US Elections: GSA Officializes the Biden Transition as Trump Campaign Records More Court Defeats

The General Services Administration (GSA), an organ attached to the White House has ended a 16-day standoff with President-Elect Joe Biden transition team after its head, Emily Murphy issued the instrument of recognition of the Democrat’s victory at the November 3 polls.

Ms Emily Murphy, GSA Administrator (C) The New York Times

The letter issued to the Biden transition team by Ms. Murphy Monday afternoon represents the first step the Trump Administration has taken to recognize the incumbent’s defeat. Shortly after releasing the letter, Ms. Murphy stated that she had not been pressured by anyone to delay the formal transition, insisting that it was not out of either fear or favouritism that she issued the vital document Monday.

“Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts…I was never directly or indirectly pressured by an Executive Branch Official…including those who work at the White House or GSA…with regard to the timing or substance of my decision. To be clear, I did not receive any direction to delay my determination,” she wrote.

Paragraph three of the letter Ms. Murphy wrote to President-Elect Biden reads in part: “Contrary to media reports and insinuations, my decision was not made out of fear or favoritism. Instead, I strongly believe that the statute requires that the GSA Administrator ascertain, not impose, the apparent president-elect. Unfortunately, the statute provides no procedures or standards for this process, so I looked to precedent from prior elections involving legal challenges and incomplete counts. GSA does not dictate the outcome of legal disputes and recounts, nor does it determine whether such proceedings are reasonable or justified. These are issues that the Constitution, federal laws, and state laws leave to the election certification process and decisions by courts of competent jurisdiction”.   

President Trump’s reaction in a tweet shortly after the issue of the letter from the GSA seemed to contradict what Ms. Murphy wrote. The President tweeted “…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 the same line of thought, President Trump again tweeted “I want to thank Emily Murphy at GSA for her steadfast dedication and loyalty to our country. 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…”.

The officialization of the Biden transition came on the heels of the certification of election results in the key State of Michigan, where one Republican Member of the Canvassing Committee voted to oppose the move. However, with three votes for and one against, the election in that State ended. Similarly, the Supreme Court in Pennsylvania threw out the Trump Campaign’s appeal against Saturday’s ruling by a federal judge who said there was no clear evidence of fraud presented before his court to lead to the disenfranchisement of millions of voters.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling allowed the State’s bipartisan Canvassing Committee to certify the election result there Monday evening, handing over victory to President-Elect, Biden. This development came as Georgian State election officials launched a second recount of the November 3 Presidential Election ballots at the behest of the Trump campaign. The second recount begins Tuesday, November 24. The recounting exercise comes after the State Canvassing Committee certified the results in Georgia Friday, November 20, declaring President-Elect Biden the winner.

In the build-up to the officialization of the transition process, pressure was mounting on the President from within the Republican party to throw in the towel and look to the future. Several Senators joined Mitt Romney of Utah, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and strong supporter, Chris Christie- former Governor of New Jersey to urge the Incumbent to facilitate the Biden transition. Governor Christie went on to refer to the Trump Team of Lawyers as a “national embarrassment”.

To up the ante, a group of 100 former Republican National Security Officials warned that a delayed transition would have consequences on the security of the United States. In a one-page memo, they wrote: “President Trump’s continued efforts to cast doubt on the validity of the election and to interfere in state electoral processes undermine our democracy and risk long-term damage to our institutions. Although some Republican leaders have supported President Trump’s right to challenge aspects of the voting in various states, for the good of the country, they should now strongly oppose his dangerous and extra-legal efforts to intimidate state election officials and distort the Electoral College process”.

In the concluding paragraph of the memo, they pointedly indicated that: “The election is over, the outcome is certain. Over the past days, a number of Republican leaders have called on President Trump to respect the will of the American people. It is now time for the rest of the Republican leadership to put politics aside and insist that President Trump cease his dilatory and anti-democratic efforts to undermine the result of the election and begin a smooth and orderly transition of power to President-elect Biden. By encouraging President Trump’s delaying tactics or remaining silent, Republican leaders put American democracy and national security at risk”.

Despite tweeting that he is determined to continue fighting for what he believes to be his stolen second-term victory, there are signs that President Trump is already working out his post-White House life. ABC News is reporting that Secret Service agents in the President’s detail are being asked whether they are interested in transferring to Palm Beach, Florida. The news outlet further reports that the Secret Service’s Miami field office also has begun looking at physical reinforcements to Mar-a-Largo, the President’s club to which he refers as “the Winter White House”.