Govs. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR) and Mike DeWine (R-OH) on Sunday signaled that it’s time’s up for President Trump holding up President-elect Joe Biden’s formal transition process.
The President-elect’s transition has already come across hurdles amid Trump’s refusal to officially concede. Although Trump appeared to acknowledge that “Biden won” in a Sunday morning tweet, the sitting POTUS also walked back his news-making tweet as he continued spewing unfounded claims that the election was “rigged” against him.
General Services Administration chief Emily Murphy — a Trump appointee who has sole authority over whether Biden’s transition can officially move forward — has not signed the letter of “ascertainment,” which would allow Biden’s transition team to contact federal agencies or access the millions of dollars set aside for it.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R)
During an interview on “Meet the Press,” Hutchinson offered a more definitive acknowledgment of Biden’s win compared to when outlets first projected Biden’s win last weekend. Hutchinson initially appeared to feed into Trump’s baseless legal battles that attempt to delegitimize the election process.
“While we wait the outcome of various court challenges, it is important that we recognize the likelihood that former Vice President Biden and Sen. [Kamala] Harris [D-CA] have won over 270 electoral votes,” Hutchinson said in a statement last week reacting to Biden’s projected election victory. “Even though the media has declared a winner, the selection of a President is a constitutional process that has not yet concluded.”
Hutchinson shifted his stance, however, the following week during his “Meet the Press” interview on Sunday.
When asked who he believes won the election, Hutchinson replied that he expects Biden to be the next POTUS and that he thought it was “good” to see Trump tweet out that the President-elect won because it’s “a start of an acknowledgement.”
Hutchinson went on to argue that it’s “very important” for Biden to “have access to the intelligence briefings to make sure that he is prepared.”
“During times of transition, our enemies have an opportunity to try to take advantage of us, and we want to make sure that there is a smooth transition, particularly when it comes to the vaccine distribution, the coronavirus, that everybody understands what we’re doing there and what the plan is for the future,” Hutchinson said.
When asked whether he has concerns over his GOP cohorts not accepting the legitimacy of the election due to Trump feeding falsehoods of widespread voter fraud, Hutchinson said that it’s important to accept the outcome of the election while standing by Trump’s legal battles contesting election results.
“Well, it is important that we accept the outcome of the election. And there’s a process to get there. It is — there are some constitutional assertions in Pennsylvania, there’s a recount in Georgia,” Hutchinson said. “It is important that those processes go through and that probably is the reason you — the President does not want to undermine those legitimate processes by jumping ahead and conceding the election.”
However, Hutchinson acknowledged that the formal start of Biden’s transition should begin now that the Department of Homeland Security indicated this week that there’s no evidence of rampant fraud in the election that would undermine the result.
“We need to accept the result once that process is completed, come together and recognize we’ve got new leadership, and we need to pull together as a nation,” Hutchinson said.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R)
When asked if he’s concerned that the Biden administration’s delayed transition could hurt the public, DeWine didn’t stray far from his remarks last week clearly acknowledging that Biden is President-elect, but that Trump has a right to go to court, during an interview on CNN Sunday.
After saying that “we have to have faith in our judicial system, faith in our electoral system,” DeWine maintained that he is “certainly a supporter and remain a supporter” of Trump.
“But the President has every right to go into court, every right to bring any kind of evidence that he has,” DeWine said. “And no one should begrudge him that or say that there is anything irregular about that.”
DeWine then emphasized that Biden is clearly the President-elect and that a smooth transition of power must happen for the sake of the country.
“On the other hand, it’s clear that, certainly, based on what we know now, that Joe Biden is the president-elect. And that transition, for the country’s sake, it’s important for a normal transition to start through,” DeWine said. “And the President can go on his other track and his legal track. We should respect that, but we also need to begin that process.”
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) says Biden's formal transition process needs to begin pic.twitter.com/ACxKNEcIMw
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) November 15, 2020