UNITED NATIONS, Nov 24 (APP): After waiting for weeks as President Donald Trump sought to cast doubt on the Nov. 3 election results, the General Services Administration (GSA), the federal agency that must sign off on presidential transitions, notified Democrat Joe Biden and his team Monday that they can begin receiving government resources and services as part of the transition process — a formal recognition from the US government that Biden is the president-elect.
Shortly afterward, Trump, a Republican, announced he had directed his staff to also cooperate with Biden’s team, although he still refused to concede the election and vowed to continue to fight the results.
Although he did not concede or acknowledge Biden’s victory on Monday, Trump’s announcement that his staff would cooperate with Biden’s represented a significant shift and was the closest he has come to admitting defeat.
The Biden’s team welcomed the start of the transition process as the president-elect gears up to be sworn in on 20 January.
“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,” it said.
Biden won 306 state-by-state electoral votes, well over the 270 needed for victory, to Trump’s 232. Biden also holds a lead of more than 6 million in the national popular vote.
The Trump campaign’s legal efforts to overturn the election have almost entirely failed in key battleground states, and a growing number of Republican leaders, business executives and national security experts have urged the president to let the transition begin.
The president-elect has begun naming members of his team, including tapping trusted aide Antony Blinken to head the State Department, without waiting for government funding or a Trump concession. But critics have accused the president of undermining U.S. democracy and undercutting the next administration’s ability to fight the coronavirus pandemic with his refusal to accept the results
On Monday, GSA Administrator Emily Murphy, a Trump appointee, said in a letter that Biden would get access to resources that had been denied to him because of the legal challenges seeking to overturn his win.
That means Biden’s team will now have federal funds and an official office to conduct his transition until he takes office on Jan. 20. It also paves the way for Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to receive regular national security briefings that Trump also gets.
The GSA announcement came shortly after Michigan officials certified Biden as the victor in their state, making Trump’s legal efforts to change the election outcome even more unlikely to succeed.
Trump and his advisers said he would continue to pursue legal avenues but his decision to give Murphy the go-ahead to proceed with a transition for Biden’s administration indicated even the White House understood it was getting close to time to move on.
“Our case STRONGLY continues, 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,” Trump said on Twitter.
A Trump adviser painted the move as similar to both candidates receiving briefings during the campaign and said the president’s statement was not a concession.
The Biden transition team said meetings would begin with federal officials on Washington’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, along with discussions of national security issues.
Two Trump administration officials said the Biden agency review teams could begin interacting with Trump agency officials as soon as Tuesday.
“This is probably the closest thing to a concession that President Trump could issue,” said Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.
Murphy said she faced threats for not starting the transition earlier, but insisted that the decision to do so was hers alone.
“I was never pressured with regard to the substance or timing of my decision. The decision was solely mine,” she wrote. T
Trump has been consulting his advisers for weeks, while eschewing standard responsibilities of the presidency. He has played several games of golf and avoided taking questions from reporters since the day of the election.
Biden, who plans to undo many of Trump’s “America First” policies, announced the top members of his foreign policy team earlier on Monday. He named Jake Sullivan as his national security adviser and Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Both have high-level government experience. John Kerry, a former U.S. senator, secretary of state and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, will serve as Biden’s special climate envoy.
The president-elect is likely to tap former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to become the next Treasury secretary, according to two Biden allies, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a personnel decision that was not yet public.
Biden also took a step toward reversing Trump’s hard-line immigration policies by naming Cuban-born lawyer Alejandro Mayorkas to head the Department of Homeland Security.