Transition Live Updates: Progressives Urge Biden to Accelerate His Transition

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Many in the left wing of the Democratic Party want President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. to move faster in announcing substantive plans for his administration, providing more than just glimpses of what he might do in the early days of his administration, such as a sweeping plan to bring the pandemic under control.

At the same time, many members of Republican Party have refused to accept Mr. Biden as the winner of the Nov. 4 election, something Senate Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged just a day ago. He urged other Republicans to do the same.

But despite the tensions with opposite ends of the political spectrum, Mr. Biden has maintained a steady and deliberate pace in developing a unified platform with his advisers. He has revealed plans for his administration, introducing his cabinet picks over weeks, not days — most recently Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., to lead the Transportation Department. In the coming days, he is expected to name Jennifer M. Granholm, a former governor of Michigan, to serve as energy secretary and Gina McCarthy, a former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, to be his senior adviser on climate change.

Mr. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are scheduled to introduce Mr. Buttigieg as the transportation secretary nominee at an event in Wilmington, Del., on Wednesday.

Mr. McConnell’s public recognition of Mr. Biden’s win and belated congratulations inspired some optimism among Democrats that the relative monotony of recent weeks, during which President Trump has waged a daily campaign challenging the election results across multiple states, might at last be breaking.

And while Mr. Biden’s slow rollout of his plans for the next four years has helped pre-empt outcry from factions in the Democratic Party that are vying for influence, it has also increasingly fueled frustrations from interest groups and the party’s progressive wing, including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, both of which said they had felt neglected in the coalition that helped bring him to power.

Gina McCarthy, the former Environmental Protection Agency administrator under President Barack Obama, is expected to be President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s pick as a senior adviser on climate change.
Credit…Sarah Blesener for The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is expected to announce a significant part of his energy and environment team this week.

In the coming days, Mr. Biden intends to name prominent leaders in the climate and clean-energy world to two senior positions: Gina McCarthy, a former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, will be his senior adviser on climate change, and Jennifer M. Granholm, a former governor of Michigan, will lead the Energy Department.

Mr. Biden on Tuesday named Pete Buttigieg, the former Democratic presidential candidate and mayor of South Bend., Ind., to be his transportation secretary, a job that is expected to become climate-centric as Mr. Biden pushes policies to promote electric vehicles and climate-resilient infrastructure.

Still undecided, though, is the president-elect’s choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. That person will be central to his campaign pledges to enact an ambitious agenda of fighting climate change and reinstating environmental regulations that President Trump rolled back.

Ms. McCarthy, who led the Environmental Protection Agency during the Obama administration, was the architect of landmark rules to cut planet-warming pollution. In her new role, she would be in charge of coordinating domestic climate change policies across the federal government.

In addition to developing the Clean Power Plan, which set the first-ever national limits on carbon emissions from power plants, she also pushed forward rules to cut mercury emissions from power plants, to increase fuel efficiency in automobiles and to limit methane leaks from oil and gas wells.

The coal, gas and oil industries opposed all these policies, which were ultimately repealed or weakened by the Trump administration.

Ms. McCarthy’s deputy will be Ali Zaidi, the New York State deputy secretary for energy and environment. Mr. Zaidi served in the Obama administration’s Office of Management and Budget, where he helped to coordinate and enact climate change policies and served as a top adviser on climate change to Mr. Biden’s campaign.

John Podesta, the founder of the Center for American Progress and a onetime adviser to President Barack Obama on climate change, called Ms. McCarthy and Mr. Zaidi a “powerhouse team.”

Some Republicans were less enthusiastic. Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming said in a statement that he was concerned about reviving Obama-era policies that he described as “punishing” to his state as well as others with economies reliant on fossil fuels.

In her new position, Ms. McCarthy will be empowered to direct agency heads across the federal government to enact climate policies, such as emissions rules at the E.P.A. and financial regulations on companies in connection with their bottom-line financial exposure to climate risks.

However, it is not yet clear who will hold her old job of E.P.A. administrator, a position that comes with the authority to reinstate and strengthen the very Obama-era climate rules that Ms. McCarthy once wrote.

Mr. Biden’s first choice to lead the E.P.A. was Mary D. Nichols, California’s top climate change regulator. But liberal activists contended that she had not done enough in her state to address racial disparities in environmental policy.

That has set off a scramble to find a new candidate to lead the agency. Possibilities now include Richard L. Revesz, a law professor and former dean of the New York University School of Law; Michael S. Regan, who currently serves as head of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality; and Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles.

One member of the Biden transition staff said that a final E.P.A. choice might not come until after Christmas.

Christopher Krebs will appear before the Senate Homeland Security committee.
Credit…Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press

Christopher Krebs, the former top cybersecurity chief fired by President Trump after he disputed the president’s false claims of election fraud, will testify before a Senate committee on Wednesday morning — after courts and state elections panels confirmed his analysis.

Mr. Krebs, who led the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency through the presidential election, had joined other election officials in calling the vote “the most secure in American history,” a fact-finding summary Mr. Trump viewed as political usurpation.

Mr. Trump attacked Mr. Krebs, a widely respected cybersecurity expert with experience in the public and private sectors, last month and forced him out a week later.

Mr. Krebs has since filed a lawsuit accusing the president, members of his legal team and the conservative TV outlet Newsmax of engaging in “a calculated and pernicious conspiracy” to defame and injure Mr. Krebs and other members of the Republican Party who have stood up against the president’s baseless claims of election fraud.

Mr. Krebs’s testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee comes just days after the revelation of a hack engineered by Russia’s premier intelligence agencies of multiple federal agencies, including the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and parts of the Pentagon.

Senator Gary Peters, Democrat of Michigan and the ranking member of the committee, issued a statement on Tuesday criticizing Republicans for holding the hearing, which was billed as “Examining Irregularities in the 2020 Election.”

While some officials have framed the inquiry as a matter of simply getting to the truth, Mr. Peters said, “the real goal of this hearing is to help a defeated presidential candidate in his last-ditch effort to cling to power, despite the undeniable fact that the American people have chosen Joe Biden to serve as the next president of the United States.”

Sen. Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin and the chairman of the committee, acknowledged in a statement that Mr. Trump’s litigation campaign has been roundly rejected by the courts. But, he said, “The only way to resolve suspicions is with full transparency and public awareness. That will be the goal of the hearing.”

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has a limited but contentious personal history with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, whom he has met only once, during a trip to Moscow in 2011.
Credit…Alexander Zemlianichenko/Associated Press

The extensive hack of American government computer systems, almost certainly orchestrated by the Kremlin, underscores the daunting foreign policy challenge that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia poses to the incoming Biden administration.

The Russian leader did not acknowledge the Biden victory until Tuesday, and for weeks Kremlin-backed news outlets had gleefully amplified President Trump’s groundless claims of election fraud.

“I am ready for contacts and interactions with you,” Mr. Putin said in a message of congratulations to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., according to a Kremlin statement issued Tuesday.

Yet there is little doubt Mr. Putin is unhappy that Mr. Trump’s see-no-evil approach to Russia is coming to an end, as the relationship with Mr. Biden is setting up as tense if not hostile.

Many of Mr. Biden’s key goals — reviving arms control, combating climate change, ending the coronavirus pandemic and stabilizing the Middle East — will require collaboration with a Russian leader who is nakedly hostile to Western interests.

Mr. Biden and his national security team must find a way to do that even as they work to check a Kremlin whose troops harass American forces in conflict zones overseas and whose state-sponsored hackers have interfered in presidential elections in the United States.

Although Mr. Putin emerged as a clear rival during the Obama era, when Mr. Biden was vice president, the incoming president will face an even bolder Russian leader who advances his nation’s interests — and challenges American ones — not only in what Moscow calls its near-abroad but also in Western Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Arctic.

Mr. Putin has also become a threat in the United States, emerging as a malignant player in domestic politics whose proxies flood social media with disinformation and seek to interfere in elections, with a clear bias against Democrats like Mr. Biden.

“Russia has moved from a classical, conventional nuclear power to an insidious hybrid threat,” said Fiona Hill, who spent more than two years as Mr. Trump’s top National Security Council aide for Russia affairs.

Mr. Putin’s message to Mr. Biden betrayed no hostility and, in the words of the Kremlin, “expressed confidence that Russia and the United States, which bear special responsibility for global security and stability, can, despite their differences, effectively contribute to solving many problems and meeting challenges that the world is facing today.”

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