Biden picks White House staff as Trump refuses to accept result

President-elect picks Rob Klain as chief of staff and speaks to several foreign leaders

President-elect Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden stop at the Philadelphia Korean War Memorial at Penn’s Landing on Veterans Day, November 10th, 2020. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

President-elect Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden stop at the Philadelphia Korean War Memorial at Penn’s Landing on Veterans Day, November 10th, 2020. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

 

President-elect Joe Biden has announced the next White House chief of staff as he presses ahead with preparations to assume the US presidency despite President Donald Trump’s refusal to accept the result of the election.

Ron Klain, who served as Mr Biden’s chief of staff during the first term of his vice-presidency and has been a long-time aide to Mr Biden since his time in the senate, will assume one of the most senior roles in government. In addition, he played a leading role under former US president Barack Obama in dealing with the Ebola outbreak.

“Ron has been invaluable to me over the many years that we have worked together, including as we rescued the American economy from one of the worst downturns in our history in 2009 and later overcame a daunting public health emergency in 2014,” Mr Biden said in a statement. The president-elect is expected to name more appointees in the coming days, though an announcement on cabinet members will come later.

Mr Klain’s appointment comes as Mr Biden spoke with more foreign leaders on Tuesday, including Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga and president Moon Jae-in of South Korea.

White House, 2014: Ebola response coordinator Ron Klain with former US president Barack Obama Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images.
White House, 2014: Ebola response coordinator Ron Klain with former US president Barack Obama Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images.

Meanwhile, Mr Trump is refusing to accept the result of last week’s election. In a series of tweets on Tuesday evening he claimed he had won Pennsylvania as well as Michigan - a state which Mr Biden has won by more than 150,000 votes. Claiming that poll watchers were not allowed to observe the election process in the two states, Mr Trump asserted that this was “responsible for hundreds of thousands of votes that should not be allowed to count.” His tweet was labelled by Twitter as containing a disputed claim of election fraud.

Mr Trump also tweeted a campaign-style video set to music, with the president intoning: “the more people tell you that it’s not possible, that it can’t be done, the more you should be absolutely determined to prove them wrong.”

The Trump campaign claimed on Wednesday that it has found a handful of examples of people using the identity of deceased people to cast votes in Pennsylvania.

Earlier in the day, Mr Trump doubled-down on his refusal to accept the results of the presidential election, claiming that he will “win” the state of Wisconsin, which was declared for president-elect Joe Biden last week.

Referencing a pre-election Washington Post-ABC poll which found that Mr Biden was 17 points ahead in the mid-western state, Mr Trump said he was now “preparing to win the state,” calling it a “possibly illegal suppression poll.” Mr Biden won Wisconsin by 20,500 votes which was called for the former vice-president last Thursday.

As expected, Georgia announced a full recount of the presidential election in each county in the state, because the final result was so tight. “It will be an audit, a recount and a recanvass all at once,” secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, said. “It will be a heavy lift, but we will work with the counties to get this done in time for our state certification.” Mr Biden is leading by about 14,000 votes in the state of 5 million people. If he wins, he will be the first Democrat presidential candidate since Bill Clinton in 1992 to win Georgia. Two senate races, which will determine the political make-up of the senate, will also take place in the state in January, after no candidate reached the 50 per cent threshold to win either seat as required under Georgia’s rules.

We’ll have a smooth transition, and we’ll see what the people ultimately decided when all the votes have been cast.

More than a week after America went to the polls in the presidential election, Mr Trump and senior advisers have not yet accepted that Mr Biden won the electoral college vote. Mr Trump’s campaign has launched multiple legal challenges, but given the fact that the president is trailing his opponent in a number of swing-states it is not likely that a recount or legal challenge will change the outcome of the election.

Asked by Fox News host Bret Baier on Tuesday night if he had been joking when he said he was preparing for a second Trump term earlier in the day, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined to answer the question directly, replying: “We’ll have a smooth transition, and we’ll see what the people ultimately decided when all the votes have been cast. We have a process, Bret. The Constitution lays out how electors vote. It’s a very detailed process laid out. We need to comply with all of that.”