New York Daily News: MANHATTAN, NY – Time to get packing, Don.
President Trump finally gave Joe Biden the green light Monday to begin his transition to the White House, marking the clearest sign yet that the Republican incumbent understands he lost the election.
In a tweet, Trump said he had told Emily Murphy, his handpicked administrator of the General Services Administration, to sign the appropriate papers allowing Biden’s transition team access to the federal resources he has been withholding while waging a baseless court battle to subvert the results of the election.
Still, Trump didn’t unambiguously concede. Instead, he cryptically insisted that his case for overturning Biden’s victory “STRONGLY continues”.
“We will keep up the good fight, and I believe we will prevail!” tweeted Trump, who has barely been seen in public since losing the election. “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.”
Despite Trump’s claims, his campaign’s attempts to flip the election have been roundly rejected by judges across the country who note that there is no evidence for the outlandish claim that Democrats rigged the Nov. 3 contest for Biden.
Trump’s apparent admission of defeat came after several key battleground states, including Georgia and Michigan, certified Biden’s victories, dealing more blows to the president’s futile legal effort.
Yohannes Abraham, the director of Biden’s transition team, filled in the blanks in Trump’s tweet and called Murphy’s ascertainment of the president-elect’s victory “a needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation, including getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track.”
“This final decision is a definitive administrative action to formally begin the transition process with federal agencies,” Abraham said. “In the days ahead, transition officials will begin meeting with federal officials to discuss the pandemic response, have a full accounting of our national security interests and gain complete understanding of the Trump administration’s efforts to hollow out government agencies.”
Biden was declared the winner of the election on Nov 7, but Trump refused until Monday to allow GSA to confirm the Democrat as president-elect — a formality that kept him from accessing federal distribution plans for a potential COVID-19 vaccine, top-secret intelligence briefings and other critical resources.
The 16-day lapse prompted serious concern from Biden.
“More people may die if we don’t coordinate,” Biden said last week of Trump’s unprecedented delay.
Murphy, who faced intense scrutiny from members of Congress over her refusal to formalize Biden’s victory, defended her reluctance on Monday.
In a letter to Biden, Murphy said she followed “precedent from prior elections” in holding off on ascertaining the election for nearly three weeks after it was called.
“My decision was not made out of fear or favoritism,” she wrote. “Because of recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results, I have determined that you may access the post-election resources.”
Though Trump didn’t use the C-word, Democrats read between the lines.
“This is probably the closest thing to a concession that President Trump could issue,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said of Trump’s tweet. “Let us all now — Democrats and Republicans, the Trump administration and the incoming Biden administration — unite together for a smooth and peaceful transition that will benefit America.”
Trump’s two-faced recognition of the election results came after a mounting number of congressional Republicans urged him to throw in the towel.
“Trump’s legal team has not presented evidence of the massive fraud which would have had to be present to overturn the election,” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said before Murphy pulled the trigger on the ascertainment. “I voted for President Trump but Joe Biden won. The transition should begin for the sake of the country.”
Biden will be inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States on Jan. 20.
Though Trump held up the formalities for weeks, Biden has gotten a head start on his transition, receiving briefings from former government officials, communicating directly with COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers and amassing a team of incoming advisers.
Among them was John Kerry, the former secretary of state, who will serve as Biden’s presidential special envoy on climate change, a pressing issue that will likely return to the forefront of American politics once the pandemic is over.
“I’m returning to government to get America back on track to address the biggest challenge of this generation and those that will follow,” Kerry tweeted. “The climate crisis demands nothing less than all hands on deck.”