Washington – President Donald Trump, who is refusing to concede election defeat, injected new volatility Monday by firing his defence secretary, while President-elect Joe Biden made good on a promise to focus on leading the country out of the Covid-19 crisis.
With construction already beginning in central Washington for the 20 January inauguration ceremony, an awkward and potentially chaotic transition period is underway.
Trump, in a move unprecedented for a US president, insists that the 3 November election was stolen from him.
“This election is not over, far from it,” said white House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany to reporters at a press conference on the claim.
However, Trump’s lawyers have so far produced only flimsy evidence to support their court challenges alleging irregularities, while media projections based on near-complete results show Biden won convincingly.
The Trump administration has also refused traditional cooperation with Biden’s team, denying him the normal transition package that includes office space, a budget and expertise to prepare for the takeover.
In a Twitter post, Trump announced that he had “terminated” defence secretary Mark Esper – a notable shuffling of such an important position so close to the end of a presidency.
Trump and Esper had clashed over the latter’s opposition to suggestions military personnel ne used to quell civil unrest.