Pope phones Joe Biden as ‘poisonous’ Trump slammed
The Pope has spoken to President-elect Joe Biden to congratulate him on his US election win.
In a statement, the Biden transition team said, "President-elect Joe Biden spoke this morning with His Holiness Pope Francis. The president-elect thanked His Holiness for extending blessings and congratulations and noted his appreciation for His Holiness' leadership in promoting peace, reconciliation, and the common bonds of humanity around the world."
Mr Biden will be America's second Catholic president, behind John F Kennedy who was in office from 1961 until his assassination in 1963.
Mr Biden "expressed his desire to work together on the basis of a shared belief in the dignity and equality of all humankind on issues such as caring for the marginalised and the poor, addressing the crisis of climate change, and welcoming and integrating immigrants and refugees into our communities", the statement said.
REPUBLICANS 'POISONING' DEMOCRACY
Mr Trump was again active on Twitter on Thursday (local time), questioning the validity of the election result while also retweeing a statement from a supporter that suggested a vote recount in the Georgia should instead be a "vote audit".
"100 per cent correct!" Mr Trump tweeted.
But the US Senate's top Democrat warned his Republican colleagues that they were "poisoning" the country's democracy by continuing to refuse to acknowledge Mr Biden's presidential election victory last week.
Only a handful of Republicans have publicly congratulated Mr Biden - who himself served for decades in the Senate - an awkward break with political tradition that has heightened the sense of polarisation in Washington.
Several Republican politicians including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have stood firm with Mr Trump by supporting his refusal to concede the election and backing the flood of legal challenges that the party has introduced following the vote.
"We just had a divisive and hard-fought presidential election," a clearly frustrated Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters.
"But instead of working to pull the country back together so that we can fight our common enemy COVID-19, Republicans in Congress are spreading conspiracy theories, denying reality and poisoning the well of our democracy."
Instead of following political norms and extolling America's ongoing tradition of a peaceful transition of power, Republicans who have no evidence of significant electoral fraud are "denying reality" and "auditioning for profiles in cowardice," Mr Schumer went on.
"Congressional Republicans are deliberately casting doubt on our elections for no other reason but fear of Donald Trump," he added, even after every major US media outlet called the race in Mr Biden's favour.
Political experts have said Republicans may be invoking such a strategy as a way to rile up Mr Trump's political base ahead of two key run-off elections for US Senate seats in Georgia that will determine which party controls the chamber going forward.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Mr Trump's top Democratic nemesis in Congress, also weighed in to call on Republicans to stop their "absurd circus" and focus their attention on combating the pandemic and not Mr Biden's election victory.
"Now that the people have expressed their views, Joe Biden has won (and) Kamala Harris will be the first woman vice president of the United States," Mrs Pelosi said.
WORLD LEADERS CONGRATULATE BIDEN
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has joined a chorus of world leaders congratulating President-elect Joe Biden as Donald Trump continued to fight the presidential election result.
"I've just spoken to President-elect @JoeBiden to congratulate him on his election. There are no greater friends and no greater allies than Australia and the US," Mr Morrison said on Twitter.
Later, the Prime Minister revealed he had personally invited Mr Biden to visit Australia next year to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the 70th relationship.
The Australian/US relationship had been stewarded "by many prime ministers, by many presidents, from many perspectives," Mr Morrison said, but it was "bigger than both of us".
The alliance was important "not just here in Australia and in the United States, but in our own region and more broadly, around the rest of the world, and we understand those responsibilities," Mr Morrison said.
The leaders of France, Germany, Canada, Ireland, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have also spoken to Mr Biden since last week's election.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson drove home his support for Mr Biden by referring to Mr Trump as the "former president" in parliament.
Despite Mr Biden's lead in the electoral college exceeding five million votes, Team Trump continues to lodge legal challenges to the count.
While he appeared in public on Wednesday local time for the first time since the election was called in Mr Biden's favour over the weekend, Mr Trump did not issue any public statements.
He was on Wednesday local time declared winner in Alaska and was reportedly buoyed by the announcement of a vote audit and hand recount in the tight state of Georgia.
Mr Trump and First Lady Melania Trump joined Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence at a solemn Veteran's Day commemoration at Arlington Cemetery.
In a statement, Mr Trump paid tribute to those who had died for the US.
"On Veterans Day, we pause to pay tribute to all who have proudly worn our Nation's uniform. These Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen selflessly placed lives, well‑being, and security of others before their own," the statement said.
"We enjoy the privileges of peace, prosperity, and freedom because of our veterans, and we are forever indebted to them beyond measure."
With COVID-19 cases shattering records across the country - a million new cases were diagnosed over the past 10 days - and states imposing new restrictions in a push to contain the virus before winter arrives, Mr Trump seems to have all but shelved normal presidential duties.
Instead he has remained shut up inside the presidential mansion, pushing an alternate reality that he is about to win and filing lawsuits alleging voter fraud that so far have been backed up by only the flimsiest evidence.
Claiming that a poll in Wisconsin on Election Day had resulted in "possibly illegal suppression" he said he was "now preparing to win the state," which was called for Mr Biden one week ago.
"Many such 'deplorable' instances!" he added on Twitter.
Some Republicans were adding their voices to growing calls for the president to concede, with experts warning his refusal to do so was undermining the democratic process and holding up the transition to Mr Biden, who takes office in January.
Among them was Republican secretary of state for Montana, Corey Stapleton, who heralded the "incredible things" Mr Trump accomplished in office.
"But that time is now over. Tip your hat, bite your lip, and congratulate @JoeBiden," he tweeted.
Mr Biden is reportedly close to naming senior staff and appointments to his transition team by the end of the week.
His longtime adviser Ron Klain was named Chief of Staff while avowed socialist Bernie Sanders was touting himself for the Labour Secretary role.
"If I had a portfolio that allowed me to stand up and fight for working families, would I do it? Yes, I would," Mr Sanders said on CNN.
"I want to do everything I can to protect the working families of this country who are under tremendous duress right now and whether that is in the senate or in the Biden administration, who knows. Let's see how that unfolds."
Mr Biden on Wednesday local time attended an event at a Korean War memorial in Philadelphia and released a statement in which he noted the debt owed to the armed forces. The nation's "one truly sacred obligation" was "to prepare and equip our troops we send into harm's way, and to care for them and their families when they return home," he said.
Originally published as Pope calls Joe as 'poisonous' Trump slammed