After first refusing, Donald Trump has finally formally started the transition process for President-elect, Joe Biden.
General Services Administration head, Emily Murphy, informed the "apparent winner", Biden, in a letter that he is now provided access to administration resources under the Presidential Transition Act. Murphy wrote: "I take this role seriously and, because of recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results, am transmitting this letter today to make those resources and services available to you.”
After still insisting his efforts to overturn the election results would be successful, the President did confirm the move on Twitter.
Trump’s efforts to subvert the vote failed across battleground states, so Murphy made the determination, citing "recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results".
The executive director of the Biden transition, Yohannes Abraham, recently said in a statement that the 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. 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, who is a Trump appointee, did however face bipartisan criticism for failing to begin the transition process sooner. Trump has prevented Biden's team from working with career agency officials on plans for his administration. These plans also include the critical national security and public health areas.
Murphy further wrote to Biden; "Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts. 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.”
Shortly after the letter was made public, Trump took to Twitter and tweeted; "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."
A number of Republicans, national security experts and business leaders have put pressure on Murphy as they said it was time for that process to move forward.
Retiring Tennessee Senator, Lamar Alexander, said that Trump should "put the country first" and help Biden's administration succeed, and added that "When you are in public life, people remember the last thing you do.”
Alexander and Republican Senator, Rob Portman, of Ohio both aligned themselves with Trump. The two also joined a growing number of Republican officials who in recent days have urged Trump to begin the transition immediately.
Over 160 business leaders have also asked Murphy to immediately acknowledge Biden as President-elect and to begin the transition. They stated in a letter to Murphy that, “Withholding resources and vital information from an incoming administration puts the public and economic health and security of America at risk″.
Portman also added that "Donald Trump is our president until Jan. 20, 2021, but in the likely event that Joe Biden becomes our next president, it is in the national interest that the transition is seamless and that America is ready on Day One of a new administration for the challenges we face."
Even though Murphy's ascertainment will free up money for the transition and clear the way for Biden's team to begin placing transition personnel at federal agencies, Trump’s administration officials confirmed that Biden will still be left in the dark regarding the classified presidential daily briefing on intelligence matters.
Max Stier, president and CEO of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service, confirmed that "Now that GSA Administrator Emily Murphy has fulfilled her duty and ascertained the election results, the formal presidential transition can begin in full force. Unfortunately, every day lost to the delayed ascertainment was a missed opportunity for the outgoing administration to help President-elect Joe Biden prepare to meet our country's greatest challenges. The good news is that the President-elect and his team are the most prepared and best equipped of any incoming administration in recent memory."