U.S. President-elect Joe Biden speaks to reporters about efforts to confront the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic after meeting with members of his "Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board" in Wilmington, Delaware, Nov.  9, 2020.
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden speaks to reporters about efforts to confront the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic after meeting with members of his "Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board" in Wilmington, Delaware, Nov. 9, 2020.

WASHINGTON - With U.S. President Donald Trump refusing to concede his electoral defeat and claiming fraud in the vote count, his administration has not yet started assisting the projected winner, President-elect Joe Biden, in the initial stages of taking control of the government.

A government agency in Washington, the General Services Administration, has the responsibility to formally recognize Biden as the new president and start the transition of power that officially takes place when he is inaugurated January 20. The agency assigns office space for Biden’s transition team throughout the government and assists with other necessary tasks.

General Services Administration Administrator Emily Murphy speaks a ceremony in Washington, June 21, 2019.

But GSA’s Trump-appointed administrator, Emily Murphy, has not started the process.

A GSA spokesperson said the agency would not begin the transition process until Biden's win was legally certified, but it was unclear when that might happen since vote-counting is still going on throughout much of the country.

The outcome favoring Biden or Trump is only uncertain in a handful of states, and major news organizations say Biden is the winner.

Trump has declined to concede the election, and his campaign has filed numerous lawsuits claiming, without evidence so far, that irregularities in last Tuesday’s voting and subsequent days of vote-counting cost him the election.

Trump is hoping the lawsuits will help him overturn the projected majority won by Biden in the Electoral College vote count that determines the U.S. presidency, not the national popular vote, although Biden leads there, too.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that Trump is “100% within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options.”?

“Our institutions are actually built for this,” McConnell said on the Senate floor, adding that the process will play out and “reach its resolution.”

Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are moving ahead with their transition plans, initially meeting with health experts on how to curb the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., which according to data from Johns Hopkins University has killed a world-leading 237,000 Americans and infected nearly 10 million.

Meanwhile, the Biden camp is looking for cooperation in the transition from?Trump officials.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki is seen during a meeting the State Department in Washington, Feb. 27, 2015.

Jen Psaki, a Biden transition aide, said Sunday on Twitter, "America's national security and economic interests depend on the federal government signaling clearly and swiftly that the United States government will respect the will of the American people and engage in a smooth and peaceful transfer of power."

Once declaring the “apparent winner” of a presidential election, the GSA administrator’s action provides computer systems and money for salaries and other support for setting up a new government at a cost of $9.9 million this year.

The new Biden officials can get government email addresses and office space at every federal agency. The officials can also begin to fill out financial disclosure and conflict-of-interest forms before assuming their new positions.

The nonpartisan Center for Presidential Transition also urged Trump officials to "immediately begin the post-election transition process and the Biden team to take full advantage of the resources available under the Presidential Transition Act."

The group said, “This was a hard-fought campaign, but history is replete with examples of presidents who emerged from such campaigns to graciously assist their successors."

What Happens Next?

What It Means to Become President-Elect in the US

In the United States, Democrat Joe Biden is being called the president-elect.

President-elect is a descriptive term not an official office. As such, Biden has no power in the government, and he would not until he is inaugurated at noon on January 20, 2021.

American news networks, which track all of the vote counting, determined on November 7 that Biden’s lead had become insurmountable in Pennsylvania, putting him over the 270 electoral votes needed to be president. Within minutes of determining his lead was mathematically assured, they projected him as the winner.

That is why news organizations, including VOA, are calling Biden the "projected winner."

Sometimes, in the case of particularly close elections, when news networks make this call, the other candidate does not concede victory. President Donald Trump has not done so, alleging voter fraud without substantial evidence and vowing to fight on. The president’s position has left Washington lawmakers divided, with Republicans backing a legal inquiry into allegations of vote fraud, even as they celebrate other congressional lawmakers who won their races.

When will the dispute be resolved?

The U.S. election won’t be officially certified for weeks. In the meantime, court challenges and state recounts could occur.

So far, the Trump administration has not provided evidence for any fraud that could overturn the result, but there is still time for more legal challenges.

Once states have certified the vote, pledged electors then cast their votes in the Electoral College in mid-December. Congress then certifies the overall Electoral College result in early January, about two weeks before Inauguration Day.