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U.S. agency officially begins Presidential transition process

File photo of General Services Administration head Emily Murphy   | Photo Credit: AP

After weeks of dragging its feet, the U.S.’s General Service Administration (GSA) has made an “ascertainment” that President-elect Joe Biden is the “apparent winner” of the presidential election, allowing the formal transition process to begin. The Biden-Harris transition team will now have access to funds and other resources sanctioned by the Presidential Transition Act.

GSA Administrator Emily Murphy said “recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results” were part of her decision to initiate the process.

Earlier in the day, the Michigan State Board of Canvassers voted to certify Mr. Biden as the winner of the State’s vote (16 Electoral College votes), despite President Donald Trump’s attempts to get State legislators to block the certification.

Mr. Trump, who has thus far refused to concede the election came close on Monday but stopped short of conceding, tweeting instead that he had “recommended” that the initial protocols begin but said he will continue to challenge the election results in court.

‘We will prevail’

“Our case STRONGLY continues, 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,” Mr. Trump wrote.

Later, Mr. Trump, who has made unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud in the election, wrote: “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?”

In a letter to Mr. Biden, Ms. Murphy, a Trump appointee, said she had come to her decision independently and was not pressured by government and White House officials on her decision. “Contrary to media reports and insinuations, my decision was not made out of fear or favouritism,” she wrote, adding that she had received threats directed at her safety and the safety of her staff, family and pets.

Hours before the ascertainment, several Republican Senators, including Lamar Alexander of Tennessee (who is retiring) and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, asked for the transition to begin.

“Since it seems apparent that Joe Biden will be the President-elect, my hope is that President Trump will take pride in his considerable accomplishments, put the country first and have a prompt and orderly transition…,” Mr. Alexander said. “When you are in public life, people remember the last thing you do.”

The formal nod to the transition will allow the Biden-Harris team to work with government officials on a number of issues including a response to COVID-19, vaccine distribution, national security and economic revival.

Mr. Biden has cited risks to the pandemic response caused by delays in the transition beginning. Delays have also been known to cause national security vulnerabilities. A shortened Clinton-Bush transition (due to a lawsuit on the outcome of the election) period had caused security vulnerabilities in the prelude to the September 11 attacks, a bipartisan commission to look into those attacks found.

“This final decision is a definitive administrative action to formally begin the transition process with federal agencies,” Biden-Harris transition executive director Yohannes Abraham said in a statement on Monday.

The transition team will meet federal officials to discuss the pandemic response, national security and “the Trump administration’s efforts to hollow out government agencies,” Mr. Abraham said.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2021 9:21:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/us-agency-officially-begins-presidential-transition-process/article33166057.ece

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