Emily Murphy, head of General Services Administration, told President-elect Joe Biden on Monday that the Trump administration is providing federal funding for his inauguration.
The letter from Murphy, who had withheld her decision to determine Biden’s election victory for weeks after the November 3 election, was revealed minutes before President Donald Trump tweeted that he approved the move.
The letter is one of the first clear signs that the Trump administration recognizes the defeat in the 2020 elections. But Trump has still refused to specifically award the race to Biden, who is expected to win 306 electoral college votes for Trump’s 232.
Trump has falsely claimed that he won the election “many times over” and promoted a multitude of conspiracies alleging widespread electoral fraud without evidence.
Trump campaign lawyers, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, have filed lawsuits in many of the major swing states that helped beat Biden in the election. Most of them, who in some cases have asked judges to prevent states from confirming their final voting results, have been turned down.
Murphy’s letter followed a recent string of setbacks in Trump’s efforts to reverse the proposed election result, including another court loss in Pennsylvania and the confirmation of the votes in Georgia and Michigan.
Murphy said in her letter to Biden that her decision will free up more than $ 7 million in federal funds for his transition. Biden’s team raised funds already after election day and was on track to meet its fundraising goals.
“Today’s decision is a necessary step in addressing our nation’s challenges, including controlling the pandemic and our economy,” the Biden transition team said in a statement.
“This final decision is a final administrative action to officially begin the transition process with federal agencies.”
Under federal law, the GSA chief had the authority to unleash millions of dollars to go towards spending on the president’s transition. After those funds were withheld for weeks after news outlets forecast Biden would hit Trump, the low profile agency suddenly came under the spotlight.
Murphy had become the target of intense criticism and pressure from both the public and lawmakers, who insisted that they acknowledge Biden’s victory immediately and allow his team to use the funds. The Chairs of the House Democratic Committee last week asked Murphy to inform them personally about the funding.
In the letter to Biden, Murphy strongly defended her actions and pushed back her critics, who in some cases accused her of acting with political motivations.
“I have dedicated much of my adult life to public service and always strive to do the right thing. Please know that I have made my decision independently based on the law and available facts. I have never been pressurized, directly or indirectly set.” Any executive officer – including those who work in the White House or GSA – as to the content or timing of my decision, “Murphy wrote.
“To be clear, I have not received an instruction to delay my determination. However, I have received threats online, over the phone, and in the mail directed at my safety, my family, my co-workers, and even my pets in order to achieve this force me to make this decision ahead of time. Even in the face of thousands of threats, I have always stood up for compliance, “Murphy wrote.
“Contrary to media reports and allegations, my decision was not made out of fear or preference,” she added. “Instead, I strongly believe that the statute requires the GSA administrator to identify, and not impose, the apparent elected president. Unfortunately, the statute does not include procedures or standards for this process of incomplete censuses.”
Trump thanked Murphy by name in two tweets after the letter was published “for her unwavering commitment and loyalty to our country”.
“She has been harassed, threatened and ill-treated – and I don’t want this to happen to her, her family or GSA employees,” the president tweeted.
Claiming his legal efforts to continue “STRONG”, Trump added, “I think we will prevail!”
But he added, “Even so, in the best interests of our country, I recommend Emily and her team to do what needs to be done regarding the initial protocols and have told my team to do the same.”
Biden’s team has been preparing for the White House throughout the post-election period, despite a lack of federal funding. The transition has already revealed some of the key officials who will populate Biden’s cabinet, including the announcement earlier Monday that former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen had been tapped as Treasury Secretary.
CNN first reported the GSA letter to the president-elect.
Read Murphy’s letter to Biden: