Federal agency recognizes President-elect Biden’s win, formalizes transition

Federal agency recognizes President-elect Biden’s win, formalizes transition
Posted at 6:20 PM, Nov 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-23 21:07:03-05

The General Services Administration, a government agency that assists incoming presidents with their transitions into the Oval Office, announced Monday that it has formally recognized President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in this month’s presidential election, according to a memo sent by the GSA.

The announcement comes as the Trump campaign has been failing to gain traction in its legal battle against a number of states that Biden won.

With the GSA’s decision, the White House will be required to provide intelligence briefings for Biden, along with classified government documents. The Biden team can also begin conducting background checks on potential hires before taking office on January 20, 2021.

Last week, Biden said that the lack of a formal transition could have set the United States’ response to the coronavirus back.

“I am optimistic but we should be further along,” Biden last week said during a virtual call with first responders. “One of the problem that we are having now is the failure of the administration to recognize (the results)."

Since the Associated Press projected Biden as the winner of the election on Nov. 7, President Donald Trump and his campaign has made multiple claims that the election was stolen, and accusing election officials of fraud. So far, Trump’s campaign has not been able to substantiate any evidence of fraud in court, and has had a number of lawsuits dismissed.

After past presidential elections, the apparent winner is given funding and access to documents to begin the transition.

Biden pointed to the Presidential Transition Act of 1963, which says that government services and documents be made available to the “apparent” victor of the presidential election.

While Trump did not concede on Monday, he said he is recommending his team to cooperate in the transition of power.

"I want to thank Emily Murphy at GSA for her steadfast dedication and loyalty to our Country," Trump tweeted. "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, 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."

GSA Administrator Emily Murphy said in letter that she had received threats, and that she was no coerced into delaying the announcement of an apparent winner.

"To be clear, I did not receive any direction to delay my determination," Murphy said in a letter to the Biden-Harris transition. "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.

"Contrary to media reports and insinuations, my decision was not made out of fear or favoritism. 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. GSA does not dictate the outcome of legal disputes and recounts, nor does it determine whether such proceedings are reasonable or justified. 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 Biden transition team welcomed the news on Monday.

"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," Biden- Harris transition executive director Yohannes Abraham said in a statement. "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."