Biden's transition moves ahead

By Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 8:00 p.m. ET, December 7, 2020
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8:55 a.m. ET, December 7, 2020

Biden's transition team is scheduled to receive a defense intelligence briefing today

From CNN's Ryan Browne

AFP/Getty Images/File
AFP/Getty Images/File

Members of the Biden transition team are scheduled to receive briefings from the Pentagon's intelligence agencies beginning on Monday, according to defense officials.

"They are meeting with DoD intelligence agencies Monday and Tuesday of this week," according to a senior defense official.

The briefings are to take place days after, according to a former senior intelligence official familiar with intelligence transition discussions, that the Pentagon had blocked the Biden transition team's access to the Department of Defense's intelligence agencies such as the NSA and Defense Intelligence Agency.

The Department of Defense strongly denied claims that it had hindered the briefings, with a spokesman calling the claims "demonstrably false and patently insulting."

Multiple Pentagon officials blamed the meetings being delayed on the Biden transition organization, saying the members of its intelligence transition team reached out directly to the Pentagon's intelligence agencies, which they said was a violation of the transition arrangement agreed to with the Biden camp.

"We can't help them if they can't read an org chart," a defense official told CNN.

"That was more of an internal issue for the Biden team than a DoD issue," another defense official said.

Biden transition team spokesman Ned Price declined to comment about the briefings.

Pentagon officials also said that this week's briefings between defense intelligence officials and the Biden transition team were scheduled prior to reports of the Pentagon denying access being published by multiple news outlets.

1:11 p.m. ET, December 7, 2020

Key things to know about Biden's nominee to lead Health and Human Services

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny, Kate Sullivan and Tami Luhby

Xavier Becerra is the first Latino to serve as California's attorney general.
Xavier Becerra is the first Latino to serve as California's attorney general. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/File

President-elect Joe Biden is nominating California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, the transition team announced today.

If confirmed by the United States Senate, Becerra would serve a critical role in the administration's response to a pandemic that has killed more than 282,000 Americans as of Sunday evening.

Becerra, a former member of Congress, emerged as the leading contender for the critical role after other candidates with more health care expertise were ruled out.

The New York Times was first to report the expected nomination.

Here are some key things to know about Becerra:

  • Becerra is the first Latino to serve as the attorney general of California and has been in the post since 2017.
  • He has been a fierce opponent of President Trump, and the state of California has brought more than 100 lawsuits against the President and his administration's policies.
  • More than half of the lawsuits are over environmental policies, according to the Los Angeles Times, that the Trump administration had either put in place or removed.
  • Becerra has also been a leader in the fight to protect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an Obama-era program that Trump has attempted to abolish that has shielded from deportation certain undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children.
  • One of Becerra's highest-profile health care roles recently has been chief defender of the Affordable Care Act in court.With the Trump administration joining a coalition of Republican state attorneys general fighting to invalidate the landmark health reform law, Becerra has led a group of Democratic attorneys general arguing why the law remains valid. At issue is whether Congress' reducing the penalty for not having health insurance to zero rendered the individual mandate unconstitutional, which would cause the entire law to fall.

Read more here.