The Donald Trump administration seems to have acknowledged the loss of the presidential election as the General Services Administration (GSA), after weeks of non-cooperation has informed President-elect, Joe Biden that the administration is ready to begin the formal transition process.
According to a report from CNN, this was disclosed in a letter from the Administrator of DSA, Emily Murphy on Monday afternoon, November 23, 2020.
The letter is the first major step taken by the Trump administration to acknowledge its defeat in the presidential election after over 2 weeks that Joe Biden was declared the winner.
Monday’s letter is coming hours after Michigan formally certified the election results and some Republican senators had called for the transition process to start. This is also as more lawsuits from Trump’s legal team were dismissed, and Georgia election earlier certified on Friday and Pennsylvania set to be certified as well.
While making the decision to cooperate with the President-elect, Murphy said she had not been pressured by the White House to delay the formal transition and did not make a decision out of fear or favoritism.
She said, “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. To be clear, I did not receive any direction to delay my determination.”
The letter signifies Murphy’s formal acknowledgment of Joe Biden’s victory, a normally perfunctory process known as ascertainment. This action will allow the transition process, which has been delayed for some weeks, to officially commence, ensuring that current administration agency officials cooperate with the incoming Biden team, and providing millions in government funding for the transition.
For some weeks after his announcement as the winner of the presidential election, the Biden team who have been denied access to government information and agencies by the Trump administration, had worked informally to kick start the transition process with some actions which include setting up a coronavirus task force, consulting with public health officials outside the government, meeting with top corporate leaders, amongst others.
The delay in ascertainment meant that Biden’s team was denied access to government data and could not make contact with federal agencies, nor spend $6.3 million in government funding now available for the transition. A Biden official said the most urgent need was for the transition to be given access to Covid-19 data and the vaccine distribution plans.
The Biden team is expected to have access to additional office space inside the agencies and the ability to use federal resources for background checks on Biden’s White House staff appointments and Cabinet appointments.
Moments after the letter was sent, Donald Trump tweeted thanking Murphy for her work and affirming the decision to start the transition.
His tweet reads, “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.”
This letter from GSA now means that the Biden team will now have access to government agency staff with regular briefings in addition to details of administrative issues that need to be addressed immediately.
The President-elect and his vice will also be receiving classified intelligence briefings as white house officials will start to cooperate.
It can be recalled that Murphy, who was appointed by Donald Trump, had refused to go ahead with the ascertainment process, despite Biden’s clear victory. She has faced intense scrutiny and political pressure from Democrats and, in recent days, Republicans calling for the start of a smooth transition.