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President-elect Joe Biden allowed to begin the formal transition of power, names first Cabinet picks

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Posted: Tuesday, November 24, 2020. 6:04 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: While still refusing to concede that he lost – popularly, and likely electorally – the November 3 election, Republican President Donald Trump has signaled that the General Services Administration (GSA) which oversees the handover must “do what needs to be done.”

Democratic rival Joe Biden is expected to be confirmed as the winner in the Electoral College on December 14 by a count of 306 electoral votes to 232 for Trump, after flipping the states of Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Arizona, Nevada, and Wisconsin. Several of these states face legal challenges to their voting process. Biden also defeated Trump in the popular vote by a margin of 7 million votes; collectively, they sustained the highest number of votes cast in any presidential election ever.

GSA Administrator Emily Murphy, according to NBC News, said in a letter that Biden, whom she referred to as “the apparent president-elect,” is now able to get access to as much as US$6 million in federal funds and other resources to begin his transition to power. In her letter, Murphy also denied that she had been under pressure from the White House to delay the process, though claimed that she had received “thousands of threats” and was due to testify before Congress.

“I have dedicated much of my adult life to public service, and I have always strived to do what is right,” she wrote. “Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts. 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.”

Trump, meanwhile, vowed to continue his legal fight to contest the election results in a pair of tweets but said, “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.”

Today, Biden, 78, made formal announcements of members of his Cabinet, according to the BBC.

The president-elect highlighted the need to rebuild alliances, as well as tackling coronavirus and climate change. The Cabinet choices he had named reflect “the fact that America is back, ready to lead the world, not retreat from it”, suggesting a move away from the “America First” narrative of President Trump.

“We cannot meet these challenges with old thinking and unchanged habits,” he said.

Key figures include veteran diplomat Antony Blinken for Secretary of State; former Secretary of State John Kerry as climate change envoy; Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence; Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security; Jake Sullivan, White House National Security Adviser; and Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Not announced, though likely, is former Federal Reserve chair, Janet Yellen, as Treasury Secretary.

Most of the picks, although not Kerry or Sullivan, will need confirmation by the Senate, which may tip to the Democrats if they win two run-off races in January in the state of Georgia (vice-president Kamala Harris would break the tie). Rejection of a nominee is rare. The last was in 1989, although some nominees have withdrawn from consideration.

The GSA announcement means the president-elect now has access to top security briefings, office space, and government officials as he prepares to take office on 20 January.

Trump does not have to concede for Biden to be sworn in as the 46th U.S. president. Although most of Trump’s fellow Republicans have united behind his refusal to accept defeat until now, some have increasingly been breaking rank.

The states of Michigan and Pennsylvania have followed Georgia in certifying their election results despite disputes and claims of fraud from Trump’s campaign which have been largely unsubstantiated.

 

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