Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday expressed concerns over President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team hitting major snags amid President Trump’s refusal to officially concede the election as COVID-19 cases surge nationwide.
Although Trump appeared to acknowledge that “Biden won” in a Sunday morning tweet, the sitting POTUS also seemed to demand a refund over his news-making tweet as he continued spewing unfounded claims that the election was “rigged” against him. In a subsequent tweet, Trump denied that he had conceded the election.
As a result of Trump’s refusal to concede, Biden’s transition efforts have hit a major snag. Trump-appointee General Services Administration chief Emily Murphy, who has the sole authority on whether Biden’s transition can officially move forward, has yet to sign off on an “ascertainment” that the President-elect won. The “ascertainment” acknowledging that Biden has won the presidency would allow his transition team to contact federal agencies or access the millions of dollars set aside for it.
Although Biden’s coronavirus team has contacted states and the medical community prior to the President-elect’s inauguration in January, the transition team cannot access data from the Trump administration regarding COVID-19, vaccine distribution plans as well as intelligence briefings.
When asked about the dangers of a delayed transition of power from a public health standpoint, Fauci stressed the importance of a smooth transition process amid surging COVID-19 cases nationwide.
After citing his experience in serving six presidents for 36 years, Fauci described how a smooth transition is like “passing a baton in a race.”
“It’s very clear that that transition process that we go through, that time period of measured in several weeks to months, is really important in a smooth handing over of the information, as well as — it’s almost like passing a baton in a race — you don’t want to stop and then give it to somebody” Fauci said. “You want to just essentially keep going. And that is what transition is. So, it certainly would make things more smoothly if we could do that.”
Pressed on whether it’d a good idea for public health experts to be able to work with Biden’s transition team right now in terms of what is best for the public’s health, Fauci replied “of course.”
“That is obvious,” Fauci said. “Of course it would be better if we could start working with them.”
When asked about the last time Trump attended a White House coronavirus task force meeting, Fauci said “it was months ago.”
“But when we have our task force meeting, it’s run, as you know, by Vice President Pence. And the vice president then translates that the president himself,” Fauci said. “But the last time the president was physically at a task force meeting was several months ago.”
On Friday, the country hit a record of 184,000 new COVID-19 cases as more than 240,000 Americans have died during the pandemic thus far.
Watch Fauci’s remarks below:
Dr. Anthony Fauci says “it’s almost like passing a baton in a race” with regards to a transition to a Biden-Harris team on public health issues.
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) November 15, 2020