The US federal agency that must sign off on the presidential transition has told President-elect Joe Biden he can formally begin the handover process.
President Donald Trump, who had refused to concede the election, said on Monday he was directing his team to co-operate on the transition but vowed to keep up the fight.
The move clears the way for the start of the transition from Trump’s administration and allows Biden to co-ordinate with federal agencies on plans for taking over on January 20.
Lawmakers and business executives have put pressure on the little-known General Services Administration to recognise the November 3 election results and free up millions of dollars in federal funds, office space and briefings for Biden’s team.
An official said GSA administrator Emily Murphy made the determination after Trump efforts to subvert the vote failed across battleground states, most recently in Michigan, which certified Biden’s victory Monday.
“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,” General Services Administration chief Emily Murphy wrote in a letter to Biden.
“Contrary to media reports and insinuations, my decision was not made out of fear or favouritism.”
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, we will keep up the good…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 23, 2020
Trump has repeatedly falsely claimed he won the race and has spent weeks offering baseless claims of widespread voter fraud that have repeatedly failed to gain traction in the courts.
Trump tweeted shortly after her letter was made public: “Our case STRONGLY continues, 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.”
Biden won the election with enough state-by-state electoral votes to secure the electoral college win. The Democrat leads in the national popular vote by more than six million.
Trump’s fellow Republicans have slowly broken from the president in recent days to urge the transition process to start.