Biden’s transition gets government OK after Trump runs out of options

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WASHINGTON – The federal government on Monday recognized US President-elect Joe Biden as the ‘apparent winner’ of the November 3 election, officially beginning the transition of power after US President Donald Trump spent weeks testing the limits of democracy American. He relented after suffering even more legal and procedural defeats in his seemingly futile effort to overturn the election with baseless allegations of fraud. Trump has always refused to concede and has vowed to continue fighting in court after General Service Administrator Emily Murphy gave Biden the green light to coordinate with federal agencies ahead of his inauguration on January 20 . But Trump tweeted that he was ordering his team to cooperate with the transition.

Monday’s fast-moving series of events appeared to leave much of the air off of Trump’s frantic efforts to undermine the will of the people in what amounts to a week-long stress test for American democracy. But Trump’s attempts to foment a crisis of confidence in the political system and the fairness of the U.S. election are not over and are likely to persist well beyond his lame presidency.

Murphy, explaining his decision, cited “recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results.”

She acted after Michigan certified Biden’s victory in Battlefield State on Monday, and a Pennsylvania federal judge on Saturday launched a Trump campaign lawsuit seeking to prevent certification in that state.

It also comes as a growing number of Republicans publicly acknowledged Biden’s victory, after weeks of condoning Trump’s baseless fraud claims. The president had grown increasingly frustrated with the hectic tactics of his legal team.

In recent days, senior Trump aides including Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and White House attorney Pat Cipollone have also urged him to allow the transition to begin, telling the president he did not need to give in but could no longer justify refusing to back the Biden. transition.

Yohannes Abraham, executive director of Biden Transition, said the move “is a necessary step to begin addressing the challenges our nation faces, including containing the pandemic and getting our economy back on track.”

Murphy, a person named by Trump, has faced bipartisan criticism for not starting the transition process sooner, preventing Biden’s team from working with career agency officials on plans for his administration. The delay denied Biden access to highly classified national security briefings and hampered his team’s ability to begin developing their own plans to respond to the raging coronavirus pandemic.

Murphy insisted she was acting alone.

“Please know that I made my decision independently, based on the law and the facts available. I have never been directly or indirectly pressured by any executive branch official – including those who work in the White House or GSA – regarding the substance or timing of my decision. She wrote in a letter to Biden.

Trump tweeted moments after Murphy’s decision: “We will continue the good fight and I believe we will win!” Nonetheless, in the best interest of our country, I recommend Emily and her team to do what needs to be done regarding the protocols, and have told my team to do the same. ”

Max Stier, chairman and CEO of the Non-Partisan Partnership for the Public Service, criticized the delay, but said Biden’s team would be able to overcome it.

“Sadly, every day lost because of this delayed realization was a missed opportunity for the outgoing administration to help President-elect Joe Biden prepare for our country’s greatest challenges,” he said. “The good news is that the president-elect and his team are the best prepared and the best equipped of any incoming administration in recent memory. ”

Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer said GSA action “is probably the closest thing to a concession President Trump could make. Noting that the nation “faces multiple crises that demand an orderly transition,” Schumer urged Democrats and Republicans to “unite for a smooth and peaceful transition that will benefit America.”

Murphy’s action came just 90 minutes after Michigan election officials certified Biden’s 154,000-vote victory in the state. The State Solicitors Council, which has two Republicans and two Democrats, upheld the results in a 3-0 vote with one abstention from the GOP. Trump and his allies had hoped to block the vote to allow time for an audit of ballots in Wayne County, where Trump has claimed without evidence that he was a victim of fraud. Biden crushed the president by over 330,000 votes.

Some Trump allies had expressed hope that state lawmakers could intervene in the selection of Republican voters in states that do not certify. This distant offer is no longer possible in Michigan.

“The people of Michigan have spoken. President-elect Biden has won Michigan State by more than 154,000 votes, and he will be our next president on January 20, “Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, said, adding that it was” time for put this election behind us. ”

Trump was increasingly frustrated with his legal team, led by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose erratic public performances have drawn bipartisan mockery in recent weeks. Still, the legal challenges were expected to continue, as Trump seeks to keep his supporters on his side and keep his options open for post-presidency opportunities.

In Pennsylvania on Saturday, a Conservative Republican judge brought down the biggest legal effort of the Trump campaign in the state with a scathing decision that questioned why he was supposed to deprive 7 million voters without any evidence to support their claims. an inept legal argument at best.

But lawyers are still hoping to block the state’s certification, quickly appealing to the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, which ordered lawyers to file a brief Monday but refused to hear oral argument.

The campaign, in its filings, called for an urgent review so that it can challenge the national election results before they are certified next month. If not, they will seek to cancel them, according to the documents.

Biden won Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 votes.

Pennsylvania County Election Boards voted on Monday, the state deadline, on whether to certify election results to the State Department. The boards of two populous counties have split along party lines, with majority Democrats in both places voting to certify. After all counties have sent certified results to Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, she must then compile, calculate and solicit the votes for all races. The law requires him to complete this task quickly, but does not set a specific deadline.

In Wisconsin, a recount in the state’s two largest liberal counties entered its fourth day, with Milwaukee County election officials complaining that Trump watchers were slowing down the process with frequent challenges. Trump’s hope of overturning Biden’s victory there hinges on the disqualification of thousands of missing ballots – including in-person postal voting by one of Trump’s campaign lawyers in Dane County .

Associated Press writers Maryclaire Dale in Philadelphia, Jonathan Lemire in New York, Mark Scolforo in Harrisburg, Pa., Christina A. Cassidy in Atlanta, and John Flesher in Traverse City, Michigan, contributed to this report.

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