The Trump administration is refusing to acknowledge that Biden wonNovember 9, 2020
After an exhausting week, Democratic candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden has been declared the winner of the 2020 election, defeating President Trump. Biden will not be inaugurated until January, so there are still a few months of limbo ahead. But it seems the Trump administration is determined to make things as difficult as they can be. Exhibit A: The Trump administration is apparently refusing to acknowledge that Biden won the election, which is perhaps unsurprising given how the president himself has handled the results.
While pretty much every major news outlet declared that Biden won the presidency on Saturday morning, there’s still a formal transition process to follow. To start, the head of the current administration’s General Services Administration has to basically give the go-ahead. Through a process called ascertainment, Biden will be recognized as the president-elect, and his transition team will then receive the necessary funding for background checks, training staff, and more.
But by Monday, more than two days after the race was called, GSA Administrator Emily W. Murphy, a Trump appointee, has yet to sign off on beginning the handover. When asked by CNN, GSA spokesperson Pamela Pennington would not provide a specific timeline for ascertainment, instead telling the outlet, “The GSA administrator does not pick the winner in the presidential election. In accordance with the Presidential Transition Act of 1963, as amended, the GSA administrator ascertains the apparent successful candidate once a winner is clear based on the process laid out in the Constitution.”
Pennington also wouldn’t clarify what makes an “apparent successful candidate”. Right now, the only person really questioning if Biden won is Trump, who has basically been throwing a tantrum since it became clear that the election was unlikely to go in his favor.
The Trump administration stalling the process is to be expected. For months, Trump hinted that he would not go quietly, and back in July experts already feared that there would be a post-election crisis. Add to that Trump’s beef with mail-in voting and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s cooperation in the sabotage of the Postal Service, was him setting the stage to delegitimize the results if he didn’t win — which is exactly what’s happening now.
In response to the GSA’s failure to do, well, anything, Jen Psaki, a former Obama White House communications director involved with Biden’s transition, tweeted, “Now that the election has been independently called for Joe Biden, we look forward to the GSA administrator quickly ascertaining Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the president-elect and vice president-elect.”
“America’s national security and economic interests depend on the federal government signaling clearly and swiftly that the United States government will respect the will of the American people and engage in a smooth and peaceful transfer of power,” Psaki continued.
Along with Psaki, the nonpartisan Center for Presidential Transition’s advisory board released a statement similarly calling on the Trump administration to begin the transition process. Per CNN, the board wrote in a statement, “We urge the Trump administration to immediately begin the post-election transition process and the Biden team to take full advantage of the resources available under the Presidential Transition Act.”
The statement signatures included Bush administration chief of staff Josh Bolten, Bush administration Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt, former President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff Mack McLarty and Obama administration Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.
Luckily, there are ways to continue the transition process even if the GSA doesn’t get a move on. For example, Clay Johnson III, who ran George W. Bush’s transition in 2000, told CNN, “Money to support a privately funded transition is easy to raise. [The Biden team] can raise millions of dollars in half a day.”