The General Service Administration acknowledged Joe Biden as the apparent winner of the presidential election on Monday, following weeks of inaction, and President Donald Trump called on his agencies and departments to cooperate.
“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 of Emily Murphy, the General Services Administration chief. Still, he said he would continue to contest the outcome of the election.
The designation triggers a formal transition process, giving Biden and his team access to current agency officials, briefing books, some $6 million in funding and other government resources.
“Because of recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results, I have determined that you may access the post-election resources and services described in Section 3 of the Act upon request,” Murphy said in a letter to Biden, citing the Presidential Transition Act of 1963.
The announcement is a “needed step” to “getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track,” Yohannes Abraham, the executive director of the Biden-Harris transition, said in an emailed statement.
“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.”
For weeks, the Biden transition team has instead worked informally to establish a new administration, including assembling a coronavirus task force and consulting with public health officials outside of the federal government, mimicking the approach former Vice President Dick Cheney took during the disputed 2000 election.
Earlier: GSA Chief Rebuffs Democrats’ Demand for Transition Briefing
Blocked from interacting with federal agencies, Biden’s staff instead sought out other experts from academia, state governments and Capitol Hill.
The biggest change now is that the Biden transition team will be able to flood federal agencies with officials focused on preparing the way for his administration. They will have access to agency staff and briefing books assembled earlier this year.
“Fortunately, federal career civil servants have done an outstanding job preparing for this year’s transition by producing fact-based information on critical agency issues and by designating acting officials who will lead agency operations until new political appointees are confirmed,” said David Marchick, director of the Center for Presidential Transition. “They now need space to do their jobs.”
Trump praised the GSA administrator on Twitter. “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,” he wrote.
Murphy, in the letter, which was reported earlier by CNN, told Biden that she had received threats “theats 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.”
She added that she was not “directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official” into the making or timing of a decision on the presidential transition.
~With Bloomberg report