Biden to launch COVID-19 task force, Trump plans rallies to protest election

ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP

Democrat Joe Biden began preparing on Sunday to deal with the health crisis that will confront him as president, while Donald Trump planned campaign-style rallies to contest the election.

One day after Biden clinched enough states to win the presidency, Trump gave no sign of conceding and many of his Republican allies in Congress likewise did not acknowledge Biden's victory in last Tuesday's election.

Instead, Trump will hold a series of rallies to build support for the legal fights challenging the outcome, campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh confirmed on Sunday.

Trump also announced teams to pursue recounts in several states and will seek to back up his unfounded accusations of voting fraud by highlighting obituaries of dead people the campaign said voted in the election.

Murtaugh did not say when the rallies, a signature of Trump's campaign, would resume.

State election officials say there were no significant irregularities in the vote, and Trump's campaign has yet to produce any evidence of illegal activity.

Biden had more than 4.1 million votes than Trump nationwide, and the former vice president could end up with more than 300 Electoral College votes, well above the 270 needed to secure the presidency.

After delivering a message of unity and conciliation in a speech in his home state of Delaware on Saturday, Biden's team was making plans to tackle the health and economic crises that will await him when he takes office on January 20.

Deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said he would launch a coronavirus task force on Monday, led by former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler.

More than 237,000 Americans have died of COVID-19, and coronavirus cases have spiked to record numbers in recent days. Some 10 million Americans thrown out of work during coronavirus lockdowns remain idled and federal relief programs have expired.

Bedingfield said Biden would "address a mandate to bring the country together - to unify, to lower the temperature, to set aside the harsh rhetoric of the campaign and get to the hard work of governing."

Meanwhile, Biden and his advisers will also move forward with the work of choosing officials to serve in his administration.

Two former senior US intelligence officials - Michael Morell and Avril Haines - have emerged as leading contenders to serve as director of national intelligence or run the CIA under Biden, several current and former intelligence officials said.

A nonpartisan good-governance group called for the Trump administration to cooperate in the transition from one president to another, a hallmark of American democracy since the 18th century.

"History is replete with examples of presidents who emerged from such campaigns to graciously assist their successors," the Partnership for Public Service's Center for Presidential Transition said.

Trump is the first US president to lose a re-election bid in 28 years. Wearing his trademark red "Make America Great Again" baseball cap, he golfed at his course in Sterling, Virginia, for the second day in a row.

"Since when does the Lamestream Media call who our next president will be?" Trump wrote on Twitter after golfing.

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