyone on Earth has accepted that truth except for Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani. The Trump campaign has been laughed out of every courtroom with their meritless and baseless lawsuits meant to undermine the will of the American people. This is a sideshow,’ Bedingfield said.

Aides on the briefing projected an aura of confidence and competence as they described their work in planning for Biden’s White House tenure.

They ticked off their accomplishments in the past 48 hours, including speaking with 50 federal agencies and holding 30 virtual briefings as they prepare for the transfer of power. 

More Cabinet and staff announcements are also in the works. 

‘Buckle up for December,’ transition spokesperson Jen Psaki warned, noting many Cabinet announcements were on deck for that month.

She also said that the president-elect would announce some members of his economic team next week. 

Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will take a long weekend for the Thanksgiving holiday before jumping back into work on Monday, which is the day the two will start to receive the presidential daily briefing – the daily intelligence assessment.  

The first in-person meetings between the transition team and federal agencies will begin next week – they were held off due to the Biden team’s strict COVID protocols.   

Biden announced his national security team on Tuesday and then sat down for a   wide-ranging interview with NBC News, where he insisted his presidency will not be ‘a third Obama term’ and suggested he will not pursue criminal investigations into President Trump once he takes office.

Speaking to NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt in Wilmington, Delaware on Tuesday, Biden also revealed that he has not spoken to President Trump directly since the election.

One day after a federal agency released a letter authorizing the transition to move forward, Biden described the Trump administration’s transition efforts as ‘sincere’.

‘Immediately, we’ve gotten outreach from the national security shop to just across the board,’ Biden said. ‘And they’re already working out my ability to get presidential daily briefs… so I think we’re gonna not be so far behind the curve as we thought might be in the past.’ 

President-elect Joe Biden has given a wide-ranging interview with NBC News, insisting his presidency will not be 'a third Obama term'

President-elect Joe Biden has given a wide-ranging interview with NBC News, insisting his presidency will not be ‘a third Obama term’

Speaking to NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt in Wilmington, Delaware on Tuesday, Biden also revealed that he has not spoken to President Donald Trump directly since the election

Speaking to NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt in Wilmington, Delaware on Tuesday, Biden also revealed that he has not spoken to President Donald Trump directly since the election

‘And I must say the outreach has been sincere — it has not been begrudging so far and I don’t expect it to be,’ he added.

Biden also responded to reports that he might be reluctant to pursue federal criminal investigations into Trump once he takes office. 

Last week, Democratic Congressman Bill Pascrell of New Jersey called on the next DOJ to investigate ‘the entire Trump regime’ for their ‘innumerable crimes.’ 

‘Some Democrats want investigations go to forward against President Trump after he leaves office. Do you support that?’ Holt asked Biden.

Biden responded: ‘I will not do what this president does and use the Justice Department as my vehicle to insist that something happen.’ 

‘There are a number of investigations that I’ve read about that are at a state level. There’s nothing at all I can or cannot do about that,’ he added.

Biden also responded to reports that he might be reluctant to pursue federal criminal investigations into Trump once he takes office

Biden also responded to reports that he might be reluctant to pursue federal criminal investigations into Trump once he takes office

Attorney General Bill Barr is seen above. 'I will not do what this president does and use the Justice Department as my vehicle to insist that something happen,' said Biden

Attorney General Bill Barr is seen above. ‘I will not do what this president does and use the Justice Department as my vehicle to insist that something happen,’ said Biden

Biden also said his administration will not be ‘a third Obama term’ because the world has changed so much during the Trump years.

‘This is not a third Obama term because … we face a totally different world than we faced in the Obama/Biden administration,’ he said. ‘President Trump has changed the landscape. It’s become America first, it’s been America alone.’

Biden said that he had spoken to world leaders following the election, describing them as ‘excited’ about his administration.

‘America’s back. We’re at the head of the table once again. I’ve spoken with over 20 world leaders and, they all are literally, they were pleased and somewhat excited, America’s gonna reassert its role in the world and be a coalition builder,’ Biden said. 

Asked what his priorities would be once he takes office in January, Biden vowed to pursue a pathway to citizenship for all people living in the country illegally.

‘I am going to make a commitment in the first 100 days, I will send a immigration bill to the United States Senate with a pathway to citizenship for over 11 million undocumented people in America,’ he said.

'This is not a third Obama term because ... we face a totally different world than we faced in the Obama/Biden administration,' Biden said. Above, he is seen with Obama in 2015

‘This is not a third Obama term because … we face a totally different world than we faced in the Obama/Biden administration,’ Biden said. Above, he is seen with Obama in 2015

Biden said that climate change and immigration would be priorities for his first 100 days

Biden said that climate change and immigration would be priorities for his first 100 days

Republicans currently control the Senate and could block such an effort, unless Democrats manage to win both Georgia seats in a January runoff. 

Biden said that climate change would also be a priority for his first 100 days in office, and that he planned to reverse various executive orders that have ‘significantly impacted on making the climate worse.’  

Earlier on Tuesday, Biden said he’s about to get access to the presidential daily briefing and that his staff is speaking to Dr. Anthony Fauci about the coronavirus pandemic after the transition began.

‘They’ve been very forthcoming – offering all access,’ Biden said of the federal officials in the wake of General Services Administration Chief Emily Murphy sending a letter that the transition process could formally begin.

The process has gone from lying in wait to moving at warp speed as officials make up for lost time. It’s been 16 days since the election was called and there’s only 57 days until the inauguration.

Biden’s transition team has been in contact with all sectors of the federal government in the 24 hours sent Murphy sent her missive to the president-elect. The team wasn’t allowed contact or access to $6.3 million in transitions without Murphy’s approval.

Biden said his staff has spoken to Dr. Anthony Fauci but he has not yet personally

Biden said his staff has spoken to Dr. Anthony Fauci but he has not yet personally

Lawmakers from both parties had urged the Trump administration to give Biden access to the presidential daily briefing, the daily intelligence briefing to ensure he was up to speed on national security matters. 

President Trump had to give approval for Biden to get the information. Trump acknowledged GSA’s beginning the transition process but still refuses to concede the election. 

‘It’s been offered. I did not have it today. We’re going to do it on a regular basis,’ Biden said. 

Biden also said he would meet with Trump if the president asked him too. It’s tradition for the outgoing president to invite his successor to the Oval Office for a sit down. 

‘Of course I would, if he asked,’ the president-elect said.

Biden and his team had argued the delay in starting the transition process would harm their ability to fight the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 12.5 million Americans and killed more than 258,000.

Biden said his staff had already spoken to Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases  and member of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force, but said he has not.

‘My staff has. I haven’t had a chance to speak to Dr. Fauci. He’s been very, very helpful,’ Biden said.

President-elect Joe Biden introduces key foreign policy and national security nominees on Tuesday in Wilmington, Delaware

President-elect Joe Biden introduces key foreign policy and national security nominees on Tuesday in Wilmington, Delaware

Biden’s team will also soon meet with the White House Coronavirus Task Force. It’s unclear if that would include the entire task force, which includes Vice President Mike Pence, or just some of the career government staff – like Dr. Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx – who sit on the team.  

Fauci would have a place on the coronavirus task force that Biden formed after he won the election, the president-elect said. 

And Biden’s task force has pushed for access to the administration’s plan to distribute a COVID vaccine once one is approved – access that will be easier now that the transition process has begun. 

Biden told NBC News that federal government officials responded immediately after GSA approved the transition process.

‘Immediately we’ve gotten outreach from the National Security shop. From, just across the board,’ he said in an interview with Lester Holt that will air on ‘The Nightly News.’

‘They’re already working out my ability to get Presidential Daily Briefs. We’re already working out meeting with the COVID team in the White House. And how to not only distribute, but get from a vaccine being distributed, to a person being able to get vaccinated. So I think we’re going to not be so far behind the curve, as we thought we might be in the past. And there’s a lot of immediate discussion, and I must say, the outreach has been sincere. There’s has not been begrudging so far. And I don’t expect it to be. So yes it’s already begun,’ Biden noted.

Biden appointed John Kerry as Special Presidential Envoy for Climate on Tuesday

Biden appointed John Kerry as Special Presidential Envoy for Climate on Tuesday

About 20 meetings between transition staff and officials at federal agencies were held Tuesday, and more were scheduled in the days ahead, a Biden transition official told The Wall Street Journal

Career government workers have been ‘responsive, receptive and helpful,’ the transition official said. 

Trump has reluctantly conceded the transition process beginning but, in neither of his two public appearances on Tuesday, did he mention the election. 

Trump on Monday said that he had ordered Murphy to start the transition ‘for the sake of the country’ and claimed he was sure he would win ‘the good fight.’ 

And, on Tuesday, he issued a reminder that the GSA does not decide the election.

‘Remember, the GSA has been terrific, and Emily Murphy has done a great job, but the GSA does not determine who the next President of the United States will be,’ he tweeted.

He also reminded Americans he hasn’t conceded. 

‘I concede NOTHING!!!!!,’ the president declared in one retweet that featured a photo of himself standing in the Oval Office next to the resolute desk. 


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