World

Democracy and diversity return to US capital as Trump folds

WASHINGTON: Democracy and diversity have asserted themselves in America. More than two weeks after Donald Trump lost the US Presidential election, his administration on Monday authorized transition to the victorious Biden-Harris team, conceding defeat in all but name.
Even as Trump surrendered, President-elect Joe Biden began unveiling what is turning out to be the most diverse and gender-balanced cabinet and quasi-cabinet appointments in a country long run by old white men.
Aside from vice president elect Kamala Harris, Biden named, or is set to name, at least half-dozen women for key positions. They include Janet Yellin as treasury secretary and Avril Haines as director of national intelligence overseeing the gamut of American spookdom. In addition, Michele Flourney is tipped to become defence secretary.
It will be the first time women will have headed these portfolios. The Pentagon has seen 27 defence secretaries, all white men, and the treasury department with a much longer history has seen 77 Treasury secretaries – all white men. Established in 2004 after 9/11, the directorate of national intelligence has had six white men heading it across 16 years,
Additionally, Biden is also set to name an African-American diplomat, Linda Thomas Greenfield as the US ambassador to UN and Alejandro Mayorkas as the first Latino to lead the department of homeland security.
The appointments are seen as recognizing the growing diversity and changing demographics of the United States, and an implicit rebuke of the nativist sentiment that characterized the Trump Presidency.
Meanwhile, despite fighting words that he will still contest the election results legally and will not concede, the defeated US President is evidently preparing to leave for Florida come January 20 when the new administration will be formally inaugurated. The Secret Service is reporting to be asking agents in President Trump’s detail if they’re interested in relocating to Mar-a-Lago, indicating the agency is preparing for Trump’s post-White House life.
But Trump’s public position remains that he has won the election and will show it in court, despite having failed to prove election malpractice in more than 30 lawsuits. His legal team has now become the butt of jokes, forcing the President to consider a scenario where he will be a one-term president, the first since George Bush sr in 1992.
The Trump turnaround came minutes after an election board in Michigan certified results in favor of Biden after resisting pressure from Trump Republicans. A Republican member in the four-member board of state canvasser joined two Democrats to give Biden a 3-1 margin certification that he had won the state’s popular vote and its 20 electors, pending some post result audits that are not expected to make a difference.
Soon after, Emily Murphy, the head of the General Services Administration who was in the eye of a tempest for holding up the transition process, caved in, writing to “Mr Biden” inviting him to “access the post-election resources and services,” including $ 16.3 million in funding.
While Murphy claimed in her letter to Biden that she was “never directly or indirectly pressured by any executive branch official – including those who work at the White House or GSA – with regard to the substance or timing of my decision,” the defeated President left no doubt that he had called the shots.
“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……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,” he tweeted.
Initiating the transition process allows the Biden-Harris team access to current officials, intelligence briefings, office space, money etc to begin preparing for governing starting noon on January 20 when Trump will have to demit office.

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