Donald Trump took a massive step towards admitting defeat in the election Monday night by saying he was allowing the transition to Joe Biden to begin – but immediately claimed he can still overturn his defeat at the hands of voters.
General Services Administration Chief Emily Murphy told President-elect Biden in a letter that he can start accessing federal resources to begin the presidential transition process early Monday evening.
Murphy released a letter to Biden announcing the move – that dedicated a considerable portion to defending her own reputation and claiming she had been threatened.
It came just over an hour after Michigan certified that Biden had won the state, putting another nail in the coffin of Trump’s bid to overturn the election result.
The move ends much of the controversy over Trump’s refusal to concede and means that a concession would be purely symbolic.
It allows Biden to get the same intelligence briefing as Trump, order FBI background checks on his picks for office and talk to senior officials in key roles – most notably, Dr. Tony Fauci.
But Trump tweeted defiantly that he had ordered Murphy to start the transition ‘for the sake of the country’ and claimed he was sure he would win ‘the good fight.’
Murphy wrote to Biden defending herself and said: ‘I take this role seriously and, because of recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results, am transmitting this letter today to make those resources and services available to you,’ she told him, after noting her ability to make resources available.
‘I have dedicated much of my adult life to public service, and have always strived to do what is right,’ she wrote, on a letter dated 16 days after TV networks called the race for Biden.
Murphy, a Trump appointee, claimed she did not receive any pressure to hold up the ascertainment.
‘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,’ she added.
‘To be clear, I did not receive any direction to delay my determination. 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. Even in the face of thousands of threats, I always remained committed to upholding the law, she wrote.
Get on with the job: Joe Biden had spent the day announcing a slate of top cabinet officials and meeting mayors virtually in Wilmington, DE. He can now access crucial government resources
‘Threatened.’ Trump appointee Emily Murphy used her letter to Joe Biden to complain that she had been ‘harassed’ while refusing to start the transition and claim she acted on her own initiative in refusing to declare him the apparent winner
She said her decision was not made out of ‘fear or favoritism.’
Murphy had resisted sending the letter of ascertainment as President Donald Trump refused to concede the presidential election.
Her action comes after Michigan certified its election results and as President Trump has lost most of his lawsuits as he sought to overturn the results of the vote, which gave Biden 302 electoral votes.
Trump has seen his case for victory fade day by day. He has yet to win a major court case.
In Pennsylvania on Sunday, a judge ruled that state can go forward with certifying its 20 electoral votes be certified for Biden.
Georgia is in the process of certifying its 16 electoral votes for Biden after a hand recount confirmed his victory, making him the first Democrat to carry the state since 1992.
And, despite making numerous allegations of voter fraud – including funding from Communists to turn votes in Biden’s favor and alleging voting machines from Dominion Systems changed Trump votes to Biden ones – the president’s team has not shown any evidence.
Numerous state election officials said there was no evidence of voter fraud.
As Trump remains huddled in the White House – he is rarely seen in public and his public schedule for Monday had no events on it – Biden has gone on with building his government.
On Monday he announced a slate of national security officials and more Cabinet announcements are expected.
Trump praised Murphy’s action in a tweet.
‘I want to thank Emily Murphy at GSA for her steadfast dedication and loyalty to our Country. She has been harassed, threatened, and abused – and I do not want to see this happen to her, her family, or employees of GSA. Our case STRONGLY continues,’ he tweeted shortly after she sent the letter.
‘We will keep up the good fight, and I believe we will prevail! 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,’ he added.
Murphy faced heavy pressure from Biden and congressional Democrats as – without her blessing – the president-elect could not communicate with federal agencies or access federal funds allocated for the transition process.
House Democrats were threatening to haul Murphy to Capitol Hill to explain the delay. They sent her a letter late last week demanding an in-person briefing from her on Monday. She tried to delay that until next week.
But they sent her another letter on Monday evening demanding one on Tuesday.
The end of the Trump resistance effort came after a glitchy zoom meeting in Michigan spelled the end of his bid to overturn its popular vote for Biden.
The four-person split-party panel who certifies presidential elections in Michigan voted Monday afternoon 3-1 to confirm Joe Biden’s popular vote win in the swing state.
The vote is yet another blow to Donald Trump’s pressure campaign to overturn the presidential election, which includes mounting several lawsuits in battleground states like Michigan.
The Michigan Board of State Canvassers Vice Chairman Norman Shinkle, a Republican, expressed his objections to certifying Biden’s victory due to irregularities and errors in the voting and tabulation process – and he voted to abstain on Monday.
After hearing from clerks and volunteers who worked at and observed ballot tabulation, the four members voted to certify the election.
Shinkle’s fellow Republican panel member Aaron Van Langevelde voted to certify the election, but maintained a post-election audit needs to be conducted. He also said any complaints of election fraud need to be investigated and, if found, prosecuted.
Ahead of the vote, there were concerns that the split panel members could find themselves in a deadlock, which would result in a delay of certification as President Donald Trump’s continued pressure for swing state Republicans to back his claims of widespread voter fraud.
Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee also joined the ranks of Republicans Monday calling for Trump to concede and accept that he has lost reelection.
‘The presidential election is rapidly coming to a formal end,’ Alexander released in a statement shortly after the Michigan certification. ‘Recounts are being completed. Courts are resolving disputes. Most states will certify their votes by December 8.’
The Michigan Board of State Canvassers voted 3-1 Monday to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the state with Republican member Norman Shinkle, 70, abstaining over concerns with mail-in voting and transparency
Fellow Republican member Aaron Van Langevelde voted to certify the election, shutting down concerns a deadlock would be reached on the four-person split panel
Both Democratic members of the Michigan Board of State Canvassers Julie Matuzak (right) and Chairwoman of the panel Jeannette Bradshaw (left) voted to certify the results for Biden
Republican Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee immediately released a statement Monday after the vote telling Donald Trump it’s time to concede to Joe Biden
‘Since it seems apparent that Joe Biden will be the president-elect, my hope is that President Trump will take pride in his considerable accomplishments, put the country first and have a prompt and orderly transition to help the new administration succeed,’ he wrote in a statement posted to his Twitter.
‘When you are in public life, people remember the last thing you do,’ Alexander concluded.
Also immediately after the vote, Trump’s campaign sent out a statement from its senior legal advisor Jenna Ellis on certifications.
‘Certification by state officials is simply a procedural step,’ Ellis said in an email blast from the president’s campaign team. ‘We are going to continue combatting election fraud around the country as we fight to count all the legal votes. Americans must be assured that the final results are fair and legitimate.’
Shinkle, 70, said ahead of the vote – and throughout statements made during the proceedings Monday – that he has concerns regarding the integrity of the election and suggested he was considering forcing a delay of certification of Biden’s win.
He shared that he has questions regarding electronic equipment used in the Michigan election, the absentee and mail-in voting process and transparency issues.
Shinkle’s opposition for a potential block of certification would only be possible if Van Langevelde joined him in not signing off on Biden’s win, which would create a deadlock with the two Democrat members – Julie Matuzak and Chairwoman Jeannette Bradshaw.
Van Langevelde, 40, an attorney and former assistant prosecutor living with his wife Adrianne in Charlotte, Michigan, has not said how he plans to vote.
Shinkle lives in Williamson, Michigan with his second wife, Mary. He has two sons, Teddy and Douglas, from his first wife Linda.
Trump’s campaign immediately sent out an email blast with a statement from senior legal advisor Jenna Ellis on certifications being an insignificant ‘procedural step’ after the Michigan certification
Mary Shinkle was a Republican poll watcher at the Transportation Service Center in Detroit for four days surrounding the election. She claimed there was funny business at that tabulation location.
Mary was one of the more than 200 people who signed a sworn affidavit alleging errors and wrongdoing that they said they witnessed during Wayne County ballot tabulation.
The Trump campaign used this affidavit in one of its federal lawsuits, which since then has been withdrawn.
In her sworn statement, Mary said she observed on Election Day a specific precinct tabulation table duplicating their counts for ballots. She also was told that the ‘table captain’ told her that she was not allowed to look at ballots because ‘if we were mistaken you would be all over us.’
She also raised concerns with ballots being left unattended in unsecured bags at her specific site in Wayne county.
The wife of the Republican member of the Board of State Canvassers also said that on November 4, the day after the election, that election workers were ‘extremely rude and aggressive’ toward observers.
Following the election, pro-Trump protests popped up near election tabulation sites, demanding counters ‘stop the steal’ – or stop counting mail-in ballots received after Election Day.
Michigan went blue this year, with current reporting showing 50.6 per cent of the vote for Biden and 47.8 per cent for Trump. In 2016 the state swung red for Trump.
The president, however, has called into question the integrity of the results in the rustbelt battleground state this year, claiming there was funny business with tabulation and not allowing Republican poll watchers to stand close enough to observe the ballot counting process.
Shinkle’s wife, Linda, was a Republican poll watcher in Detroit, and singed a sworn affidavit used by the Trump campaign in a since withdrawn lawsuit alleging errors and wrongdoing in ballot tabulation
Shinkle (left) pictured here with George H.W. Bush and his two sons Teddy and Douglas, who he had with his first wife Linda (right)
Usually signing off to certify the presidential election winner in a specific state is a routine event – but as is par for the course in 2020, not this year.
Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield, Van Langevelde’s boss, flew to Washington, D.C. Friday with six other GOP lawmakers to meet with Trump and members of his team Friday. He was also spotted enjoying drinks at Trump hotel just a few blocks from the White House over the weekend.
Following the meeting, Chatfield and state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, both Republicans, said they have not been ‘made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan.’
‘There was this outrage that the president was going to ask us to break the law, he was going to ask us to interfere, and that just simply didn’t happen,’ Chatfield told Fox News when describing the meeting.
Michigan’s elections agency has already recommended that the board certify the presidential election results, which shows Biden with a 2.8 per cent margin of victory.
The Republican National Committee and the Michigan Republican Party, however, are urging the board to adjourn for 14 days to instead investigate alleged irregularities in Wayne County – the state’s largest area, which emcompasses Detroit.
Chair of the Republican National Committee Ronna McDaniel, who is a Michigan resident, and Laura Cox, chair of the Michigan Republican Party, wrote the board Saturday asking it to delay certification for another two weeks as it awaits results of an audit.
They cited ‘procedural and accounting irregularities’ like discrepancies between the number of people recorded casting ballots at Detroit precincts and the actual number of ballots counted.
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says post-election audits are in the works, including in Wayne County even though Michigan law states such audits can only be conducted after results are certified.
Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield and Rep. Jim Lilly, both Republicans, were photographed Friday night indulging in a bottle of Dom Perignon at Trump Hotel’s Benjamin Bar & Lounge
The group reportedly stayed at the hotel drinking until midnight
The celebratory drinks came hours after Chatfield and Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey met with Trump as part of the president’s move to try to overturn Joe Biden’s popular vote win in Michigan
Chatfield said that if the Board of State Canvassers does not confirm the results and the Michigan Supreme Court does not order it to do so there will be a ‘constitutional crisis.’
But the Michigan House speaker, among other Republicans, have vowed not to go against the voters or undermine their will.
The new request to delay certification comes after a two-week period where Michigan double-checked ballots in all 83 counties – and found some expected inaccuracies and irregularities that happen in most elections. The errors were corrected.
During such a partisan time in American history, experts are questioning whether a four-person split panel is still a realistic way to go about certifying election results as a potential deadlock ensues. Some claim there needs to be some sort of built-in tiebreaker like in other states like Ohio, Wisconsin and Minnesota.