US President Donald Trump has approved the formal transfer of power to President-elect Joe Biden.
Trump said that the federal agency overseeing the handover must “do what needs to be done”, even as he pledged to continue to contest his defeat in the presidential election on the third of this month.
The General Services Administration said it recognized Biden as “the clear winner.”
This came just as Biden’s victory in Michigan was officially approved, which represented a big blow to Trump.
The Biden team welcomed the start of the transition process.
“Today’s decision is a necessary step to begin addressing the challenges facing our nation, including controlling the epidemic and returning our economy to its right track,” his statement said.
“This final decision is a crucial administrative action to officially start the transition process with federal agencies,” he said.
What did Trump say?
Trump tweeted that he had informed the Public Services Administration, which is tasked with initiating the official presidential transition, to inform Biden camp that it would begin the process.
Administration Director Emily Murphy said she would make $ 6.3 million of her management’s assets at the disposal of the president-elect.
While vowing to continue “the good fight,” the president said. “However for the benefit of our country, I recommend that you Emily and her team what needs to be done with respect to the initial protocols, I was told my team to do the same thing.”
Murphy, appointed by Trump, noted “recent developments involving legal challenges and testimonies of election results” in her decision to send the letter.
“To be clear, I have not received any instruction to delay my decision,” Murphy said in her letter to Biden.
She added, “However, I received online threats, and telephone and mail targeting my safety, and my family, staff, and even Heoanata pets in an attempt to force me to take this decision prematurely.”
She emphasized that, “even in the face of thousands of threats, I remained committed to respecting the law.”
It has faced criticism from both sides for not initiating the transition process faster. This process is usually a routine step between elections and the inauguration of the election winner.
Murphy missed the deadline on Monday set by Democrats in the House of Representatives to inform lawmakers of the delay.
Did Republicans apply any pressure?
Trump’s fellow Republicans are increasingly defecting over the transition period, with many speaking on Monday.
Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander issued a statement saying Trump should “put the country first” and help Biden succeed.
“When you are in public life, people remember the last thing you do,” Alexander added.
Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia said that “at some point, the 2020 elections must end.”
He also urged more than 160 business leaders to immediately recognize Biden as the elected president.
“Withholding vital resources and information from a future administration endangers America’s public health, economy, and security,” they wrote.
What happened in Michigan?
One of the two Republicans on the Michigan State Council of Democrats joined to put the final touches on the outcome. The other Republican abstained from voting. Biden won the state with more than 150,000 votes.
The abstaining Republican Councilor, Norman Schinkel, suggested delaying the ratification of irregularities that affected a few hundred votes in one county.
But fellow Republican Aaron Van Langfield said Monday that their duty was “simple” and there was no choice but to testify.
The President’s Republican allies had called for a two-week delay in ratification, in order to scrutinize the votes in a majority Democratic county.
Trump’s legal team said it was still challenging Michigan’s findings.
Chancellor Gina Ellis said that the approval was “just a procedural step,” adding, “Americans should be reassured that the final results are fair and legitimate.”
But time is running out. On December 14, Biden will be approved by the electoral college.
What about Trump’s other legal challenges?
Trump and his allies have suffered a series of judicial defeats in key states as they race to challenge the results.
And in Wisconsin, a partial recount is taking place at the request of the Trump campaign.
Election officials accused Trump supporters of blocking the state’s recount.
In some cases, they said, Trump observers had stabbed every ballot to intentionally slow the process.
And in Pennsylvania, a Republican judge ruled on Saturday that the Trump campaign had tried to “deny nearly seven million voters the right to vote,” without real evidence. The president’s attorneys have now appealed to the Philadelphia Court of Appeals.
The president’s other legal efforts in the state failed to change Biden’s lead by nearly 80,000 votes.
The Trump campaign has also called for another recount in Georgia, after a precedent recount confirmed Biden had won the state.