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Facing Pressure, Trump Relents On Starting Biden Transition

President Trump, seen here on Saturday, hasn't formally conceded the election to Joe Biden but says he is allowing the transition to proceed.
Manuel Balce Ceneta
President Trump, seen here on Saturday, hasn't formally conceded the election to Joe Biden but says he is allowing the transition to proceed.

President Trump is still not conceding that he lost the election, but he's getting closer.

Trump on Monday tweeted that he had directed the General Services Administration to begin the process of transferring the government to President-elect Joe Biden.

Those tweets may be as close to a concession as Trump will ever give. He maintains that he will continue to fight the election results in court and later tweeted that he would "never concede."

Even as vote counts in key states showed Trump behind Biden by thousands of votes, the president has taken unprecedented steps to contest the electoral outcome. He continued Tuesday to make unfounded allegations about the integrity of the process and vowed more legal action.

Until Monday, GSA Administrator Emily Murphy had declined to take the formal step to allow the Biden team to begin working with federal agencies to prepare for governing. But Trump and Murphy faced increasing pressure to kickstart the transition process.

The New York Times reported that White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump's personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, all urged the president to allow the transition to begin. An administration official confirmed to NPR that Trump was being advised that it would be good for the country to at least start the process.

The shift comes as Trump's nearly impossible path to overturning the election outcome looks even more improbable.

Over the weekend, a federal judge issued a blistering order, dismissing the Trump campaign's bid to delay certification of votes in Pennsylvania. Biden leads Trump in the state by more than 81,000 votes.

Trump also failed to prevent the state of Michigan fromcertifying Biden's winthere.

More Republican lawmakers are also calling on Trump to accept the election results.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said Trump should "put the country first and have a prompt and orderly transition."

"When you are in public life, people remember the last thing you do," Alexander said.

The move by GSA will allow the Biden transition team to access millions of dollars in federal funding, as well as to begin meeting with government agencies to discuss policy ahead of the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021.

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Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.
Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.