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US election: Biden’s interior circle ‘in line’ for key posts

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  • US election 2020

US President-elect Joe Biden speaks to reporters following an online meeting with members of the National Governors Association (NGA) executive committee in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., November 19, 2020.

image copyrightReuters

image captionJoe Biden is projected to beat Donald Trump by 306 votes to 232

Close associates of US President-elect Joe Biden are expected to be elevated to key positions in his administration.

Mr Biden looks set to nominate long-time aide Antony Blinken as secretary of state – the most important foreign policy position.

He will announce his first cabinet picks on Tuesday, even as Donald Trump continues to refuse to concede.

Mr Trump is continuing to challenge the result of the vote, as calls grow for him to accept defeat.

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Mr Biden is projected to beat President Trump by 306 votes to 232 when the US electoral college meets to formally confirm the winner on 14 December. This is far above the 270 votes he needs.

What do we know about Biden’s picks for top jobs?

Mr Biden’s team has not confirmed which cabinet posts are going to be announced on Tuesday.

His senior adviser Symone Sanders told CBS’s Face the Nation: “I can’t tell you right now how many or who but I can tell you that the president-elect is starting to put together his cabinet and the American people will see the first glimpse of that on Tuesday.”

It has been widely reported that Mr Blinken will be nominated as secretary of state. The 58-year-old is a long-time adviser to the president-elect. He was deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration, in which Mr Biden was vice-president. He is expected to carry out a Biden foreign policy agenda that will emphasise re-engaging with Western allies.

Sources told BBC partner CBS News that Mr Biden is set to name Jake Sullivan – formerly a top aide to Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama and Mr Biden – as White House national security adviser.

image copyrightGetty Images/Reuters
image captionJake Sullivan, Linda Thomas-Greenfield and Antony Blinken are all tipped for positions

Mr Sullivan served as Mr Biden’s national security adviser during Mr Obama’s second term.

Long-time diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield is expected to be nominated as US ambassador to the UN. She also served under President Obama, including as assistant secretary of state for African affairs between 2013 and 2017.

The secretary of state and the UN ambassador positions must be approved by the US Senate, while national security adviser is appointed by the president.

Mr Biden said on Thursday that he had already chosen his treasury secretary, and that it was someone who would “be accepted by all elements of the Democratic Party”.

What about the calls for Trump to concede?

President Trump is continuing to refuse to concede the election. He has made repeated allegations of widespread electoral fraud, without providing any evidence.

He has been pursuing legal challenges in several states in a bid to overturn his loss to Mr Biden, but calls are growing for him to accept defeat.

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a prominent Trump ally, called the president’s legal team a “national embarrassment”.

“I have been a supporter of the president’s. I voted for him twice. But elections have consequences, and we cannot continue to act as if something happened here that didn’t happen,” he told ABC’s This Week programme on Sunday.

High-profile Trump supporter Stephen Schwarzman, the CEO of investment company Blackstone, also said it was time for Mr Trump to accept he lost.

“Like many in the business community, I am ready to help President-elect Biden and his team as they confront the significant challenges of rebuilding our post-Covid economy,” he said in a statement reported by US media.

media captionHow to move on after the US election

Maryland’s Republican Governor Larry Hogan told CNN on Sunday that the Trump camp’s continued efforts to overturn the election results were “beginning to look like we’re a banana republic”.

Some Republican lawmakers have also moved to acknowledge Mr Trump’s defeat in the election.

Michigan Representative Fred Upton told CNN the voters in his battleground state “spoke” by choosing Mr Biden, while North Dakota Senator Kevin Cramer said in an interview to NBC it was “past time to start a transition”, although he stopped short of accepting Mr Biden’s victory.

On Twitter on Sunday, Carl Bernstein, one of the reporters who exposed the Watergate scandal that ended Richard Nixon’s presidency, named 21 Republican senators who he said had “privately expressed their disdain for Trump”.

He said their “public silence has helped enable Trump’s most grievous conduct – including undermining and discrediting the US” and the electoral system.

What’s the latest with the challenges?

The Trump campaign has lost a slew of lawsuits contesting results from the election, and its latest efforts focus on stopping the swing states that handed Mr Biden his win certifying the results – an essential step for the Democrat to be formally declared victor.

The president’s latest legal setback came on Saturday when a judge dismissed his attempt to have millions of postal votes in Pennsylvania invalidated.

In a scathing ruling, Judge Matthew Brann said his court had been presented with “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations”.

The move paves the way for Pennsylvania to certify Mr Biden’s win on Monday. However, the Trump campaign is appealing against the ruling.

Also on Saturday, the Trump campaign called for another recount in Georgia, a day after a by-hand recount confirmed Mr Biden’s win in the state.

In Michigan, Republican officials wrote to the state’s electoral board to request a two-week delay in certifying the results.

But the Michigan Department of State said delays and audits were not permitted by law.

In Wisconsin, election officials have accused Trump supporters of obstructing the state’s recount of votes. They said observers for Mr Trump were in some cases challenging every single ballot to deliberately slow down proceedings.

If the recount is not concluded by 1 December – the deadline for Wisconsin to certify its votes – the way is open for the Trump camp to pursue a lawsuit.

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