After weeks of alleging he was the victim of voter fraud, Donald Trump has finally allowed US officials to proceed with a transition to President-elect Joe Biden.
The General Services Administration (GSA), which had reportedly come under pressure from the Trump campaign to deny the election result, acknowledged on Monday (local time) that Biden was the “apparent winner” of the November 3 election.
The move formally allows Biden to coordinate with federal agencies on plans ahead of taking over on January 20 and comes after the White House had instructed government departments not to engage with members of Biden’s team.
In what amounts to a fairly stunning about-face for the US president, Donald Trump sought to give his blessing to the move, saying on that Twitter he recommended Administrator Emily Murphy follow through with the official recognition.
“We will keep up the good fight, and I believe we will prevail! Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country [sic], 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,” he tweeted.
Murphy made the determination after Trump’s efforts to subvert the vote failed across battleground states, citing “recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results”.
Michigan certified Biden’s victory on Monday and a federal judge in Pennsylvania tossed out a Trump campaign lawsuit on Saturday seeking to prevent certification in that state.
‘Trump concedes’: Delayed transition formally underway
Trump and his allies have so far failed in 35 legal cases brought before the courts in battleground states.
While the president continues to push unfounded conspiracy theories about election fraud, his pledge to cooperate with the transition process, while still laced with defiance, was a notably softer tone.
On social media, many remarked it might be about as close as he gets to a concession speech.
“In the five stages of grief, Donald Trump is approaching the point of acceptance (i.e. concession),” New York congressman-elect Ritchie Torres said.
Reacting to the news on MSNBC, Georgia politician and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams (whose work was widely credited for paving the way for the Democrats to flip the key state for the first time sine 1992) said it was about time the transition formally commenced.
“It’s about time, I understand with Michigan certifying the election result, there is no longer any credible, or any fantastical path [for Trump].
“The sad part is that it has taken so long, not because of the law... but because the fear of a failed president who has done his level best to dismantle the effectiveness of our bureaucracy,” she said.
“It seems like, you know, a passing attempt at adulthood,” she added of Trump’s reluctant acceptance.
“He recognises, at least in this instance, that he is not simply hurting himself—he's hurting the people of America.”
It's probably the closest we'll get to a concession speech https://t.co/bsAwfF5srx
— Stephen Dziedzic (@stephendziedzic) November 23, 2020
Biden team to address Covid, national security
Yohannes Abraham, the executive director of the Biden transition, said in a statement the decision was “a needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation, including getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track”.
He added: “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.”
Murphy, a Trump appointee, had faced bipartisan criticism for failing to begin the transition process sooner, preventing the incoming team from working with career agency officials on plans for Biden’s administration, including in critical national security and public health areas.
Pressure had been mounting on Murphy as an increasing number of Republicans, national security experts and business leaders said it was time for that process to move forward.
Biden signals sharp shift from Trump with Cabinet picks
President-elect Joe Biden on Monday tapped Obama-era officials for top national security and economic roles, signalling a stark shift from the Trump administration’s “America First” policies that disparaged international alliances and favoured deregulation and tax cuts.
The picks include former secretary of state John Kerry to take the lead on combating climate change. While Biden is also expected to choose Janet Yellen, who was nominated by Barack Obama to lead the Federal Reserve, as the first woman to become treasury secretary.
He named the deeply experienced Antony Blinken for secretary of state, also nominating the first female head of intelligence, Avril Haines.
Biden’s emerging Cabinet marks a return to a more traditional approach to governing, relying on veteran policymakers with deep expertise and strong relationships in Washington and global capitals.
And with a roster that includes multiple women and people of colour — some of whom are breaking historic barriers in their posts — Biden is fulfilling his campaign promise to lead a team that reflects the diversity of America.
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