Joe Biden on Wednesday will meet with American workers and business owners hit by COVID-19 as he prepares to confront the pandemic that has taken a heavy human and economic toll when he takes office next month.

The Democrat is urging Congress to resolve a months-long standoff over coronavirus aid and has promised to act quickly to provide more resources to fight a health crisis that has killed more than 268,000 Americans so far.

Biden has selected many of his top national-security and economic advisers, though it unclear how many will win confirmation in a closely divided U.S. Senate, control of which will be determined by a pair of January runoff elections.

One potential bright spot: Top U.S. health officials say they plan to begin vaccinating Americans against the disease as soon as mid-December. Healthcare workers and long-term care residents are expected to be first in line.

Biden is due to hold a socially distanced discussion with workers and small-business owners who have suffered during the economic upheaval brought on by the pandemic. He and Kamala Harris also will receive national-security briefings from U.S. government officials.

Those briefings are a tacit sign from outgoing President Donald Trump’s administration that Biden and Harris will take power on Jan. 20, though Trump himself has refused to concede in a sharp break from U.S. tradition.

Trump’s lawyers, meanwhile, continue to file legal challenges in a bid to overturn the results of the Nov. 3 election, which Biden seemingly won by more than 6.8 million votes.

The legal effort has spawned dozens of lawsuits, all of which have come up short. But Trump’s claims of widespread fraud have gained traction among his followers, and election officials in several states say they have been subject to harassment and threats.

State and federal election officials have repeatedly said there is no evidence of widespread fraud.

A top election official in Georgia implored Trump to tell his followers that he lost fair and square to avoid violence.

“It’s time to look forward. If you want to run for reelection in four years, fine, do it. But everything we’re seeing right now, there’s not a path,” said Gabriel Sterling, a Republican who manages the state’s voting systems.

Lawyer Sidney Powell, who agreed she is not part of Trump’s legal team last week, on Tuesday filed a new lawsuit asking a federal judge to declare the president the victor in Wisconsin.

A plaintiff in that lawsuit told Reuters he did not know he was involved.

“I had one conversation with a lawyer. I said that’s interesting, get back to me, and that was it,” Derrick Van Orden, a military veteran who ran unsuccessfully for Congress, told Reuters. “I was added to the lawsuit without my knowledge.”

Powell told Reuters that there had been a miscommunication. “We will take appropriate action to clear that up,” she said.

One potential ally has not come to Trump’s aid: Attorney General William Barr. The nation’s top law enforcement official told the Associated Press on Tuesday that the Justice Department has found no evidence of widespread fraud.

The Justice Department also is investigating a potential crime related to funneling money to the White House in exchange for a presidential pardon, according to court documents unsealed in federal court.

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell on Tuesday released a heavily redacted order that described what she called a “bribery-for-pardon” investigation, but identify none of the people under investigation. A Justice Department official said no government official is or was a target.


© 2020 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.



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