By J.V. Lakshmana Rao
The decks have now been cleared for US President-elect Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris for transition to assume offices as the President and the Vice President respectively of the Only Super Power of the World.
After three weeks of suspense, incumbent President Donald Trump, though still calls himself a winner, finally agrees for transition of power and asks Biden to begin the process, thus paving the way for a smooth handing over of power to him.
Democrat Biden, who has already informally initiated the transition process, has now formally formalized the exercise that would lead to taking the oath of office on January 20 that would eventually end the four-year Republican Presidency of Trump.
A defiant Trump claiming electoral fraud, after the November 3 Presidential elections, had vainly fought over 30 court cases and failed to provide any evidence to support his claim. Still he did not “formally concede” the election to Biden.
However, according to media reports, Emily Murphy, Administrator of the General Services Administration, (GSA), a Trump appointee, on November 23 conveyed to Biden through a letter that the Trump administration was ready to begin the formal transition process.
Trump’s authorization, which is a key concession conveyed through Emily Murphy, now allows Biden federal funding, offices and access for the transition team. Hitherto Biden, it is stated, has been appealing to his associates and supporters to help him raise funds for the nominations/appointment of his staff of the transition team and for its operations.
However, Emily Murphy claimed that based on the law and available facts, she took the decision independently. “I was never directly or indirectly pressurized by any executive branch official, including those who work at the White House or GSA, with regard to the substance or timing of my decision. To be clear, I did not receive any direction to delay my determination.”
On the heels of Murphy’s letter to Biden, Trump tweeted to the President-elect that notwithstanding the mutual fight, “I believe we will prevail. Nevertheless, 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 I have told my team to do the same.”
Trump, yet not in a mood to give up his claim, added: “What does GSA being allowed to preliminarily work with the Dems have to do with continuing to pursue our various cases on what will go down as the most corrupt election in American political history? We are moving full speed ahead. Will never concede to fake ballots and domination.”
Meanwhile, added to the strength of Presidential poll victory of the Democrats, Michigan election officials on November 23 certified Biden was victorious, winning 1,54,000 votes as Trump suffered yet another setback.
The Board of State Canvassers, consisting of two Republicans and two Democrats, confirmed the results on a 3-0 votes with one abstention.
Biden’s victory in Michigan by 2.8 percentage points is a larger margin than in other states where Trump is contesting results in states like Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. And under the Michigan law, Biden was supposed to have won comfortably all the 16 electoral votes.
Reports confirm that Biden has become the US’s first Presidential candidate to win over 80 million votes. In fact Biden polled more than 80,011,000 votes as of November 24, while President Donald Trump had more than 73,800,000 votes.
With such a comfortable victory and armed with the green signal from the GSA, Biden has begun the exercise of not only selecting members for his transition team, but also forming a most diverse and gender-balanced Cabinet and quasi-Cabinet. The appointments are made taking into consideration of the changing demographic and growing diversity of the USA.
Supported by his Democratic running mateKamala Harris as the Vice President, the Biden administration is likely to have a foreign policy expert Antony Blinked, as the US Secretary of State, and Jake Sullivan as National Security Advisor, according to media reports.
Blinken worked as the Deputy Secretary of State in the second term of the Obama administration and as the National Security Advisor to Biden when he was the Vice President. Blinken, a strong supporter of India, spoke during the virtual celebration of India’s Independence Day organized by the Biden Campaign. It was also addressed by Biden and Kamala Harris.
The others top officials, who are to be included in the Biden administration are: Ron Klain as the White House Chief of Staff; John Kerry, former Secretary of State and one of the leading architects of the Paris Climate Agreement, as Special Presidential Envoy on Climate; Linda Thomas-Greenfield, an African-American diplomat, as US Ambassador to the UN; Janet Yellen, a first woman to oversee the Treasury Department; Alejandre Mayorkas, said to be the first Latino and immigrant, to run the Department of Homeland Security; Michele Flournoy likely to be the first woman Defense Secretary; and Avril Halnes has been chosen to be the first female Director of National Intelligence, a position that had been created in 2004 after 9/11. It has six white men heading it during the past 16 years.
Announcing and introducing some of his nominees and appointees from his transition center in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, on November 24, Biden said: “The world leaders are looking forward to the US reasserting its historic role as a global leader of the Pacific, as well as the Atlantic, and all across the world.”
He also emphasized the need to rebuilt alliances as well as tackling the Coronavirus pandemic and climate change. “My core belief is that America is strongest when it works with its allies,” he added.
Notwithstanding the continued failed claims of Trump, it is now clear that the Biden-Harris transition will be smooth, paving the way for transfer of power to the Biden Presidency on January 20, 2021.
By J.V. Lakshmana Rao