By Ken Bredemeier
With U.S. President Donald Trump refusing to concede his electoral defeat and claiming fraud in the vote count, his administration has not yet started assisting the projected winner, President-elect Joe Biden, in the initial stages of taking control of the government.
A government agency in Washington, the General Services Administration, has the responsibility to formally recognize Biden as the new president and start the transition of power that officially takes place when he is inaugurated January 20. The agency assigns office space for Biden’s transition team throughout the government and assists with other necessary tasks.
But GSA’s Trump-appointed administrator, Emily Murphy, has not started the process.
A GSA spokesperson said the agency would not begin the transition process until Biden’s win was legally certified, but it was unclear when that might happen since vote-counting is still going on throughout much of the country.
The outcome favoring Biden or Trump is only uncertain in a handful of states, and major news organizations say Biden is the winner.
Trump has declined to concede the election, and his campaign has filed numerous lawsuits claiming, without evidence so far, that irregularities in last Tuesday’s voting and subsequent days of vote-counting cost him the election.
Trump is hoping the lawsuits will help him overturn the projected majority won by Biden in the Electoral College vote count that determines the U.S. presidency, not the national popular vote, although Biden leads there, too.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that Trump is “100% within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options.”
“Our institutions are actually built for this,” McConnell said on the Senate floor, adding that the process will play out and “reach its resolution.”
Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are moving ahead with their transition plans, initially meeting with health experts on how to curb the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., which according to data from Johns Hopkins University has killed a world-leading 237,000 Americans and infected nearly 10 million.
Meanwhile, the Biden camp is looking for cooperation in the transition from Trump officials.
Jen Psaki, a Biden transition aide, said Sunday on Twitter, “America’s national security and economic interests depend on the federal government signaling clearly and swiftly that the United States government will respect the will of the American people and engage in a smooth and peaceful transfer of power.”
Once declaring the “apparent winner” of a presidential election, the GSA administrator’s action provides computer systems and money for salaries and other support for setting up a new government at a cost of $9.9 million this year.
The new Biden officials can get government email addresses and office space at every federal agency. The officials can also begin to fill out financial disclosure and conflict-of-interest forms before assuming their new positions.
The nonpartisan Center for Presidential Transition also urged Trump officials to “immediately begin the post-election transition process and the Biden team to take full advantage of the resources available under the Presidential Transition Act.”
The group said, “This was a hard-fought campaign, but history is replete with examples of presidents who emerged from such campaigns to graciously assist their successors.”