Joe Biden Live Updates: The President-Elects Transition – The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris meeting with their newly appointed Covid-19 advisory council in Wilmington, Del. on Monday.
Credit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. plans to move aggressively this week to start setting up his administration, putting in motion staffing decisions aimed at accelerating his policy agenda as soon as he replaces President Trump in the Oval Office early next year.

The moves come on the heels of a whirlwind weekend in which Mr. Biden cemented his victory in the Electoral College, even as Mr. Trump and the leadership of the Republican Party refused to concede defeat, making baseless claims of electoral fraud without providing any evidence.

With the president complaining on Twitter, Mr. Biden and his team are moving forward.

On Monday morning, the president-elect announced the leadership of his coronavirus task force — the first public step in what aides say will be a focus on confronting the pandemic that has claimed almost a quarter of a million American lives.

It will be led by Dr. Vivek Murthy, a surgeon general under former President Barack Obama, who has been a key Biden adviser for months and is expected to take a major public role; David Kessler, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration for the first President George Bush and President Bill Clinton; and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, a professor of public health at Yale University.

The bipartisan nature of this 13-member panel — and its reliance on leading scientists and public health experts — is a striking contrast to the group that Mr. Trump assembled, which has largely been sidelined as the president began relying heavily on his political advisers and Dr. Scott Atlas, a former Stanford neuroradiologist with little experience in infectious diseases.

In addition to a weeklong focus on health care, Mr. Biden is expected to announce some key White House positions, including his chief of staff. That job is likely to go to Ron Klain, who served in that role when Mr. Biden was vice president and has been a longtime member of the president-elect’s inner circle.

Decisions about who will fill cabinet posts — including the secretary of health and human services, the secretary of state and the attorney general — will come later, starting around Thanksgiving, according to one person familiar with the planned schedule for the transition announcements.

Transition officials said that Mr. Biden had yet to make decisions on individual cabinet posts and would be meeting with top advisers in the days ahead. Potential candidates for cabinet secretaries will need to be vetted by the transition team’s lawyers and political advisers before being publicly nominated, officials said.

It is not clear how public Mr. Biden will be during the early days of the transition. He delivered a speech Saturday night after clinching the presidency and went to church on Sunday morning, then visited the grave of his late son, Beau Biden. But Mr. Biden made no other public appearances over the weekend, leaving it to allies and surrogates to appear on Sunday morning talk shows.

Most presidents-elect have met quickly at the White House with the outgoing president. Mr. Trump met with Mr. Obama for 90 minutes on Nov. 10, 2016, just two days after the election in which Mr. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton. There appear to be no plans for Mr. Trump to invite Mr. Biden to the White House in the days ahead, people close to the president said.

A Covid-19 testing site in Miami last week. 
Credit…Scott McIntyre for The New York Times

Hours after President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. declared the coronavirus a top priority, the magnitude of his task became starkly clear on Sunday as the nation surpassed 10 million cases and sank deeper into the grip of what could become the worst chapter yet of the pandemic.

The nation’s worsening outlook comes at an extremely difficult juncture: President Trump, who remains in office until January, is openly at odds with his own coronavirus advisers, and winter, when infections are only expected to spread faster, is coming.

In a victory speech on Saturday night, Mr. Biden said he was quickly focusing his attention on the pandemic, including plans on Monday to announce a task force of coronavirus advisers.

He named Dr. Rick Bright, a former top vaccine official in the Trump administration who submitted a whistle-blower complaint to Congress, as a member of a Covid-19 panel to advise him during the transition, officials announced Monday morning.

Dr. Bright, who was ousted as the head of a federal medical research agency, told lawmakers that officials in the government had failed to heed his warnings about acquiring masks and other supplies. He said that Americans died from the virus because of the administration’s failure to act, telling a House panel, “Lives were endangered, and I believe lives were lost”

Mr. Biden’s decision to put Dr. Bright on his advisory panel is intended to send a signal that the incoming administration intends to confront the virus — which is surging in more than half of the country — in very different ways than did Mr. Trump, who sought to largely push responsibility onto states.

In a statement, Mr. Biden said that “dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most important battles our administration will face, and I will be informed by science and by experts.”

The drug maker Pfizer announced on Monday that an early analysis of its coronavirus vaccine trial suggested the vaccine was robustly effective in preventing Covid-19, a promising development as the world has waited anxiously for any positive news about a pandemic that has killed more than 1.2 million people.

Mr. Biden called this development “excellent news,” but cautioned that “it is also important to understand that the end of the battle against Covid-19 is still months away.” Mr. Biden said that until then, Americans would need to rely on basic precautions like wearing masks and washing hands.

Mr. Biden had already revealed the three co-chairs of the panel: Dr. Vivek Murthy, a surgeon general under former President Barack Obama, who has been a key Biden adviser for months and is expected to take a major public role; David Kessler, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration for the first President George Bush and President Bill Clinton; and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, a professor of public health at Yale University.

On Monday, officials said the 13-member panel would also include Dr. Zeke Emanuel, an oncologist and the chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Emanuel is the brother of Rahm Emanuel, who served in the Obama administration, and has been a high-profile advocate of a more aggressive approach to the virus.

The other members of the panel are Dr. Luciana Borio, a vice president at In-Q-Tel; Dr. Atul Gawande, a professor of surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Dr. Celine Gounder, a clinical assistant professor at the N.Y.U. Grossman School of Medicine; Dr. Julie Morita, the executive vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Dr. Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota; Loyce Pace, the executive director and president of Global Health Council; Dr. Robert Rodriguez and Dr. Eric Goosby, both professors at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine.


By: Ella Koeze·Source: Refinitiv

  • Financial markets soared on Monday, in a relief-fueled global rally as clarity emerged on the two concerns that have gnawed on investors for months: the presidential election and rampaging coronavirus.

  • Stocks rocketed higher after the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer said early data showed its coronavirus vaccine appeared 90 percent effective. The news followed Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s election as the 46th president of the United States on Saturday, a sign that the American vote — which some investors worried could spiral into a chaotic period of political contestation if President Trump lost — appeared to proceed more or less normally.

  • On Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose more than 3 percent in early trading, gains that put it above its record from early September. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped more than 5 percent.

  • The benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 index surged 4 percent, led higher by energy companies in its biggest one-day gain since March, while the FTSE 100 in Britain rose more than 5 percent. In Asian markets, which closed before Pfizer announced its news, the Nikkei 225 in Japan ended the day 2.1 percent stronger, and the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong finished up 1.2 percent.

  • Markets were already higher before Pfizer’s release, which said a vaccine it was developing with BioNTech was found to have been more than 90 percent effective in preventing Covid-19 infections, based on a large study. Pfizer said by the end of the year, it will have manufactured enough doses of the vaccine to immunize 15 million to 20 million people. Pfizer jumped more than 6 percent.

  • Scientists have cautioned against hyping early results before long-term safety and efficacy data has been collected, and no one knows how long the vaccine’s protection might last. Still, the development makes Pfizer the first company to announce positive results from a late-stage vaccine trial, and news of the vaccine sent shares of companies most heavily hit by restrictions on travel surging. American Airlines jumped 22 percent and United Airlines rose 23 percent. Carnival, the cruise ship operator, rose 36 percent.

  • The vaccine is “an important piece of the puzzle needed for the global economy and markets to put the Covid-19 recession behind it,” said Karen Ward, a strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management. “Hurdles still remain. We need to find out more about production capabilities, rollout and take-up. But for now, this is shifting the winners and losers.”

  • Crude oil prices were also catapulted nearly 10 percent higher to more than $40 a barrel. Prices for government bonds — where investors traditionally park funds during times of uncertainty — tumbled sharply, pushing yields, which move in the opposite direction, to some of the highest sustained levels in months. The rise in yields reflects growing optimism among investors on the outlook for economic growth.

  • Trading on Monday followed the best week for the S&P 500 since April, as investors became more convinced that President-elect Biden would govern alongside a Republican-held Senate. However, two runoff elections in Georgia mean the control of the Senate will not be known until January.

  • “With more certainty around the election, a strong quarter of earnings across many sectors, and extremely positive news on the vaccine front, there is little to hold us back,” said Chris Larkin, managing director of trading and investment products at E-Trade Financial. “When you remove the virus from the equation, we are set up tremendously well for growth.”

People dining at a restaurant in Arcata, Calif. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has the power to influence some parts of the economy using executive action.
Credit…Alexandra Hootnick for The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. will take office in January with a weak economy weighed down by the coronavirus pandemic, millions of Americans still unemployed and businesses struggling and closing as winter bears down.

Addressing that economic challenge and following through on his campaign’s tax and spending promises could be complicated if Republicans maintain control of the Senate.

But as President Trump has demonstrated time and again, Mr. Biden has the power to pull some levers unilaterally, without congressional approval, and could influence the federal government’s economic policymaking machinery through an array of executive actions, regulations and personnel changes.

“There’s a tremendous amount that can be done without Congress,” said Felicia Wong, who serves as an adviser on the Biden transition board but who was speaking in her capacity as head of the Roosevelt Institute, a progressive think tank.

  • For economic stimulus, among actions he could take include using executive authority to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors to $15 an hour, directing his education secretary to forgive student loans to a certain amount and repurposing unspent funds from the previous stimulus legislation.

  • The Biden administration could act on its own to raise taxes in a few areas, largely by changing regulations governing how Mr. Trump’s 2017 tax law is carried out.

  • On trade, Mr. Biden faces several decisions in the short term, including whether to continue with Mr. Trump’s ban on TikTok and WeChat, the social media apps, and whether to retain America’s tariffs on Chinese goods and foreign metals. He does not need congressional approval to deal with these and other outstanding trade issues.

  • A new crew of officials will have leeway to undo changes to financial regulation, but much like the slow drip of deregulation under the Trump administration, any changes from the Fed and its fellow regulatory agencies are likely to be small and steady.

  • The new administration could exert huge influence over consumer protections, including those involving debt collection, payday lending and foreclosure abuse.

The inauguration stage was under construction in front of the Capitol last week.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is expected to be sworn in as the 46th commander in chief of the United States on Jan. 20, 2021, at an outdoor inauguration ceremony, though the coronavirus pandemic might cause the plans to be scaled back.

“We are moving forward, anticipating an outside, full-scale inauguration,” Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri, said on Sunday on the ABC News program “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.”

But Mr. Blunt, who chairs the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, was still hedging about which candidate he expected to be placing his hand upon a Bible that day.

“This is a great time for us to show how a true democracy works,” Mr. Blunt said, adding: “I’m confident we are going to see that. I expect to see both Vice President Biden and President Trump on the stage on Inaugural Day, and that will be a powerful message, no matter which one of them is sworn in.”

It is tradition for the departing president to attend the inauguration of his successor, but Mr. Trump has ignored many of the norms of the office.

Other Republican leaders and scores of party lawmakers have also refrained from acknowledging Mr. Biden’s victory out of apparent deference to Mr. Trump, who continues to refuse to concede. For many of them, the president’s reluctance to accept the election results created a dilemma, making even the most cursory expression of support for Mr. Biden seem like a conspicuous break with Mr. Trump.

President Trump speaking about health care in September in Charlotte.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. wants to bring an end to “America First” — a slogan that came to define a United States that built walls and made working with allies an afterthought.

Mr. Biden says he will re-enter the Iran nuclear deal, assuming the Iranians are willing to reverse course and observe its limits. He would sign up for another five years of the only surviving nuclear arms treaty with Russia and double down on American commitments to NATO. At the same time, Mr. Biden says he will make Russia “pay a price” for what he says have been disruptions and attempts to influence elections — including his own.

But it is far easier to promise to return to the largely internationalist approach of the post-World War II era than it is to execute one after four years of global withdrawal and during a pandemic that has reinforced nationalist instincts. The world does not look remotely as it did when Mr. Biden was last in the White House four years ago. Power vacuums have been created, and filled, often by China. Democracies have retreated. The race for a coronavirus vaccine has created new rivalries.

So while foreign allies may find Mr. Biden reassuring — and smiled when they heard him say in a town-hall meeting that “‘America First’ has made America alone” — they also concede that they may never fully trust that the United States will not lurch back to building walls.

Those who have known Mr. Biden for decades say they expect him to move carefully, providing reassurance with a few big symbolic acts, starting with a return to the Paris climate accord in the first days of his administration. But substantive rebuilding of U.S. power will proceed far more slowly.

“He’ll inherit a situation which both gives him enormous latitude and, oddly, constrains him,” said Richard N. Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations and a longtime friend of Mr. Biden’s. “Clearly, what Trump did by executive order can be undone by executive order.”

But “any act that requires Senate approach or any new use of force, absent a clear provocation, will be pretty much off the table,” he added.

But when it comes to relations with China, the new administration has vowed to be equally tough. While many will welcome the expected change in tone from the strident, at times racist statements by Mr. Trump and other officials, few expect Mr. Biden to quickly reverse the confrontational policies his predecessor has put in place.

China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, has instead been pushing a strategy that would better insulate the country from rising international risks. But without significant concessions by the Chinese government, the fundamental tensions between the two countries could even become more pronounced — over trade, tech, Taiwan and other issues.

Jon Meacham, the presidential historian and biographer, endorsed Joseph R. Biden Jr. and spoke at the Democratic National Convention.
Credit…Terray Sylvester/Reuters

Jon Meacham, the presidential historian and biographer, has been helping to craft President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s speeches, according to multiple sources involved, including writing the acceptance speech that Mr. Biden that he delivered Saturday night from Wilmington.

In that address, Mr. Biden spoke of a mission “to rebuild the soul of America, to rebuild the backbone of this nation, the middle class and to make America respected around the world again.” Mr. Meacham’s 2018 book, “The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels,” has long served as a touchstone for Mr. Biden, who read it and has reached out to Mr. Meacham in the past to discuss passages he liked.

Mr. Biden’s speech-writing process is run by Mike Donilon, the president-elect’s longtime adviser. But behind the scenes, Mr. Meacham has been playing a larger role than was previously known, both writing drafts of speeches and offering edits on many of Mr. Biden’s big addresses, including one he gave at Gettysburg last month and his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in August.

Mr. Meacham, who has voted for presidents in both parties, played an unusual role during the campaign. He publicly endorsed Mr. Biden in an op-ed and received a prime speaking slot at the D.N.C. this year.

“To record history doesn’t mean you are removed from it,” Mr. Meacham said over the summer, noting he had been friends with Mr. Biden for a long time.

Mr. Meacham is currently not expected to join the administration. But his role helping to craft Mr. Biden’s biggest addresses has shades of the presidential historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.’s relationship with President John F. Kennedy. Mr. Schlesinger worked for Mr. Kennedy’s campaign and as a member of his White House staff.

Mr. Meacham declined to comment on his role. A spokesman for Mr. Biden did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

President Trump maintained a close relationship with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia throughout his administration.
Credit…Saudi Royal Court, via Reuters

BEIRUT, Lebanon — The king and crown prince of Saudi Arabia have each sent cables congratulating President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on his electoral victory, an initial effort by Saudi leaders, who have benefited from a strong relationship with President Trump, to build ties with the new American administration.

Throughout his term, Mr. Trump maintained close bonds with the Saudi monarch, King Salman, and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, often protecting the kingdom from outrage in other parts of Washington over its role in the war in Yemen and the killing and dismemberment of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents in 2018.

Mr. Trump defended the Saudis as necessary friends in the Middle East and great buyers of American weapons, and Jared Kushner, a senior adviser and the president’s son-in-law, kept in close contact with Prince Mohammed, sometimes over the messaging platform WhatsApp.

Mr. Biden adopted a tougher line toward Saudi Arabia during the campaign, saying he would limit weapons sales and hold the kingdom accountable for human rights violations. During a debate last year, he said he believed that Prince Mohammed had ordered Mr. Khashoggi’s killing and would treat the Saudis “like the pariah that they are.

It remained unclear how that rhetoric would translate into policy, but the Saudi leadership considers the United States its most important ally and clearly wants warm ties with its new president.

The cables, reported late Sunday by the Saudi press agency, congratulated Mr. Biden on his victory, spoke of strong relations between the two countries and the Saudis’ desire to deepen them.

President Trump meeting with President Vladimir Putin of Russia at the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, last year.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

For years, the Kremlin has painted Western democracy as dangerously chaotic compared to what it says is the safety and stability offered by President Vladimir V. Putin. Thanks to President Trump’s unfounded allegations that Democrats stole last week’s presidential election, the Kremlin now has a fresh chance to claim vindication.

On Monday, a spokesman for Mr. Putin said Russia will not recognize Joseph R. Biden Jr. as president-elect until Mr. Trump’s court challenges to the election results run their course.

“We believe it would be proper to wait for an official announcement” of the election results, Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, told reporters. “There are certain legal procedures pending that were announced by the current president.”

Mr. Peskov sought to couch the delay as a technical matter of diplomatic protocol, and pledged that Mr. Putin would be ready to work with “any elected president of the United States.” But after a weekend during which leaders around the world congratulated Mr. Biden on his electoral victory — even close allies of Mr. Trump like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel — it was clear that the Kremlin was jumping at an opportunity to criticize the United States rather than to try to improve ties.

In unison, Russian officials and state-controlled media echoed Mr. Trump’s depiction of the election as riddled with widespread fraud. On the flagship weekly news program on state television on Sunday night, the host, Dmitri Kiselyov, said the election showed the United States to be “not a country but a huge, chaotic communal apartment, with a criminal flair.” And on a political talk show, Oleg Morozov, a lawmaker, said American democracy had deteriorated to the point that “one can manipulate it, tune it and tamper with it to achieve certain result.”

In Russia, elections are tightly scripted, with challengers to the ruling party winning in very rare cases and popular opposition politicians generally unable to get on the ballot. But on Monday, Ella A. Pamfilova, the head of Russia’s Central Election Commission, also sounded off on the superiority of the Russian governance. She said she had studied mail-in voting and decided against using in Russia because it made it too easy to cheat.

“This anachronism in its American version opens up boundless possibilities for potential fraud,” she told Tass, a state-run Russian news agency, of voting by mail. “It turns out I was right — what’s going on now in the United States is the best illustration of that.”

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Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany welcomed the prospect of a new administration in Washington, striking a note of personal affection for Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Senator Kamala Harris.CreditCredit…Pool photo by Michael Kappeler

Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the prospect of a new administration in Washington, striking a note of personal affection for President-elect Biden after four fraught years in which the partnership between the U.S. and Germany suffered under a flurry of punitive tariffs and angry tweets.

“Joe Biden brings decades of experience in domestic and foreign policy. He knows Germany and Europe well,” the chancellor said of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. in a statement to reporters on Monday, recalling her “fond memories” of their many meetings.

Her remarks reflected the views of other European leaders, and could signal a return to the more collaborative partnership Ms. Merkel developed with President Barack Obama.

The relationship between the United States and one of Europe’s most influential countries broke down under President Trump amid a collapse in communication between the two leaders, Mr. Trump’s persistent threats to reduce U.S. involvement in NATO, and sharp divergences over Russia, Iran, China and trade.

The loss of trust between Ms. Merkel and Mr. Trump threatened something much more fundamental — faith in the strategic foundation of the trans-Atlantic alliance itself, officials and analysts have said.

Ms. Merkel, the first woman to govern her country, also offered praise for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. “As the first woman in this office,” Ms. Merkel said about Ms. Harris, “as the child of two immigrants, she is an inspiration for many people, an example of America’s possibilities. I look forward to getting to know her.”

The tone was markedly different from four years ago, when she congratulated Mr. Trump by offering to work with him on the basis of the common values shared by the two countries, which she noted were “democracy, freedom, as well as respect for the rule of law and the dignity of each and every person.”

Those values still bind the two partners, the chancellor said Monday, but stressed that the time had come for Germany to take on more responsibility in defense and as an actor on the global stage.

“America is and remains our most important ally. But it expects — rightfully so — that we do more to ensure our own for our security and to represent our own interests in the world,” Ms. Merkel said.