The presidential transition begins:
‘On Monday, General Services Administration (GSA) chief Emily Murphy sent a letter to President-elect Joe Biden, officially authorizing the start of the presidential transition. Murphy issued the letter of “ascertainment” after weeks of delay, and amid increasing pressure from Democrats, and bipartisan pushback from national security and public health experts to start the process. Some Republican politicians had also begun to speak out, too.
The ascertainment will provide funding for the Biden-Harris transition, and most critically, give Biden’s team the opportunity to meet with their counterparts across federal agencies to prepare for the new administration to take over in January.
“As the Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration, I have the ability under the Presidential Transition Act of 1963, as amended, to make certain post-election resources and services available to assist in the event of a presidential transition,” Murphy wrote in her letter to vice-president elect Biden.
“I take this role seriously and, because of recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results, am transmitting this letter today to make those resources and services available to you,” she said.
Those “recent developments” most likely refer to Trump’s failed attempts in court to challenge the election, and battleground states, including Michigan and Georgia, officially certifying the votes for Biden’s win. In the past, most GSA administrators have made their judgments based on media projections, after which the losing candidate typically concedes. But Murphy had held off from doing so, despite Biden being declared the winner by all major US media outlets and Trump’s legal challenges largely going nowhere in court.
The GSA recognizing Biden’s victory, and the formal start if the transition process will likely quell some of the concern about Trump’s refusal to accept the election results. With Republicans backing away from their defense of the president, and the Trump’s legal avenues quickly closing, the reality Trump has tried to keep at bay for weeks is finally catching up to him. Biden will be president on January 20 — and now, at least, he can begin to properly prepare.
Murphy, in her letter Monday, defended her decision-making, saying the looked to “precedent from prior elections involving legal challenges and incomplete counts. GSA does not dictate the outcome of legal disputes and recounts, nor does it determine whether such proceedings are reasonable and justified.” Again, the one modern example of the GSA delaying a presidential transition came in 2000 because of the Florida recount.
Murphy also denied that the White House pressured her to withhold the ascertainment. “I have dedicated much of my adult life to public service, and I have always strived to do what is right. 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,” Murphy wrote. “To be clear, I did not receive any direction to delay my determination.”
But President Donald Trump undermined that a bit, saying in a tweet shortly after the GSA acted that “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.”
Though Trump said his case “STRONGLY continues”, this is one of the most direct acknowledgments from the president so far that his tenure in office is ending — even if it isn’t exactly a concession….’
— Via Vox