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The Biden administration’s transition plan, priorities

President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and their team prepare their transition to the White House, including taking on the COVID-19 pandemic, as the Trump campaign announces a long legal battle over the results. NewsHour’s John Yang joins from Wilmington, Delawar where Biden and Harris are preparing to address the nation on Saturday night.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    NewsHour's John Yang is in Wilmington, Delaware where the president and vice president-elect are planning an 8 p.m. Eastern speech and celebration tonight.

    So, John, certainly not as fast as the Biden campaign would have expected, but the result came today nonetheless. What was the immediate reaction from the Biden camp?

  • John Yang:

    Joy and relief.

    I've got to say, they were getting a little frustrated last night. They certainly had hoped to make the victory statement to have the the race, the entire race, called by Friday night. And they were getting a little frustrated, a little testy at the networks. But all through this, they say that the vice president was patient and calm. I think they expected this to be a little long and drawn out. They expected it to be like this, but not as long as it went on.

    As one senior adviser to the campaign told me last night, the adviser said that nothing about this campaign has been easy. So why should the election be any different?

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Yeah. So what are the campaign's plans as it pertains to the recounts that are likely to happen in Georgia and Pennsylvania and the legal challenges that the Trump campaign is planning to continue to mount?

  • John Yang:

    Bob Bauer, who's the head of the legal team for the Biden campaign, says that he does not expect any of these legal challenges to make any difference. And as you've seen, a lot of them have been thrown out at the state level.

    He says that it's political theater. He says it's a strategy destined to failure. And they also say about these narrow margins, number one, they say a win is a win no matter how small. And on the recounts, they don't see anything in these recounts that can overturn the results that they expect to have enough electoral votes that they can afford number one, they can afford to have some states go the other way, but they don't think that's going to happen.

    You know, the Associated Press says that since 2000, there have been 31 statewide recounts. In only three of those races has the outcome been reversed. And in each of those three, the margin was less than 300 votes. And I think you're not going to see that that close of a margin in any of these states.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    John, I don't know if you have any reporting on this, but the only other thing that really pierces through the news cycle today is the fact that we are still breaking records when it comes to the number of COVID-19 infections and how many people are actually dying from this.

    I know that the Biden team knows that they're not going to be president or he's not going to be president and Vice President Kamala Harris until the swearing in ceremony. But what are they doing now to try to prepare? What kinds of policy decisions could they be planning for?

  • John Yang:

    They are going to establish announce a coronavirus task force with medical experts from around the country, including Dr. Zeke Emanuel. Look for that announcement as soon as next week and he might even say something about it in his speech tonight. This has been the major contrast they've been drawing with President Trump in the closing days of the campaign about how President Trump has been treating this pandemic.

    This week, former Vice President Biden and and Senator Harris had a briefing with medical experts on the coronavirus. They've been having things like that all along, but even as they waited for the return. So I think you're going to see this as being something front and center in the president-elect's transition now.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    And finally, I mean, you've covered multiple presidencies when this happens during this period what access what types of things do Vice President-elect Harris and President Biden get now from the government when it comes to information to prepare for that handover?

  • John Yang:

    They'll start getting the national security briefs. They'll start getting access to information. There's a, there's a whole team that has been already been working with the Trump administration that's going to step up. They'll have offices in the the GSA building on F Street in Washington. This is something that's going to ramp up very quickly, I think.

    And, you know, in in Joe Biden, you've got someone who's been in the Senate in, in Washington for for a half century. He knows a lot of people. He knows a lot of ways to get, to get people in. And I think you'll see that ramp up pretty quickly.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    All right. John Yang joining us from Wilmington. Thanks so much.

  • John Yang:

    Thank you.

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