The presidential transition has officially started.
Monday, Emily Murphy, Head of General Service Administration (GSA) sent a letter to President-elect Joe Biden, officially authorizing the start of the presidential transition. Murphy released the “verification” letter after weeks of delay, and amid mounting pressure from Democrats and bipartisan crackdown on national securityy and public health experts to start the process. Some Republican politicians had also started to speak.
This finding will provide funding for the Biden-Harris transition and, most importantly, give Biden’s team the opportunity to meet with their federal agency counterparts to prepare for the new administration that will take over in January.
“As an administrator of the United States General Service Administration, I have the ability under the Presidential Transition Act of 1963, as amended, to make certain post-election resources and services available to assist in the event of a presidential transition, ”Murphy wrote in his letter to Vice President-elect Biden.
“I take this role seriously and, due to recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results, I am delivering this letter today to make these resources and services available to you,” she said. .
These “recent developments” most likely refer to Trump’s unsuccessful attempts in court to challenge the elections and to battlefield states, including Michigan and Georgia, officially certifying the votes for Biden’s victory. In the past, most GSA directors have made their judgments based on media projections, after which the losing candidate usually concedes. But Murphy had refrained from doing so, despite Biden being declared the winner by all major U.S. media outlets and Trump’s legal challenges largely going nowhere in court.
The GSA recognizes Biden’s victory and the official start if the transition process is likely to allay some of the concerns about Trump’s refusal to accept the election results. With Republicans retreating in their defense of the president and the rapid shutdown of Trump’s legal lanes, the reality that Trump has tried to keep at bay for weeks is finally catching up to him. Biden will be president on January 20 – and now, at least, he can start to prepare properly.
The role of GSA in the transition is normally superficial. This year – as with so many other things related to the transition – has not been normal.
After most presidential elections – with the exception of the contested 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore – GSA administrators quickly identified the incoming president after the media called the race and the losing candidate. conceded.
Murphy’s refusal to do so had intensified pressure from Capitol Hill, including from House Democrats who wanted Murphy to brief them on the transitional heist. And as Trump’s legal losses mounted, some prominent republicans also broke ranks with the president, congratulated the new administration and called for the start of the transition.
Murphy, in his letter on Monday, defended his decision making, saying the “precedent” of previous elections involving court challenges and incomplete tally had emerged. The GSA does not dictate the outcome of legal disputes and reports, nor does it determine whether such proceedings are reasonable and justified. Again, the only modern example of the GSA delaying a presidential transition came in 2000 because of the Florida recount.
Murphy also denied that the White House pressured him to withhold the finding. “I have devoted much of my adult life to public service and have always strived to do the right thing. Please know that I made my decision independently, based on the law and the facts available. I have never been directly or indirectly pressured by any executive branch official – including those who work in the White House or GSA – regarding the content or timing of my decision. Murphy wrote. “To be clear, I received no instructions to delay my determination.”
But President Donald Trump undermined that a bit, saying in a tweet shortly after the GSA acted that “in the best interests of our country, I recommend Emily and her team do what needs to be done.” regarding the initial protocols, and told my team to do the same.
… fight, and I believe we will win! Nonetheless, in the best interest of our country, I recommend that Emily and her team do what needs to be done regarding the initial protocols and have told my team to do the same.
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 23, 2020
Although Trump has said his case is “going STRONGLY,” this is one of the president’s most direct acknowledgments to date that his term is ending – though not exactly a concession.
Biden’s transition team, meanwhile, attempted to move forward without the cooperation of the Trump administration. Biden began appointing key members of his cabinet and held meetings with heads of state on how to better coordinate the federal and state Covid-19 response. He also received a national security briefing former officials – though not quite the same as a threat briefing from US intelligence agencies. With the finding of the GSA, national security and pandemic coordination are expected to begin in earnest.
In a statement, Yohannes Abraham, executive director of the Biden-Harris transition, called the GSA audit “a necessary step to start addressing the challenges our country faces, including bringing the pandemic under control and getting our economy back on track. rails.”
“This final decision is a final administrative measure to officially begin the transition process with federal agencies,” the statement continued. “In the coming days, transition officials will begin meeting with federal officials to discuss the pandemic response, get a full account of our national security interests, and gain a full understanding of the efforts of the Trump administration to hollow out government agencies.