WASHINGTON – The Trump administration threw the presidential transition into tumult, with President Donald Trump blocking government officials from cooperating with President-elect Joe Biden’s team and Attorney General William Barr authorizing the Justice Department to probe unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud.
Some Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, rallied behind Trump's efforts to fight the election results. Few in the GOP acknowledged Biden's victory or condemned Trump's other concerning move on Monday: his firing of Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
The developments cast doubt on whether the nation would witness the same kind of smooth transition of power that has long anchored its democracy. The Electoral College is slated to formally confirm Biden's victory on Dec. 14, and the Democrat will be sworn into office in late January.
On Monday, Barr authorized U.S. attorneys to probe “substantial” allegations of voter irregularities and election fraud, though no widespread instances of that type of trouble in the 2020 election exist. In fact, election officials from both political parties have publicly stated that voting went well and international observers also confirmed that there were no serious irregularities.
Biden campaign lawyer Bob Bauer said Barr’s memorandum authorizing investigations “will only fuel the ‘specious, speculative, fanciful or far-fetched claims’ he professes to guard against.”
Biden pressed forward with plans to build out his administration, assembling a team of experts to face the surging pandemic. But the federal agency that needs to greenlight the beginnings of the transition of power held off on taking that step. And the White House moved to crack down on those not deemed sufficiently loyal as Trump continued to refuse to concede the race.
Trump remained out of sight at the White House, with conversations ongoing about how the defeated president would spend the coming days and weeks as he challenged the people's verdict. Trump is not expected to formally concede but is likely to grudgingly vacate the White House at the end of his term, according to several people around him.
Also being discussed: the possibility of more campaign-style rallies as he tries to keep his supporters fired up despite his defeat. It was possible they would feature his family and top supporters but not the president himself.