Biden Transition Team Gets Gov't OK 11/24 06:12
The federal government recognized President-elect Joe Biden as the "apparent
winner" of the Nov. 3 election, formally starting the transition of power after
President Donald Trump spent weeks testing the boundaries of American
democracy. Trump relented after suffering yet more legal and procedural defeats
in his seemingly futile effort to overturn the election with baseless claims of
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The federal government recognized President-elect Joe
Biden as the "apparent winner" of the Nov. 3 election, formally starting the
transition of power after President Donald Trump spent weeks testing the
boundaries of American democracy. Trump relented after suffering yet more legal
and procedural defeats in his seemingly futile effort to overturn the election
with baseless claims of fraud.
Trump still refused to concede and vowed to continue to fight in court after
General Services Administrator Emily Murphy gave the green light Monday for
Biden to coordinate with federal agencies ahead of his Jan. 20 inauguration.
But Trump did tweet that he was directing his team to cooperate on the
The fast-moving series of events seemed to let much of the air out of
Trump's frantic efforts to undermine the will of the people in what has
amounted to a weekslong stress test for the nation's confidence in the
political system and the fairness of U.S. elections. Those efforts haven't
ended and are likely to persist well beyond his lame-duck presidency.
Murphy, explaining her decision, cited "recent developments involving legal
challenges and certifications of election results."
She acted after Michigan on Monday certified Biden's victory in the
battleground state and a federal judge in Pennsylvania tossed a Trump campaign
lawsuit on Saturday seeking to prevent certification in that state.
It also came as an increasing number of Republicans were publicly
acknowledging Biden's victory, after weeks of tolerating Trump's baseless
claims of fraud. The Republican president had grown increasingly frustrated
with the flailing tactics of his legal team.
In recent days, senior Trump aides including chief of staff Mark Meadows and
White House counsel Pat Cipollone had also encouraged him to allow the
transition to begin, telling the president he didn't need to concede but could
no longer justify withholding support to the Biden transition.
Meadows, late Monday, sent a memo to White House staffers saying that their
work was not yet finished and that the administration would "comply with all
actions needed to ensure the smooth transfer of power," according to a person
who received it.
Yohannes Abraham, executive director of the Biden transition, said 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."
Murphy, a Trump appointee, 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. The delay denied the
Democratic president-elect access to highly classified national security
briefings and hindered his team's ability to begin drawing up its own plans to
respond to the raging coronavirus pandemic.
Murphy insisted she acted on her own.
"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," she wrote in a letter to
Trump tweeted moments after Murphy's decision: "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."
Max Stier, president and CEO of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public
Service, criticized the delay but said Biden's team would be able to overcome
"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," he said. "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."
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said the GSA action "is probably the
closest thing to a concession that President Trump could issue." Noting that
the nation "faces multiple crises that demand an orderly transition," Schumer
urged Democrats and Republicans to "unite together for a smooth and peaceful
transition that will benefit America."
Murphy's action came just 90 minutes after Michigan election officials
certified Biden's 154,000-vote victory in the state. The Board of State
Canvassers, which has two Republicans and two Democrats, confirmed the results
on a 3-0 vote with one GOP abstention. Trump and his allies had hoped to block
the vote to allow time for an audit of ballots in Wayne County, where Trump has
claimed without evidence that he was the victim of fraud. Biden crushed the
president by more than 330,000 votes there.
Some Trump allies had expressed hope that state lawmakers could intervene in
selecting Republican electors in states that do not certify. That long-shot 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, adding it's
"time to put this election behind us."
Trump was increasingly frustrated by his legal team, led by former New York
City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose erratic public performances drew bipartisan
mockery in recent weeks. Still, the legal challenges were expected to continue,
as Trump seeks to keep his supporters on his side and keep his options open for
In Pennsylvania on Saturday, a conservative Republican judge shot down the
Trump campaign's biggest legal effort in the state with a scathing ruling that
questioned why he was supposed to disenfranchise 7 million voters with no
evidence to back their claims and an inept legal argument at best.
But the lawyers still hope to block the state's certification, quickly
appealing to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, which
ordered lawyers to file a brief Monday but did not agree to hear oral arguments.
The campaign, in its filings, asked for urgent consideration so it could
challenge the state election results before they are certified next month. If
not, they will seek to decertify them, the filings said.
Biden won Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 votes.
Pennsylvania county election boards voted Monday, the state deadline, on
whether to certify election results to the Department of State. The boards in
two populous counties split along party lines, with majority Democrats in both
places voting to certify. After all counties have sent certified results to
Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, she must then tabulate, compute and canvass
votes for all races. The law requires her to perform that task quickly but does
not set a specific deadline.
In Wisconsin, a recount in the state's two largest liberal counties moved
into its fourth day, with election officials in Milwaukee County complaining
that Trump observers were slowing down the process with frequent challenges.
Trump's hope of reversing Biden's victory there depends on disqualifying
thousands of absentee ballots ---- including the in-person absentee ballot cast
by one of Trump's own campaign attorneys in Dane County.