Donald Trump’s refusal to acknowledge that he was the loser of the presidential election to Joe Biden surprises no one. Pettiness and grudge-holding are woven into his DNA.
But this morning it’s become clear that Trump’s refusal to accept the election results is having practical consequences. Because the president will not acknowledge defeat, the head of the General Services Administration (GSA), the agency that runs federal buildings and issues contracts, has not yet executed paperwork that would allow the President-elect’s transition team to formally begin its work.
GSA Administrator Emily Murphy, a Trump appointee, is refusing to sign a so-called letter of “ascertainment” that would trigger the orderly transition of power. Such a letter officially turns over millions of dollars to the taxpayer-funded transition team of the winner.
Transition officials get government email addresses. They get office space at every federal agency. They can begin to work with the Office of Government Ethics to process financial disclosure and conflict-of-interest forms for their nominees.
And they get access to senior officials, both political appointees of the outgoing administration and career civil servants, who relay an agency’s ongoing priorities and projects, upcoming deadlines, problem areas and risks. All of that is now on hold.
Every day the stonewalling continues increases the likelihood that the U.S. could be headed for the first delayed transition in modern history, with the exception of the 2000 Bush-Gore race that was decided by the Supreme Court. There are 73 days until Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
“Her action now has to be condemned,” Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), who leads a House oversight panel on federal operations, told The Washington Post. “It’s behavior that is consistent with her subservience to wishes of the president himself, and it is clearly harmful to the orderly transition of power.”
The anti-Trump Lincoln Project this morning is encouraging Americans to call Murphy and pressure her to initiate the transition.
This is Emily W. Murphy.
She’s a Trump appointee at the GSA who is declining to sign the letter authorizing the Biden transition to begin.
Give her a call and tell her you want Biden treated like every other president-elect.
— The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) November 9, 2020