The General Services Administration announced Monday that it is ready to begin the formal White House transition process. In a letter, GSA Administrator Emily Murphy wrote that she has ascertained enough information to project that Joe Biden will be the nation’s next president. The conclusion comes some two weeks after all major news organizations called the election in Biden’s favor. As a result, the Trump administration can now begin the process of onboarding Biden’s team.
While such a move would seem trivial in a normal election, this election has not been a normal. As President Trump has continued to deny the results, he’s delayed the process of transferring power. And in the two weeks since news outlets declared a Biden victory, Murphy has resisted calls to begin the transition. (That hasn’t stopped Biden’s team from moving forward with preparations, including the announcement of several chief cabinet picks). Still, there are facets to the transition that cannot begin until the GSA formally signs on.
For instance, the outgoing administration has been blocked from relaying classified national security information to the incoming team. That means the Biden team hasn’t seen details about the COVID vaccine distribution plan, its most critical day-one priority.
But Murphy says her reluctance to begin the transition was unrelated to Trump’s efforts to subvert the election results. Rather, she says she “came to the decision independently, based on the law and available facts.”
“I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official,” she wrote in her Monday letter. “To be clear, I did not receive any direction to delay my determination.”
Murphy’s letter signals that she has formally recognized Biden’s electoral victory, a normally mundane process called ascertainment. The decision will now permit current administration officials to coordinate with Biden’s incoming team. It provides millions in government funding for the transition and access to the agencies of government.
Murphy’s decision followed news from Michigan that the state had officially certified its election results on Monday. Biden won the state by over 150,000 votes, but the certification process has become a news cycle obsession in recent weeks. That’s the result of Trump inserting himself into the once apolitical process. He did so by personally contacting members of the Wayne County canvassing board and state Republican leaders, as well as calling for the legislature to subvert the popular vote. The effort did not turn the tide in Trump’s favor. His loss in Michigan was formalized on Monday. Two days prior, the state of Georgia also certified Biden’s thin victory. Additionally, Pennsylvania is expected to certify its results by Monday evening now that its courts have rejected Trump’s appeals.
Trump Consents But Does Not Concede
As these battleground states one-by-one authenticate Biden’s win, Trump’s path to overturning the election results becomes practically impossible. And while he refuses to concede defeat, the president did comment on Murphy’s ascertainment via Twitter. He complimented the administrator (who he personally appointed) while seeming to take credit for allowing the transition to proceed.
“I want to thank Emily Murphy at GSA for her steadfast dedication and loyalty to our Country,” Trump tweeted. “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!”
“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.”
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