The Latest: Biden says leaving White House ‘in good hands’

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Donald Trump’s transition to the presidency. (All times EST):

2:40 p.m.

Vice President Joe Biden says he’s not worried about the incoming administration’s readiness to take over the White House.

Biden told reporters after meeting with Vice President-elect Mike Pence on Wednesday that he’s “confident on day one everything will be in good hands.”

Addressing reports of infighting within President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team, Biden said that “no administration’s ready on day one. We weren’t really on day one.”

Biden and his wife Jill spent nearly two hours with their successors Wednesday afternoon, sitting down for lunch with the Vice President-elect and his wife, Karen, and giving them a tour of the vice presidential residence and grounds.

Biden also said he’s not worried about the new administration dismantling his legacy, despite the President-elect’s very different policy agenda.

Biden said that he hopes the Pences enjoy the home at Washington’s Naval Observatory as much as he did.


2:30 p.m.

The top Republican in the Senate says “it’s time for the election to be over.”

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also declined to answer questions about President-elect Donald Trump’s appointment of Steve Bannon as senior counselor, saying he wouldn’t comment about White House staffing. Bannon’s hiring has come under fire because of his Breitbart news site’s derogatory comments about blacks, Muslims and women.

McConnell told reporters on Wednesday that he would not go back and re-litigate what was said during a hotly contested presidential race. He said the focus is on working with Trump to repeal and replace the health care law, overhaul the tax system and deal with other issues.

He also declined to comment on Trump’s call for a ban on all executive-branch officials from lobbying for five years after leaving their government jobs.


1:55 p.m.

House Democrats have sent a letter to President-elect Donald Trump asking him to rescind the appointment of Breitbart News executive Steve Bannon as a senior White House adviser.

The letter, which has signatures from 169 out of the 188 Democrats in the House, says the appointment of conservative flame-thrower Bannon undermines Trump’s ability to unite the country. It points out stories from the website that are derogatory toward Jews and Muslims, among other groups.

“Millions of Americans have expressed fear and concern about how they will be treated by the Trump Administration and your appointment of Mr. Bannon only exacerbates and validates their concerns,” the letter reads.

Rep. David N. Cicilline, D-R.I, organized the effort. “Bigotry, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia should have no place in our society,” he said.


1:10 p.m.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says he met with President-elect Donald Trump and “let him know that so many New Yorkers are fearful” of what his administration could bring.

De Blasio spoke to reporters after his hour-long meeting at Trump Tower Wednesday, which he categorized as “respectful” and “candid” with a real “give-and-take.”

The mayor, a liberal Democrat, and Trump have previously clashed. He said concerns with Trump’s support of aggressive policing tactics, his tax plans and any move to deport immigrants living in the United States illegally.

De Blasio said that Trump “loves this city” and added that he urged the Republican president-elect to send a “sign of unity” to his hometown, which overwhelmingly voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton.


11:50 a.m.

A spokesman for President-elect Donald Trump says the transition team is “not going to rush” to put forward potential Cabinet selections.

Jason Miller said Wednesday that Trump’s team wants to feel confident their choices will be able to be confirmed by the Senate and can implement the president-elect’s vision.

Miller told reporters at Trump Tower in New York City that President Barack Obama did not have “his entire Cabinet formed within the first week” after his election in 2008.

He said the transition team has a “very solid plan” and they’re taking a “methodical approach” to filling Trump’s Cabinet and White House.


11:35 a.m.

Over 300 U.S. businesses have signed a statement calling on President-elect Donald Trump to support the Paris Agreement on climate change — including General Mills, eBay, Intel, Unilever, and dozens of other Fortune 500 companies.

Their statement reads “implementing the Paris Agreement will enable and encourage businesses and investors to turn the billions of dollars in existing low-carbon investments into the trillions of dollars the world needs to bring clean energy and prosperity to all.”

The statement is addressed to Trump, President Barack Obama and members of Congress. It calls on elected U.S. officials to maintain the country’s policy and financial commitments to lower carbon emissions.

Lara Birkes, chief sustainability officer of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, says “the Paris Agreement was a vital step forward, but its power is in our collective action.”


11:32 a.m.

Czech President Milos Zeman has called U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s former wife, Ivana, to thank her for her “courage” and interest to become the new U.S. ambassador to Prague.

In a Wednesday statement, Zeman said he’s pleased with that because “the U.S. cannot send a better ambassador to Prague” than her.

Zeman said he would be delighted to meet her at the Prague Castle, the seat of presidency and is looking forward to introduce her to his wife, also named Ivana.

Ivana, Trump’s first wife and the mother of his three oldest children, is of Czech origin.

Zeman was among several European leaders, including Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who endorsed Trump during the campaign.

Zeman said he shared Trump’s views of migration and the fight against the Islamic terrorism.

Trump’s presidential transition team provided no readout of the conversation between the Czech leader and his ex-wife.


9:15 a.m.

The White House Correspondents’ Association says it is “unacceptable” that President-elect Donald Trump is traveling without a regular pool of journalists to inform the public of his whereabouts.

Trump left his residence Tuesday night for a family dinner after his transition team had told journalists he would not be in public the rest of the day. A protective pool of journalists is supposed to join the president or president-elect’s motorcade to record their whereabouts and be on hand in the event of breaking news.

Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks has said the team plans to respect the traditions of press access at the White House. WHCA President Jeff Mason says “the time to act on that promise is now.”

Mason says it is critical that journalists covering the president-elect “be allowed to do their job.”


7:50 a.m.

Ohio congressman Tim Ryan says Democrats should get back to economic basics of manufacturing, not veer to its liberal wing in the wake of Republican Donald Trump’s election victory.

Ryan is considering challenging Rep. Nancy Pelosi as House Democratic leader because he says the party risks sliding back into an ideological past rather than moving forward.

He told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Wednesday that Democrats “have to grab that idea of making things in America again.”

“No one wants to hear about job retraining,” he said. “They want jobs.”


6:30 a.m.

President-elect Donald Trump is denying reports that efforts are underway to get security clearances for his adult children.

In a post on his verified Twitter account @realDonaldTrump early Wednesday, the billionaire businessman who’s to be inaugurated as the nation’s 45th president on Jan. 20, said, “I am not trying to get top security clearances for my children.”

Trump, who has been immersed in transition planning at his office skyscraper in New York in recent days, added, “This was a typically false news story.”

There had been rampant speculation in recent days that such an effort was being attempted. Asked about it earlier this week, Kellyanne Conway, who was Trump’s campaign manager, said in a broadcast interview she wasn’t “intimately’ familiar with the issue and indicated she couldn’t confirm it.

4:20 a.m.

Turkey’s president has criticized protests in the United States against Donald Trump, saying the president-elect should be respected and given time to show how he will govern.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday before a visit to Pakistan, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the protesters were “attacking” Trump because “the person they wanted wasn’t elected president.”

Erdogan said: “Hold on a second. The election process just ended, show some respect! How will he govern, let’s see that first.”

The Turkish leader added: This is important in terms of showing who respects democracy in the world.”

3:30 a.m.

President-elect Donald Trump hadn’t been seen in public for days when he walked into New York’s 21 Club to applause from fellow diners. The unannounced evening out with family was a contrast to the behind-the scenes machinations that suggested a struggling transition as names surfaced and sank for top administration positions.

Not to worry, Trump suggested in a Tuesday night tweet: “Very organized process taking place as I decide on Cabinet and many other positions. I am the only one who knows who the finalists are!”

Before dinner at the midtown Manhattan restaurant— he broke with protocol and left his press contingent behind — Trump met with the head of his transition team, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, but another day passed without a Cabinet announcement.


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