President-elect Joe Biden expressed his dismay at President Donald Trump’s repeated refusal to accept the results of the 2020 election on Tuesday, three days after the race was called in the former vice president’s favor.
“I just think it’s an embarrassment, quite frankly,” Biden said, wondering aloud, “How can I say this tactfully?”
He added: “I think that it will not help the president’s legacy.”
His comment on Trump’s refusal to concede came during remarks Biden was giving on the Republican-led legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act, which was argued before the Supreme Court on Tuesday. Biden has said he would work to strengthen the act’s protections during his presidency.
Reporters took the opportunity to ask him about Republican leaders’ obstinate statements on the election results. On Monday, Attorney General Bill Barr sent top federal prosecutors a memo authorizing them to investigate any voter fraud allegations in a move that appears aimed at casting doubt on the validity of last week’s election. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier Tuesday afternoon that “there will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, has said that Trump is acting within his rights. This week, he attempted to paint the president’s fraud claims ― for which there are no evidence ― as part of the normal process of presidential elections, saying there’s “no reason for alarm.” Other sitting Republicans have avoided making any public remarks on Biden’s win.
Asked how he plans to work with Republicans if they won’t acknowledge him to be the president-elect, Biden said simply: “They will. They will.”
Emphasizing his intent to prioritize a new coronavirus relief package during Trump’s lame duck session, Biden said he expects to speak with McConnell in the “not too distant future.” The two have a history of working across the aisle to move legislation through a divided Senate.
When asked if he had any message to give Trump, assuming the president was watching, Biden responded: “Mr. President, I look forward to speaking with you.”
Biden asserted that the transition was already “well underway” regardless of the Trump administration’s relationship to reality. Trump’s stance “will have no effect” on the Biden-Harris team’s ability to prepare for Inauguration Day, which Biden seemed to think will proceed as usual.
“The whole Republican Party has been put in the position, with a few notable exceptions, of being mildly intimidated by the sitting president,” he said.
Although it would “be nice” for his transition team to be able to access the federal funds required to be given to incoming presidents, Biden said the money is not necessary to have in order to do the work — downplaying tensions between his team and the Trump administration.
“We’re going to be doing exactly what we would be doing if he had conceded and said we won, which we did. I don’t see a need for legal action, quite frankly,” he said.
Biden has so far spoken with six world leaders about his victory and transition ― including the leaders of the U.K., France, Ireland, Canada and Germany ― and said he has “a number of other calls to return.”
“I feel confident that we’re going to be able to put America back in the place of respect that it was,” Biden said.