With an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots, election results took a bit longer this year than usual. But if Americans were expecting an election week, November stretched on into a month of election drama, with President Trump mounting an unprecedented effort to undermine election results and stall the transition process, even as states certified Biden’s win.
President Trump at last appeared to accept the election results Monday, but not in so many words. It certainly wasn’t a concession speech, but it was the closest thing yet.
“… 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,” Trump tweeted, contradicting a fresh claim made by GSA Administrator Emily Murphy that the White House did not influence her decision to block the transition. The General Services Administration (GSA) plays a role in making election results official and moving the transition forward on the federal level.
President-elect Biden’s transition work proceeded in spite of the roadblocks, with the incoming leader introducing aspects of his plan to get COVID-19 under control and working out the names of officials he plans to appoint. But with the head of the GSA refusing to release $6.3 million in federal funds for the transition, Biden’s hands were tied in some important ways. Murphy’s extremely unusual refusal to recognize the election results also blocked the president-elect’s ability to access secure government devices and receive briefings from federal agencies, including those involved in the pandemic response.
Apart from getting Biden’s transition on track, Trump’s words and GSA’s belated cooperation could help the nation move on in another important way. For weeks, election conspiracies have roiled the internet, inspiring a number of Trump supporters to denounce mainstream social networks, which reminded users of the election results and cracked down on some forms of misinformation. Those conspiracy theories were often spread right from the top, with President Trump promoting baseless claims of fraud involving mail-in ballots and voting machines as he refused to concede.
The president’s online supporters may not move on from the election quickly, but they’re likely to follow his lead — and for now at least, it looks like Trump will signal defeat.