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Joe Biden speaking in Wilmington, Delaware on Nov. 16. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden stressed his opposition to the federal death penalty on Saturday just after the Trump administration scheduled three executions of inmates on death row before his Jan. 20 inauguration.

Why it matters: The Justice Department on Friday directed the Bureau of Prisons to schedule three additional executions on top of two it has already scheduled for December.

Context: The Bureau of Prisons put Orlando Hall, 49, to death on Thursday. He was found guilty of kidnapping, raping and burying a Texas teenager alive in 1994.

  • Hall was the eighth inmate to be executed by the federal government this year following a 17-year hiatus. The DOJ has executed more people in 2020 than during the previous half-century, according to AP.
  • The last time the government carried out an execution between a presidential election and the inauguration of the new president was 1889, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Death Penalty Information Center.

What they're saying: “The President-Elect opposes the death penalty, now and in the future, and as president will work to end its use," TJ Ducklo, press secretary for the Biden-Harris campaign, said in a statement on Saturday.

The big picture: Alfred Bourgeois is scheduled to be executed on Dec. 11. He was found guilty of murdering his 2 1/2-year-old daughter in 2004.

  • Cory Johnson's execution is planned for Jan. 14, 2021. He was found guilty of seven counts of capital murder, though his lawyers argue Johnson is intellectually disabled and therefore prohibited from being executed, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
  • Dustin Higgs is set to be executed on Jan. 15. He was convicted of ordering the murders of three women 1996. Higgs' attorneys argue he is intellectually disabled and receiving an "arbitrary and inequitable" punishment since the person who prosecutors claim carried out the killings did not receive the death penalty, according to AP.
  • All three are Black men, as was Hall.

Go deeper

Updated Dec 2, 2020 - Politics & Policy

The top Republicans who have acknowledged Biden as president-elect

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Some elected Republicans are breaking ranks with President Trump to acknowledge that President-elect Biden won the 2020 presidential election.

Why it matters: The relative sparsity of acknowledgements highlights Trump's lasting power in the GOP, as his campaign moves to file multiple lawsuits alleging voter fraud in key swing states — despite the fact that there have been no credible allegations of any widespread fraud anywhere in the U.S.

Biden plans to ask public to wear masks for first 100 days in office

Joe Biden. Photo: Mark Makela/Gettu Images

President-elect Joe Biden told CNN on Thursday that he plans to ask the American public to wear face masks for the first 100 days of his presidency.

The big picture: Biden also stated he has asked NIAID director Anthony Fauci to stay on in his current role, serve as a chief medical adviser and be part of his COVID-19 response team when he takes office early next year.

What COVID-19 vaccine trials still need to do

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

COVID-19 vaccines are being developed at record speed, but some experts fear the accelerated regulatory process could interfere with ongoing research about the vaccines.

Why it matters: Even after the first COVID-19 vaccines are deployed, scientific questions will remain about how they are working and how to improve them.