Multiple government agencies warned not to cooperate with Biden: report
President Trump’s administration has instructed senior agency officials to not cooperate with President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team amid the Trump campaign’s legal challenge to election outcomes in multiple battleground states, The Washington Post reported Monday.
According to senior administration officials who spoke to the Post on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly, agencies have instructed staff who had been preparing briefing books and office space for the Biden team to not give this access until the election result is confirmed by the General Services Administration (GSA), which oversees the management and basic functioning of federal agencies.
“We have been told: Ignore the media, wait for it to be official from the government,” one senior administration official told the Post.
Biden was projected by The Associated Press and other major news outlets as the winner of the presidential election on Saturday, but Trump has indicated he will not concede, alleging without evidence that there was widespread voter fraud.
GSA Administrator Emily Murphy, a Trump appointee, has refused to sign paperwork releasing Biden’s $6.3 million share of nearly $10 million in transition resources and giving his team access to agency officials and information, according to the Post and other news outlets.
In a call with reporters Monday, Biden transition officials said Murphy’s decision is blocking the transition team from State Department-facilitated calls with foreign leaders and access to secure facilities where they can review classified information, among other services traditionally granted during a presidential transition.
The Biden team reportedly added in the call that they are evaluating their legal options should the Trump administration continue to prevent a peaceful transition.
The Post reported that several agencies, including the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of Veterans Affairs, have told staff to ignore outreach from Biden’s transition team.
The Post added that the agencies are currently not holding formal briefings with the Biden team on the agencies’ projects, budgets, trouble spots or day-to-day operations.
John Barsa, acting deputy USAID administrator, told staffers that Biden had not won the election and agencies should therefore not automatically carry out transition actions, according to two people familiar with his conversations.
The Post reported that a 440-page briefing book for the next president’s team is already prepared and waiting at USAID.
“The only official announcement about an election result that matters is from the head of GSA,” Barsa said, according to a recording of a call published by the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website.
The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.
This comes as other top administration officials and Republican lawmakers have called for the investigation of the Trump campaign’s claims of voter fraud, which several experts have since challenged.
Attorney General William Barr on Monday authorized the Department of Justice to investigate any “substantial allegations” of voter fraud in the presidential election.
The move prompted Richard Pilger, who had served as director of the Justice Department’s Election Crimes Branch since 2010, to step down, writing in an email to colleagues that the new policy is “abrogating the forty-year old Non-Interference Policy for ballot fraud investigation in the period prior to elections becoming certified and uncontested.”
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