Trump throws in the towel, accepts transition to Biden should begin

Written By: BBC

Donald Trump has accepted a formal US transition should begin for President-elect Joe Biden to take office.

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The president said the federal agency overseeing the handover must “do what needs to be done”, even as he vowed to keep contesting his election defeat.

The General Services Administration (GSA) said it was acknowledging Biden as the “apparent winner”.

The latest development came as Biden’s victory in the state of Michigan was officially certified in what was a major blow to Trump.

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After the GSA announcement, the Pentagon said it would provide “support to the Biden team… in a professional, orderly, and efficient manner that is befitting of the public’s expectation of the Department and our commitment to national security”.

Trump tweeted as the GSA, which is tasked with formally beginning presidential transitions, informed the Biden camp that it would start the process.

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Administrator Emily Murphy said she was making 6.3 million dollars in funds available to the president-elect.

While pledging to keep up the “good fight”, the president said: “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.”

Following the announcement, the Biden team welcomed the start of the transition process as the Democratic president-elect gears up to be sworn in on 20 January.

“Today’s decision is a needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation, including getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track,” a team statement said.

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Earlier, Biden unveiled a foreign policy and national security team consisting of old colleagues from his years in the Obama administration. He will appoint Anthony Blinken as secretary of state and John Kerry as climate envoy, while Janet Yellen is tipped to be the first female US treasury secretary.

Trump’s fellow Republicans have increasingly been breaking ranks over the transition, with several of them speaking out on Monday.

Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, who is retiring, released a statement saying that Trump should “put the country first” and help Biden succeed.

“When you are in public life, people remember the last thing you do,” Alexander said.

Trump and his allies have suffered a string of court defeats in key states as they race to challenge the results.

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His campaign has reportedly tried to convince Republican state lawmakers to appoint their own electors to vote for him instead of Biden, but to no avail.

In Pennsylvania, a Republican judge on Saturday ruled that the Trump campaign had tried to “disenfranchise almost seven million voters” with no real evidence. The president’s lawyers have appealed now to the Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.

The president’s other legal efforts in the state have failed to change Biden’s lead of some 80,000 votes.

The Trump campaign has also called for another recount in Georgia, after an earlier recount by hand confirmed Biden’s win in the state.

In Wisconsin, a partial recount is under way by request of the Trump campaign with election officials accusing  Trump supporters of obstructing the state’s recount of votes.

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