Joe Biden names diverse economic team with first female secretary of treasury

Joe Biden announced his economic team on Monday, a slate of advisers which could include the first female secretary of the treasury, as the president-elect looks to revive the coronavirus-hit US economy.

The official nominations to a diverse proposed cabinet came after Biden named an all-female communications team. Republicans are likely to launch fierce opposition to at least one of the Democrat’s economic picks.

After a busy few days for Biden, who also managed to fracture his foot while playing with his dog, the former vice-president was finally allowed access to daily presidential briefings on Monday.

Donald Trump still refuses to concede the election, on Sunday using his first television interview since Biden won the vote more than three weeks ago to reiterate his baseless claims that the election was stolen.

Biden won 6m more votes than Trump, as he became the first presidential candidate ever to win the support of more than 80m Americans. He won the electoral college 306-232, the same score by which Trump beat Hillary Clinton four years ago.

On Monday, Biden’s wins in Arizona and Wisconsin were certified.

Biden’s nominee to lead the treasury, Janet Yellen, was chair of the Federal Reserve under Barack Obama and has been confirmed by the Senate before. But Republicans are already gearing up to oppose Neera Tanden, Biden’s nominee for the Office of Management and Budget.

Tanden, the president of the liberal Center for American Progress thinktank, accused Senate Republicans of hypocrisy after they rushed the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the supreme court, following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Tanden has repeatedly criticized the right on Twitter.

“Neera Tanden, who has an endless stream of disparaging comments about the Republican senators whose votes she’ll need, stands zero chance of being confirmed,” a spokesman for the Texas senator John Cornyn tweeted.

On Monday, Biden received the presidential daily briefing, a classified document summarising high-level information on national security issues and prepared by the director of national intelligence, for the first time since he won the election.

In 2018 the Washington Post reported that Trump did not read the daily briefs, preferring oral presentations. Biden is expected to study the written material. He would have received it sooner, but for the Trump administration delaying the transition process.

Biden will be forced to consume the brief while nursing a broken foot, after slipping while playing with his german shepherd, Major. The president-elect’s office said the 78-year-old fractured two bones in his right foot and “will likely require a walking boot for several weeks”.

There was better health news for the US as a whole on Monday, as the health secretary, Alex Azar, said the first two vaccines against the coronavirus could be administered to Americans “before Christmas”.

Two vaccines are waiting to be evaluated for emergency use. If they are approved, Azar said it will be up to state governors to decide who will receive the first doses.

“Be thinking people in nursing homes, the most vulnerable – be thinking healthcare workers who are on the frontlines of most interacting with suspected Covid cases, as the first tranches of people that we’ll try to get vaccinated,” Azar told CBS.

As Biden moves forward with planning for the presidency, Trump has become an increasingly lonely voice in maintaining the election was fraudulent. In an interview with Fox Business on Sunday, he continued to make baseless claims of election fraud, even though his legal team has lost case after case in its attempt to overturn the result.

“My mind will not change in six months,” Trump said. “There was tremendous cheating here.”

Trump also said he was “going to use 125% of my energy” to fight the results.

Shortly after the interview, Wisconsin completed a recount the president had requested. Officials re-tallied the votes in the state’s largest two counties, Milwaukee and Dane, where more than 800,000 votes were cast. They found little change in the results. In fact, Biden’s lead grew by 87 votes.

In further bad news for Trump, it emerged on Monday that the president had lost Twitter followers in recent weeks – while Biden has grown his own following.

According to the tracking website Factbase, the number of accounts following Trump – who has complained of biased treatment by Twitter – dropped by 133,902 over 11 days, while Biden gained nearly 1.2 million.

Trump still has one of the most followed Twitter accounts in the world, with 88.8 million adherents. But he is some way behind his White House predecessor, Barack Obama, who has 126.8 million.


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