Biden transition gets US govt approval to move forward

November 24, 2020
President-elect Joe Biden's transition begins.
President-elect Joe Biden's transition begins.

WASHINGTON — The US government gave the green light for President-elect Joe Biden's transition, recognizing him as the "apparent president-elect" in the Nov. 3 election.

The US General Services Administrator, Emily Murphy, gave the go ahead for Biden to coordinate with federal agencies ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration, stating in a letter to the president-elect that her decision came following "recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results."

US President Donald Trump, who for weeks has claimed that he won the US election, tweeted that he would recommend the team cooperate with the transition.

"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," Trump tweeted.

He continues to refuse to concede the election, however, stating that his team is "moving full speed ahead" and "will never concede."

A growing number of Republicans had also acknowledged Biden's victory after being silent on Trump's claims of fraud. Murphy, a Trump appointee, had faced criticism for failing to begin the transition process sooner.

The move prevented Biden's team from receiving highly classified national security briefings and working with government agency officials on plans for the incoming administration.

“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,” she wrote in a letter to Biden.

Yohannes Abraham, executive director of the Biden transition, said the decision “is a needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation, including getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track.”

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Murphy's action “is probably the closest thing to a concession that President Trump could issue.”

The decision by Murphy came after the key state of Michigan certified the victory of Joe Biden and a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit seeking to prevent certification in Pennsylvania.

Some of Trump's allies had expressed hope that state lawmakers could intervene in selecting Republican electors in states that do not certify.

“The people of Michigan have spoken. President-elect Biden won the State of Michigan by more than 154,000 votes, and he will be our next president on Jan. 20,” Democratic Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said.

Michigan election officials on Monday certified Biden’s 154,000-vote victory in the state amid President Donald Trump’s brazen attempts to subvert the results of the election.

The Board of State Canvassers, which has two Republicans and two Democrats, confirmed the results on a 3-0 vote with one abstention. Allies of Trump and losing GOP Senate candidate John James had urged the panel to delay voting for two weeks to audit votes in heavily Democratic Wayne County, home to Detroit.

Trump’s efforts to stave off the inevitable — formal recognition of his defeat — faced increasingly stiff resistance from the courts and fellow Republicans with just three weeks to go until the Electoral College meets to certify Biden’s victory.

Meanwhile, John Kerry, one of the leading architects of the Paris climate agreement, is getting one more chance to lead the fight against climate change after Biden named the longtime senator and former secretary of state as climate envoy for national security.

Biden's team gave little immediate detail on Monday about how he envisioned Kerry shaping the new job, which many on social media and on all sides of the climate-action spectrum were quick to dub “climate czar.” But the transition team made clear that it would be a prominent role, with Kerry becoming the first member of the National Security Council to focus exclusively on climate change.

It was one of Biden’s first steps making good on campaign pledges to confront climate-damage from fossil fuel emissions more broadly and forcefully than any previous US administration. And it's a sign of how the incoming administration is heeding warnings that natural disasters from global warming will weaken US defense and spur conflicts around the globe.

“America will soon have a government that treats the climate crisis as the urgent national security threat it is,” Kerry tweeted. “I’m proud to partner with the President-elect, our allies, and the young leaders of the climate movement to take on this crisis as the President’s Climate Envoy.”

At 76, Kerry has the stature to help him make deals with foreign governments on global climate efforts. But he's up to a half-century or more older than the activists who pushed climate change to the forefront of national politics over the past four years. — Euronews

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