Fauci ‘Concerned’ About Trump Stonewalling Transition Process

Topline

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday he’s “concerned” the Trump administration has not allowed President-elect Joe Biden and his team to begin the formal transition process because it could impede the distribution of an effective Covid-19 vaccine, adding a new twist to the growing concern about a delayed transition as President Trump refuses to concede. 

Key Facts

“Obviously, it’s something that we’re concerned about,” Fauci told the Today show when asked about the Trump administration refusing to greenlight the start of the transition process. 

While Trump himself has refused to concede, the General Services Administration—part of the Trump administration—has also stonewalled the start of the formal transition process by refusing to sign off on declaring Biden the victor, a move that is typically noncontroversial. 

Though Fauci’s administration is not directly involved in the process of approving a vaccine, the disease expert said Monday he expects a shot to be ready by December following news a vaccine from Moderna is more than 94% effective. 

Fauci said the process is going in a “strong” direction, but the way to ensure a “smooth” vaccine rollout is by “essentially having the two groups talk to each other and exchange information.”

“The virus is not going to stop and call a timeout while things change,” the doctor added.

Key Background

If a vaccine is ready by December, it will coincide with a crucial part of the transition process, days before Trump is set to hand over the keys to the White House on January 20th. Presidents are not required to concede under the Constitution, but a formal transition process was established under congressional legislation about 60 years ago that requires the General Services Administration chief to sign off on a letter of “ascertainment” beginning the transition. 

Crucial Quote

“There are people at HHS making plans to implement that vaccine. Our experts need to talk to those people as soon as possible so nothing drops in this change of power we’re going to have on January 20th,” Biden’s incoming chief of staff Ron Klain said during an interview Sunday on NBC’s Meet The Press.  

Surprising Fact

Biden’s Covid-19 advisory board is currently unable to speak with people on the White House coronavirus task force such as Fauci because General Services Administration chief Emily Murphy, a Trump nominee, has not signed off on a letter beginning the transition process. 

What To Watch For 

Biden’s aides are reportedly weighing the possibility of legal action to compel the Trump administration to kickstart the transition process, though the team is hoping to avoid doing so.  

Further Reading

Biden Turns Up Pressure for Administration Recognition (Wall Street Journal)

Dr. Fauci ‘concerned’ about Trump stalling Biden transition at critical time in pandemic (Today)

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