Biden team: GSA has been ‘responsive and helpful’ since ascertainment

The GSA made its ascertainment Monday, more than two weeks after Biden clinched his Electoral College victory. Although administrator Emily Murphy claimed she had encountered no political pressure from the White House, President Donald Trump attempted to take credit for the decision, tweeting that he had recommended the agency and his own team “do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols” for the transition.

Despite the delay “in being able to make contact with these agencies, the reception from career civil servants has been professional and welcoming,” Bedingfield said. “Many have been preparing for this moment for several months, and their work is greatly appreciated as we begin making up for some lost time.”

Since Tuesday evening, the Biden transition’s agency review teams have “made contact or met with over 50 agencies and commissions,” said Biden transition spokesperson Jen Psaki. “We hope that other virtual meetings, including with the White House and other offices in the executive office of the president, will follow today and in the days immediately after the Thanksgiving holiday.”

Biden’s transition team is also working with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the White House to ensure the president-elect and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris begin receiving the President’s Daily Brief. Trump granted Biden’s transition team access to the high-level intelligence Tuesday, and Psaki said Biden and Harris were expected to receive their first briefings next Monday.

Biden rolled out his first slate of Cabinet appointments this week, announcing his picks for foreign policy and national security positions including secretary of State, secretary of Homeland Security and director of national intelligence.

The Biden transition’s legal team met with FBI and Justice Department officials Tuesday “to begin processing background checks” for those appointees, Bedingfield said, and “following the signing of some additional paperwork today, we will submit information on the nominees and the White House senior team already announced to the DOJ and FBI this week.”

Biden will make more appointments and nominations to his administration next week, including some members of his economic team, the transition spokespeople said. But they declined to offer a specific timeline for the announcements of Defense secretary and other high-profile positions.

Although the transition process “obviously cannot afford any more delays,” Bedingfield said members of Biden’s team had been “encouraged” by the reception from their counterparts in the federal government. “We believe we’re in a very strong place to move forward and to make up for some of the time that we’ve lost.”

Psaki also hailed the “extraordinary cooperation from civil servants, employees at the State Department, foreign service officers” and other government officials. “We’re hopeful that continues.”