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us election 2020

GSA tells Biden presidential transition can begin

It's not quite a concession but the Trump adminstration is finally allowing the formal transfer to power to begin in the White House.

Trump continues to fight the result but Emily Murphy has began the attainment process that will see federal resources made available to Biden's team.

The General Services Administration (GSA) has confirmed that they will now start the formal transition process to a Joe Biden presidency. Despite the election result being called over two weeks earlier the government agency had not previously authorised use of federal resources for Biden’s team or provided access to presidential briefings.

The news was announced in a statement from GSA Administrator Emily Murphy, and was quickly followed by two tweets from Donald Trump. The President was eager to make clear that he still intends to fight the election result in the courts, but this is a first meaningful step towards his administration’s acceptance of defeat.

Why has this happened now?

The announcement from Murphy comes after a spell of critical legal defeats for Trump’s team. Their lawsuits have fallen flat in court and they have not managed to produce a shred of significant evidence so far. In a recent hearing in Pennsylvania, Judge Matthew Brann criticised the Trump team’s attempts as “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations.”

On Monday Michigan became the latest battleground state to certify its election results after Georgia did the same on Friday. Pennsylvania is expected to do the same in the coming days leaving Trump’s narrow path to victory completely untenable. President-elect Biden is the resounding victor in the Electoral College and the beginning of the presidential transition is the first sign that Trump’s team are aware of that.

What does this mean for Joe Biden’s presidency?

The President-elect will have let out a sigh of relief at the news and his team is now able to move forward with transition planning. Biden has acted swiftly to name a number of keys figures in his cabinet as well as members of White House senior staff, but this will allow him access to federal resources to get his administration in place.

The letter confirms that the GSA will make available $6.3 million of federal funding to help with the transition, with an additional $1 million to “provide appointee orientation sessions and a transition directory”. This money is standard for a new president and is used to cover staffing and office space costs while Biden is putting together his White House team. Last week the Biden campaign had begun a grassroots fundraising drive asking their supporters to donate the money required while they were being refused access to the federal funds.

Who made the final decision?

While Murphy and Trump both released statements supporting the commencement of the formal transition procedure, they both claimed that it was their decision. Murphy was a Trump appointee and had been accused of pandering to the President’s wishes as she refused to begin the ‘attainment’ process that would have started the transition. However in her statement she rejected the idea that she had been influenced by Trump, claiming: “I came to my decision independently”. However in his own tweets on the matter Trump took credit for the decision, saying: “I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols”.

Regardless of who made the decision it is good news for Biden and his team who can now move ahead with preparations for office. Another batch of cabinet nominees are expected this week and the presidential transition will team will be working overtime with less than two months until Inauguration Day on 20 January.


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