Despite Joe Biden’s clear victory in the November 2020 presidential election, former President Donald Trump continued to lean on baseless claims of voter fraud to falsely insist he won — claims that have had catastrophic results.
In the months after the election, the White House reportedly moved to purge officials who did not support Trump’s attempts to remain in power and attempted to burrow loyalists into career positions. Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Chris Krebs — the latter after he and his agency forcefully denied election fraud claims.
American Oversight is investigating potential political interference in the lawful transition of power to the Biden administration, including at the General Services Administration, where Trump-appointed Administrator Emily Murphy did not authorize Biden’s team to use government resources during the transition until Nov. 23, a delay that was practically unprecedented, per media reports. Murphy was responsible for issuing the letter of “ascertainment” that sets the transition process in motion, allowing officials to meet with their incoming counterparts and to begin background check processes, for example.
On Nov. 9, 2020, American Oversight submitted two Freedom of Information Act requests for records that may shed light on whether the White House played a role in the GSA’s intransigence, seeking communications between the White House and Murphy as well as other senior GSA staff, and any GSA emails containing key terms relevant to the transition.
Through our document preservation initiative, American Oversight is also working to ensure that documents necessary for a smooth transition are properly preserved in accordance with the law. We will continue to use the tools of public oversight to provide transparency through the transition process and hold officials accountable for the erosion of democratic norms.