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Biden: Transition on Track, With or Without Trump Concession

President-elect Joe Biden brushed off concerns about President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede the election, telling reporters Tuesday that Trump is tainting his legacy but the refusal is “not of much consequence.”

(CN) — President-elect Joe Biden brushed off concerns about President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede the election, telling reporters Tuesday that Trump is tainting his legacy but the refusal is “not of much consequence.”

As some corners of the electorate have grown increasingly worried about Trump’s refusal to concede, Biden said those concerns are overblown and that Americans should patiently and calmly wait for the process to play out. 

“We are doing exactly what we would be doing had he conceded,” Biden said. 

The press conference came after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters he anticipated “a smooth transition to a second Trump administration” during a press conference Tuesday morning. 

It appeared Pompeo was joking. 

As votes continue to be counted in several states, the inevitable facts have become more solidified — Biden defeated Trump, and the vote was not particularly close. It may not be the landslide some predicted, but it’s closer to a landslide than a Trump victory. 

When Biden asked about Trump’s refusal he replied:

“It’s embarrassing, quite frankly.”

Biden made it clear he is unfazed by Trump’s current posture, laughing several times when asked about Trump and Pompeo and predicting prominent Republicans will accept his win imminently. 

“They are being mildly intimated by the sitting president right now,” Biden said. 

And there are signs of resignation setting in on the Republican side. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday morning that there was “no cause for alarm” and promised a smooth transition when the Electoral College is certified — a slight softening of the stance he took Monday when he encouraged the Trump campaign to challenge the election results in court.

McConnell and the rest of the GOP may feel the need to provide Trump with a viable offramp, concerned if they press the matter too forcibly, Trump could still use his considerable sway in the party to hinder their efforts. 

The control of the Senate is at stake as Georgia’s two U.S. senators — both Republicans — must defend their seats against Democratic challengers in a Jan. 5 runoff. 

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Tuesday that Senators Kelly Loefler and David Perdue issued a joint press release calling for the resignation of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger — also a Republican — after a call from the Trump campaign indicating the president would withdraw support unless the candidates criticized the election. 

The race is critical to the balance of power.

If Democrats prevail in an upset in both races, McConnell will be out of a job and Biden will be able to enact an agenda without friction from the opposing party. So Republicans may give Trump ample latitude, though it’s not boundless. 

Senator Rob Portman, R-Ohio, on Tuesday released a statement reiterating the current Republican talking point that Trump has the right to “insist all legally cast ballots are counted.” But he noted Biden currently has enough votes to win the presidency and that Trump must produce evidence if that is to be overturned.

“The Trump campaign has an obligation to come forward with evidence to support any allegations of election fraud,” he said in a statement.

A Pennsylvania postal worker who claimed his supervisor encouraged tampering with mail-in ballots recanted his allegations during an interview with U.S. Postal Service investigators on Monday, according to Democrats on the House Oversight Committee.

In a series of tweets Tuesday, the Democrats tweeted that Richard Hopkins “RECANTED HIS ALLEGATIONS yesterday and did not explain why he signed a false affidavit.”

Hopkins signed an affidavit alleging his supervisor instructed employees to backdate ballots mailed after Nov. 3, leading Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to call on the Justice Department to investigate. Attorney General Bill Barr later authorized prosecutors to look into claims of voting fraud.

Meanwhile, Biden has moved forward with the transition irrespective of the current president’s posture. 

He made calls to American allies in Europe, receiving congratulations from the leaders of Ireland, France, the United Kingdom and Germany. 

“I don’t see anything that is slowing us down,” Biden said. 

Trump has continued to make claims about electoral fraud, although those claims have been tamped down in recent days. 

He tweeted “We will win” in all caps on Tuesday morning, but the president has notably not made a public appearance since Nov. 5. 

He did not tweet during Biden’s press conference and had still not done so by press time, an unusual move for a president who tends to react to criticism in real time. 

The Associated Press puts Biden’s Electoral College count at 290 to Trump’s 214. Should Biden hold on to Georgia, his lead would expand to 306, the exact gap in 2016 when Trump won the Electoral College — minus two faithless electors who cast ballots for Hillary Clinton.

The major difference between four years ago and now is Biden’s commanding lead in the popular vote, where he has garnered more than 4.5 million votes than his counterpart. 

Republicans continue to make noise about Pennsylvania, where the state Supreme Court has agreed to hear whether election observers were kept too far from the action to see the count as the Trump campaign claims.

It’s highly unlikely it will succeed. 

To the extent that it does succeed in a hypothetical world, it would not matter, as Biden still has enough Electoral College votes to win the presidency. To reverse that, Trump would have to prevail in long-shot lawsuits that void results in several states. 

Many of the questions directed toward Biden on Tuesday were less focused on Trump’s reaction and more how he views his chances of implementing his agenda should the Republicans retain the Senate. 

Biden said he has spoken to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and is eager to talk to McConnell as negotiations over cabinet appointments will soon begin in earnest. 

The president-elect is expected to begin announcing his selections next week. 

Follow @@MatthewCRenda
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