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Trump Refuses To Concede, Biden Transition Team Forges Ahead

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

President Trump addressed the coronavirus crisis, yesterday, in the Rose Garden. It was the first time he's spoken publicly since Joe Biden was declared the winner. Trump said that a COVID-19 vaccine would be ready, quote, "very soon," unquote. And he vowed that he would not order a widespread lockdown. And at one point, he seemed to come close to acknowledging the fact that there will be a new administration come January.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: This administration will not be going to a lockdown. Hopefully, the - whatever happens in the future, who knows which administration will be? I guess time will tell. But I can tell you this administration will not go to a lockdown.

MARTIN: But the president, who did not take questions at this press conference, has yet to concede or provide access to Biden's transition team. For more on this, we're joined now by NPR senior political editor and correspondent Domenico Montanaro. Domenico, welcome back.

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Hey, there, Michel.

MARTIN: So the president - President Trump still refuses to concede. Where do his legal efforts to challenge the election results stand?

MONTANARO: Not - they're not going very well. You can hear him there, also, by the way, start to sort of sound like he seems like he's on the path to acceptance but clearly not conceded at this point. Legally, they had some real hang-ups in Michigan, Pennsylvania, where he had lawsuits that were essentially rejected by judges. And in Arizona, the campaign itself dropped one of its lawsuits, acknowledging that there wasn't enough - there wouldn't be enough ability to overturn votes there, that Biden's lead was just too big, you know?

This is just not Florida 2000. That was 537 votes. Here, we're talking about tens of thousands of votes across several different states. And Joe Biden is president-elect, and it's taking President Trump a little while. But, you know, there are 67 days left in his presidency.

MARTIN: So - but are we seeing any cracks in terms of Republican support for what the president is doing?

MONTANARO: You know, it depends on which Republicans, right? I mean, we're seeing some of the kind of usual suspects who are coming around, you know, people like Ben Sasse and Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski, you know, saying, OK, you know, Biden is president-elect. You had James Lankford from Oklahoma saying that one of these two will be president. So Biden should be getting access to intelligence, you know? You have former Bush officials coming out to say that there's a potential national security threat in not allowing Joe Biden the opportunity to see the intelligence here. But, you know, look. Biden himself says, look, I'm not president. I've been there before. Eventually, we'll get there. There are some who are concerned about the potential risk of not having all the information.

MARTIN: Tell me more about that, though. Has the president's refusal to concede or to cooperate, really - conceding is one thing. It's a speech. But to cooperate with the transition, to release office space, to release funds, to open up lines of communication. What has that meant for President-elect Biden and his team? Is there something they've been unable to do?

MONTANARO: There's only been minimal contact, you know? They've - there is some contact with some of the agencies, but they're not getting, obviously, the full resources and funding to be able to do that, the almost $10 million that the government would provide. They're not getting, you know, their landing teams, essentially, into these agencies to have full hand-in-glove cooperation, which is something that, by the way, the 9/11 Commission had said specifically about transitions, that it's important to have, you know, that kind of transition that's smooth so that there aren't any kind of hiccups.

MARTIN: OK.

MONTANARO: Because they said, in 2000, given that it was so drawn out that there was potentially the problem that there - something was missed.

MARTIN: OK. As briefly as you can, what about President-elect Biden? What's his focus? What's been the focus of his team?

MONTANARO: Look. You know, Joe Biden is trying to keep things calm. He's saying, look, I've been vice president. I know how to do this job. He will be president. The team has filled out a lengthy list of policy experts who are going to be part of these agencies. And they have a full team ready to go, essentially a shadow administration that is gearing itself up.

MARTIN: That is NPR senior political editor and correspondent Domenico Montanaro. Domenico, always a pleasure to have you here.

MONTANARO: Thanks for having me, Michel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.