Biden transition to begin amid more Trump defeats
After weeks of fraught delay, the federal government recognised President-elect Joe Biden as the “apparent winner” of the November 3 election on Monday and gave the green light for cooperation on a transition of power. The move came after President Donald Trump suffered yet more legal and procedural defeats in a seemingly futile effort to overturn the election with unsubstantiated claims of fraud.
General Services Administrator Emily Murphy cleared the way for Biden to coordinate with federal agencies ahead of his January 20 inauguration after Trump’s efforts to subvert the vote failed across multiple battleground states.
Trump, who has still refused to concede the election — and may never — followed up with a tweet that he was directing his team to cooperate on the transition. The president had grown increasingly frustrated with the flailing tactics of his legal team.
Murphy, explaining her decision, cited “recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results”.
She acted after Michigan on Monday certified Biden’s victory in the battleground state, and a federal judge in Pennsylvania tossed a Trump campaign lawsuit on Saturday seeking to prevent certification in that state.
It also comes as an increasing number of Republicans were publicly acknowledging Biden’s victory, after weeks of tolerating Trump’s baseless claims of fraud.
“With Michigan’s certifying [its] results, Joe Biden has over 270 electoral college votes,” tweeted Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy. “President Trump’s legal team has not presented evidence of the massive fraud which would have had to be present to overturn the election. I voted for President Trump but Joe Biden won.”
Yohannes Abraham, executive director of the Biden transition, said in a statement that the decision “is a needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation, including getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track”.
He added: “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.”
Murphy, a Trump appointee, has faced bipartisan criticism for failing to begin the transition process sooner, preventing Biden’s team from working with career agency officials on plans for his administration. The delay denied Biden access to receive highly classified national security briefings and hindered his team’s ability to begin drawing up its own plans to respond to the raging coronavirus pandemic.