Trump administration gives green light for transition to Biden presidency

Allowing President-elect to access resources is closest Trump has come to admitting loss

President-elect Joe Biden taking part in a virtual conference in Wilmington, Delaware, on Monday. Mr Biden won 306 state-by-state electoral votes, well over the 270 needed for victory, and also holds a lead of more than six million in the national po
President-elect Joe Biden taking part in a virtual conference in Wilmington, Delaware, on Monday. Mr Biden won 306 state-by-state electoral votes, well over the 270 needed for victory, and also holds a lead of more than six million in the national popular vote. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WASHINGTON • After weeks of waiting, President Donald Trump's administration cleared the way for President-elect Joe Biden to transition to the White House, giving him access to briefings and funding even as Mr Trump vowed to continue fighting the election results.

Although Mr Trump did not concede or acknowledge his Democratic rival's victory on Monday, his announcement that his staff would cooperate with Mr Biden's represented a significant shift and was the closest he has come to admitting defeat.

Mr Biden won 306 state-by-state electoral votes, well over the 270 needed for victory, against Mr Trump's 232. Mr Biden also holds a lead of more than six million in the national popular vote.

The Trump campaign's legal efforts to overturn the election outcome have almost entirely failed in key battleground states, and a growing number of Republican leaders, business executives and national security experts have urged the President to let the transition begin.

On Monday, the General Services Administration (GSA), the federal agency that must sign off on presidential transitions, told Mr Biden he could formally begin the handover process. GSA administrator Emily Murphy said in a letter that Mr Biden would get access to resources that had been denied to him because of the legal challenges seeking to contest his win.

That means Mr Biden's team will now have federal funds and an official office to conduct his transition until he takes office on Jan 20. It also paves the way for Mr Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris to receive the regular national security briefings that Mr Trump gets.

The GSA announcement came shortly after Michigan officials certified Mr Biden as the victor in their state, making Mr Trump's legal efforts to change the election result even more unlikely to succeed.

Michigan's Board of State Canvassers voted to certify the election results, practically ensuring Mr Biden's victory in the state.

The vote means that only a possible Republican request for a recount stands in the way of assuring that Mr Biden will win the state and its 16 electoral votes.

The board did not ask for a recount after certifying the results.

Mr Trump and his advisers said he would continue to pursue legal avenues but his decision to give Ms Murphy the go-ahead to proceed with a transition for Mr Biden's administration indicated that even the White House understood it was getting close to the time to move on.

Mr Trump said on Twitter: "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's campaign on Monday asked a federal appeals court to revive a long-shot challenge to Pennsylvania's election results.

The campaign is appealing against a scathing decision last Saturday from a lower court judge who rejected its claims of widespread problems with mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania.

In a filing with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, the campaign said it never had a chance to litigate its "serious and well-founded claims" that Democratic officials schemed to ensure Mr Biden's victory by counting potentially tens of thousands of defective mail ballots.

The Trump campaign's appeal is on a fast track.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG


Who will be in Biden's Cabinet

WASHINGTON • US President-elect Joe Biden began naming members of his Cabinet on Monday. Here are some picks for prominent positions.


Antony Blinken

SECRETARY OF STATE: ANTONY BLINKEN

He is a long-time Biden confidant who served as No. 2 at the State Department and as deputy national security adviser in then President Barack Obama's administration.



Jake Sullivan

NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: JAKE SULLIVAN

Mr Sullivan was Mr Biden's national security adviser when he served as Mr Obama's vice-president, and deputy chief of staff to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.



Alejandro Mayorkas

HOMELAND SECURITY CHIEF: ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS

The Cuba-born lawyer will be the first Latino and first immigrant to head the department if confirmed as secretary of homeland security. As head of Citizenship and Immigration Services under Mr Obama, Mr Mayorkas led the implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme for so-called Dreamers, brought to the US illegally as children.



Avril Haines

DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: AVRIL HAINES

She was the deputy national security adviser under Mr Obama. She was also previously deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency - the first woman to hold this post.



Janet Yellen

TREASURY SECRETARY: JANET YELLEN

The former Federal Reserve chairman deepened the central bank's focus on workers and inequality, and has remained active in policy debates at the Brookings Institution think-tank since Republican President Donald Trump replaced her as head of the central bank in 2018.



John Kerry

SPECIAL PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY FOR CLIMATE: JOHN KERRY

A former senator and secretary of state, Mr Kerry will act as "climate czar" in Mr Biden's administration. He helped negotiate the Paris climate deal that Mr Biden wants to re-join.



Ms Thomas-Greenfield

AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD

Ms Thomas-Greenfield, who will take on a job that Mr Biden plans to restore to a Cabinet level, is a black woman who was Mr Obama's top diplomat on Africa from 2013 to 2017.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2020, with the headline 'Trump administration gives green light for transition to Biden presidency'. Print Edition | Subscribe