Trump OKs Transition To Biden After Pressure From CRE Execs, But Still Won't Concede
President Donald Trump is still fighting the results of the 2020 election, but his administration has finally moved on.
The General Services Administration has formally allowed the transition process for the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden to begin, with Administrator Emily Murphy sending an official letter to Biden that authorized the release of $7.3M in funding to facilitate the process. The letter was first reported by CNN.
Minutes after CNN published its report, Trump tweeted his approval of Murphy's action while refusing to concede:
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. Our case STRONGLY continues, we will keep up the good...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 23, 2020
...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.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 23, 2020
Murphy also specified that her letter was a formal recognition of the resolution of legal challenges and certification of election results, not an acknowledgment that Biden had won the election. She also denied that her delay in initiating the transition was due to any pressure from Trump or anyone else, while noting that she had received threats "online, by phone and by mail directly at my safety, my family, my staff and even my pets" to formally acknowledge the results of the election.
Georgia and Michigan, two of the states with the slimmest margins in favor of Biden, certified their election results on Friday and Monday, respectively. Pennsylvania is expected to follow suit in the coming days, CNN reports.
Pressure had been building from Republican elected officials as well, including Republican Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who is retiring in January, all making public statements urging for the transition to begin, the Associated Press reports.
Adding to those calls on Monday was an open letter to Murphy signed by the CEOs of 160 companies, including some major players in commercial real estate. Among the signees were Blackstone Group President Jon Gray, KKR co-CEO Henry Kravis, Accenture CEO Julie Sweet and Neuberger Berman CEO George H. Walker, The New York Times reports.
Investment management firm Neuberger Berman is headquartered at 1290 Avenue of the Americas in New York, which is 30% owned by The Trump Organization, and Walker is second cousin to former President George H.W. Bush. Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman didn't sign the open letter but separately called on Trump to fully accept the results of the election in a statement provided to Axios.
"The outcome is very certain today, and the country should move on," Schwarzman's statement read in part. "I supported President Trump and the strong economic path he built. Like many in the business community, I am ready to help President-Elect Biden and his team as they confront the significant challenges of rebuilding our post-COVID economy."
While a recent Bisnow survey found that many commercial real estate players are anxious about the impending Biden administration, others felt that his win combined with continued Republican control of the Senate represented the best possible outcome of the election.
Even so, some industry leaders had discussed withholding financial support for Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, the two Republican candidates whose runoff elections on Jan. 5 will decide which party controls the chamber for at least the next two years, the Times reports. Among those reportedly mulling such a strategy was Tishman Speyer CEO Rob Speyer, who historically has donated more to Democrats.