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Trump makes 1st public remarks since Biden’s win

On Friday, President Trump made his first public statement since Joe Biden became the president-elect nearly one week ago. But in a Rose Garden news conference, Trump made no direct comments about the election results. Lisa Desjardins and Yamiche Alcindor join Judy Woodruff to discuss the latest on the transition of power, including Biden’s staffing plans and Trump’s legal claims.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    As we heard earlier, this afternoon, President Trump made his first public statement since Joe Biden was declared president-elect.

    But, in the Rose Garden, Mr. Trump made no direct comments about the results.

    We turn now to "NewsHour"'s Yamiche Alcindor, who covers the White House, and Lisa Desjardins for an update on the transition of power.

    Yamiche, to you first.

    So, fill us in on what the president did have to say in the Rose Garden.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, these were first public remarks by President Trump since he was declared the projected loser of the 2020 election.

    And he came really, really close to acknowledging that there might be a Biden administration, but stopped short of actually saying those two words together. We haven't heard him acknowledge that at all.

    Instead, the president wanted to talk about the coronavirus vaccine. And he wanted to be congratulated by the fact that he believes 20 million Americans will be able to get the vaccine coming — come this December.

    He didn't acknowledge, though, that his own actions might be slowing down the coronavirus vaccine from getting to millions of Americans, because experts say his refusal to have an official transition start is stopping the Biden administration, Biden transition team from going in and seeing exactly what needs to take place with that vaccine.

    Another thing, I have been talking to White House officials, some of them on the Coronavirus Task Force. And they tell me that they don't want to get out ahead of the president. So, as everyone is waiting for the president to process, all sorts of things hang in the balance, including the response to the coronavirus pandemic of this administration and of the next administration.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, Lisa, we know that the Biden team has been saying that it's so important for them to have the latest information on the vaccine. He's now been president-elect for a week as of tomorrow.

    Where do things stand?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Well, when you talk to the Biden transition team, they tell you something that a lot of folks now.

    This is a man, the president-elect, who literally knows his way around the Situation Room. He's very well-equipped and has a large and long understanding of national security in general.

    But they really need those real-time threat assessments in order for them to plan out how to respond to them when Biden takes over in January. That said, they're not yet planning to sue or take legal action to get that transition authority.

    Talking to one senior adviser today, they told me they think that the General Services Administration will come around and will ultimately give them that authority. There are others who are worried about it, though, like former White House Trump Chief of Staff John Kelly, who said today that that lack of national security briefings for Joe — incoming president-elect Biden is a real national security threat.

    Another thing, Judy. Amidst all this, the Biden transition is hiring. They are still holding interviews for top positions. We expect more announcements on personnel next week. I'm told not Cabinet positions, but other White House positions, a lot of us waiting, of course, to see White House press secretary, things like that.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, meantime, Yamiche, we know that the Trump campaign is winding down, people starting to leave.

    Any indication yet that the president may be getting closer to conceding?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, President Trump remains defiant.

    But we did get a little bit more information on what the timeline could be of all of this. The president told The Washington Examiner newspaper that it could be two to three weeks of him continuing these legal battles. He said — quote — "Never bet against me."

    He also was talking about the legal battles there, saying that he sees evidence. But, Judy, the judges that are seeing these cases have been throwing them out one after another. At least a dozen cases from the Trump campaign have been dismissed.

    Today, we saw Pennsylvania and Michigan, a number of lawsuits being thrown out. In Michigan in particular, a judge said there was no credibility, the Trump campaign was not meeting their burden of proof, and that they were presenting generalized arguments.

    Now, my sources and the people that I have been talking to in the Biden campaign, as well as the Trump campaign, they say this could all be really heading to a head in December, because that's when the Electoral College votes. It's after that people on the Biden campaign say things will be ratcheted up, and there will be possibly a legal square-off then.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And back to you, Lisa, on the Biden transition.

    We have heard a little bit about appointments. The White House chief of staff, we learned the other day. But what are you learning in terms of what they will do on day one? We just spoke with Dr. Vivek Murthy, who is working on the COVID Task Force.

    But what else are we learning, are you learning?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    For the Biden transition, these things are hand in hand.

    They're thinking about who can enact their policy, more than necessarily the person's resume. So, when you're talking about those policies on day one, as we heard from now newly appointed or newly named White House Chief of Staff — he will be — Ron Klain, he said last night things that they will — that they plan to do on day one are pretty big, things like reentering the Paris climate accord, rejoining the World Health Organization.

    On immigration, we're talking about things like a status for DACA, those dreamers who were brought here as children, and perhaps even some orders about deportations, maybe even freezing deportations while they study the issue further.

    So, this operation is right now getting that paperwork ready, even as it hires people to implement those policies at the same time.

    And that's my cat…


  • Judy Woodruff:

    And nothing is slowing down.


    We heard that.


    Good to know.

    All right, Lisa Desjardins reporting on the Biden camp, Yamiche Alcindor at the White House, thank you both.

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