U.S. General Services Administration chief Emily Murphy informed President-elect Joe Biden on Monday that her agency has formally ascertained him as the apparent winner of the 2020 presidential election and would move ahead with transition proceedings.
The letter effectively ends a weeks-long standoff in which the Biden transition team accused Murphy and her agency of withholding critical transition resources needed for a smooth transfer of power. President Trump has yet to concede the 2020 election.
“Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts,” Murphy said in a letter to Biden. “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. To be clear, I did not receive any direction to delay my determination.”
The GSA and Murphy have faced intense bipartisan criticism in recent weeks over the decision to hold off on recognizing Biden as president-elect. The Biden transition team had threatened legal action, accusing the GSA of threatening national security and hampering preparations to combat the coronavirus pandemic by failing to provide support for the incoming administration.
Murphy said her decision was based on “recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results.” Earlier Monday, Michigan voted to certify its election results and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out a Trump campaign challenge that sought to invalidate thousands of absentee ballots in Allegheny County.
In a series of tweets, President Trump thanked Murphy for her handling of the ascertainment process since Election Day. The president pledged to continue his legal challenge of election results.
“I want to thank Emily Murphy at GSA for her steadfast dedication and loyalty to our Country,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “She has been harassed, threatened, and abused – and I do not want to see this happen to her, her family, or employees of GSA. 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,” Trump added.
The Biden-Harris transition team said the GSA’s move to ascertain Biden as president-elect would provide “the incoming administration with the resources and support necessary to carry out a smooth and peaceful transfer of power.”
“This final decision is a definitive administrative action to formally begin the transition process with federal agencies,” the Biden-Harris team said in a statement. “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.”
Inauguration Day is scheduled to take place on Jan. 20, 2021.