After weeks of delay, the head of the General Services Administration informed President-elect Joe Biden on Monday that the official governmental transition process has been approved.
GSA Administrator Emily Murphy said in a letter that Biden, whom she referred to as “the apparent president-elect,” is now able to get access to millions of dollars in federal funds and other resources to begin his transition to power. In her letter, Murphy also denied that she had been under pressure from the White House to delay the process.
“I have dedicated much of my adult life to public service, and I have always strived to do what is right,” she said. “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.”
Trump vowed to continue his legal fight to contest the election results in a pair of tweets but said, “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.”
Hours later, the president tweeted that he would “never concede to fake ballots and ‘Dominion‘,” referring to a conspiracy theory that baselessly alleges a company that makes voting machines deleted millions of Trump votes.
The transition process had been stalled for weeks as Trump’s team waged a sputtering legal battle across the country to contest the results, leaving Biden out of the loop on the Covid-19 vaccine and other key issues.
Read Murphy’s full letter here:
NBC News and other news organizations projected Biden as the winner on Nov. 7, but Trump has refused to concede for weeks, filing lawsuit after lawsuit and leveling false accusations of voter fraud.
The refusal stopped Biden’s team from gaining critical access to government resources as the nation grapples with surging Covid-19 case numbers and economic uncertainty.
Trump and the GSA faced increasing pressure as a growing number of Republican lawmakers began to publicly call for Biden to be granted access, citing national security concerns. Democratic lawmakers had also begun calling for Murphy to testify before Congress.
Biden, on the other hand, began filling out his Cabinet and announcing personnel for other senior roles during the delay. He also held briefings with former top government officials and formed his own Covid-19 task force.
In a statement, Biden transition adviser Yohannes Abraham called the news “a needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation, including getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track.”
“This final decision is a definitive administrative action to formally begin the transition process with federal agencies,” he 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 complete understanding of the Trump administration’s efforts to hollow out government agencies.”
In a statement later Monday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called the GSA letter “probably the closest thing to a concession that President Trump could issue.”
“Let us all now — Democrats and Republicans, the Trump Administration and the incoming Biden Administration — unite together for a smooth and peaceful transition that will benefit America,” he said. “The nation faces multiple crises that demand an orderly transition, and I look forward to working with President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris to get things done to help the American people.”