Trump lets administration begin Biden transitionNovember 24, 2020
More than two weeks after clinching electoral victory, President-elect Joe Biden can finally start his formal transition to the White House.
The General Services Administration formally acknowledged Biden as the apparent winner of the 2020 presidential election, allowing his team to get working on the logistics of the transition, President Donald Trump announced in a tweet on Monday evening. By law, the president-elect cannot access federal transition funds or contact federal agencies to plan staffing until the GSA recognizes him as the electoral winner.
“I want to thank Emily Murphy at GSA for her steadfast dedication and loyalty to our Country. She has been harassed, threatened, and abused — and I do not want to see this happen to her, her family, or employees of GSA. Our case STRONGLY continues, we will keep up the good…fight, and I believe we will prevail!” Trump tweeted, referring to the head of the GSA.
He continued: “Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.”
Despite news outlets and numerous foreign dignitaries recognizing Biden as the winner earlier this month, the GSA stayed silent on the next occupant of the White House, limiting Biden in his preparations.
Trump and many of his Republican allies have continued to contest the election as rife with fraud, pushing legal action and investigations that they say could flip the Electoral College in his favor. But with no evidence of widespread malfeasance and margins in the tens of thousands in key swing states, the odds of such a flip are next to nil.
Trump has also refused to share with Biden the President’s Daily Briefing, despite calls from some Senate Republicans to do so. The Office of Management and Budget also pushed forward with Trump’s budget for 2022, acting as though he would have a second term.
The roadblocks were further aberrations from the collegiality usually shown during a presidential transition. But they were telegraphed by Trump, who had openly refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power in the lead-up to the election. Other members of Trump’s administration, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, also made waves by refusing to acknowledge Biden as the next president or otherwise casting doubt on the legitimacy of the election.
In a letter to the Biden team, Murphy insisted that her delay in recognizing his electoral win was not because of personal or political pressures. Murphy said she had received threats against her and her loved ones if she did not start the transition, but held off based on precedent relating to incomplete counts and legal challenges to election results.
“I have dedicated much of my adult life to public service, and I have always strived to do what is right,” Murphy wrote. “Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts.”
Regardless, Biden’s team didn’t waste time waiting for the official acknowledgment to make preparations for the White House. His transition team had met with former civil servants and other outside experts to better understand the agencies they’d be staffing, and he has been winnowing down candidates for various appointments.