President-elect Joe Biden gave a sobering year-end message, particularly about the challenges remaining in the Covid-19 crisis and in the impact of the massive cyberattack on U.S. government agencies.
Biden said that there was hope with a new vaccine, which he received on Monday, but that the virus is still raging out of control, with more than 3,000 deaths per day.
“Here is the simple truth: Our darkest days in the battle against covid are ahead of us, not behind us. So we need to prepare ourselves, to steel our spines. As frustrating as it is to hear, it’s going to take patience, persistence and determination to beat this virus.”
The major news networks and NBC and ABC carried the remarks. CBS streamed the remarks on CBSN.
Biden praised Congress for working together to pass another Covid-19 relief bill, but said that additional measures will be needed, including money for vaccine distribution and additional stimulus checks to boost the economy.
He criticized President Donald Trump for his response, or lack of response, the the cyberattack. “I’ve seen no evidence that suggests it’s under control,” Biden said, adding that “the Defense Department won’t even brief us.”
Biden said that Trump’s “failure will land on my doorstep,” and he cited comments from some members of the administration, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Attorney General William Barr, who have said that Russia likely was behind it. Trump, though, has cast doubt on that assessment and pointed to China as a culprit.
“The truth is this, the Trump administration failed to prioritize cybersecurity,” said Biden, adding that Trump has been engaged in an “irrational” downplaying the seriousness of the hack.
Asked whether he thought that he would get a “honeymoon period” when he takes office, or a period in which politicians of both parties tone down their rhetoric and work together, Biden said, “I don’t think it’s a honeymoon. I think it’s a nightmare that everybody’s going through, and they all say, ‘It’s got to end.’ It’s not a honeymoon. They’re not doing me a favor.”
After he took a series of questions, Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked Biden whether he thinks the stories about his son, Hunter Biden, that came out during the campaign were Russian disinformation and a smear effort.
“Yes, yes, yes,” Biden said. “God love you. You’re a one-horse pony.”
He added that his Justice Department “will be totally on its own in making judgments about how they should proceed.”
Hunter Biden revealed earlier this month that he was under a federal investigation of his taxes.