Energy & Environment

Justice Department lawyers acknowledge presidential transition in court filing 

Greg Nash

The Justice Department has acknowledged that a new administration will take office later this month in a recent court filing despite President Trump’s refusal to concede the election and the pressure on staff and officials to not acknowledge his defeat.

Department lawyers argued that a case regarding Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s temporary appointments of political officials to positions that typically require Senate confirmation will be “moot” because of the new administration in a footnote of a court document from December. 

The filing came on December 23, the same day that William Barr left his post as attorney general after he said there was no evidence to justify Trump’s claims of voter fraud. 

The lawyers acknowledged the administration would change in a December 23 motion arguing for the dismissal of a case brought by environmental groups against the temporary appointments of William Pendley, who had been leading the Bureau of Land Management, and Margaret Everson, who leads the National Park Service. 

“Plaintiffs’ request for prospective injunctive relief against Mr. Pendley and Ms. Everson will become moot on January 20, 2021 when a new administration is sworn into office,” said a footnote in the document. 

“At that time, Mr. Pendley and Ms. Everson will, presumably, leave office, requiring that the prospective claims against them must be dismissed,” it continued. 

A spokesperson for the Justice Department did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment. 

Trump has refused to acknowledge Biden’s win, and GOP lawmakers in the House and Senate are set to contest the results of the Electoral College on Wednesday, though they do not have the votes to prevail.

On Saturday, Trump pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” the votes necessary for him to win the state, and pressure the top election official to accede to his demands. The Washington Post  first published an account of the call and a recording.

“So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state,” Trump said on the call. 

The government has taken certain other steps to acknowledge the transition such as allowing the Biden transition team into government agencies after a brief period of defiance.


Tags Biden transition Department of Justice Donald Trump William Barr

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