Biden says he told foreign leaders “America is back”

President-elect Joe Biden fielded calls from foreign leaders who offered their congratulations on his projected victory in the presidential election, an acknowledgement that key U.S. allies are preparing for a new administration even as President Trump refuses to concede defeat.

The Biden transition office said the president-elect on Tuesday spoke to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Mr. Biden spoke to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday.

“I’m letting them know that America is back. We’re going to be back in the game,” Mr. Biden said on Tuesday in Delaware, taking questions for the first time as president-elect after delivering remarks on health care.

Mr. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are forging ahead with the transition to the White House with 71 days until Inauguration Day, despite the Trump administration’s refusal to take the formal steps necessary to ensure a smooth transfer of power.

Under the law, the Biden-Harris transition teams cannot start formal meetings with current officials across the government or access secure facilities to work with classified information before the head of the little-known General Services Administration (GSA) determines that the pair are likely the next president and vice president. The GSA administrator has declined to make that determination.

“We believe that the time has come for the GSA administrator to promptly ascertain Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as president-elect and vice president-elect,” an unidentified Biden-Harris transition official said Monday night on a telephone briefing with reporters, adding that the transition could pursue legal options if the administration continues to stall.

One consequence of the GSA’s unwillingness to “ascertain” a winner is that the congratulatory phone calls Biden is receiving from world leaders are happening without the help of the State Department, according to a transition official. 

Mr. Biden himself said the delay in formally recognizing the presidential outcome is “not of much consequence.”

“We’re already beginning the transition. We’re well underway,” Mr. Biden said. But he also called Mr. Trump’s refusal to concede “an embarrassment” and suggested that “it will not help the president’s legacy.”

Mr. Trump has refused to concede the election since Mr. Biden was projected to be the winner on Saturday, and his campaign is pursuing lawsuits in a handful of states challenging the results. The campaign has not produced evidence of widespread voter fraud on a scale that would change the election results.

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