U.S. clears transition money, aid for Biden
Decision comes on day Mich. certified win by Democrat
The Trump administration tacitly agreed Monday that the presidential election will not be overturned, finally authorizing the start of formal transition proceedings for Presidentelect Joe Biden.
Soon after Michigan certified its vote for Biden, the General Services Administration official who has blocked the transition for over two
weeks alerted Biden that his team would now have access to the personnel and resources authorized under federal law.
The administrator, Emily Murphy, wrote to Biden that Trump had not placed any pressure on her to delay the transition as the president tried to fight the election result in court, and that she had made all the decisions around the timing of the transition.
Soon after, Trump tweeted that he made those decisions.
Trump’s efforts to overturn the election had been sputtering, and Monday saw major setbacks to his efforts.
Republicans, national security experts and business leaders said it was time for the transition to proceed.
Sen. Rob Portman, ROhio, had called Monday for Murphy to release the money, information and staffing needed for the transition.
Portman, a senior member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, also said Biden should receive high-level briefings on national security and the coronavirus vaccine distribution plan.
Portman, a Trump ally, joined a growing number of Republican officials who in recent days had urged Trump to begin the transition immediately. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., urged a smooth transition, saying in a statement Monday, “At some point, the 2020 election must end.”
Meanwhile, more than 160 business leaders asked Murphy to immediately acknowledge Biden as president-elect and begin the transition to a new administration.
“Withholding resources and vital information from an incoming administration puts the public and economic health and security of America at risk,” the business letters said in an open letter to Murphy.
Separately, more than 100 Republican former national security officials — including former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte— said in a statement that Trump’s refusal to concede and allow for an orderly transition “constitutes a serious threat” to the democratic process.
The officials signing the letter worked under four presidents, including Trump.
Earlier Monday, the Michigan Board of Canvassers certified the state’s election results, effectively awarding the state’s 16 electoral votes to Biden, who defeated Trump by more than 155,000 votes there.
The decision was yet another blow to Trump’s effort to undo Biden’s win by attempting to delay the certification of the election results in key states.
Three out the four board members voted for certification after a dramatic political dispute over finalizing the vote tally roiled the state. The Michigan canvassing board had never before refused to certify a statewide vote, but pressure on the once-obscure panel had built over the past week.
“The board’s duty today is very clear,” said Aaron Van Langevelde, the Republican vice chairman. “We have a duty to certify this election based on these returns. That is very clear. We are limited to these returns. I’m not going to argue that we’re not.”
“With Michigan’s certifying [its] results, Joe Biden has over 270 electoral college votes,” tweeted Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La. “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.”
Some Trump allies had expressed hope that lawmakers could intervene in selecting Republican electors in states that might refuse to certify. That long-odds 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 in a statement, saying it’s “time to put this election behind us.”
The Trump legal team dismissed the certification as “simply a procedural step” and insisted it would continue to mount legal challenges.
In a one-page letter to Biden, Murphy, the GSA chief, sought to address head-on the controversy that engulfed the country over her decision to not recognize the presidentelect as the winner.
She used unusually personal language to describe the predicament she faced as Trump refused to concede the election and declared fraud in the results in battleground states, writing that she has “always strived to do what is right.”
“Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts,” she 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.”
Murphy said she did not receive “any direction to delay my determination,” but did receive threats online, by phone, and by mail “directed at my safety, my family, my staff, and evenmy pets in an effort to coerce me into making this determination prematurely.”
Murphy, a Trump appointee, also had 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, including in critical national security and public health areas.
On Monday, Trump spent another day refusing to concede. Unofficial election returns show Trump lost to Biden by 6 million votes and 306-232 in the Electoral College. Trump had launched a series of losing court battles across the country making baseless claims of widespread voter fraud and seeking to overturn the election results.
He tweeted shortly after Murphy’s letter was made public: “We will keep up the good fight and I believe we will prevail!
“Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I amrecommending 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.”
Yohannes Abraham, the 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.
“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.”
“Now that GSA Administrator Emily Murphy has fulfilled her duty and ascertained the election results, the formal presidential transition can begin in full force,” said Max Stier, president and CEO of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service.
“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. 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.”