Biden says Trump's inaugural presence important to US

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Washington - President-elect plans 100 days with masks, says happy to take the Covid-19 jab in public


Published: Fri 4 Dec 2020, 7:53 AM

Last updated: Fri 4 Dec 2020, 8:18 AM

President-elect Joe Biden said it is important that President Donald Trump attend his inauguration only in the sense that it would demonstrate the nation’s commitment to a peaceful transfer of power between political rivals.

Trump aides have expressed scepticism that the president would attend Biden’s January 20 inauguration. Trump has continued to falsely claim victory and spread baseless claims of fraud to try to explain away his loss.

Speaking to CNN on Thursday, Biden said: “It is totally his decision.” He added, “It is of no personal consequence to me, but I think it is to the country.”

Biden lamented Trump’s refusal to concede, saying “these kinds of things happen in tin-horn dictatorships”.

He said he hoped Trump would attend the inauguration to set an example to other nations on the democratic process.

Joe Biden brushed off concerns by some leading African Americans that the major early picks for his Cabinet have not been diverse enough.

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To a question, Biden responded that the eight choices he’s made “were the most diverse Cabinet anyone in American history has ever announced” and included five people of colour and three white people, as well as five women and three men.

He added: “I promise you you’ll see the most diverse Cabinet.”

Biden said he had received private congratulatory calls from several Republican senators who have refused to publicly acknowledge his victory in fear of aggravating President Donald Trump.

“There have been more than several sitting Republican senators who have privately called me and congratulated me.”

As Trump continues to falsely claim victory and push unsubstantiated claims of fraud, Biden said the lawmakers “get put in a very tough position”.

Biden acknowledged that the Senate is a more partisan place than when he left it in 2009, but predicted it would still be possible to effectively legislate.

Biden said reports that Trump may be exploring preemptive pardons to protect his children, key aides and perhaps even himself from prosecution after he leaves office concern “me a great deal”.

He said that he’s worried about “what kind of precedent it sets, and how the rest of the world looks at us as a nation of law and justice”.

Biden vowed to ensure that his own Justice Department operates independently. Trump has frequently pressured the agency to do his bidding.

“I’m not going to be telling them what they have to do and don’t have to do,” Biden said.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris said any decisions coming out of the Biden administration’s DOJ “should be based on facts, it should be based on the law. It should not be influenced by politics, period.”

Biden added: “I guarantee you that’s how it will be run.”

Biden said he is keeping Dr Anthony Fauci on as a chief medical adviser and a member of his Covid-19 advisory team.

He said he spoke with Fauci earlier in the day about the need to instil confidence in any coronavirus vaccine and the fact that “you don’t have to close down the economy” to combat the virus.

Biden added he’d be “happy” to get a vaccine in public to prove its safety.

The president-elect also said he would ask the public to wear masks for 100 days to help drive down the spread of the virus, which has killed more than 275,000 Americans.

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