In a scathing speech, President-elect Joe Biden called President Donald Trump an embarrassment, unfit for office and said he was glad the current president will not attend the inauguration.
(CN) — President-elect Joe Biden said Friday he’s glad President Donald Trump will not attend his impending inauguration and called Trump “an embarrassment for the country.”
He also declined the opportunity to dissuade Congress from pursuing impeachment.
“He has exceeded even my worst notions about him,” Biden said of Trump. “He has been an embarrassment to this country and is not worthy of the office.”
The president-elect said Wednesday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters — who were fed a steady stream of lies about the results of the U.S. election — laid bare Trump’s character deficits and lack of leadership.
“What this president has done is rip the Band-aid off and let the country know who he is and what he is about,” Biden said.
He said he has had multiple conversations with Republican leaders in the Senate, and they have expressed their dismay and disdain for the events that transpired this week a Trump rally Wednesday morning that for all intents and purposes riled up the mob.
Biden said the bipartisan rebuke of Trump will make his efforts to unify the country easier, but there are signs Republican repudiation of Trump may not be as comprehensive and thorough.
Ronna McDaniel was elected to lead the Republican National Convention, a huge Trump ally that indicates the president may continue to influence and even lead the Republican party despite thorough electoral defeats in November and in Georgia this week.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called on Biden to stave off impeachment, saying the country needed to heal and come together. But his statement comes just two days after he participated in disseminating the falsehoods concocted by Trump and his allies regarding the integrity of the election.
Democratic House leaders continue to call for Trump’s ouster, saying his behavior in instigating the Capitol riot was so extreme that immediate accountability should be pursued. Some Republicans, including Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, have indicated there might be a bipartisan appetite for such a move.
The president-elect declined to wade into the impeachment fray — but did not come out against it either.
“That’s a decision for Congress to make,” he said.
Biden compared Wednesday’s violence to 9/11, the bombing of the Capitol building in 1971 by the Weather Underground and other terrorist incidents.
“The only difference is this occurred with the active encouragement of a sitting president of the United States,” Biden said.
Biden, who expressed an unusually high amount of disgust for Trump throughout the press conference, said he was glad Trump had decided to skip Inauguration Day — slated to occur in 12 days.
“It’s one of the few things he and I agree on,” he said.
Biden also filled the last remaining position on his cabinet Friday, saying his nominees represent a diverse nation with people of different backgrounds working across their differences.
“This will be the first cabinet ever that is evenly composed with as many women as men in the cabinet,” Biden said. “This will be the first cabinet ever with a majority of people of color occupying this cabinet.”
Biden also discussed the necessity to pass another round of stimulus immediately after he assumes office, saying many Americans are struggling with joblessness due to the still-raging coronavirus pandemic.
“We should be investing in deficit spending in order to generate economic growth,” Biden said.
Deficit spending, or counter-cyclical spending, is an idea in macroeconomics where government spending during economic downturns is meant to buoy the economy and prevent it from plummeting into recession. Once considered radical, the idea has gained near-consensus status among economists, and even supply-side conservative thinkers have begun to embrace it albeit more tepidly.
Biden made it clear Friday he wholeheartedly endorses the idea and promised to unveil a big infrastructure package designed to put Americans back to work.
He declined to commit to the $2,000 checks floated by some Democratic lawmakers and President Trump but said some form of stimulus is urgently needed.
“We need immediate relief for businesses and working families now,” he said. “We need to do so to avoid the broader economic cost due to long-term unemployment, homelessness, hunger and business failure.”
Biden introduced his selections to lead the U.S. Department of Labor, Department of Commerce and the Small Business Administration — Marty Walsh, Gina Raimondo and Isabel Guzman, respectively.
He said he strongly considered appointing Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont as Labor secretary but said it was too great a risk to jeopardize the slim majority Democrats hold in the Senate.
“After Tuesday’s result in Georgia, giving Democrats control of the Senate on a tied vote, Bernie and I agreed that we cannot put control of the Senate at risk on the outcome of a special election in Vermont,” Biden said.
Biden also said the Trump administration’s rollout of the vaccination program is “a travesty” and pledged to ramp up manufacturing and dissemination once he takes office.
“It will be the greatest operational challenge in the history of this country,” Biden said.
To date, the United States has distributed about 21 million vaccines, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, well short of the goal of 40 million the Trump administration set for this point.
Of the 21 million doses distributed, just under 6 million have gone into the arms of Americans thus far, again well short of stipulated goals.