Biden could name top staff as Trump tries to block transition

Biden could name top staff as Trump tries to block transition

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WILMINGTON, Del./WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President-elect Joe Biden will focus on shaping his core White House team on Tuesday while outgoing President Donald Trump presses on with his increasingly tenuous legal fight to reverse his loss in the U.S. election.

Biden s senior campaign staff have been discussing their roles in the transition and the new administration that takes over Jan. 20. Several roles could be announced as soon as Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the matter.

U.S. Representative Cedric Richmond, who was a national co-chair of Biden s campaign and former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, is expected to join the administration in a senior capacity, as is Steve Ricchetti, who has long been a close adviser to Biden, the person said. Richmond s move would leave his Louisiana congressional seat open.

Jen O Malley Dillon, who was brought in early this year as Biden s campaign manager and is the first woman to lead a winning Democratic presidential bid, is expected to be named a deputy chief of staff.

Other roles could also be disclosed this week though Biden could still be weeks away from finalizing his slate of cabinet appointees.

None of the potential appointees could be reached for comment. A spokesman for Biden s transition team declined to comment.

Biden, a Democrat, is also set to receive a briefing on national security threats from his own advisers. Trump, a Republican who has not conceded the Nov. 3 election, has blocked him from receiving classified intelligence briefings usually provided to the successor in a transition.

General Services Administrator Emily Murphy has not recognized Biden as the “apparent winner.” A spokeswoman for Murphy said the administrator was following precedent and would “make an ascertainment when the winner is clear.” Critics say Murphy is holding off under pressure from the White House, a claim rejected by administration officials.

The Republican Trump has remained angry and defiant on social media even as some prominent Republicans have asserted that Biden should be considered the president-elect.

Trump s national security adviser, Robert O Brien, said on Monday he would ensure a professional transition in the likely event that Biden is deemed the winner.

“If the Biden-Harris ticket is determined to be the winner, and obviously things look like that now, we ll have a very professional transition from the National Security Council,” O Brien told the Global Security Forum.

At a news conference on Monday, Biden again called upon Trump to cooperate with the transfer of power, saying that the resurgent COVID-19 pandemic meant lives were in the balance. “More people may die if we don t coordinate,” he said.

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