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Biden Campaign Lawyer On Trump's Refusal To Concede Election

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

There are 78 days between Election Day and Inauguration Day, and the Trump campaign and Republican supporters have spent the last 44 of them using the courts to try to overturn the results of the election. Their path all but disappeared this week when the Electoral College confirmed Joe Biden as the next president. As those legal challenges have played out going all the way to the Supreme Court, Bob Bauer has been the Biden campaign's point man. He's a senior adviser to the campaign, he was White House counsel to President Obama, and he's here now. Bob Bauer, welcome.

BOB BAUER: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

KELLY: Are we done with litigating results of the November 3 election now that the Supreme Court has thrown out the Texas lawsuit that sought to overturn the election?

BAUER: Yes. I mean, for all practical purposes, we're done. I mean, one can never tell whether some peculiar claim is lodged somewhere at some point.

KELLY: Never rule out the ability of lawyers to litigate.

BAUER: Well, yes, and to make things up that are doomed to failure. And we've seen a lot of that. I mean, since the election, there have been over, you know, 60 lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign or its allies. And as we all know, they've flamed spectacularly to the ground. We're done. And we saw in the last two days that the Republican leadership in the Senate has reconciled itself to this outcome and acknowledged that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the president-elect and vice president-elect of the United States.

KELLY: You prompt me to ask about another potential wrinkle which would not be in the courts but would be in Congress. Congress, as you know, will officially certify the election results on January 6. Mitch McConnell - you referenced the Senate majority leadership. He has warned Senate Republicans, get in line. Do not challenge the election results. My question to you - what happens if even one of them does not listen, refuses to toe the line? How much havoc could that wreak?

BAUER: It could consume a little bit of additional time. Very typically these sessions are very short. They're somewhat pro forma because the Electoral College is voted, and the Electoral College votes are then read to the Congress or received by the Congress and read to the Congress. And that ends it. That's it. With objections, there's the possibility that some more time would be taken up, but the outcome would be absolutely the same.

KELLY: It would force both chambers to take a vote on the election if even one senator signed it.

BAUER: It would require them at least to - yeah. There would be some jousting around about the objections. As you know, the objections have to be paired. Senate and House members have to agree to object. Leader McConnell - Republican Leader McConnell has said that he hopes that no senator on his side will join those objections.

KELLY: Bigger-picture question - do you need Trump to concede? If he never does, does it matter?

BAUER: No, it doesn't matter at all. It has no legal significance whatsoever. It is a norm, and he shattered it, and it's deeply unfortunate. It had the effect probably of influencing the delay in the transition, the formal transition that is triggered by a determination by the General Services Administration. But at the end of the day, it doesn't really make any difference whether a president concedes or doesn't concede. Presidents don't decide whether they stay in office. That is what voters decide. And so it's a norm that we rely on and have relied on for years. And it is deeply unfortunate that it was shattered in this instance, but it is not legally significant.

KELLY: Another question as to what a president can or can't do on his way out the door - there is reporting that Trump may appoint a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden. How tricky a predicament would that set up for Joe Biden?

BAUER: I have no idea what President Trump will do on his way out the door. But I think that over time, President Trump has made various statements about what he would like to do with the Department of Justice, how much control he would like to have over it, his desire to pursue his political enemies. And I think it is pretty clear that there's been a lot of concern, a great deal of legitimate concern about presidents taking that position with respect to the politicization of the Department of Justice. And I think that sort of speaks for itself.

KELLY: Last question, which is - this has been a period of such uncertainty, of lack of stability, whatever one's political views and leanings. Is your view that in the end, the system held, that democracy holds?

BAUER: I am very glad you asked that question because the system did hold. I think the story of this election is that there was, under extraordinary circumstances, an election that has really stood up to an unprecedented assault, both a rhetorical assault and an assault in the courts. I followed these issues very closely over a number of years, and I think this one is for the record books, for the history books. It is a remarkable performance by election administrators, Democratic and Republican, and all of those communities in the private sector, in the philanthropic sector, citizens who were prepared to participate as poll workers who made it possible for them to do their jobs as effectively. It was quite extraordinary.

KELLY: Bob Bauer - he served as White House counsel in the Obama administration. Thanks for your time.

BAUER: Thank you very much. I really appreciate it. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.