Donald Trump has accepted a formal US transition should begin for President-elect Joe Biden to take office.
The president said the federal agency overseeing the handover must “do what needs to be done”, even as he vowed to keep contesting his election defeat. The General Services Administration (GSA) said it was acknowledging Mr Biden as the “apparent winner”. It came as Mr Biden’s victory in the state of Michigan was officially certified, a major blow to Mr Trump.
After the GSA announcement, the Pentagon said it would provide “support to the Biden team… in a professional, orderly, and efficient manner that is befitting of the public’s expectation of the Department and our commitment to national security”.
Mr Biden’s transition website has now changed to a US government domain. He will begin announcing the people he wants in the top jobs in his cabinet on Tuesday.
How did the Biden team respond?
It welcomed the start of the transition process as the Democratic president-elect gears up to be sworn in on 20 January. “Today’s decision is a needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation, including getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track,” a team statement said.
Earlier, Mr Biden unveiled a foreign policy and national security team consisting of old colleagues from his years in the Obama administration.
He will appoint Anthony Blinken as secretary of state and John Kerry as climate envoy, while Janet Yellen is tipped to be the first female US treasury secretary. The list came ahead of a formal announcement Tuesday.
Has Trump conceded?
Mr Trump tweeted as the GSA, which is tasked with formally beginning presidential changeovers, informed the Biden camp that it would start the transition process.
GSA administrator Emily Murphy said she was making $6.3m (£4.7m) in funds available to the president-elect.
Mr Trump said: “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.” He did not concede, however, and went on to repeat unsubstantiated claims of corruption, pledging to keep up the “good fight”.
Ms Murphy, a Trump appointee, cited “recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results” in her decision to start the process. She said she had received no pressure from the White House over the timing of the move.
“I did, however, receive threats online, by phone, and by mail directed at my safety, my family, my staff, and even my pets in an effort to coerce me into making this determination prematurely,” Ms Murphy said in a letter to Mr Biden. “Even in the face of thousands of threats I have remained committed to upholding the law.”
She had faced criticism from both political sides for failing to begin the transition process sooner, usually a routine step between the election and the inauguration.
What has the Republican Party been saying?
Mr Trump’s fellow Republicans have increasingly been breaking ranks over the transition, with several of them urging him to let it begin. Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, who is retiring, said the president should “put the country first” and help Mr Biden succeed.
“When you are in public life, people remember the last thing you do.” West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito said “at some point, the 2020 election must end”.
More than 160 business leaders had also urged Ms Murphy in an open letter to immediately recognize Mr Biden as president-elect. “Withholding resources and vital information from an incoming administration puts the public and economic health and security of America at risk,″ they