Trump has 'definitely set back the democratic norm' in US: Ron Klain

President-elect Biden chief of staff Ron Klain is interviewed on "This Week."
14:50 | 11/22/20

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Transcript for Trump has 'definitely set back the democratic norm' in US: Ron Klain
morning, and we begin with the man President-Elect Biden has chosen to be his chief of staff, Ron klain. Thanks for joining us this morning. You know, the President-Elect -- Good morning. Thank you. -- Has seemed bemused by president trump's refusal to concede. Your colleague Bob bowers called this harmful to the democratic process. How much damage has he done, and how much can he do? Well, I think he has definitely set back the democratic norm in the united States. He's been doing that for four years, and that's ramped up since the election, you know, he couldn't really run on his record. The voters rejected his leader, -- leadership, a record number of Americans rejected the trump presidency, and since then Donald Trump has been rejecting democracy. He's been as you said at the outset, launching baseless claims of voter fraud, baseless litigation. He's been rejected by 34 courts and now these efforts to get election officials to overturn the will of the voters. It's corrosive. It's harmful, but as Mitt Romney said, it's not going to change the outcome of what happens here. Joe Biden will become the next president of the United States. Everything Donald Trump is doing now is bad for our democracy it's bad for our position, our image in the wort it's not going to change what happens hen we get a new president next year. As you know, a poll on Wednesday showed that 70% of Republicans believe Biden won because of voter fraud. Are you worried a president tried to lock in a perception by his base that Biden is an illegitimate president, and can this work? S you know, George, that same poll showed that an overwhelming Americans thought this was fair and proper and Joe Biden is the rightful winner. We know we have to bring the country together. In fact, that's been the entire essence of Joe Biden's campaign for the presidency, trying to heal this nation, repair its soul, restore its backbone, unite the counnd uniting the country is what he's doing. Look. Look at what he did this past week, George. He met with business and labor leaders together to talk about fixing the economy. Military leaders who served in both democratic and Republican administrations to talk about our national security future, and then he met with governors, both Democrats and Republicans including some conservative Republican governors to talk about fighting covid. He's doing his job to bring the country together. Donald Trump is never going to change. He spent four years tearing this country apart, and it seems he's determined to spend the final days of his presidency doing the same thing. One person the president elected was Mitch Mcconnell. The senate Republican leader. After that Pennsylvania court decision last night, Republican senator pat Toomey had this to say. He said, president trump should accept the outcome of this election, and facilitate a transition. Is it time for other Republican leaders to do the same? I hope they would. I hope they would start to accept the reality here. I was encouraged to see a statement from senator Romney, and Toomey. There was reporting that many senate Republicans are talking about confirming Joe Biden's nominees in the regular order and trying to get competent, experienced people in the government, in confirmed positions. Not the acting mess we have had in the pass. I think there are encouraging signs. Washington will be the last place to change. What I saw this week with the President-Elect's interactions with leaders from around the country is outside of Washington, Democrats and Republicans are looking forward to what happens on January 20th. They want to work together to get things done. Now we have to get the job done here in D.C. As a practical matter, your transition is challenged until the gsa ascertains a winner. The President-Elect is warning that waiting could cost American lives. What obstacles do you have if the GOP continues to block the transition? There are parts of the transition in our control. We're picking people to work in the white house and to work in the cabinet. We're building our policy plans. We're, you know, having high level meetings with leaders from around the country, and so there's parts of transition that are proceeding apace, and, in fact, a record setting pace, but there are other things not in our control. The President-Elect and vice President-Elect are not getting the intelligence briefings they're entitled to. They're not getting -- we're not getting -- our transition isn't getting access to agency officials to help develop our plans, and there's a lot of focus on that vaccine rollout plan that's going to be critical in the early days of a Biden presidency. We have no access to that, and we're not getting background checks. We're not in a position to get background checks on cabinet nominees. There are definite impacts. They escalate every day, and I hope that the administrator of the gsa will do her job. The law only requires her to find who is the apparent Victor of the election, and I can't imagine there's any dispute -- any dispute that Joe Biden is the apparent winner of the presidential election. You talked about vaccine distribution. I talked to the general from "Operation warp speed" on Friday, and he's saying this isn't delaying the distribution do you buy that? It doesn't delay distribution while Donald Trump is in charge, but on January 20toeoe Biden will be in charge, and if there isn't a seamless flow of information now so we know what we're getting ourselves into, and what plans they made, so we know what gaps there are in the plans, then I think there's risk that that distribution has gaps and lapses starting on January 20th. You know, I'm sorry, but while I respect many people involved in this effort on the trump side in charge of the vaccine distribution effort, the fact of the matter is the trump adration has a history of failure in dealing with the covid crisis, including a dramatic and drastic failure on the testing challenge, and so I think just, you know, the trump administration positions were just supposed tost them that this will work out, that's a hard sell to the American people. We have seen the good news on the covid vaccine though. Both pfizer and modern on track for emergency use authorization. Should "Operation warp speed" get credit for that? Everyone involved should get credit for that. It starts most importantly with the scientists and brilliant men and women who have done this work, but George, vaccines don't save lives. Vaccinations save lives, and so the scientific work that's been done to get this vaccine to the place where it can be approved by the fda, hopefully very soon is just the first step. The much bigger step is actually getting those vaccinations to the American people. That's hard. Look. The trump administration has been at this for eight or nine months, and in the course of that, fewer than 1 in 3 Americans has gotten a covid test, and to now the question how can we get 100% of Americans a vaccine in short order? That is a challenge that I think the American people are right to be skeptical about in terms of the way in which the trump administration would handle it, and that's a challenge that has been largely fallen to the Biden administration, and the sooner we can get our experts with their experts, the more confidence we can have that we'll proceed apace in 2021. Given the continued surge in covid, should we expect anything like a normal inauguration? No, George. I think it's going to definitely have to benged. We started some consultations with house and senate leadership on that, aiously this is not going to be the same kind of inauguration we have had in the you know, George, Joe Biden, kamala Harris conducted this campaign with the safety of the American people in mind. They got a lot of grief for that. They got attacked for that relentlessly by president trump for the way in which they campaigned safely to try to prevent the spread of the disease. They're going to try to have an inauguration that honors the importance and the symbolic meaning of the moments but also does not result in the spread of disease. That's our goal. What does that mean? No parades, no big crowd, no big lunch inside the rotunda? George, I'm going to let those plans unfold in consultation with folks in the capitol who organize that, and experts who plan that. We ran a very effective and I think engaging democratic convention this year in August, in a way that was safe for the people to participate and watch it in a way that communicated with the American people. You know, I think we'll have some mix of those techniques, some mix of, you know, scaled down versions of the existing traditions. People have a lot to celebrate on January 20th. We saw the day that Joe Biden and kamala Harris were announced as president and vice president of the United States. People all over the world were dancing in the streets. People want to celebrate and there is something to celebrate, but we want to do it as safely as possible. Meantime, the clock is ticking on a package. A lot of unemployment expires on December 31st. The president wants to pass a relief package now. Is willing to endorse a far smaller package by the Democrats, extending unemployment benefits, and what's your reaction to secretary mnuchin allowing other fed-lending programs to expire? So first as you know, George, the President-Elect and vice President-Elect met in Wilmington face to face on Friday with leader Schumer and speaker Pelosi to talk about the best way to get that relief done. They're on point for negotiating this package and the President-Elect said that he will support the best outcome they can achieve in these negotiations. I am very concerned. I think the President-Elect's very concerned that we're in a real crisis in many households in this country right now. As you said, unemployment insurance runs out for many people at the end of the year, before Joe Biden Tak office. The eviction runs out at the end of the year before Joe Biden takes office. So if that and other problems are going to be fixed, they have to be fixed right now under the trump presidency with the congressional lineup we have right now, and I think the President-Elect is going to do whatever he can to be supportive of that outcome. I think it's a shame secretary mnuchin did what he did with regard to these unexpended relief funds that were made available by the congress, and, you know, worked through the federal reserve, but I think that, you know, it obviously raises the challenges that we're going to face when we take over on January 20th. Senate control is up for grabs, and the Democrats will have to win both in Georgia. Here's what the President-Elect told me about the importance of senate control back in February. I think I'm more ready to be able to defeat Donald Trump and equally importantly, George, elect a democratic senate. It's not going to be enough just to beat him. We have to change the senate in order to get things done. Wasn't he right then, you know, one former Obama official told "The Washington post" it's the difference between having a transformational presidency, versus having to negotiate everything with a Republican senate. Well, winning those two senate seats in Georgia is important, but we're going to do everything we can to help those two candidates. Great candidates in Georgia, help them winks. We've already moved people who were working on the Biden campaign on the recounts down there over to be supportive in the field work for our two candidates down there, and I expect you'll see the President-Elect travel down there before election day. So it's very, very important to win those seats. The thing -- the reality, of course, George, is that even if we win them both, and I think we will win them both -- both candidates are doing a great job, and we're going to closely divided senate under any scenario, and I think one chale E that President-Elect has taken on is trying to work with members of the both parties to build a consensus for actions on both things like economic relief, like climate change, like dealing with our other crises, our racism crisis, the challenge of fixing our immigration laws and of course, obviously fighting covid. So we're going to have a closely divided senate, whatever happens in Georgia obviously we want to win those seats. I really want to see chuck Schumer be the next majority leader in the U.S. Senate. I think he and the President-Elect have a great relationship, but I know they have a great relationship, but however that comes out, we are going to deliver for the American people, and that's the look. I think that voters sent a clear sign in 2020, anthe sign they sent was, they want to see things get done. They want action on covid, the economy, climate, health care, bringing down health care costs. They want to see action on all of that. We're going to deal with whatever lineup we're facing in Washington to get that done, and it'll be better if that lineup was a democratic senate, but if unfortunately -- I think -- I don't think this will happen, but if we were to lose those ATS in Georgia, we're going to move forward with whatever senate gets elected. There's going to be tension between getting unity, getting things done, working with the Republicans and investigating any wrongdoing that happened during the trump administration. The vice president has said in a report that he doesn't want his presidency to be consumed by trump investigations. That has brought concern from some Democrats, like one who said, failure to hold financial and political wrongdoing in the past has held greater malfeasance by bad actors. It emboldens criminality by our national leaders and continues America down the path of lawlessness and authoritarianism. There must be accountability. How do you balance moving forward with getting accountability? Well, let's be clear, George. The President-Elect spoke about this many times during the campaign. He made clear that Joe Biden is not going to tell the justice department who to investigate or who not to investigate. That's who we saw. Tampering with the justice department so on and so forth. He's going to pick an excellent attorney general, an independent justice department, and that department will make decisions independently free of politics, free of political favor in either direct to how to enforce the laws. That's the way it should be. That's the way it's always been. That's the way it needs to be if we're going to have the kind of rule of law that's so important in our country. Are we going to see an attorney general or state department pick this week? Well, what I can confirm, George, is that you are going to President-Elect's cabinet appointments on Tuesday of this week. Meeting the pace -- beating, in fact, the pace that was set by the obama/biden transition, beating the pace set by the trump transition. You'll see the first cabin picks this Tuesday. If you want to know what cabinet agencies they are, who's going to be in those cabinet agencies, you'll have to wait for the President-Elect to say that himself on Tuesday. I knew you weren't going to it will me who it was B you I was hoping for which ones. Thank you, Ron klain. We want people to tune in, George. Appreciate it. Up next, the top scientist

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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