Donald Trump agrees transition of power to Joe Biden can begin

President directs his team to co-operate but vows to 'keep up the good fight'

US President Donald Trump has agreed that the transition of power to president-elect Joe Biden can begin.

The head of the General Services Administration sent Mr Biden a letter informing him that the Trump administration is ready to begin the presidential transition process.

Emily Murphy, the head of the US agency who was appointed by Mr Trump, on Monday told Mr Biden of the decision in a letter, of which CNN obtained a copy.

“I take this role seriously and, because of recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results, am transmitting this letter today to make those resources and services available to you,” the letter read.

“I have dedicated much of my adult life to public service and I have always strived to do what is right.

"Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts.

"I was never directly or indirectly pressured 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."

Mr Trump said on Twitter that he directed his team to co-operate on transition for Mr Biden but he vowed to keep up his legal fight against the election result. He stopped short of fully conceding the election.

"I want to thank Emily Murphy at GSA for her steadfast dedication and loyalty to our country," he said.

"She has been harassed, threatened, and abused – and I do not want to see this happen to her, her family, or employees of GSA.

"Our case strongly continues. We will keep up the good fight and 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 have told my team to do the same."

The decision means that Mr Biden's team now has access to funds, office space and the ability to meet federal officials.

Yohannes Abraham, the Biden-Harris transition director, welcomed the decision.

Mr Abraham called it “a needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation, including getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track”.

“This final decision is a definitive administrative action to formally begin the transition process with federal agencies," he said.

"In the days ahead, transition officials will begin meeting federal officials to discuss the pandemic response, have a full accounting of our national security interests, and gain complete understanding of the Trump administration’s efforts to hollow out government agencies."

Mr Biden was projected as the winner of the US election on November 7, after he won the key battleground state of Pennsylvania.

In the electoral college, the Democrat won 306 votes overall compared with Mr Trump's 232.

But Mr Trump has refused to concede the election result and alleged widespread voter fraud without providing any evidence to substantiate his claims.

He has taken several legal challenges to different states but has failed in all of them.

Mr Trump has also not invited Mr Biden to the White House and to military meetings since the election result was declared, breaking traditions normally followed with the handover of power.

But Mr Biden's team has been making appointments to his Cabinet and assembling a coronavirus taskforce.

The Cabinet appointments consist of a mix of Obama-era veterans, such as John Kerry as climate envoy and Antony Blinken as secretary of state.

Sources also told AP that Mr Biden will appoint former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen as treasury secretary.

On Monday, Michigan, another swing state that Mr Biden was projected to win, voted 3-1 to certify his victory, in another blow to the Trump campaign.

After the GSA announcement, more Republicans have been coming out to acknowledge Mr Biden as the next president. He will assume office on January 20.

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Bill Cassidy, a Republican senator for Louisiana, said on Twitter on Sunday that he voted for Mr Trump but Mr Biden won.

"The transition should begin for the sake of the country," Mr Cassidy said.

Mr Biden said that Mr Trump's refusal to co-operate with the transition process will lead to the loss of thousands more lives to the coronavirus.

Markets reacted well to the news of the transition beginning and Mr Biden's announcement of senior Cabinet appointees.

US equity futures pushed higher and Asian stocks made gains.

S&P 500 futures rose 0.5 per cent as of 8.39am in Tokyo, while the S&P 500 Index climbed 0.6 per cent.

Nikkei 225 futures rose 0.8 per cent in Singapore as the news came in.

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