WASHINGTON – Joseph R. Biden Jr. ran for president insisting that President Trump was an “aberration” that did not reflect the character or opinions of the American people.
And in his first week as president-elect, Mr. Biden’s remarks and activities suggest an effort to further fire Mr. Trump: this time, as a nuisance.
By refusing to concede, Mr. Trump has stoked fear and anxiety in many Americans, and he has clearly slowed down critical transition processes, much to the concern of Biden’s team. Yet publicly, Biden and his associates seek to project stability. They’ve ignored Mr. Trump’s tweets, they’re building up a staff in the White House, and they’re working to show how to get away from four years of presidential uproar – and how Mr. Biden is likely to behave once. that he’ll be in the White House.
“He’s not going to put his panties in a twist around Donald Trump’s bad manners,” said former Senator Carol Moseley Braun, Democrat from Illinois, who served in the Senate with Mr. Biden. “He knows he will be president on January 20.”
Still, she admitted, “I know he wants to start the transition. He would like to have the support of the administration to do this. But it is moving forward on the basis of its own resources.
Mr Biden, who spent much of the week working in the Wilmington, Del. Area, held calls with Pope Francis and the leaders of many of the nation’s closest allies, taking the first steps towards its goal of restoring the country’s position in the world. step following a campaign in which he highlighted his relationships with world leaders.
After spending months insisting on the need to keep up with the science, he appointed a panel of experts to advise him on the coronavirus pandemic, and on Friday he issued a statement calling for “urgent action” as the virus cases continue to increase.
And he appointed Ron Klain, a Washington veteran who served as the Ebola czar in the Obama White House, as his chief of staff, a choice that has been welcomed across the ideological spectrum within the Democratic Party.
These steps, to prepare to govern and fight the pandemic that has shaken American society, followed the conventions and took place without drama. Mr. Biden has decades of experience in Washington to draw upon, and his first steps after winning the presidency demonstrated familiarity with how one administration typically passes the torch to another.
“This is a reflection of the president-elect’s desire to project stability at a time of great instability,” said former Governor Tom Vilsack of Iowa, one of Biden’s early supporters.
What was not typical – far from it – was the reaction of Mr. Trump, who continued to refuse to concede and to make false statements about voter fraud. But Mr Biden insisted and passed up the opportunity for an aggressive confrontation, treating the President of the United States as if he was a rowdy screaming from the bleachers who would eventually tire out and go home.
This week, Bob Bauer, Biden’s campaign adviser and former White House lawyer, called Mr. Trump’s legal challenges related to the election “noise,” while Mr. Biden’s sister and close political adviser, Valerie Biden Owens, downplayed the importance of any post-election. comment offered by the president.
The presidential transition
Mr Biden himself suggested that Mr Trump’s refusal to concede was more of a blemish on the president’s name for the history books than an impending obstacle for Biden’s transition, telling reporters on Tuesday: “How can I say this tactfully? I think it won’t help the president’s legacy.
When asked how he plans to work with Republicans if they don’t even recognize him as president-elect, Mr. Biden responded with a smile: “They will. They go. “
Not everyone is so convinced that Republicans will engage – or that Mr. Biden should even prioritize trying to work with them.
“Biden’s path to victory in his administration will be to come up with bold plans to fight Covid, the economy, climate change and racial injustice,” said Garrett Blad, spokesperson for the Sunrise Movement, an organization progressive led by young people. focused on the climate and sought to shape Mr Biden’s appointments. “Working with the GOP elite who right now are trying to undermine our democracy, we don’t think that’s a good way forward.”
Mr. Biden’s advisers and allies also admitted that they were in fact troubled by the possible ramifications of the Trump administration’s refusal to give Mr. Biden and his transition team access to federal agencies as well as intelligence briefings.
The head of the General Service Administration has not officially recognized Mr Biden as the winner of the election, allowing for the transfer of powers between administrations.
As time goes on, that denial becomes more problematic, say Biden associates. But even so, they show little eagerness to turn up the heat or fight a legal battle.
“We’re not interested in a food fight with the GSA administrator or anyone, really,” Jen Psaki, a transition counselor for Biden, said on Friday. “We just want to have access to intelligence information, threat assessments, ongoing work on Covid, so that we can prepare to govern.”
In the meantime, Mr. Biden was taking a break – or something like a break. He drove to his vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Del on Thursday. “He certainly won a few days off,” Ms. Psaki said.
Thomas Kaplan reported from Washington and Katie Glueck from New York.