President Donald Trump on Monday said he had given Emily Murphy, the head of the General Services Administration, the go-ahead to proceed with a transition for President-elect Joe Biden’s administration despite plans to continue with legal challenges.
“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,” Trump said in a tweet.
“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.”
The GSA, an independent federal agency that must sign off on presidential transitions, informed Mr Biden, a Democrat, that he could formally begin the hand-over process. GSA Administrator Emily Murphy said in a letter that Mr Biden would now have access to resources that had been denied to him because of the legal challenges seeking to overturn his win.
This is probably the closest thing to a concession that President Trump could issue, said Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.
Mr Trump's 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 outcome even more unlikely to succeed.
Mr Trump and his advisers said he would continue to pursue legal avenues, but his tweet served as a sign that even the White House understood it was getting close to time to move on.
The move by the GSA means Mr Biden’s team will now have federal funds and an official office to conduct his transition over the next two months. It also paves the way for Mr Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris to receive regular national security briefings that Mr Trump also gets.
The decision frees up millions of dollars in financing to support the transition, as well as formally allows Mr Biden to coordinate with current government officials.