WILMINGTON, Del. – On a day of grace and complaint, President-elect Joe Biden urged Americans to join forces against the coronavirus pandemic and its political divisions, while the man he will replace fueled the fading embers of his campaign, “the to turn choice over. “
In a Thanksgiving address to the nation, Biden put the growing pandemic at the center and vowed to unlock the “vast powers” of the federal government and change the “disease course” once he is in office. But for this to work, Americans must work for their own safety and that of their fellow citizens.
“I know the country has grown tired of fighting,” said Biden on Wednesday. “We need to remember that we are at war with the virus, not with each other. Not with each other. “
President Donald Trump, who has barely mentioned the pandemic in recent days despite reaching record highs, remained fixated on his election defeat.
He sent attorney Rudy Giuliani and other members of his legal team to meet with Senators from the Republic of Pennsylvania in Gettysburg. At a hotel near the sacred battlefields of the Civil War, they re-broadcasted complaints about the elections and repeated allegations of democratic misconduct that had already been resolved under judicial review.
“We have to turn the election,” said Trump from the Oval Office, where he attended the meeting via speakerphone.
“This was an election we won easily,” he said. “We won a lot.” In fact, the election gave Biden a clear mandate and no systemic fraud was exposed. Judge by judge has dismissed the Trump campaign allegations as unfounded, and the transition to Biden’s presidency is well underway.
Even so, Trump repeated: “This election must be reversed.”
Trump was expected to appear in Gettysburg in person, but not after another member of his legal team tested positive for the coronavirus. Few at the meeting wore masks.
Overall, the forum heard and cheered another statement from a US president who wanted to undo a democratic election and the will of the electorate because he wanted to stay in power. The setting was about a mile from the scene of Pickett’s indictment, where Union forces fought off a desperate Confederate attack in July 1863 and helped turn the tide of the Civil War.
The president subsequently pardoned former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, the second Trump employee convicted in the Russia investigation, for mercy from Trump.
The pardon was part of a broader effort to undo the results of an investigation that has shadowed Trump’s administration for years and filed criminal charges against half a dozen employees. The pardon invalidated Flynn’s criminal case when a federal judge ruled whether to allow a Justice Department motion to dismiss the charges despite Flynn guilty of lying to the FBI about his Russia contacts.
For his part, Biden has largely projected serenity as the necessary elements of a change of president – money, access to office space, and more – were held in check for nearly three weeks by Trump’s machinations and a belated determination by the General Services Administration that he had won the election . On Wednesday, he only marginally addressed Trump’s raw tactics.
“Our democracy was put to the test this year,” said Biden, “but the people of this nation are up to the task.”
“In America we have full, fair and free elections, and then we honor the results,” he said. “The people of this nation and the laws of the country will stand for nothing else.”
And he offered an optimistic vision, telling Americans to “dream again” and predicting that “the 21st century will be an American century”.
Biden pledged more virus testing, more protective gear, and clearer guidelines for businesses and schools to reopen when he becomes president. Until the vaccines are distributed, masks, social distancing and the limitation of the size of the gathering are “our most effective tools to fight the virus”.
Biden’s remarks came as COVID-19 cases increased across the country. Hospital stays, deaths, and the test positive rate also rose sharply as the nation headed towards Thanksgiving, and public health experts have warned that the large family gatherings expected for the vacation are likely to prolong and exacerbate the surge.
He has formed a coronavirus advisory board composed of scientists, doctors and public health experts and plans to set up a COVID-19 coordinator at the White House to lead his government’s response.
This week, however, Biden focused beyond the troubled states and unveiled his national security team on Tuesday, including his candidates for Secretary of State, Director of National Intelligence and the US Ambassador to the United Nations. Biden drew implicit contrasts with Trump, saying the team “reflects the fact that America is back, ready to lead the world, and not withdrawing from it.” He is expected to appoint Janet Yellen as Treasury Secretary in the coming weeks.
When urging Americans to be vigilant about their Thanksgiving plans, Biden said Wednesday that he had taken his own precautions, failed to gather his traditional large family and instead only spent the holidays with his wife, daughter and son-in-law.
He and his wife Jill travel to Rehoboth Beach, the small town on Delaware Beach, where the two of them have a vacation home. There they will host their family for Thanksgiving dinner. Biden is expected to spend the weekend in Rehoboth before returning to Wilmington to do more work on the transition.
Trump will forego his usual plans to celebrate Thanksgiving at his private club in Florida and stay at the White House instead.
Colvin reported from Washington. Associate press writer Mark Scolforo of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania contributed to this report.
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