Gillibrand says Biden will be “reinventing the wheel” with government’s COVID response

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says she’s concerned that the federal agency overseeing the presidential transition has not yet formally started the process, since President-elect Joe Biden must begin planning his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“President-elect Biden needs to hit the ground running,” Gillibrand said in an interview with CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett for this week’s episode of “The Takeout” podcast. “He needs to be able to have a comprehensive plan in place.”


Highlights from this week’s episode:

  • Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on the need for President-elect Biden to begin the transition process now: “President-elect Biden needs to hit the ground running…He needs to be able to have a comprehensive plan in place.”
  • Incoming administration’s response to the pandemic: “In some respects, they’re going to be reinventing the wheel.”
  • Trump’s loss: “He doesn’t have to concede, he doesn’t have to be nice, but he will have to leave the Oval Office by January 20.”
  • Trump’s legacy: “President Trump has really damaged our institutions and damaged our democracy in a way that is really unforgivable.”

The administrator for the General Services Administration (GSA) has not yet “ascertained” that Mr. Biden won the election, despite his Electoral College victory. Without that formal ascertainment, Mr. Biden’s transition team cannot begin meeting with agency officials, and the $6.3 million in federal dollars designated to the transition will not be released. Mr. Biden also will not receive classified briefings from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The New York Democrat slammed the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and said members of Mr. Biden’s team must be able to begin meeting with agency officials immediately in order to plan the Biden administration’s approach.

“In some respects, they’re going to be reinventing the wheel,” Gillibrand said about the incoming administration’s response to the pandemic. Mr. Biden has indicated that he will handle the pandemic differently than President Trump, by implementing a national mask mandate.

“I am concerned that the GSA is holding up the efficient and peaceful transition process,” Gillibrand said.

Gillibrand also criticized many of her Republican colleagues in the Senate for refusing to acknowledge Mr. Biden’s victory.

“I’ve been very disappointed in Republicans,” Gillibrand said, adding that they were “fearful” of the president’s potentially “vindictive” response to their disloyalty.

Mr. Trump has refused to concede the election, and his campaign has launched several lawsuits to delay or stop the counting of votes.

“He doesn’t have to concede, he doesn’t have to be nice, but he will have to leave the Oval Office by January 20,” Gillibrand said about Mr. Trump.

She also said that she believed Mr. Trump’s refusal to acknowledge defeat would have long-lasting repercussions.

“President Trump has really damaged our institutions and damaged our democracy in a way that is really unforgivable,” she said.

For more of Major’s conversation with Gillibrand, download “The Takeout” podcast on Art19, iTunesGooglePlaySpotify and Stitcher. New episodes are available every Friday morning. Also, you can watch “The Takeout” on CBSN Friday at 5pm, 9pm, and 12am ET and Saturday at 1pm, 9pm, and 12am ET. For a full archive of “The Takeout” episodes, visit www.takeoutpodcast.com. And you can listen to “The Takeout” on select CBS News Radio affiliates (check your local listings).  

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