The uncertainty surrounding Joe Biden's transition to the White House seems to have got over with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) advising the President-elect that the process can formally begin.
The GSA, Emily Murphy, sent a letter to Biden on Monday afternoon, detailing her role in the presidential transition. "As the Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration, I have the ability under the Presidential Transition Act of 1963, as amended, to make certain post-election resources and services available to assist in the event of a presidential transition," the letter read, according to CNN.
President Donald Trump has not conceded defeat and his campaign is actively pursuing legal challenges in states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia where the election was decided on razor-thin margins. However, the GSA's letter is a clear indication that the transition process may have got the nod from the presidential team.
'Not Influenced by White House'
The GSA says in the letter that her decision was independent of any role from any branch of the government. She specifically says her decision was not influenced by either the White House. She was referring to the apparent delay in announcing a presidential transition some three weeks after the election. The Democrats have held President Trump responsible for the delay in letting Biden start the process to move into the White House, while the Republicans have held the view that the President is entitled to exhaust his legal options.
"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 says
The GSA chief undercuts the media theory that there was political pressure on the General Services Administration to delay the process of presidential transition. "Contrary to media reports and insinuations, my decision was not made out of fear or favoritism," she says, adding that the GSA's role is in ascertaining, not imposing, "the apparent president-elect."
'Family, Staff, and even Pets Targeted'
However, the Administrator said she received numerous threats in the process. She said she believed the threats were part of an effort to force her into making a premature decision on the transition. "I did, however, receive threats online, by phone, and by mail directed at my safety, my family, my staff, and even my pets in an effort to coerce me into making this determination prematurely," the GSA chief said in the letter.
Her clarification in the letter comes in the backdrop of persistent Democratic pressure on her to roll out the transition process earlier. On November 12, Politico reported that the Democrat lawmakers were planning various measures to force her hand, including suing her and summoning her to the Capitol.
"Obviously, Congress could file suit against the GSA administrator for failing to do her duty. We could seek to get a court to, in fact, issue an order," Gerry Connolly, the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee's government operations subcommittee, said.
The Democrats also whipped up public pressure against Murphy even as she waited before greenlighting the transition. Democrat advocacy group Defend American Democracy went the extremes of launching media advertisements against the GSA administrator.
Rare Precedent of Bush Vs Gore
Murphy, a Republican, was appointed by President Trump as GSA head head three years ago.
Though she had not given a specific timeline for the presidential transition process to begin, she might have been following a rare precedent, the Bush Vs Gore stalemate in 2000. In that election, the GSA waited until the Supreme Court effectively picked the winner more than a month after the election.
Those who supported Murphy's decision to wait argued that she had time until January 6, when the Congress counts the electoral votes.