Joe Biden transition stalled as Trump official has to sign paperwork

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Murphy - CQ-Roll Call Group
Murphy - CQ-Roll Call Group

An administrator appointed by Donald Trump is coming under pressure from Joe Biden's team after not signing paperwork authorising the transfer of power.

Emily Murphy, head of the General Services Administration, is tasked with formally recognising Mr Biden as president-elect, which officially begins the transition period.

But, as of late Monday, the process had not started and there was no indication when it would.

Incoming administrations set up shadow teams which collect information on budgets, staffing, and work in progress, so that they can hit the ground running the day after the inauguration in January.

But the handover process cannot begin until the Administrator of the GSA, a government agency responsible for federal buildings, gives the green light.

The recognition authorises access to government offices, equipment and officials for the Biden team.

Under the Presidential Transition Act the GSA Administrator ascertains the "apparent successful candidate" in the election before signing a letter giving them access.

However, the act does not say how that decision should be made.

Pamela Pennington, a GSA spokeswoman, said: "An ascertainment has not yet been made. GSA and its Administrator will continue to abide by, and fulfill, all requirements under the law."

Jen Psaki, of the Biden transition team, said America's national security and economy depended on a "smooth and peaceful transfer of power".

Some expected transition developments have taken place, including the Secret Service assigning members of its presidential unit to Mr Biden, and air space being restricted over his home in Delaware.

The GSA is supposed to act independently of political parties.

The advisory board of the nonpartisan Center for Presidential Transition urged the Trump administration to "immediately begin" the transition process.

Delays could impede the process of the Biden administration appointing thousands of new government officials.

In 2000, the GSA's determination was delayed until after the Florida recount fight was settled.

That was identified by the 9/11 Commission Report as contributing to US unpreparedness for the crisis.

After the eventual handover officials in the George W. Bush transition team claimed those in the outgoing Bill Clinton administration had removed "W" keys from office computers.

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