Biden presses ahead with transition, names chief of staff

Washington, Nov 12 (AFP/APP):US President-elect Joe Biden pressed ahead with his transition Wednesday despite Donald Trump’s refusal to acknowledge defeat, naming a seasoned Democratic operative as chief of staff in his first public White House personnel choice.

Biden tapped longtime aide Ron Klain, who previously served as his first chief of staff while vice president, acknowledging the two had a long road ahead in fighting the coronavirus pandemic as well as healing a deeply divided nation.

“His deep, varied experience and capacity to work with people all across the political spectrum is precisely what I need in a White House chief of staff as we confront this moment of crisis and bring our country together again,” Biden said.

He made the announcement after visiting the Korean War Memorial in Philadelphia earlier in the day for a solemn wreath-laying ceremony to mark Veterans Day in the US.

President Trump attended a separate, simultaneous ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington, in what should have been a moment of national unity but instead highlighted the Republican’s refusal to acknowledge election defeat.

The president made no public remarks during the somber wreath-laying ceremony, his first official appearance since the November 3 vote.

Since media called the race four days ago Trump has not addressed the nation other than via Twitter and a written statement released to mark Veterans Day, and has not conceded to Biden, as is traditional once a winner is projected in a US vote.

With Covid-19 cases shattering records across the country and states imposing new restrictions in a push to contain the virus before winter arrives, Trump seems to have all but shelved normal presidential duties.

Instead, he has remained shut up inside the presidential mansion, claiming that he is about to win and filing lawsuits alleging voter fraud that so far have been backed up by only the flimsiest evidence.

Early Wednesday he was tweeting fresh evidence-free claims of election wins and ballot tampering, despite the consensus from international observers, world leaders, local election officials and US media that the vote was free and fair.

Some Republicans were adding their voices to growing calls for the president to concede, with experts warning his refusal to do so was undermining the democratic process and holding up the transition to Biden, who takes office in January.

Among them was the Republican secretary of state for Montana, Corey Stapleton, who heralded the “incredible things” Trump accomplished in office.

“But that time is now over. Tip your hat, bite your lip, and congratulate @JoeBiden,” he tweeted.

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