As Trump refuses to concede, his agencies awkwardly prepare what they can for a Biden transition

Agency officers within the Trump administration put in control of the transition are within the awkward place of successfully twiddling their thumbs till the General Services Administration, an company led by a Trump appointee, indicators off on the election outcomes — a course of that’s usually not a problem.

One Department of Energy division is beginning to quietly prepare for the incoming Biden administration though no official connection has been made, in accordance to one staffer within the division.

“We had a call yesterday and talked quite a bit about this, and the direction we received was to expect a transition, start planning for it, think about the things that the Biden team would likely want to see and start brushing up on those documents and start thinking about how do we frame our programs, and our work in a way that is attractive to the Biden administration,” the staffer advised CNN.

The staffer clarified that this steering was not from Trump appointees however from skilled employees, and that it was purposefully delivered within the type of telephone name and never a memo, in order not to have a paper path.

“This is not direction from the current political appointees from the Trump administration, it’s from basically the staff below the political level,” the staffer stated.

State Department officers are rising anxious and annoyed as they are prevented from interacting with Biden’s transition workforce. “It is frustrating on one hand, but on another it is also damaging to the morale at the department,” stated one present official aware of the pause that has been put in place.

The preparations, which profession diplomats perform, as required by legislation, are already executed. The workplace areas for the transition groups — each the State Department profession officers assigned to the job by the division and the Biden State Department workforce — are sitting vacant.

“They have done everything they can do. Now they just wait,” stated a supply aware of the method.

While division officers understand they don’t have any different choice however to stay affected person, recognizing that they will ultimately get to work with the incoming workforce, they additionally consider the division wants a super quantity of consideration and would really like the Biden workforce to get in as quickly as potential.

“I am worried they are going to open up the hood, and it is going to be a lot worse than they expected,” stated a second State Department official.

A Treasury staffer stated the Treasury Department has been “running through a standard transition process,” which started a month out from the election. That course of is ongoing, the supply stated, although there was no communication relating to touchdown groups from the Biden transition but.

Inside the Department of Homeland Security, Mark Koumans, a longtime DHS official who’s main the transition effort for the division, just lately reminded employees that till there’s a declaration certifying the election, personnel ought to chorus from talking straight with members of the Biden workforce and proceed to undergo the division’s transition workplace, a division official advised CNN.

Democratic congressional aides who often cope with agencies say their contacts have gone silent because the election, with one suspecting considerations about shedding their jobs or being the goal of a hunt for leaks — notably after the administration’s personnel chief unfold phrase all through the administration on Monday that if he heard of anybody wanting for one other job they could be fired, in accordance to a senior official.

“The silence is still deafening,” a DHS official stated when requested about outreach from management on the transition. The division appears to be in a “wait and see” mode, the official added, saying that any transactions with the Biden workforce prior to official certification seem “unlikely at this point.”

Falsely suggesting a second Trump time period

Since the race was known as by information organizations final Saturday, Trump has refused to accept the outcome, spreading false claims of widespread voter fraud whereas his marketing campaign has filed a flurry of lawsuits that are not going to overturn the outcomes of the election.

While congressional Republicans are coming round to the truth that Biden received, a few of Trump’s Cabinet officers have stayed loyal to his false claims, suggesting there will likely be a second Trump time period.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed, “There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.” And in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar answered a query about coronavirus response by suggesting the transition was nonetheless a hypothetical.

“Obviously, if there’s a transition here, we’re going to ensure it’s a professional, cooperative one,” Azar stated.

The White House price range workplace is even directing agencies to prepare a price range for the following 12 months as if nothing is altering, in accordance to a individual aware of the plans. Another individual stated that whereas there hasn’t been a formal memo spelling this out, the message to agencies is to proceed as regular.

The formal transition is probably going to stay on maintain till the election is licensed by the General Services Administration in a course of generally known as ascertainment. That determination is made by GSA Administrator Emily Murphy, a Trump appointee.

Congressional Democrats wrote to Murphy earlier this week requesting a briefing and saying that she was “undermining the urgent need for a prompt and effective transition of power in the midst of a global pandemic that must be focused on the safety and well-being of our citizens.”

Some Republicans have rallied to her protection. Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia, the highest Republican on the House Government Operations Subcommittee, wrote Murphy a letter Friday claiming it was untimely to make a dedication that Biden is the President-elect.

Transitioning with out a formal transition

Regardless, Biden’s team is moving forward with its transition, naming a prolonged workforce for the entire agencies that’s starting the work of choosing Cabinet leaders and staffing up, though it’s at present shut out from funding — and the agencies themselves. Biden’s workforce is downplaying the importance the delayed transition could have on the incoming administration.

“We’re not interested in having a food fight with the GSA administrator or anyone. We just want to get access to intelligence information, to threat assessments, to the ongoing work on Covid, so that we can prepare to govern,” Biden transition spokeswoman Jen Psaki advised reporters on Friday.

But there are tangible results to the delay.

Normally, a President-elect would instantly start receiving the identical categorised briefings because the President. But to this point these briefings haven’t occurred for Biden, because the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has not engaged with the Biden workforce.

A stack of messages from foreign leaders to Biden are sitting on the State Department as a result of the Trump administration is stopping him from accessing them. While Biden’s coronavirus workforce has been reaching out to states and the medical neighborhood to hit the bottom working as soon as Biden is inaugurated, the transition workforce doesn’t have entry to the administration’s Covid-19 information and virus distribution plans.

“Not only are they not getting access to classified information or already appropriated funds, they aren’t getting their review teams into the agencies, and getting ahold of the real budget picture in the agencies and the real personnel picture,” stated Denis McDonough, who was President Barack Obama’s chief of employees.

‘The subsequent neatest thing’

Michael Chertoff, who served because the secretary of Homeland Security underneath President George W. Bush and helped the division transition to the Obama administration, stated the division had run a simulation of what to do if a pandemic occurred, “so they could really get a feel for how things work in the levers of government.”

“Much of the story of this last administration and the next couple of months is a disdain for the workings of government,” Chertoff stated. “It’s almost as if it’s a determination that they want to wreck government and make it as hard as possible for government to do its job. The problem is that leaves a lot of people dead, as we’ve seen with the virus.”

Since Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s firing by Trump on Monday, Biden’s transition workforce is reaching out to former Pentagon officers who labored for former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis as they search to collect info for an incoming Biden workforce, in accordance to two former officers who’ve been contacted by the transition workforce.

The conversations are a results of the shortcoming to interact with present Pentagon officers presently, the sources advised CNN. They come as an effort to construct the transition workforce’s understanding about what has occurred within the division during the last 4 years. Politico first reported the communications.

The Biden workforce can also be conscious that even when they are in a position to communicate with present protection officers after the General Services Administration indicators off on Biden’s victory, these officers might not be keen to interact or be as forthcoming as those who’ve already departed.

Reaching out to former officers, one of many ex-officials defined, is “the next best thing.”

CNN’s Annie Grayer, Kylie Atwood, Vivian Salama, Ellie Kaufman, Gregory Wallace, Betsy Klein, Geneva Sands, Priscilla Alvarez, Kevin Liptak, Sarah Westwood, Jim Sciutto, Zachary Cohen, Alex Marquardt and Sarah Mucha contributed to this report.

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