Biden's transition formally begins

By Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 5:13 AM ET, Wed November 25, 2020
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6:23 p.m. ET, November 24, 2020

Fauci says he's had preliminary conversations with Biden team

From CNN's Jim Acosta

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, confirmed that he has had preliminary conversations with members of President-elect Joe Biden's team. 

Fauci said he has not had any substantive discussions with the team as of yet but he looks forward to that. Fauci reiterated that he hopes to stay on and continue his work on the pandemic during the Biden administration. 

Biden told reporters today that his team had been in touch with Fauci, adding that "he’s been very, very helpful."

4:18 p.m. ET, November 24, 2020

Dow tops 30,000 for the first time ever as Biden transition begins

From CNN’s Paul R. La Monica

A trader at the New York Stock Exchange works at his terminal on November 24.
A trader at the New York Stock Exchange works at his terminal on November 24. Nicole Pereira/NYSE/AP

Investors have a lot to be thankful for this holiday-shortened week — including the Dow passing the 30,000 milestone for the first time as stocks posted solid gains Tuesday to extend Monday's rally.

The Dow finished the day up nearly 455 points, or 1.5%. The blue chip index hit a new all-time high in the process, finally topping the 30,000 mark. The Dow is now up more than 5% in 2020.

The S&P 500 closed 1.6% higher and the Nasdaq ended 1.3% higher on Tuesday, and they too are not far from all-time highs. The S&P 500 has gained 12.5% this year, while the Nasdaq has surged 34%.

The latest catalyst: It appears that a formal transition from President Trump to President-elect Joe Biden is finally underway. 

News came Monday that the General Services Administration is starting the so-called ascertainment process, which allows Trump administration officials to coordinate with the Biden team. 

And that follows more promising coronavirus vaccine developments on Monday, as well as sources confirming to CNN that former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen will be Biden's nominee for Treasury Secretary.

4:08 p.m. ET, November 24, 2020

Biden's transition team now in contact with all federal agencies

From CNN's Sarah Mucha 

Following the General Services Administration ascertainment of the election, President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team is now talking to all federal agencies, a transition official tells CNN. 

Yesterday, the GSA informed Biden via a letter from Administrator Emily Murphy that the Trump administration is ready to begin the formal transition process.

The letter was the first step the administration has taken to acknowledge President Trump's defeat, more than two weeks after Biden was declared the winner in the election.

4:13 p.m. ET, November 24, 2020

White House signs off on Biden getting the President's Daily Briefing

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

The White House has given formal approval for President-elect Joe Biden to receive the President's Daily Briefing, according to a White House official.

Coordination on when Biden will receive his first briefing is currently underway, but the move is another step toward a transition of power that President Trump held up for weeks after it was clear he lost the 2020 election.

It follows a formal notice by the General Services Administration Monday night that the formal transition of government can proceed.

The President's Daily Briefing, also known as the PDB, is a daily rundown of threats and intelligence developments compiled by the national security community.

The top secret document is read by the president and his inner circle of security advisers and top White House officials and is often accompanied by an in-person briefing by intelligence officials.

The PDB is put together so the commander-in-chief can make timely and sometimes fast-breaking decisions about national security.

Receiving a classified intelligence briefing is typically one of the first rights of a presidential candidate after winning the election. But Biden has yet to receive an intelligence briefing because of Trump's effort to overturn the results of the election, which caused confusion inside the federal government over whether a transition could begin.

3:39 p.m. ET, November 24, 2020

Trump again takes credit for stock market and rebukes ex-defense chief during turkey pardon

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

President Donald Trump speaks during the annual Thanksgiving turkey pardon in the Rose Garden of the White House on November 24.
President Donald Trump speaks during the annual Thanksgiving turkey pardon in the Rose Garden of the White House on November 24. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump appeared in the Rose Garden Tuesday afternoon for the traditional White House turkey pardon and took the opportunity to take credit again today for the stock market and make a dig at his former defense chief, slightly changing the tone at the typically light-hearted event. 

Trump kept his comments short and did not take questions from reporters.

As he pardoned “Cob” and “Corn,” the latter of which was a large, white turkey who made an appearance in the Rose Garden, Trump began his remarks by once again touting that the Dow hit 30,000 today before wishing the crowd a “healthy and very happy Thanksgiving.” 

He called Thanksgiving a “special day for turkeys, I guess for the most part probably not very good if you think about it.” But when he shifted to comments on Covid-19, Trump started to use the kind of rhetoric he used on the campaign trail.   

Trump also seemed to deviate from his prepared remarks after giving thanks for law enforcement and members of the military, adding, “As I say, America first. Shouldn’t go away from that, America first.” 

As CNN previously reported, former Secretary of Defense James Mattis called on President-elect Joe Biden to strip all references to “America First,” from America’s strategy, dumping one of Trump’s key mantras.

The President was accompanied by the first lady. Neither wore a mask. His daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner also attended the ceremony with their children, all of whom wore masks. 

This was Trump’s second appearance of the day after he gave remarks in the White House briefing room that lasted for just over a minute. He has remained largely out of sight since the election. 

2:52 p.m. ET, November 24, 2020

Defense Department transition task force met with Biden-Harris team today

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

The head of the Department of Defense’s transition task force, Tom Muir, met with the Biden-Harris agency review team Tuesday morning, Muir told reporters at the Pentagon.

He said the head of the transition team reached out to him personally on Monday night.

“This is aligned both once again with the Presidential Transition Act, the White House, and Biden Harris memorandum of understanding between those two organizations and DOD policy,” he said. “We are aligned with our statutory requirements, we are executing our responsibilities under the Presidential Transition Act and our DOD policy. We're looking forward to continuing the process with the Biden Harris transition team in the near future and throughout the transition period.”

CNN reported earlier that Kash Patel is overseeing the task force work. 


3:02 p.m. ET, November 24, 2020

Harris says US needs to restore its leadership around the world

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Carolyn Kaster/AP
Carolyn Kaster/AP

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris said the Cabinet selections for the incoming Biden administration embody the "nobility of public service."

Harris said she and President-elect Joe Biden will be walking into the White House with "unprecedented' challenges — namely, tackling the coronavirus pandemic and reopening the nation’s economy. 

"Our challenge here is a necessary foundation for restoring and advancing our leadership around the world, and we are ready for that work."
"We will need to re-assemble and renew America's alliances, rebuild and strengthen the national security and foreign policy institutions that keep us safe and advance our nation's interests, and confront and combat the existential threat of climate change that endangers us all," she added.

Harris went on to praise the nominees and appointees, calling them "patriots and public servants to their core," and "the leaders we need to meet the challenges of this moment and those that lie ahead." 


3:14 p.m. ET, November 24, 2020

Biden just introduced his first Cabinet selections. Here are some key lines from their remarks. 

President-elect Joe Biden speaks during a cabinet announcement event in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 24.
President-elect Joe Biden speaks during a cabinet announcement event in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 24. Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris just introduced their first Cabinet-level picks and appointments to key national security and foreign policy posts.

Here are some key lines from the nominees' remarks in Delaware:

Antony Blinken, Secretary of State nominee

Blinken said that the US needs to proceed "with equal measures of humility and confidence" in working with other countries because "we can't solve all of the world's problems alone." 

"We need to be working with other countries, we need their cooperation. We need their partnership," he said.

Blinken said the US has a "greater ability than any other country on Earth to bring others together to meet challenges of our time."

Alejandro Mayorkas, Homeland Security Secretary nominee

Mayorkas, who would become the first Latino to helm the department if confirmed, said that the Department of Homeland Security has "a noble mission, to help keep us safe and to advance our proud history as a country of welcome."

Avril Haines, Director of National Intelligence nominee

Haines, who would become the first woman to lead the US intelligence community, said that Biden knows she has "never shied away from speaking truth to power," adding, "that will be my charge as director of national intelligence." 

"I worked for you for a long time and I accept this nomination knowing that you would never want me to do otherwise and that you value the perspective of the intelligence community and that you will do so even when what I have to say may be inconvenient or difficult, and I assure you, there will be those times."

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, UN Ambassador nominee

Thomas-Greenfield, who has worked for 35 years in foreign service across four continents, said she likes to put a "cajun spin" on diplomacy.

"I called it gumbo diplomacy. Wherever I was posted around the world, I'd invite people of different backgrounds and beliefs to help me make a roux, chop onions for the holy trinity, and make homemade gumbo." 

She added: "It was my way of breaking down barriers, connecting with people, and starting to see each other on a human level." 

Jake Sullivan, National Security Adviser nominee

Sullivan noted that he served as Biden's national security adviser when he was vice president. 

"I learned a lot about a lot, about diplomacy, about strategy, about policy. Most importantly about human nature. I watched him pair strength and resolve with humanity and empathy." 

On Biden, he added, "That is the person America elected. That's also America at its best." 

John Kerry, Climate Envoy nominee

Kerry said that in the fight against climate change "failure is not an option." 

"Succeeding together means tapping into the best of American ingenuity, creativity, diplomacy, from brain power to alternative energy power, using every tool we have to get where we have to go," he said.

Kerry added: "No one should doubt the determination of this president and vice president, they shouldn't doubt the determination of the country that went to the moon, cured supposedly incurable diseases, and beat back global tyranny to win World War II."

1:35 p.m. ET, November 24, 2020

Biden's Cabinet nominations and appointments include several firsts 

From CNN's Sarah Mucha and Gregory Krieg

President-elect Joe Biden's first Cabinet picks and appointments to key national security and foreign policy posts include several firsts.

He has selected Avril Haines, the first woman to lead the US intelligence community, and Alejandro Mayorkas, the first Latino to helm the Department of Homeland Security.

Cuban-born Mayorkas, a former deputy secretary of DHS who Biden has nominated to lead the department, will be tasked with rebuilding an agency that carried out some of the most draconian measures associated with President Trump's hardline immigration policy, including family separations at the US-Mexico border.

"My father and mother brought me to this country to escape communism," Mayorkas said at Biden's announcement in Delaware. "They cherished our democracy and were intensely proud to become United States citizens as was I. I have carried that pride throughout my nearly 20 years of government service and throughout my life. My parents are not here to see this day. Mr. President-elect, Madam Vice president-elect, please know I will work day and night in the service of our nation to ably lead men and women of the United States Department of Homeland Security. And to bring honor to my parents and of the trust you placed in me to carry vision for our country forward."

Biden's pick for director of national intelligence, Haines, a former top CIA official and deputy national security adviser, will also make history if confirmed by the Senate.

"If afforded the opportunities to do so, I will never forget that my role on this team is unique. Better than that of a policy adviser, I will represent to you, Congress, and the American public, the patriots that comprise our intelligence community. Mr. President-Elect, you know that I have never shied away from speaking truth to power and that will be my charge as director of national intelligence," Haines said.

Here's who else has been tapped to serve in Biden's Cabinet:

  • Antony Blinken, Secretary of State
  • Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US Ambassador to the United Nations 
  • Jake Sullivan, National Security Adviser
  • John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate