The latest on Biden's transition

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Fernando Alfonso III and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 10:33 p.m. ET, December 3, 2020
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9:49 p.m. ET, December 3, 2020

Biden says several Republican senators called him privately to congratulate him

CNN
CNN

President-elect Joe Biden told CNN's Jake Tapper that Republican senators have privately called him to congratulate him.

"There have been more than several sitting Republican senators who have privately called me and congratulated me. And I understand the situation they find themselves in. And until the election is clearly decided in the minds when the Electoral College votes, they get put in a very tough position," he said in his first joint interview with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

Biden went on to say that he has spoken to several senators about key issues.

He acknowledged that the work is "going to be hard."

"I'm not suggesting it's going to be easy. It's going to be hard. But I'm confident that on the things that affect the national security and the fundamental economic necessity to keep people employed, to get people employed, to bring the economy back, there is plenty of room we can work," Biden said.

Watch here:

9:39 p.m. ET, December 3, 2020

Biden vows that his Cabinet will "look like the country"

CNN
CNN

President-elect Joe Biden vowed today that his Cabinet will "look like the country" following increasing pressure to further diversify his administration.

"I'm going to keep my commitment that the administration both in the White House and outside in the cabinet is going to look like the country," he said in his first joint interview with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris today.

Activists and elected officials have insisted that Biden is not doing enough to meet his promise of creating an administration that reflects the nation's diversity.

The latest effort comes from members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, who in a letter obtained by CNN, requested that Biden appoint either California Attorney General Xavier Becerra or Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez to serve as the US Attorney General.

"We are confident that either would lead the Department with distinction, champion equal protection under the law, and advance the cause of justice for all Americans," the letter read.

So far, Biden has named four people of color to his Cabinet:

  • UN Ambassador nominee Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a Black woman
  • Secretary of Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas, a Cuban American man who would be the first Latino to serve in the position if confirmed by the Senate
  • Neera Tanden, who is the first woman of color and first South Asian person nominated to lead the Office of Management and Budget
  • Cecilia Rouse, a Black woman, was nominated to chair the Council of Economic Advisers, a position which Biden announced last week he will elevate to the Cabinet level

Biden, however, named White nominees to two of the highest-profile Cabinet positions -- secretary of state and treasury secretary. Black and Latino leaders are concerned that people of color are primarily being nominated to second-tier positions in Biden's administration and urging Biden to choose diverse candidates fill the remaining high-profile positions, saying it will give underrepresented groups a voice in the nation's leadership.

Their demands come as the nation reels from police killings of Black people, massive protests calling for racial equality this year and President Trump's anti-immigration policies.

Leaders from seven Black-led civil rights groups say they requested a meeting to discuss the need for more Black nominees to Biden's Cabinet.

Biden said he is meeting with members of the NAACP on Tuesday.

"My job is to keep my commitment and to make the decisions.  And when it's all over, people will take a look and say, I promise you, you'll see the most diverse cabinet, representative of all folks, Asian-Americans, African-Americans, Latinos, LGBTQ, across the board," he said

"And so, I think — and they are forthcoming in the next month or so," Biden added.

Watch here:

9:33 p.m. ET, December 3, 2020

Harris says she and Biden "are full partners in this process"

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks during an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper on December 3.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks during an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper on December 3. CNN

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris discussed how she and President-elect Joe Biden will work together through the transition and in the White House during her first joint interview today with Biden today.

"I'll take the last for first which is, if the future is determined in any way based on what has been happening, we are full partners in this process. And I will tell you that the President-elect has been — since the first day he asked me to join him on the ticket — been very clear with me that he wants me to be the first and the last in the room," Harris told CNN.

She added: "And so, on every issue that impacts the American people, I will be a full partner to the President-elect and the President. And whatever our priorities are, I will be there to support him and support the American people."

Biden said he and Harris have become friends and "are simpatico on our philosophy of government and simpatico on how we want to attack — approach these issues that we're facing. ... and when we disagree it will be just like — so far it has been just like when Barack and I did."

Watch here:

9:32 p.m. ET, December 3, 2020

Biden says a $900 billion stimulus plan "would be a good start"

CNN
CNN

President-elect Joe Biden said that while a $900 billion stimulus package would help Americans in need during the pandemic, "it's not enough."

"That that would be a good start. It’s not enough. It’s needed, and they should focus on the things that are immediately needed," Biden told CNN today. "And what’s immediately needed is relief for people in their unemployment checks, relief for people who are going to get thrown out of their apartments after Christmas because they can’t afford to pay the rent anymore, relief on mortgage payments. Relief on all the things that are in the original bill the House passed."

Biden added: "But here’s the deal; if Mitch McConnell just brought the bill up, just put it on the floor, I believe, senator believes, or soon-to-be former senator believes, that it would pass. But it’s a start. But look, people are really hurting. They’re scared to death."

Earlier today: High-level negotiations over an economic stimulus package are intensifying as congressional leaders and top senators are pushing to reach a major agreement that has eluded Washington for months.

For much of the year there has been partisan bickering and negotiations that have broken down repeatedly, but momentum is finally building — as McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are in discussions over a possible $908 billion deal pushed by a bipartisan group of lawmakers — and lawmakers are trying to attach an agreement to a massive funding proposal to avoid a government shutdown by Dec. 11.

But even as Pelosi and McConnell spoke Wednesday about their shared goal to finalize an agreement, there are still many landmines to navigate and major divisions between the two parties. Aides acknowledge that they aren't there yet.

Right now, the $908 billion framework is little more than a one-pager. And, the divisions over state and local funding and liability protections are still very much alive.

Watch here:

9:08 p.m. ET, December 3, 2020

Biden says he will ask Americans to wear a mask for 100 days after he takes office

From CNN's Dan Merica

President-elect Joe Biden speaks during an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper on December 3.
President-elect Joe Biden speaks during an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper on December 3. CNN

President-elect Biden told CNN's Jake Tapper that he will ask Americans to wear masks for 100 days after he takes office.

In his first joint interview with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Biden described his coronavirus plans as a balance between ensuring that Americans believe the vaccine is safe and instituting a number of plans that will curb the spread of the virus without shutting down the economy.

Biden said that on the day he is inaugurated he plans to ask the public to wear a mask for 100 days.

“Just 100 days to mask, not forever 100 days. And I think we’ll see a significant reduction,” he said.

Biden also said during the interview that he will be “happy to” get a coronavirus vaccine once Dr. Anthony Fauci says it is safe and that he will get the vaccine publicly to demonstrate his confidence in it.

Watch here:

9:08 p.m. ET, December 3, 2020

Biden and Harris sit down for first joint interview since winning the election

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

CNN's Jake Tapper interviewed President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Thursday in their first joint interview since winning the election.

The full interview is airing now on CNN. The hour-long special will be simulcast on CNN International and in Spanish on CNN en Español. You can also watch the interview on the video player above here.

The interview took take place in Biden's hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, at the same theater where the President-elect unveiled several top members of his administration.

7:08 p.m. ET, December 3, 2020

After meeting with Biden team, Fauci says that's "the way transition should work"

From CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, told CNN he had a one-hour meeting at the White House on Thursday with President-elect Joe Biden’s agency review team.

Team members Fauci met with included Jeffrey Zients, Biden’s choice for coronavirus czar, as well as Transition Covid-19 Advisory Board members Dr. David Kessler, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, and former US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy.

Among the topics they discussed, Fauci said, were vaccine distribution and the state of the pandemic.

According to the Biden-Harris transition website, “Agency review teams are responsible for understanding the operations of each agency, ensuring a smooth transfer of power.”

Fauci is a member of the current White House coronavirus task force and has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease since 1984, serving under six US presidents.

Fauci said it was good meeting and that it is “the way transition should work.”

5:54 p.m. ET, December 3, 2020

Biden says he asked Fauci to be one of his chief medical advisers

From CNN's Dan Merica

President-elect Joe Biden speaks during an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper on December 3.
President-elect Joe Biden speaks during an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper on December 3. CNN

President-elect Joe Biden told CNN's Jake Tapper on Thursday that he has asked Dr. Anthony Fauci to be a chief medical adviser and part of his Covid-19 response team when his administration begins next year.

Biden said the conversation happened on Thursday afternoon. CNN reported earlier in the day that Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force, had a planned meeting with Biden’s transition team.

“I asked him to stay on the exact same role he’s had for the past several presidents, and I asked him to be a chief medical adviser for me as well, and be part of the Covid team,” Biden told Tapper as part of the first joint interview with Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

Biden added that Ron Klain, his incoming chief of staff, knew Fauci well and had been talking to him “all the time.”

Fauci has had a complicated relationship with Trump ever since he began advising the Republican leader on the coronavirus response, with the President often flouting the recommendations of Fauci and other scientific leaders. Those clashes have made Fauci the focus of public attention, often seen as a hero on the left for his commitment to science in the face of Trump’s comments and a villain on the right, especially among Trump loyalists.

Biden described his coronavirus plans as a balance between ensuring that Americans believe the vaccine is safe and instituting a number of plans that will curb the spread of the virus without shutting down the economy. Biden said that on the day he is inaugurated he plans to ask the public to wear a mask for at least 100 days.

“Just 100 days to mask, not forever 100 days. And I think we’ll see a significant reduction,” he said.

Biden also said during the interview that he will be “happy to” get a coronavirus vaccine once Fauci says it is safe and that he will get the vaccine publicly to demonstrate his confidence in it.

“That’s the moment in which I will stand before the public” and get the vaccine, Biden said. “People have lost faith in the ability of the vaccine to work. Already the numbers are really staggeringly low, and it matters what the President and vice president do.”

Biden’s comments come a day after three of his presidential predecessors — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — said they would publicly get a coronavirus vaccine as a way to demonstrate its safety and efficacy.

“I think that my three predecessors have set the model as to what should be done, saying, once it’s declared to be safe… then obviously we take it and it’s important to communicate to the American people,” Biden said.

Watch here:

4:02 p.m. ET, December 3, 2020

Rhode Island governor says she won't be Biden's HHS secretary

From CNN's Chris Boyette

Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo speaks at a news conference at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence, Rhode Island, on May 12.
Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo speaks at a news conference at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence, Rhode Island, on May 12. John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo said today she won't be President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for Health and Human Services secretary.

Speaking at a news conference today, she went on to say that she is focused on her duties in her home state.

"My focus is right here in Rhode Island, as I have said. I am working 24/7 to keep Rhode Islanders safe and keep our economy moving and I have nothing else to add on that topic,” Raimondo said.

Some background: CNN reported that Raimondo was a contender for the position and had been interviewed for the job, a source familiar with the process tells CNN.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is also a leading contender to head the Department of Health and Human Services, people familiar with the matter tell CNN.

The secretary of Health and Human Services will play a central role in the coronavirus fight, which is why Biden is focusing on governors who have been on the front lines of the pandemic.