President-elect Joe Biden is ramping up transition plans and outlining an ambitious agenda starting day one of his administration, but the Trump administration isn’t cooperating.
The Trump administration is instructing several of its agencies and senior officials to refuse cooperation with President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team while it continues to seek baseless legal challenges against the election results in several battleground states, according to the Washington Post.
After drafting briefing books and allocating office space for the Biden transition team, officials at several government agencies told the Washington Post—on the condition of anonymity—that the White House said the transition between administrations will not be acknowledged until the election results are confirmed by the General Services Administration (GSA), an agency that oversees the management and transition of federal agencies. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of Veterans Affairs are a few of the several agencies reportedly told to disregard any outreach from the Biden transition team.
Biden was called as the election winner by major networks and outlets like the Associated Press on Nov. 7, after being projected to win Pennsylvania and garnering enough electoral college votes to clinch the presidency. President Trump is refusing to concede despite Biden’s electoral college victory and receiving over 5 million popular votes more than the president.
“We have been told: Ignore the media, wait for it to be official from the government,” a senior Trump official told the Post.
Emily Murphy, the Trump-appointed GSA Administrator, refused to sign documents granting Biden’s team access to agency officials and information. That has also meant that Biden’s team has been denied $6.3 million earmarked to provide transition resources to the incoming administration. Since 1963, the GSA has been involved in providing administrative support for presidential transitions, for both incoming and outgoing administrations.
Members of Biden’s transition team told reporters on Monday that Murphy’s refusal to cooperate and sign over the beginning steps for the transfer of power is preventing the president-elect from making State Department-facilitated calls with foreign leaders and access to secure areas where they can review and be briefed on classified information. Murphy’s refusal to sign over the legal paperwork is also preventing the Biden transition team from conducting background checks on potential government appointees. Additionally, it prevents the president-elect from discussing Operation Warp Speed, the Pentagon’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, with the Department of Defense.
In response, the Biden team is considering pursuing legal action against the Trump administration if it continues to block attempts for the transfer of power.
“We believe that the time has come for the GSA administrator to promptly ascertain Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as president-elect and vice president-elect,” a Biden-Harris transition official said Monday night during a briefing call with reporters.
When asked if the team will look into legal action to speed up the transition, the official added, “There are a number of options on the table, legal action is certainly a possibility, but there are other options as well that we’re considering.”
Despite the government standoff, Biden has already made concrete plans for the incoming administration. The president-elect unveiled a 13-member coronavirus task force—made entirely of doctors, scientists, and public health experts—on Monday that will brief his administration on the pandemic and cooperate with local and state leaders in monitoring and providing resources necessary to combat the virus.
Biden has also released ambitious goals for his first 100 days in office, including action on corporate taxes, immigration, police reform, and the climate.