Biden's transition moves ahead

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 8:02 p.m. ET, November 25, 2020
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9:41 a.m. ET, November 25, 2020

Chinese leader Xi Jinping finally congratulates Biden

From CNN's Beijing bureau

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a G20 speech via video on November 22 in Beijing.
Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a G20 speech via video on November 22 in Beijing. Li Xueren/Xinhua/Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday sent a congratulatory message to US President-elect Joe Biden, more than two weeks after US media called the race for the Democratic candidate.

"Promoting the healthy and stable development of China-US relations is not only in the fundamental interests of both peoples, but also meets the common expectation of the international community," state-run Xinhua news agency quoted Xi as saying in the message. 

"I hope to see both sides uphold the spirit of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation, and focus on cooperation while managing and controlling disputes," Xi added, according to Xinhua.

On Nov. 13, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, without naming Xi, offered Beijing's congratulations to Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris almost a week after they delivered victory speeches.

But the spokesperson noted at the time that the outcome of the US election would be "ascertained in accordance with US laws and procedures."

Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan on Wednesday sent a congratulatory message to Harris, according to Xinhua.

The Kremlin meanwhile said on Monday it will accept the results of the US election as official only after all lawsuits are completed and President Trump concedes. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday he was ready to work with any US leader and would congratulate whoever is declared the winner after all legal issues surrounding the election have been settled, according to Russian state news agency, TASS. 

9:03 a.m. ET, November 25, 2020

Trump expected to join Giuliani today in Pennsylvania at GOP lawmakers' voter fraud event 

From CNN's Jeremy Diamond

President Donald Trump speaks to the press at the White House on November 24.
President Donald Trump speaks to the press at the White House on November 24. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump has no public events on his White House schedule today, but is expected to join his attorney Rudy Giuliani in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where Republican state lawmakers are holding a "hearing" on allegations of fraud in this month's election, two sources familiar with the plans told CNN.

Trump expressed strong interest in joining Giuliani for the trip and directed aides to make plans for him to travel to Pennsylvania, multiple sources said.

The trip, which would be his first outside of the Washington area since Election Day, was not listed on the public schedule released by the White House on Tuesday night, but is being handled internally as an unannounced movement.

The event is the latest attempt by Trump and his allies to undermine confidence in the 2020 election and attack the legitimacy of Joe Biden's election as president.

The Trump campaign and Pennsylvania Senate Republicans announced plans for the Gettysburg event, a meeting of the Pennsylvania Senate Majority Policy Committee, on Tuesday — casting it as an effort to expose "irregularities" in the 2020 election.

The meeting is being organized by the Pennsylvania state Senate GOP, which is holding it at a hotel — not at the state Capitol.

State and local election officials have said there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud, and both a federal court and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court have dismissed lawsuits seeking to prevent the state from certifying the results of the election.

Remember: Pennsylvania officially certified its results on Tuesday, sealing Biden's win in the key battleground state and officially awarding the state’s 20 electoral votes to the President-elect. 

8:40 a.m. ET, November 25, 2020

Fauci confirms he's been talking to President-elect Biden's staff

From CNN's Naomi Thomas and and Jacqueline Howard

Dr. Anthony Fauci attends a news conference at the White House on November 19.
Dr. Anthony Fauci attends a news conference at the White House on November 19. Susan Walsh/AP

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he has not been in touch with President-elect Joe Biden personally, but he has been talking to a member of his staff, Fauci told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday.

“I’ve been in contact with Ron Klain,” Fauci said on Good Morning America. “Nothing substantive in the sense of plans, but just touching base with me, telling me that we’re going to be talking about this very soon now that the transition is in process.”

US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Tuesday said that his department has also been in communication with Biden's transition team, following the General Services Administration's acknowledgement of Biden's win.

12:47 p.m. ET, November 25, 2020

Biden will deliver a Thanksgiving address today

From CNN's Sarah Mucha, Kate Sullivan and Christina Maxouris

President-elect Joe Biden holds a news conference in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 24.
President-elect Joe Biden holds a news conference in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 24. Mark Makela/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden will deliver a "Thanksgiving address" Wednesday in Wilmington, Delaware.

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 remarks comes as the country continues to battle surging Covid-19 cases and the Thanksgiving holiday has sparked fears that the virus will spread further across the country.

More than 2,100 Covid-19 deaths were reported in the US on Tuesday — making it the highest single day death toll the country has seen since early May.

And for the 15th consecutive day, the US beat its own hospitalization record, with now more than 88,000 Covid-19 patients nationwide, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended last week that Americans do not travel for Thanksgiving, and the nation's top infectious disease doctor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, asked Americans to keep their indoor holiday gatherings as "small as you possibly can."

8:43 a.m. ET, November 25, 2020

Key takeaways from Biden's first wave of nominations and appointments

From CNN's Gregory Krieg

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris introduce their nominees and appointees to key national security and foreign policy posts in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 24.
President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris introduce their nominees and appointees to key national security and foreign policy posts in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 24. Carolyn Kaster/AP

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris publicly announced their nominees and appointees yesterday to key national security and foreign policy posts yesterday.

Here are some key takeaways from Biden's first round of nominations and appointments:

  • Expertise over big names: As the first round of nominations come in, it's clear that Biden is choosing people who are, indisputably, experts in their fields over bigger names in Democratic politics. Some of that is a practical matter. Democrats didn't do well down-ballot on Election Day and there is little appetite within the party to risk its hold on power, even in blue states or districts, on any powerful office. Biden's nominees to lead the State Department, Antony Blinken, and the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, are not household names, but they both have extensive experience at the agencies they will be tasked with running.
  • Diversity is a priority: The first woman to oversee the Treasury Department. The first Latino and immigrant to run the Department of Homeland Security. The first woman to lead the intelligence community. Announcements and reports of these historic impending nominations came in the space of a few hours on Monday, as Biden announced that Cuban-born Mayorkas would head DHS and Avril Haines was Biden's pick to be the next director of national intelligence. Janet Yellen is poised to break the mold for a second time. The first woman to chair the Federal Reserve, she will, if confirmed, bear the same distinction as Treasury secretary.
  • The picks are a fundamental rejection of Trumpism: Bringing in former Secretary of State John Kerry as his special presidential envoy on climate — and giving that position a seat on the National Security Council — is a marked departure from climate change-denying Trump, who has called global warming a hoax and pulled the US out of the Paris climate accord. The simple act of hiring people qualified for their jobs is in itself a rejection of the Trump model, which installed donors, right-wing ideologues and inexperienced allies into positions of power, in some instances for the express purpose of undermining the institutions they were meant to lead.

Watch:

8:18 a.m. ET, November 25, 2020

Biden's team can access these resources now that the formal transition is underway

From CNN's Devan Cole 

When the General Services Administration informed President-elect Joe Biden on Monday that the Trump administration is ready to begin the formal transition process, it released a slew of resources for his team to access in the coming weeks.

The now-available resources are enumerated in a "memorandum of understanding" between Biden and the GSA, which also outlined the government resources he was able to use before Administrator Emily Murphy acknowledged his win.

Here's a look at some of those resources:

  • Nearly $6.3 million: Biden's transition team will be able to use approximately $6.3 million during the next few months as it prepares to take over the presidency. The funds will primarily go to renting office space, paying staffers working for the transition team and compensating experts or consultants, according to the memo. The money can also be used to pay for travel expenses, rental cars, IT services and other administrative costs, the document says. In addition to that $6.3 million, another $1 million will be set aside for orientation activities "for individuals the President-elect intends to nominate as department heads or appoint to key positions in the Executive Office of the President," according to the memo.
  • Federal employees: Federal transition laws also give Biden's team access to employees of any federal agency and employees of any congressional committee or office. This including people working in the offices of House members or senators so long as the congressperson or agency head consents to it, the memo says. Both career and political officials have expressed interest in starting the formal transition process.
  • Office space: Biden's transition team can now use "approximately 128,000 rentable square feet of space designed to house approximately 500 individuals," according to the memo, which says the space can be used until the inauguration. The memo notes that the office space has not been configured to comply with coronavirus pandemic guidelines and that Biden's staff "shall determine any Covid-19 protocols for the space, including entrance and screening requirements," and the GSA will "make all reasonable efforts to accommodate" the protocols. Biden officials have previously said that a lot of the transition work will be done virtually due to the pandemic.
  • IT and mail support: The GSA memo says the agency will also provide "an architected infrastructure to meet telecommunications and IT services and equipment for use" by Biden's team. The GSA will also begin providing mail support for Biden's team, which includes "training on official government mail procedures" for staffers. The US Secret Service will also oversee off-site mail screening of all incoming letters and parcels.