Trump accepts Biden transition can formally begin

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US President Donald Trump says he has given Emily Murphy, the head of the General Services Administration, the go-ahead to proceed with a transition for President-elect Joe Biden's administration despite plans to continue with legal challenges.

"I want to thank Emily Murphy at GSA for her steadfast dedication and loyalty to our Country. She has been harassed, threatened, and abused – and I do not want to see this happen to her, her family, or employees of GSA," Trump said in a tweet.

He added, "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 US federal agency that must sign off on the presidential transition told President-elect Joe Biden that he can formally begin the hand-over process.

"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," General Services Administration chief Emily Murphy wrote in a letter to Biden.

President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter that he was recommending that Murphy and her team "do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same."

Lawmakers and business executives have put pressure on the federal agency to recognize the November 3 election results and free up millions of dollars in federal funds, office space and briefings for Biden's team.

The GSA had said Murphy, who was appointed to her job by Trump in 2017, would "ascertain" or formally approve, the transition when the winner was clear.

"Contrary to media reports and insinuations, my decision was not made out of fear or favoritism," Murphy wrote.

Trump has repeatedly claimed he won the race and has spent weeks offering baseless claims of widespread voter fraud that have repeatedly failed to gain traction in the courts.

The Presidential Transition Act of 1963 provides no firm deadline for the GSA to act, but the agency has historically acted once media organizations call a winner.

Biden is due to take office on January 20 after having won the election with enough state-by-state electoral votes to secure the Electoral College win. 

The Democrat leads in the national popular vote by more than 6 million. Trump's fellow Republicans have slowly broken from the president in recent days to urge the transition process to start.

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