The Latest: Biden: Trump inaugural presence important to US


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President-elect Joe Biden (all times local):

9:55 p.m. Thursday

President-elect Joe Biden says it is important that President Donald Trump attend his inauguration only in the sense that it would demonstrate the nation’s commitment to a peaceful transfer of power between political rivals.

Trump aides have expressed skepticism that the president would attend Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration. Trump has continued to falsely claim victory and spread baseless claims of fraud to try to explain away his loss.

Speaking Thursday to CNN, Biden said, “It is totally his decision.” He added, “It is of no personal consequence to me, but I think it is to the country.”

Biden lamented Trump’s refusal to concede, saying, “These kinds of things happen in tin-horn dictatorships.”

He said he hoped Trump would attend the inauguration to set an example to other nations on the democratic process.

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON:

9:40 p.m.

Joe Biden is brushing off concerns by some leading African Americans that the major early picks for his Cabinet have not been diverse enough.

During an interview with CNN on Thursday, the president-elect was asked about House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn’s comments that many qualified Black people have been passed over in the picks Biden has made so far.

Biden responded that the eight choices he’s made “were the most diverse Cabinet anyone in American history has ever announced” and included five people of color and three white people, as well as five women and three men.

Biden also said he’d be meeting with NAACP leadership next Tuesday. He says he understands “their job is to push me.”

“Every special interest — and I don’t say that in a negative way — every advocacy group out there, is pushing for more, more, more of what they want. That’s their job,” Biden said. “My job is to keep my commitment.”

He added: “I promise you you’ll see the most diverse Cabinet.”

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9:30 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden says he’s received private congratulatory calls from several Republican senators who have refused to publicly acknowledge his victory in fear of aggravating President Donald Trump.

Speaking to CNN on Thursday, Biden says, “There have been more than several sitting Republican senators who have privately called me and congratulated me.”

As Trump continues to falsely claim victory and push unsubstantiated claims of fraud, Biden said the lawmakers “get put in a very tough position.”

He predicted that the situation will improve, with “at least a significant portion of the leadership,” after the Electoral College meets on Dec. 14.

Biden acknowledged that the Senate is a more partisan place than when he left it in 2009, but predicted it would still be possible to effectively legislate.

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6:40 p.m.

Joe Biden says reports that President Donald Trump may be exploring preemptive pardons to protect his children, key aides and perhaps even himself from prosecution after he leaves office concern “me a great deal.”

The president-elect told CNN on Thursday that he’s worried about “what kind of precedent it sets, and how the rest of the world looks at us as a nation of laws and justice.”

Biden vowed to ensure that his own Justice Department operates independently. Trump has frequently pressured the agency to do his bidding.

“I’m not going to be telling them what they have to do and don’t have to do,” Biden said.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris said any decisions coming out of the Biden administration’s DOJ “should be based on facts, it should be based on the law. It should not be influenced by politics, period.”

Biden added, “I guarantee you that’s how it will be run.”

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6:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee have raised an eye-popping $495 million since mid-October, with much taken in after Election Day as the president fundraised off his baseless allegations of widespread election fraud.

The sum includes money raised by the Trump campaign, the RNC, their two joint fundraising committees and the president’s new political action committee, named “Save America.”

Much of the money was raised during the closing weeks of the campaign. But $207.5 million came in after Election Day as Trump repeatedly – and falsely – claimed President-elect Joe Biden won due to voter fraud.

Trump has spent millions on filing legal challenges and pushing for recounts after his Nov. 3 loss, but the largess is likely to be spent elsewhere.

Some is being funneled to Georgia, where Republicans are aiming to hold onto two Senate seats — and control of the chamber — in twin Jan. 5 runoffs.

Trump’s new PAC also allows him to build up his political bank account as he ponders his future, including a potential run in 2024.

So far, the PAC is off to a lackluster start. Despite the windfall, Save America reported in a campaign finance disclosure Thursday that it raised only $569,000 from its launch after Election Day through Nov. 23.

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5:35 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden says he is keeping Dr. Anthony Fauci on as a chief medical adviser and a member of his COVID-19 advisory team.

Biden made the comments Thursday during an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper. He said he spoke with Fauci earlier in the day about the need to instill confidence in any coronavirus vaccine and the fact that “you don’t have to close down the economy” to combat the virus.

Biden says he’d be “happy” to get a vaccine in public to prove its safety.

The president-elect also said he would ask the public to wear masks for 100 days to help drive down the spread of the virus, which has killed more than 275,000 Americans.