The Latest: Biden says split Congress affects Cabinet picks

November 25, 2020 GMT
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President-elect Joe Biden's climate envoy nominee former Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at The Queen theater, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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President-elect Joe Biden's climate envoy nominee former Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at The Queen theater, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President-elect Joe Biden (all times local):

7:15 p.m.

Some of Joe Biden’s former colleagues in the Senate who are hoping for a spot in his administration may be out of luck.

The president-elect indicated in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt that he was less likely to choose a member of Congress for his Cabinet because of the slim margins in the Senate and House. Choosing a person in either chamber, “particularly a person of consequence,” he said, “is a really difficult decision that would have to be made.”

Biden announced his first Cabinet nominations on Tuesday, all Obama administration veterans. But he insisted in the interview that his should not be considered a “third Obama term” because “we face a totally different world than we faced in the Obama-Biden administration,” after President Donald Trump has pushed isolationist policies. In unveiling his national security team, Biden pledged that they would “restore America globally.”

The president-elect also expressed optimism about his transition now that the roadblocks put in place by the Trump administration have been removed. He says “it’s a slow start” but “I’m feeling good about the ability to be able to get up to speed” and expects “full cooperation” from the Trump administration on the transition.

Biden will deliver a Thanksgiving address in Wilmington, Delaware, on Wednesday before traveling to his vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where he’ll spend the holiday with family.



President-elect Joe Biden formally introduced his national security team to the nation, building out a team of Obama administration alumni that signals his shift away from the Trump administration’s “America First” policies and a return to U.S. engagement on the global stage.

Read more:

— Biden transition gets government OK after Trump out of options

— Biden certified as winner of Pennsylvania presidential vote

— Biden win over Trump in Nevada made official by court



5:45 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden says that the transition of power has “already begun” and that he feels his team is “going to not be so far behind the curve as we thought we might be in the past.”

He says: “There’s a lot of immediate discussion, and I must say, the outreach has been sincere. There has not been begrudging so far. And I don’t expect it to be. So yes it’s already begun.”

Biden made the comments in an interview Tuesday night on “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt.”

President Donald Trump continues to sow doubt about the outcome of the Nov. 3 election and has not formally conceded but increasingly his administration is preparing for the handover. The General Services Administration gave the green light for the transition to begin Monday evening.

Biden says the teams are already working on getting him access to the Presidential Daily Brief as well as planning a meeting between his staff and the Trump administration team overseeing the response to the coronavirus.


5:25 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden will begin receiving classified briefings regularly now that the Trump administration has removed a major roadblock from his transition.

Biden told reporters in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday that while it’s been offered, he hasn’t yet received the Presidential Daily Brief, the briefing on the most sensitive intelligence offered to top U.S. officials.

Biden has been blocked from receiving intelligence briefings, and his team had been barred from contacting their counterparts in the Trump administration, due to the General Services Administration’s refusal to ascertain that Biden won the election while the Trump campaign pursued legal challenges contesting the vote count. That ascertainment finally came Monday night, lifting the roadblocks to cooperation.

Biden said he’ll now have the briefing “on a regular basis.” Since the ascertainment, he said, Trump administration officials “have been very forthcoming, offering all access.”

Biden also said that he had not yet spoken to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, but that his staff had and that he’s been “very, very helpful.”


4:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump has signed off on giving his successor access to the nation’s most secure secrets.

An administration official said Tuesday that Trump has allowed President-elect Joe Biden to receive the presidential daily brief, the highly classified briefing prepared by the nation’s intelligence community for the government’s most senior leaders.

The official said the logistics of when and where Biden will first receive the briefing were still being worked out.

The determination comes a day after the General Services Administration cleared the way for beginning formal transition planning to the Biden administration ahead of his Jan. 20 inauguration.

Trump continues to sow doubt about the outcome of the Nov. 3 election and has not formally conceded, but increasingly his administration is preparing for the handover.


2:50 p.m.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says his agency is working to immediately get briefing materials to President-elect Joe Biden’s team and pledged a “professional, cooperative and collaborative” transition to the new administration.

Azar said in a news briefing Tuesday that the deputy surgeon general Rear Admiral Erica Schwartz began communicating Monday night with Biden’s team.

That communication was triggered by the head of the General Services Administration earlier Monday writing the necessary letter of “ascertainment” acknowledging Biden as the apparent winner of the Nov. 3 election.

Azar said his department will provide briefings with Biden’s team to ensure they’re getting information that they feel they need that is consistent with the law and past practice.


2 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden says his creation of a senior climate post on the National Security Council will put climate change “on the agenda in the situation room” for the first time.

Biden talked to reporters Tuesday after naming former Secretary of State John Kerry as his climate envoy in national security matters.

Biden says the appointment means the U.S. will have a “full-time climate leader” for the first time in top-level meetings to make sure the issue does not get overlooked.

Biden’s emphasis on curbing the fossil fuel emissions that cause global warming, and on dealing with worsening natural disasters and other problems of climate change, come in intense contrast to the views of President Donald Trump. Trump has said scientists were mistaken in their warnings on global warming.

Biden says he’ll announce a climate-policy coordinator and policy-making structure for his administration next month.


1:35 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden says he is “pleased” that his administration has officially been allowed to begin the transition process in filling out a new government.

Biden said Tuesday in Wilmington, Delaware, that receiving the transitional status known as “ascertainment” would allow his team to “prepare to meet the challenges at hand” in transferring power from the Trump administration to his own.

Late Monday, the General Services Administration “ascertained” that Biden is the apparent winner of this month’s presidential election. That process gives the incoming president and his team access to officials at federal agencies and directs the Justice Department to work on security clearances for transition team members and Biden political appointees.

Biden spoke as he rolled out his picks to fill top national security slots in his Cabinet including secretary of state, national security adviser and a new, Cabinet-level post dedicated to climate change. He said he hoped his nominees receive a prompt confirmation process.


1:20 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden says his national security team will lead the way in reflecting the fact that “America is back” on the world stage.

During a speech Tuesday in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden said that his team would “embody my core beliefs that America is strongest when it works with its allies.”

In rolling out his national security picks, including top posts for State Department and Department of Homeland Security, Biden said the nominees show “experience and leadership, fresh thinking and perspective and an unrelenting belief in the promise of America.”

The State Department alone has seen a significant number of departures from its senior and rising mid-level ranks during the Trump administration. Many diplomats have opted to retire or leave the foreign service, given limited prospects for advancements under an administration they believed did not value their expertise.


1:10 p.m.

A leading Republican political committee has begun airing a campaign ad warning that if a Democratic Senate candidate wins a January runoff election in Georgia, liberals will “control everything” in Washington.

The choice of words is noteworthy because it implies that President Donald Trump has been defeated by Joe Biden. That’s a fact that Trump has refused to acknowledge more than two weeks after the election was called for the Democrat, and that many top Republicans have also been loath to concede.

The Senate Leadership Fund began airing the ad Tuesday. It attacks Democrat Jon Ossoff, who is challenging incumbent GOP Sen. David Perdue. The ad says Ossoff supports “liberal megadonors’” agenda of “job-killing tax hikes, economy-killing regulations.”

The ad says, “The radical left bought Ossoff. Because if he wins, they control everything, and we lose.”

The spot began airing the morning after the General Services Administration formally agreed to let the transition to a Biden administration begin. The leadership fund is closely aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

There is also a second runoff in Georgia pitting incumbent GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler against Democrat Raphael Warnock.

Democrats must win both Georgia races to capture the Senate majority. That would create a 50-50 chamber, which Democrats would control because Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would cast the tie-breaking vote.