GSA recognizes president-elect Biden, clearing way for formal transition

National News

President-elect Joe Biden smiles as he speaks at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. President-elect Biden turns 78 on Friday, Nov. 20. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

(NEXSTAR) – The head of the agency tasked with allocating funds to the presidential transition changed course Monday, now recognizing President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory earlier this month.

General Services Administration Chief Emily Murphy had held off formalizing the transition process after the Trump administration challenged the legitimacy of the general election. After weeks of intensifying pressure, Murphy wrote to the Biden administration acknowledging the victory late Monday. NewsNation obtained a full version of the document.

“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,” Murphy wrote in the letter to Biden.

Trump tweeted shortly after her letter was made public: “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 move came as Murphy faced growing accusations of partisanship for refusing to acknowledge the electoral college win.

Earlier, more than 160 business leaders had asked Murphy to immediately acknowledge Biden as president-elect and begin the transition to a new administration. “Withholding resources and vital information from an incoming administration puts the public and economic health and security of America at risk,” the business letters said in an open letter.

Separately, more than 100 Republican former national security officials — including former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte — said in a statement that Trump’s refusal to concede and allow for an orderly transition “constitutes a serious threat” to America’s democratic process. The officials signing the letter worked under four Republican presidents, including Trump.

Murphy missed a deadline on Monday set by House Democrats to brief lawmakers about the delay in beginning the transition, which is usually a routine step between the election and the inauguration. A spokeswoman for the GSA said that a deputy administrator would instead hold two separate briefings for House and Senate committees on Nov. 30.

In response, the Democratic chairs of four committees and subcommittees said they could reschedule the meeting for Tuesday, but no later.

“We cannot wait yet another week to obtain basic information about your refusal to make the ascertainment determination,” the Democrats said in a letter to Murphy. “Every additional day that is wasted is a day that the safety, health, and well-being of the American people is imperiled as the incoming Biden-Harris administration is blocked from fully preparing for the coronavirus pandemic, our nation’s dire economic crisis, and our national security.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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