President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday took aim at President Donald Trump and the General Services Administration sought to employ a different approach to getting Trump to kickstart the transition by asserting it would not serve as a formal concession of his loss.
“There’s a whole lot of things we just don’t have available to us,” Biden said of his transition team’s inability to interface with the administration or receive critical data during a virtual roundtable with frontline workers.
Not wanting to get out ahead of Trump, who has refused to concede the election and pushed baseless claims of widespread fraud, GSA administrator Emily Murphy has withheld ascertainment of Biden’s victory, which would provide the transition team access to government staffers and information, as well as office space and $6.3 million in funding.
Biden asserted ascertainment would not equate to a formal certification of Trump’s loss and would not preclude him from continuing to contest the election, noting “the law… doesn’t require there to be an absolute winner. It says ‘apparent winner.’”
“We’ve been unable to get access to the kinds of things we need to know about the depth of the [medical supplies] stockpiles,” Biden said, adding that his team “knows there’s not much at all.”
Biden also said he has not been made aware of “when these vaccines come out, how they’ll be distributed, who is first in line, what the plan is,” predicting he would be “behind by weeks and months” on his vaccine distribution initiative if the GSA doesn’t ascertain his win soon.
“Biden team trying to give the GSA a way of starting the transition without it looking like she’s declaring him the victor,” Politico reporter Alex Thompson said of Biden’s comments about ascertainment not recognizing an “absolute winner.”
“I’m hoping the reason why my friends on the other side have not stepped up to do something is because of their fear of retribution from the president,” Biden said, adding, “hopefully, when he’s gone, they’ll be more willing to do what they know should be done.”
“Obviously, it’s something that we’re concerned about,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said of the transition being blocked. “The virus is not going to stop and call a time-out while things change.”
Republicans in Congress have largely stood by Trump or remained silent despite numerous claims they privately acknowledge Biden’s victory – but there has been slippage. Five Republican senators have congratulated Biden – and another four have acknowledged the likelihood of his victory – as have ten GOP House members, six GOP governors, former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dan Quayle. Several top Trump allies have also advocated for Biden to receive intelligence briefings or transition privileges.