Biden cemented the victory by flipping Arizona whereas Trump held the transition pending. From Reuters

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© Reuters. US President-elect Biden holds a press conference in Wilmington, Delaware

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By Joseph Ax

(Reuters) – President-elect Joe Biden cemented his election victory by capturing the battlefield state of Arizona late Thursday. However, the transition to his administration remains in political stasis as President Donald Trump refuses to accept defeat.

According to Edison Research, after more than a week of voting, Biden is set to win Arizona. He is only the second Democratic presidential candidate in seven decades to win the traditionally republican state.

Biden’s victory in Arizona gives the Democrat 290 votes in the state electoral college that determines the winner, more than the 270 it takes to win. Biden also wins the referendum with more than 5.3 million votes, or 3.4 percentage points.

With few states still counting votes, the electoral math is disheartening for Trump, who has claimed, without evidence, that the election was marred by widespread fraud.

To wipe out Biden’s advantage, Republican Trump would have to take over the Democratic lead in at least three of the competitive swing states.

The Trump campaign has filed lawsuits against the number of votes in numerous states, although some have already been dismissed by judges. Legal experts said the litigation had little chance of changing the outcome, and state election officials said they saw no evidence of serious irregularities or fraud.

Trump’s refusal to accept the November 3 election result has blocked the transition to a new government. The federal agency, which normally approves funding for a new president-elect, the General Services Administration, has not yet recognized Biden as a winner.

His election for White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain told MSNBC Thursday that it was important to get transitional funding as the U.S. government launched a coronavirus vaccination campaign early next year.

“The sooner we can get our transition experts to meet with people planning a vaccination campaign, the more seamless the transition from a Trump presidency to a Biden presidency can be,” said Klain.

Biden should meet again with transition advisors on Friday to explain his approach to the pandemic and prepare to name his top candidates, including cabinet members.

BRIEFINGS FOR BIDEN

Most Republicans have Trump’s right to pursue legal challenges, have publicly endorsed it and refused to recognize Biden as the winner. But on Thursday there were more signs of discord.

Party figures like Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, and Karl Rove, a top adviser to former President George W. Bush, said Biden should be treated as the president-elect.

Meanwhile, some Republican senators said the Trump administration should allow Biden to get intelligence, even though they didn’t explicitly name him a winner.

The incoming commander in chief is usually given instructions to ensure that national security is not compromised during the transition.

“I don’t see it as a risky venture. I just think it’s part of the transition. And if he does win in the end, I think they need to be able to take the first steps,” said Senator John Cornyn told reporters.

Top House Republican Kevin McCarthy turned down the idea, suggesting that Trump could still prevail.

“He’s not a president right now,” McCarthy said of Biden. “I don’t know if he will become president on January 20th.”

Democrats attacked Trump and Republicans gave him cover for undermining the country’s institutions. In an interview broadcast on CBS ‘”60 Minutes” on Sunday, former President Barack Obama said Republicans were “downing a dangerous path” in advocating Trump’s unsubstantiated allegations of electoral fraud.

Taking a measured approach, Biden said this week he viewed Trump’s claims as “embarrassing” but insisted he wasn’t worried about the impact on his White House transition. His legal advisors have dismissed the Trump lawsuits as political theater.

Top Democrats in Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Chairman Chuck Schumer, called on Republicans Thursday to accept Biden’s victory and work on drawing up an aid package to counter the effects of the pandemic combat conditions that have killed more than 241,000 people in the United States.

A number of states and cities have begun to introduce new restrictions on public activity, amid a huge nationwide resurgence in cases.

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