Biden launches coronavirus task force: Live news

  • US President-elect Joe Biden on Monday launched a coronavirus task force, his first move as he begins his transition into the White House.
  • President Donald Trump, who has yet to concede defeat, faces increasing pressure to assure a smooth transition.
  • Trump’s legal team is set to launch several more long-shot legal challenges to results in several key states on Monday.
  • States across the country are rushing to finalise their vote counts to certify their official results, with some election officials in close states reportedly receiving threats.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the US elections. This is Joseph Stepansky.

Trump plans to hold campaign-style rallies in support of litigation

Trump plans to hold campaign-style rallies in support of a raft of litigation his allies have launched, or are set to launch, to challenge election results in states across the country, according to Axios.

Trump and his allies have pushed unfounded allegations of voter fraud. They have launched several lawsuits, including many that have already been rejected by judges.

Trump plans to brandish obituaries of people who allegedly voted after they died, according to the news site. Trump’s campaign is also sending teams across the country to oversee the raft of recounts it plans to request, Axios reported.


Biden launches coronavirus task force

President-elect Joe Biden has announced the members of his coronavirus task force, which will put together a blueprint for fighting the pandemic.

The co-chairs are former Surgeon General Dr Vivek Murthy, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr David Kessler and Dr Marcella Nunez-Smith, a Yale University professor and researcher.

Notable among the task force members is Rick Bright, a vaccine expert and former head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. Bright filed a whistle-blower complaint alleging he was reassigned to a lesser job because he resisted political pressure to allow widespread use of hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug pushed by Trump as a COVID-19 treatment.

Other members include Luciana Borio, a biodefence specialist, Dr Ezekiel Emanuel, an oncologist and bioethics chair at the National Institutes of Health, Dr Atul Gawande, a Clinton administration health adviser and surgery expert, Dr Celine Gounder, an infectious disease expert who has studied HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, Dr Julie Morita, a paediatric and immunisation specialist, Dr Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert and epidemiologist; Loyce Pace, a global health specialist, Dr Robert Rodriguez, an emergency medicine expert who has researched mental health of COVID-19 responders, and Dr Eric Goosby, an infectious disease expert who has worked in AIDS/HIV.

Germany to stand ‘side by side’ with US on global problems: Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has welcomed Joe Biden’s US presidential win [File: Tobias Schwarz/Reuters]

Germany will “stand together” with the US to overcome global challenges from the coronavirus pandemic to global warming, Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

In a statement that was markedly warm compared with her remarks four years ago when Donald Trump took the White House, Merkel underlined the “friendship of both countries that has stood the test of time”.

She pointed to President-elect Joe Biden’s “decades of experience in foreign policy” and recalls “good encounters and talks with him”.

Merkel also said Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris – “as the first woman in this office and as a child of two immigrants” -was an “inspiration” for many.

Trump faces calls to work with Biden team on transition

President Donald Trump is facing pressure to cooperate with President-elect Joe Biden’s team to ensure a smooth transfer of power when the new administration takes office in January.

The General Services Administration is tasked with formally recognising Biden as president-elect, which begins the transition. But the agency’s Trump-appointed administrator, Emily Murphy, has not started the process and has given no guidance on when she will do so.

The advisory board of the nonpartisan Center for Presidential Transition also urged the Trump administration to “immediately begin the post-election transition process and the Biden team to take full advantage of the resources available under the Presidential Transition Act.”

Estonian minister resigns over Biden ‘dirtbag’ remarks

Estonia’s far-right Interior Minister Mart Helme resigned after his comments about the US election calling Joe Biden a “dirtbag” sparked outrage from government colleagues.

Mart Helme said the “deep state” had helped Biden win and called him a “corrupt dirtbag” on his Sunday radio show, without giving any evidence for his assertions.

Helme told reporters he was stepping down to preserve the governing coalition but added: “You can’t muzzle me, no one can muzzle me.”

Germany has ‘great expectations’ from Biden

Germany’s economy minister said there were “great expectations” that there would be “a return to multilateral approaches to international trade” after Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump to become the 46th president of the United States.

“We want to return to an active transatlantic trade agenda as soon as possible, and gradually,” said Peter Altmaier.

Putin awaiting official US result to congratulate winner: Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin is waiting for official results from the US presidential election before congratulating a winner, the Kremlin said.

“We consider it correct to wait for the official results to be finalised. I want to remind you that President Putin repeatedly said he will respect the choice of the American people,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Peskov added that Putin had repeatedly said he was ready to work with any US leader and that Russia hoped it could establish dialogue with the new US administration to find a way to normalise relations.

China declines to formally recognise Biden victory yet

Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi  [File: China Daily via Reuters]

China joins Russia, Brazil and Mexico in declining to recognise Joe Biden’s victory in the US presidential election.

“I noticed that Mr Biden has declared victory of the election. We understand that the presidential election result will be determined following the US laws and procedures,” said Wang Wenbin, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, at a regular press briefing in Beijing.

After declining to acknowledge Biden’s victory despite repeated questions from reporters, Wang said: “We hope the new US government can meet China halfway.”

Mexico foreign minister says ‘huge potential’ for US ties

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard speaks during a news conference at the Embassy of Mexico in Washington, DC [File: Susan Walsh/AP Photo]

Mexico’s foreign minister said there was “huge potential” for US ties, a day after the Mexican leader said it was too soon to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden.

“From what I heard from Joe Biden’s speech, it is clear that there is going to be a cooperation policy at a global level and with Mexico,” Marcelo Ebrard told El Universo newspaper.

“What we see coming is a step with a huge potential,” he added.

President Lopez Obrador has managed to maintain cordial relations with Trump – visiting him in July – despite the US leader’s remarks when he branded Mexican migrants “rapists” and drug dealers during his 2016 election campaign.

Equities rally after Biden is declared winner of US vote

Stocks, oil and high-yielding currencies rallied on Monday after Joe Biden was declared the winner of the US election, as traders are hoping lawmakers will now focus on passing a new stimulus for the world’s biggest economy.

Observers said the focus will now be on Biden’s economic and foreign policy approach, with optimism for a less tumultuous leadership following four years of the bombastic real estate tycoon Donald Trump.

“Mr Biden is perceived in Asia as being likely to re-engage in international trade, a positive for Asia,” said OANDA’s Jeffrey Halley.

Traders are now looking to Capitol Hill hoping for a fresh rescue package for the economy after lawmakers failed to hammer out anything despite months of haggling, though any new plan will not likely be as big as what would be expected from a Democrat-led Congress.

Trump’s election night party adds to virus scrutiny

The Trump campaign’s election night watch party in the White House East Room has become another symbol of President Donald Trump’s cavalier attitude towards a virus that is ripping across the nation and infecting more than 100,000 people a day.

The White House has been increasingly secretive about outbreaks. Many White House and campaign officials, as well as those who attended the election watch party, were kept in the dark about the diagnoses, unaware until they were disclosed by the press.

“The administration was cavalier about the risks of the virus for themselves and for the country. And that’s one reason why we have so many cases,” said Dr Joshua Sharfstein, a public health professor at Johns Hopkins University’s school of public health.

Reports: Trump’s inner circle urges him to move on

Donald Trump’s inner circle is divided over his refutation of the results showing Joe Biden won the 2020 election, with his wife Melania and son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner reportedly urging him to concede and move on.

Kushner has approached him to concede, two sources told CNN. The first lady, according to another source, has told Trump it is time to accept the election defeat.

However, after the report emerged, Melania Trump later tweeted: “The American people deserve fair elections. Every legal – not illegal – vote should be counted. We must protect our democracy with complete transparency.”

‘Abolish the electoral college’, says Bernie Sanders

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