The General Services Administration has intimated President-elect Joe Biden that the Trump administration is ready to begin the formal transition process, according to a letter issued by Administrator Emily Murphy on Monday afternoon.
The letter is the first step the administration has taken to recognize Biden as President-elect since his projected win was declared by US media outlets. Murphy said she had not been pressured by WH to delay the formal transition and couldn’t make the move “out of fear of favoritism.”
“Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts,” Murphy wrote. “I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official — including those who work at the White House or GSA — with regard to the substance or timing of my decision. To be clear, I did not receive any direction to delay my determination.”
“I did, however, receive threats online, by phone, and by mail directed at my safety, my family, my staff, and even my pets in an effort to coerce me into making this determination prematurely. Even in the face of thousands of threats I have remained committed to upholding the law.”
Now that the Murphy inked the letter formally with her signs and ascertained Democrat’s win, the move will pave way for the long-awaited transition to begin officially and permit General Services Administration officials to coordinate with the incoming Biden team and provide funding required to meet the expenses of transition.
A major leap for the Biden administration
The Democrat’s transition team has not waited for the administration’s response and have already started the process as Biden announced a number of nominations and appointments on Monday. However, in the absence of government data and millions (USD 6.3mn) in government funding, Biden’s team was locked out. A Biden official said the access to coronavirus data and vaccine distribution plans was the most needed information held by Trump administration. Biden team will now be able to access additional office space within the agencies facilities and will use the federal resources for background checks for the cabinet picks.
Yohannes Abraham, executive director of Biden’s transition said, the start of the transition was a “needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation, including getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track.”
“This final decision is a definitive administrative action to formally begin the transition process with federal agencies,” Abraham said. “In the days ahead, transition officials will begin meeting with federal officials to discuss the pandemic response, have a full accounting of our national security interests and gain complete understanding of the Trump administration’s efforts to hollow out government agencies.”
States Certify results while Trump faces failure in pursuing legal challenges
The letter was sent on Monday after Michigan formally finalized its election results earlier in the day after Trump petitions were dismissed to invalidate the postal ballots. Similarly, Georgia and Pennsylvania also certified President-elect’s triumphs in their states.
The letter is also a sign that Trump’s litigation bid led by his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to subvert Biden’s win in nearing its fate – a failure. The lawsuits seeking the stays for certification of the elections have been tossed out of the courtrooms in multiple states.
Meanwhile, Murphy in her letter called on for the ascertainment rules to updated.
“GSA does not dictate the outcome of legal disputes and recounts, nor does it determine whether such proceedings are reasonable or justified,” she wrote. “These are issues that the Constitution, federal laws, and state laws leave to the election certification process and decisions by courts of competent jurisdiction. I do not think that an agency charged with improving federal procurement and property management should place itself above the constitutionally-based election process. I strongly urge Congress to consider amendments to the Act.”
Trump, moments later, took to twitter to thank the Administrator of GSA for her work and affirming to support the successful transition.
“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. “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.”
Two Trump aides said the President’s tweets are being read by people in his close circle as a concession and nothing else.
“A veiled attempt to justify continued fundraising solicitations,” the second adviser said.
Trump however, continuing with his conspiracy-laden theories on Monday night attempted to comfort his camp by suggesting that he was not conceding.
“What does GSA being allowed to preliminarily work with the Dems have to do with continuing to pursue our various cases on what will go down as the most corrupt election in American political history?” Trump tweeted. “We are moving full speed ahead.”
General Services Administration announcement
GSA in a letter issued on Monday informed federal departments that it has ascertained Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris as the apparent winners.
“In accordance with the Presidential Transition Act of 1963, as amended, today, November 23, 2020, the GSA Administrator has ascertained Joseph R. Biden and Senator Kamala Harris the apparent successful candidates for the offices of President and Vice President, respectively,” Mary Gibert, the federal transition coordinator, wrote in an official mail sent to federal department contacts.