WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden said Thursday that nothing is off the table when it comes to his transition team’s access to critical data on the coronavirus and national security that is currently being blocked by the Trump administration’s General Services Administration.
The GSA has so far refused to certify that Biden is the winner of the November election, which would free up millions of dollars in funding and access to government resources. Despite his apparent victory by substantial margins, Biden and his team have been unable to meet with incumbent administration officials and discuss classified information that would aid several incoming priorities, most pressingly the distribution of a coronavirus vaccine.
Over 250,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
“There is no excuse not to share the data and let us begin to plan,” said Biden to a crowd of reporters in Wilmington, Del. “Because on day one it is going to take us time. If we don’t have access to all this data, it is going to put us behind the eight ball by a matter of a month or more. And that’s lives. How many would be lost as a consequence? I can’t tell you.”
While Biden has put together a sizable legal team, he has yet to formally sue the Trump administration. President Trump and his allies still maintain without evidence that Democrats stole the election via mass voter fraud. Biden repeated on Thursday that he remains open to legal measures, though he finds litigation to be the less productive of his options.
“We haven’t ruled it out,” he said.
Biden said he would prefer to hash things out with Republicans, who have admittedly been publicly silent.
“It’s not going to speed it up considerably, in my view,” he said of potential legal action. “Meantime, I am hopeful that I am going to be able to get cooperation from our Republican colleagues in the Senate, the House, as well as the governors, to build a consensus.”
To date, Trump has refused to concede the election, and has acknowledged Biden’s win only once, briefly, via tweet, and quickly followed up that message with another saying the win was merely in the eyes of the “fake news media.” Trump’s team continues to contest the results in court, with limited success and dwindling options.
In the meantime, world leaders have congratulated Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their win.
When asked about Trump’s continued efforts to dig in his heels, Biden said the president is sending “an incredibly damaging message” to other countries and will “go down in history as being one of the most irresponsible presidents in American history.”
Biden also remarked on some of his upcoming Cabinet picks, indicating that he has already chosen a treasury secretary. That decision will be announced, he said, close to the Thanksgiving holiday.
Biden’s speech Thursday came after a virtual bipartisan meeting with governors. The group discussed the implementation and distribution of a free coronavirus vaccine, a national mask mandate, a widespread public education campaign, increasing the flow of personal protective equipment and the logistical pitfalls that surround mitigation efforts. Biden rejected the notion that he would advocate for a nationwide lockdown, as feared by his critics.
“I am not going to shut down the economy, period. I’m going to shut down the virus,” he said. “I’ll say it again: no national shutdown.”
Read more from Yahoo News: