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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7:26 p.m. ET, November 24, 2020

Biden discusses priorities in first 100 days and appointing Republicans in new interview

From CNN's Sarah Mucha

In a wide-ranging interview — his first since being named President-elect — Joe Biden told NBC’s Lester Holt that he would consider appointing Republicans who voted for Donald Trump to his cabinet, and he said that he was wary of taking someone out of the Senate, namely Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, to place them in his cabinet or in another role in his administration.  

“Have you considered for the sake of national unity selecting or nominating a Republican, someone who voted for President Trump?” asked Holt. “Yes. And we still have a lot more appointments to make. I want this country to be united. The purpose of our administration is once again uniting. We can't keep this virulent political dialogue going. It has to end,” Biden said.  

While many of his first appointees and nominations were longtime civil servants, many of whom served under President Barack Obama, Biden underscored that this is not a third Obama term.  

“This is not a third Obama term because we face a totally different world than we faced in the Obama-Biden administration,” he said. “President Trump has changed the landscape. It's become America first. It's been America alone. We find ourselves in a position where our alliances are being frayed. It's a totally — that's why I’ve found people who join the administration and keep points that represent the spectrum of the American people as well the spectrum of the Democratic party.”  

On appointing progressive senators like Sanders or Warren, Biden seemed to reject the notion. “Taking someone out of the Senate, taking someone out of the House, particularly a person of consequence, is really a difficult decision that will have to be made." 

Biden emphasized that his priority when he assumes office will be tackling coronavirus, but noted that he also intends to send immigration legislation to Congress and take action on climate in his first 100 days.  

“There’s multiple things that are going to be taking place at the same time,” he said of his priorities. “But the most important thing, I think, is to focus on those folks, who are always, when crisis hits, are the first ones hit, and recovery comes to last."  

Biden said that health care workers and first responders should be the first to take the vaccine.  

The President-elect once again said that he would not direct his Department of Justice to investigate Trump.  

“I will not do what this President does and use the Justice Department as my vehicle to insist that something happen,” he said. “There are a number of investigations that I’ve read about that are at a state level. There's nothing at all I can or cannot do about that. But I’m focused on getting the American public back in a place where they have some certainty, some surety, some knowledge that they can make it. The middle-class and working-class people are being crushed. That's my focus.”

6:32 p.m. ET, November 24, 2020

Biden will deliver "Thanksgiving address" tomorrow

From CNN's Sarah Mucha

President-elect Joe Biden talks to the media outside the Queen theatre after announcing the new members of his cabinet during an event in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 24.
President-elect Joe Biden talks to the media outside the Queen theatre after announcing the new members of his cabinet during an event in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 24. Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden will deliver a "Thanksgiving address" tomorrow where he will "discuss the shared sacrifices Americans are making this holiday season and say that we can and will get through the current crisis together," according to a release from his transition team.

Biden's address will be live-streamed from Wilmington, Delaware.

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."