Presumptive President-elect Joseph R. Biden said Tuesday that President Trump’s refusal to concede the 2020 election is an “embarrassment” but that it doesn’t have much practical effect on the transition planning that’s going on right now.
“I just think it’s an embarrassment, quite frankly,” Mr. Biden told reporters in Delaware. “I think it will not help the president’s legacy.”
Multiple news networks called the race for Mr. Biden late Saturday morning after projecting that he would carry Pennsylvania and win the commonwealth’s 20 Electoral College votes, pushing him above the 270 needed to win.
Mr. Trump has vowed to fight the results in court, and his team has taken or threatened legal action in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona and Michigan.
Mr. Biden also said the impasse isn’t impeding his team’s transition plans.
“We are already beginning the transition — we’re well underway,” he said.
He said there’s one president at a time but that a lack of transition-related funding isn’t going to slow his team down.
“I don’t see a need for legal action, quite frankly,” the former vice president said.
The General Services Administration has declined to formally acknowledge Mr. Biden as the “apparent” winner of the 2020 election, which would unlock additional federal funding and resources for the transition.
Mr. Biden’s transition team moved forward on Tuesday by naming “agency review teams” tasked with evaluating the operations of various federal agencies.
The transition indicated that the teams would work directly with federal staff once the GSA determines that Mr. Biden is the apparent winner.
Senate Republicans have also pushed back on concerns that the next administration will be hindered by the GSA’s hesitation to acknowledge a victor.
“I think we ought to quit all the hand-wringing and not act like this is extraordinary,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters. “We’re going to get through this period, and we will swear in the winner on January the 20th 2021, just like we have every four years since 1793.”
Senate Rules Committee Chairman Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, said former President George W. Bush didn’t get any funding from the GSA after the contested 2000 election until December.
“There’s nothing that stops a transition effort from doing everything they need to do,” said Mr. Blunt, who is helping to make plans for the inauguration. “If Joe Biden doesn’t know what he’s doing now in a way that lets him move forward with the transition, he would never know what he’s doing.”
Mr. Biden’s comments about the transition itself are a huge contrast to many Democrats who say Mr. Trump and the GSA are intentionally trying to sabotage his administration from the start.
Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., New Jersey Democrat, said Monday that the GSA needs to “stop being an accomplice to Trump’s attempted hijacking of democracy and recognize President-elect Biden.”