Kathryn Watson – CBS News
The General Services Administration has told President-elect Joe Biden they’re ready to start the formal transition process, allowing Mr. Biden access to key funding, office space, classified intelligence briefings and agency access, according to a letter GSA sent to reporters. Moments after the letter was released, President Trump tweeted that he has recommended the GSA administrator “do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and I have told my team to do the same” but he said they will still fight.
Late last night, Mr. Trump vowed to continue his fight to overturn the election‘s results, in a tweet Twitter promptly flagged.
GSA Administrator Emily Murphy, who has been criticized for slowing down the process, informed the Biden team in a “letter of ascertainment” on Monday that it may begin the formal transition process and access the resources that come along with that. The news came on the same day Michigan certified its results, and Pennsylvania is expected to do the same on Monday night.
The Pentagon said Monday night that it is ready to conduct the transition.
The letter is the first significant formal recognition from the Trump administration that Mr. Biden has won the election, and is likely to encourage more Republicans to step out and acknowledge the former vice president’s win. Mr. Trump’s tweet is also the closest he’s come to conceding.
“I want to thank Emily Murphy at GSA for her steadfast dedication and loyalty to our Country,” the president wrote. “She has been harassed, threatened, and abused – and I do not want to see this happen to her, her family, or employees of GSA. 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.”
In her letter, Murphy defended the slowness of her decision to formally begin the transition process, and called on Congress to change the law to make it more clear. The law simply states the GSA administrator must “ascertain” the winner in order to begin the formal transition process.
“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,” Murphy wrote. “The actual winner of the presidential election will be determined by the electoral process detailed in the Constitution.”
Murphy wrote that she has faced “threats online, by phone, and by mail directed at my safety, my family, my staff, and even my pets in an effort to coerce me into making this determination prematurely.”
The Biden transition team reacted swiftly to the GSA’s determination.
“The GSA Administrator has ascertained President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the apparent winners of the election, providing the incoming administration with the resources and support necessary to carry out a smooth and peaceful transfer of power,” said Biden transition head Yohannes Abraham. “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.”
The lack of GSA cooperation hasn’t entirely hampered Mr. Biden’s preparations. He announced his national security team on Monday.
The Electoral College will meet to vote to certify the election results on December 14.