As Joe Biden’s projected Electoral College win holds steady at 279 votes and his popular vote lead climbs well above four million, President Trump is escalating his attempts to contest the election. But as many Republican leaders share false allegations of widespread voter fraud and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tries out dead-on-arrival jokes about the “smooth transfer of power … to a second Trump administration,” Biden appears to be interpreting these signs as symptoms of desperation.
In a press conference on Tuesday, in front of a backdrop reading “Office of the President Elect,” Biden laughed at the premise put forward by Pompeo, saying his name as if it were the joke itself. As for Trump’s choice not to concede the election, Biden referred to it as “an embarrassment, quite frankly,” adding, “How can I say this tactfully — I think it will not help the president’s legacy.” Biden did note, however, that legal action from him “is certainly a possibility” if the General Services Administration does not provide his transition team with close to $10 million designed to help all incoming administrations figure out staffing and get their feet. Led by Trump appointee Emily Murphy, the GSA is currently withholding that money because it has not yet acknowledged Biden’s electoral win. (Meanwhile, the current administration is still engaging in the fantasy of four more years, vetting appointees for key positions that won’t be there come January.)
Nevertheless, the president-elect’s people are moving forward. On Tuesday, his transition team released a list of around 500 staffers who will prepare the new administration to run the federal government. “It’s about getting the Cabinet leaders ready to lead, equipping them with the information they need,” a Biden transition official told the Washington Post. But for there to be anything resembling continuity of government, the outgoing administration would need to open to the incoming one, providing access at all levels of the executive branch. In the absence of such partnership, transition officials are in contact with “think tanks, labor and nonprofit groups, and those who previously served at federal agencies,” according to team members who spoke with the Post.
Biden appears unfazed at this point — though it’s unclear if his newfound patience for malarkey will remain in the coming days if Trump continues to contest the election and his administration continues to block access to transition resources and intelligence. On Tuesday, NBC News reported that the “Office of the Director of National Intelligence said it will not interface with the Biden transition until the General Services Administration” has acknowledged Trump’s defeat.
As Republican political strategist Evan Siegfried notes, that hold up could have serious serious ramifications: “The 9/11 Commission Report found that the delayed transition that came as a result of Bush v Gore fed the unpreparedness of the Bush admin when it came to 9/11. The incoming Biden admin not getting access to intel briefings and transition resources could have real consequences.”