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Trump tells GSA to allow Biden transition to begin

 

Last updated 11/24/2020 at 6:05pm

AP photo/Matt Slocum photo

Former Vice President Joe Biden, Democratic presidential candidate, speaks at McGregor Industries in Dunmore, Pennsylvania, Thursday, July 9.

Nov 24, 2020 2:56 PM

The General Services Administration has informed President-elect Joe Biden and his team that the Trump administration is ready to begin the transition process. The Hill obtained a copy of a letter sent from GSA Administrator Emily Murphy to Biden on Monday saying that he would have access to federal resources and services to facilitate a presidential transition.

Trump tweeted that he had asked Murphy to begin the transition, although he has not yet conceded his loss to Biden and vowed to keep fighting. He also tweeted that he was directing his team to cooperate on the transition.

Murphy, explaining her decision, cited "recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results."

In recent days, senior Trump aides including chief of staff Mark Meadows and White House counsel Pat Cipollone had also encouraged Trump to allow the transition to begin, telling the president he didn't need to concede but could no longer justify withholding support to the Biden transition.

Meadows, late Monday, sent a memo to White House staffers saying that their work was not yet finished and that the administration would "comply with all actions needed to ensure the smooth transfer of power," according to a person who received it.

Yohannes Abraham, executive director of the Biden transition, said 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."

Murphy, a Trump appointee, had faced 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 the Democratic president-elect access to 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.

Murphy insisted she acted on her own.

"Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts. 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," she wrote in a letter to Biden.

Trump tweeted moments after Murphy's decision: "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."

Still, Trump continued to spread information about the vote and indicated he would not concede. He tweeted Tuesday morning, "the GSA does not determine who the next President of the United States will be."

Max Stier, president and CEO of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service, criticized the delay but said Biden's team would be able to overcome it.

"Unfortunately, every day lost to the delayed ascertainment was a missed opportunity for the outgoing administration to help President-elect Joe Biden prepare to meet our country's greatest challenges," he said. "The good news is that the president-elect and his team are the most prepared and best equipped of any incoming administration in recent memory."

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said the GSA action "is probably the closest thing to a concession that President Trump could issue.″ Noting that the nation "faces multiple crises that demand an orderly transition,″ Schumer urged Democrats and Republicans to "unite together" for a smooth and peaceful transition.

Murphy's action came just 90 minutes after Michigan election officials certified Biden's 154,000-vote victory in the state. The Board of State Canvassers, which has two Republicans and two Democrats, confirmed the results on a 3-0 vote with one GOP abstention. Trump and his allies had hoped to block the vote to allow time for an audit of ballots in Wayne County, where Trump has claimed that he was the victim of fraud. Biden shows a lead of more than 330,000 votes there.

Some Trump allies had expressed hope that state lawmakers could intervene in selecting Republican electors in states that do not certify. That long-shot bid is no longer possible in Michigan.

"The people of Michigan have spoken. President-elect Biden won the State of Michigan by more than 154,000 votes, and he will be our next president on January 20th," Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, said.

The legal challenges are expected to continue as Trump's team presents hundreds of affidavits in swing states and and attorney Sidney Powell, separate from Trump's team, presents a case against Dominion voting systems, which are machines used in about 40 states.

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Associated Press writers Maryclaire Dale in Philadelphia, Jonathan Lemire in New York, Mark Scolforo in Harrisburg, Pa., Christina A. Cassidy in Atlanta and John Flesher in Traverse City, Mich., contributed to this report.

 

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