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June 12, 2021
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President Trump said on Monday that he is allowing his administration to begin the transition to a Biden presidency, but is “not conceding anything,” (The Sun).
The White House General Services Administration (GSA) has written to Biden, signaling the beginning of the handover. This means Biden will now become party to the daily security briefing and be able to communicate with the country’s Covid-19 task-force. Emily Murphy, chief General Services Administrator, wrote to Biden Monday that had been judged the “apparent winner” of the election, though she notably did not write that the Democrat had been “ascertained” the winner of the election.
Murphy said in her letter to Biden that her decision frees up more than $7 million in federal funding for his transition. Biden’s team was already fundraising in the wake of Election Day and had been on track to achieve its fundraising goals. “Today’s 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,” the Biden transition team said in a statement. “This final decision is a definitive administrative action to formally begin the transition process with federal agencies.”
Murphy had become the target of intense criticism and pressure from the public and lawmakers alike, who insisted that she immediately make the ascertainment of Biden’s win and allow his team to make use of the funds. House Democratic committee leaders last week demanded that Murphy brief them personally on the funding hold up. In the letter to Biden, Murphy strongly defended her actions and pushed back on her critics, who in some instances accused her of acting with political motivations.
“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. I did, however, receive threats online, by phone, and by mail directed at my safety, my family, my staff, and even my pets in an effort to coerce me into making this determination prematurely. Even in the face of thousands of threats, I always remained committed to upholding the law,” Murphy wrote.
“Contrary to media reports and insinuations, my decision was not made out of fear or favoritism,” she added. “Instead, I strongly believe that the statute requires that the GSA Administrator ascertain, not impose, the apparent president-elect. Unfortunately, the statute provides no procedures or standards for this process, so I looked to precedent from prior elections involving legal challenges and incomplete counts.”
Trump, in a pair of tweets following the release of the letter, thanked Murphy “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,” the president tweeted. Trump maintained that his legal efforts continue “STRONGLY,” adding, “I believe we will prevail!” But he added: “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” (CNBC).
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wrote in a memo to staff that the White House “will comply with all actions needed to ensure the smooth transfer of power,” according to a report. He added: “Our work here is not finished. I am confident that each of you will represent and preserve the Executive Office of the President as we continue on.” Meadows has also reportedly informed White House staffers that they are not allowed to speak directly with the Biden transition team unless permission is granted.
Hours after the letter was released, Trump took to twitter again to say his team will never concede and brand the election “corrupt.” He also brought up the lawsuits his campaign team has filed in contested states. “What does GSA being allowed to preliminarily work with the Dems have to do with continuing to pursue our various cases on what will go down as the most corrupt election in American political history?” Trump asked. “We are moving full speed ahead. Will never concede to fake ballots & ‘Dominion'”, he added – referring to a voting tech company his campaign has claimed – was compromised by Venezuela. Trump vowed to continue with his campaign’s legal battles to overturn the election result – which some Republicans have argued was fraudulent.
Executive Directory on the Biden-Harris Transition team Yohannes Abraham released his own statement welcoming the beginning of the transition. “The GSA Administrator has ascertained President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the apparent winners of the election, providing the incoming Administration with the resources and support necessary to carry out a smooth and peaceful transfer of power,” the statement read. “Today’s 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,” Abraham continued. “This final decision is a definitive administrative action to formally begin the transition process with federal agencies. “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,” it concluded.
Murphy has insisted she was not influenced by the executive branch in delaying her determination. Murphy wrote that the delay came because the “GSA does not dictate the outcome of legal disputes and recounts, nor does it determine whether such proceedings are reasonable or justified.” According to usual protocol, the GSA would wait for the president to concede to begin the normal transition process. “These are issues that the Constitution, federal laws, and state laws leave to the election certification process and decisions by courts of competent jurisdiction. “I do not think that an agency charged with improving federal procurement and property management should place itself above the constitutionally-based election process. “I strongly urge Congress to consider amendments to the Act.” (The Sun).
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE