The General Services Administration (GSA) has informed President-elect Joe Biden Monday evening that it has ascertained him as the apparent winner of the 2020 presidential election, paving the way to trigger the start of the formal transition process.
GSA Administrator Emily Murphy sent Biden the “letter of ascertainment” informing him and his team that the administration is ready to begin the formal transition process. The move will permit current administration agencies and officials to coordinate with Biden’s top advisors, receive highly classified intelligence briefing, and free up about $7 million in government funds for Biden’s team to use for transition-related expenses, including paying staffers and agency review teams.
Shortly after the letter was reported, President Trump in a tweet said he recommended Murphy and the GSA to do “what needs to be done with regards to initial protocols,” but emphasized his legal cases “strongly continues.”
…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.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 23, 2020
In another tweet a few hours later, Trump stated giving Biden access doesn’t mean he was conceding the “most corrupt election” and is still “continuing to pursue our various cases.”
“What does GSA being allowed to preliminarily work with the Dems have to do with continuing to pursue our various cases on what will go down as the most corrupt election in American political history?” Trump tweeted. “We are moving full speed ahead.”
The letter was sent late Monday afternoon shortly after Michigan formally certified its election results that granted Biden the state’s 16 Electoral College votes. Murphy in the letter, stated she was not directed by the White House to delay the formal transition and her decision was based on “law and available facts,” along with “recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results.”
“Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts,” Murphy wrote in the letter. “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. To be clear, I did not receive any direction to delay my determination.”
Murphy detailed the delay was due to vague ascertainment rules that don’t provide any guidance in case of the election dealing with “legal disputes and recounts.” The 1963 law simply states that the GSA administrator must “ascertain” the winner in order to begin the formal transition process.
“GSA does not dictate the outcome of legal disputes and recounts, nor does it determine whether such proceedings are reasonable or justified,” Murphy wrote. “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.”
“As stated, 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. The actual winner of the presidential election will be determined by the electoral process detailed in the Constitution,” she added.
The Biden team over the last two weeks while decrying the delay continued forward with their White House staff appointments and Cabinet picks. The former Vice President warned that the delay could cost lives due to the pandemic, asserting his team’s most urgent need for government data access on Trump’s COVID Operation Warp Speed vaccine distribution plans, a plan already set in motion weeks to go according despite the election result outcome.
Biden’s transition executive director Yohannes Abraham reacted swiftly to the news, calling the decision “a needed step” to give transition officials a “complete understanding of the Trump administration’s efforts to hollow out government agencies.”
“This final decision is a definitive administrative action to formally begin the transition process with federal agencies,” Abraham said. “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 a complete understanding of the Trump administration’s efforts to hollow out government agencies.”
Read Murphy’s full letter below: