[guest post by Dana]
While Joe Biden is actively forming a potential administration, the Trump administration is refusing to take the necessary steps to grant the President-elect’s transition team access and money required for a smooth transfer of power:
A Trump administration appointee is refusing to sign a letter allowing President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team to formally begin its work this week, in another sign the incumbent president has not acknowledged Biden’s victory and could disrupt the transfer of power.
The administrator of the General Services Administration, the low-profile agency in charge of federal buildings, has a little-known role when a new president is elected: to sign paperwork officially turning over millions of dollars, as well as give access to government officials, office space in agencies and equipment authorized for the taxpayer-funded transition teams of the winner.
It amounts to a formal declaration by the federal government, outside of the media, of the winner of the presidential race.
But by Sunday evening, almost 36 hours after media outlets projected Biden as the winner, GSA Administrator Emily Murphy had written no such letter. And the Trump administration, in keeping with the president’s failure to concede the election, has no immediate plans to sign one. This could lead to the first transition delay in modern history, except in 2000, when the Supreme Court decided a recount dispute between Al Gore and George W. Bush in December.
According to a spokesperson for the agency:
An ascertainment has not yet been made, and its Administrator will continue to abide by and fulfill, all requirements under the law.
Given that President Trump has refused to concede the election and seems determined to push back against the announced results, it’s not surprising that there would be no formal acknowledgment of Joe Biden’s win. We already know that a legal defense fund has been established on Trump’s behalf and that Trump is receiving encouragement from some top Republicans to stay in the fight:
Neither Sen. Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate, nor Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, had issued statements about Biden’s victory as of Sunday afternoon. Meanwhile, one of Trump’s top allies in the House struck a more combative tone once the race was called.
“There are still serious legal challenges that have been made, and until that process is resolved, the election is not final,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., tweeted on Saturday…the “election isn’t over until all legal votes are counted and certified,” language that echoes Trump’s repeated comments of counting only “legal” votes.
Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., pointedly did not acknowledge a Biden victory, instead saying the media shouldn’t project a victory.
“The media can project, but the media doesn’t get to decide who the winner is. There is a canvassing process. That needs to happen…I said on Friday, I thought it was time for the president to turn this discussion over to his lawyers, time for the lawyers to make the case that they have, both in court and to the American people, and then we’re going to have to deal with those facts as they’re presented. That has to happen, and then we move forward,” Blunt said.
Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said that although he believes the projection of Biden’s victory is “probably correct,” he wants to let the process continue as the Trump campaign attempts to litigate the results.
“Seventy million Americans voted for Donald Trump, and they and the president deserve to have this process play out,” Toomey, who is retiring from the Senate in 2022, told CBS’ Face the Nation.
Sen. Ted Cruz is also supporting Trump, saying that it would be “premature” for him to concede the election.
And Sen. Lindsey Graham has pledged $500,000 to Trump’s legal defense fund and has encouraged the President not to concede:
“If Republicans don’t challenge and change the U.S. election system, there will never be another Republican president elected again,” Graham said Sunday on Fox News. “President Trump should not concede. We’re down to less — 10,000 votes in Georgia. He’s going to win North Carolina. We have gone from 93,000 votes to less than 20,000 votes in Arizona, where more — more votes to be counted.”
Interestingly, Trump’s own family is reportedly split on whether the President should accept the election results:
Kushner, the President’s son-in-law and senior adviser, has approached him to concede, two sources told CNN. The first lady, according to a separate source familiar with the conversations, has privately said the time has come for him to accept the election loss.
Meanwhile, Trump’s two adult sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, have urged allies to continue pressing on and they have pushed Republicans and supporters to publicly reject the results even as CNN and other news organizations projected the race for Biden on Saturday.
Clearly, the Trump campaign is not throwing in the towel, and has its own battle plan, such as it is:
Trump’s campaign is planning a messaging blitz to fuel its argument — unsupported by any evidence to date — that the President’s second term is being stolen from him through corrupt vote counts in battleground states, three sources familiar with the matter told CNN on Sunday evening.
While Trump is dug in, experts are left wondering how this will play out in light of a small window of time until the swearing-in of the next president happens:
The GSA statement left experts on federal transitions to wonder when the White House expects the handoff from one administration to the next to begin — when the president has exhausted his legal avenues to fight the results, or the formal vote of the electoral college on Dec. 14? There are 74 days, as of Sunday, until the Biden inauguration on Jan. 20.
“No agency head is going to get out in front of the president on transition issues right now,” said one senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly. The official predicted that agency heads will be told not to talk to the Biden team.
This morning, Georgia’s Lt. Gov. Duncan said that his office has “not seen any sort of credible examples” of fraud or voter disenfranchisement.
Yet, if this is accurate, it appears that Trump, underneath all the noise and posturing, seems to at least acknowledge the results as they stand:
President Trump has already told advisers he’s thinking about running for president again in 2024, two sources familiar with the conversations tell Axios.
This is the clearest indication yet that Trump understands he has lost the 2020 election to Joe Biden — even as the president continues to falsely insist that he is the true winner, that there has been election fraud and that his team will fight to the end in the courts.
Sigh. At this point in time, even with no evidence of widespread voter fraud, Trump is determined to make sure that we will not be rid of this turbulent president.