Less than four days after the media declared Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 presidential election, the Biden team is already complaining about Donald Trump’s administration obstructing the transition.
The media, of course, has picked up that theme and is trashing Trump mercilessly for not giving in. It plays nicely into another media narrative: that Trump is “denying reality” by not sitting down, shutting up, and cooperating.
Whether Trump is denying reality is an open question. But what isn’t at issue is that Joe Biden hasn’t been certified a winner in any state in the nation. It’s also a fact that legal questions surrounding the question of whose ballots should be counted are far from being resolved.
Trump’s legal efforts to “count every legal vote” aren’t getting anywhere, but that doesn’t mean he should concede.
But should Trump still cooperate in a Biden transition? It’s a monumental task to set up an administration in a matter of a little more than two months’ time. It’s something akin to creating a multi-million dollar company. There are dozens of moving parts where new people must be brought in, briefed, and eased into their jobs.
In truth, presidents have not always cooperated to the best of their ability. Bill Clinton made the transition to the George Bush presidency a nightmare of delays and put roadblocks in front of Bush appointees to the point that it may have endangered national security.
The 9/11 Commission Report included a general recommendation that appointments to key national security positions at the time of presidential transitions occur more quickly. The goal of the 9/11 Commission’s recommended changes was to “minimize as much as possible the disruption of national security policymaking” and maintain national security continuity when a new President comes into office. The recommendation addressed the commission’s concern about the length of time a new Administration takes to install key national security personnel. The commission noted, in particular, the abbreviated transition period resulting from the delayed resolution of the 2000 presidential race.
No one wants that, but where does non-cooperation become “obstruction”? The Biden transition team is thinking of suing the administration because the GSA won’t release any funds for the transition.
“We believe that the time has come for the GSA administrator to promptly ascertainand as president-elect and vice president-elect,” an unidentified Biden-Harris transition official said Monday night on a telephone briefing with reporters.
When asked if the transition team would possibly consider legal action to hasten the mechanics of the transition, the official replied: “There are a number of options on the table, legal action is certainly a possibility, but there are other options as well that we’re considering.”
Sensibly, the GSA administrator won’t sign off on anything until the results of the election are settled.
The GSA oversees the transition process. The little-known agency is responsible for acknowledging, or “ascertaining,” the winner of each cycle as it essentially holds the keys to the federal government. But GSA Administrator Emily Murphy, who was appointed by Trump in 2017, has repeatedly said that she won’t sign the necessary paperwork until a victor is “clear.”
No court in the land would declare Biden the winner of anything unless the results are certified by each state. At the earliest, that won’t be until the first week in December. Trump will no doubt try to delay the certification in several states, but once an election is certified, it will be virtually impossible to overturn.
To complain like this less than four days after being declared a winner by news organizations is ridiculous. Someone should tell Joe to keep his pants on and his dentures in and see how things develop.