Tuesday 24th November 2020
Although the future US President Joe Biden has just under two months until his inauguration, Donald Trump’s blockade has cost him important time. What is in store for Biden now and whether Trump will still play a role during the transition phase – read here.
Even if President Donald Trump continues to claim not to have lost the election, Joe Biden’s team can begin the process for an orderly inauguration. After this year’s presidential election, nothing has gone as usual. The aim of the procedure, which has been well established for decades, is that there is as seamless a transition as possible from one government to the next. The transfer of office (“transition”) is regulated by a law from 1963.
All authorities prepare documents, some of which are hundreds of pages long. In addition, the most important employees of the new president already have to go through the – sometimes time-consuming – checks in the transition phase in order to get permission to inspect secret information (“security clearance”).
What exactly is happening now?
Biden’s employees can meet officials from ministries and agencies and gain access to government infrastructure. His team will be given $ 6.3 million in salaries and other expenses, as well as access to government offices and email addresses. Biden named 23 employees for the Ministry of Defense alone. In total, the government team comprises several hundred employees. In addition, Biden will now also receive the briefings on national security – and currently also on the development of the corona pandemic.
Why didn’t Biden get access for so long?
The GSA (General Services Administration), which is responsible for the administration of the state apparatus, gives the go-ahead for the transition process. Usually it is a mere formality: one candidate wins, the other admits his defeat, and shortly afterwards the winner receives a letter from the GSA, which opens the doors to the government infrastructure. But this year nothing is going as usual. Trump refused to acknowledge his defeat and launched dozens of lawsuits for alleged election fraud. GSA boss Emily Murphy emphasized that she was acting independently, but in this situation for over two weeks did not see herself in a position to classify Biden as the likely election winner.
The GSA has now made up for it and still-US President Trump has called on his team to cooperate. Despite this, Trump continued to deny Biden’s victory a short time later on Twitter. And declares the classification of the GSA as not important, since the authority does not ultimately determine the next US president.
Why can Biden’s team get started after all?
The air for Trump is getting thinner. More than 30 of his lawsuits in multiple states have been dismissed in court. This was followed by official confirmation of the election results with Biden’s victory in contested states such as Pennsylvania, Georgia and Michigan. Trump continues to claim that he will not stop the fight. But even flimsy arguments in favor of delaying the start of the process were no longer tenable.
How significant is the delay?
The election was on November 3rd, Biden was declared the winner of the election by the US media on November 7th based on their calculations. His team lost around two weeks because the GSA has only now given the green light for the handover procedure. Biden’s inauguration on January 20 is still just under two months away. But there is also a lot to do.
US history also has a warning. In 2000, the hanging match between George W. Bush and Al Gore with recounts in Florida shortened the handover by several weeks. Some secret service experts blamed the resulting loopholes for the fact that the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 were not foiled. Because of the delay, the communication between the US security authorities did not work well enough.
How did Biden react to the delay?
The future president managed himself and received briefings from former government employees – including some from the Trump era. He was informed about the corona situation from health experts. However, the renowned immunologist Anthony Fauci was not allowed to be among them as a civil servant. Biden collected donations to finance the transition process. At first there was no information about what is happening with this money.
What role does Trump play now?
The incumbent is president until noon on January 20th. No matter how belligerent he is – at least since it became apparent that his lawyers could not produce evidence of election fraud, it was clear that he would then have to vacate the White House. Some political observers in Washington expect that he will never publicly admit his defeat to Biden.
Another popular theory is that Trump is flying back to his Hotel Mar-a-Lago in Florida for Christmas – and not returning to Washington at all, so he also stays away from the inauguration ceremony. One of the ways he can make life difficult for Biden is by creating political facts that restrict the next president’s leeway. These include, for example, the far-reaching withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.