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The ‘Apparent’ Trap: Unpacking Presidential Transition Drama

On this very special holiday episode of democracy-ish, Danielle is hosting solo while Toure is chasing wild turkeys around Brooklyn.

  • Weeks after a plurality of media outlets “called” the race for Biden, several key swing states confirmed it. In the interim, U.S. General Services Administration head Emily Murphy withheld the crucial funds necessary to facilitate the transition of power.

  • Meanwhile, the inevitable pardons have begun. Nearly two months before the door hits him on his way out of the White House, Trump is using his remaining power to excuse his cronies from criminal prosecution and prison time.

  • Biden has signaled he will leave it to his Justice Department to make decisions about whether to prosecute Trump and his enablers. But what’s really the right path for America?

Three weeks after we (along with most of the planet) celebrated Joe Biden’s victory, the transition between the Trump and Biden administration has officially begun.

It’s been “three awfully long weeks,” says Danielle. “I feel like I aged at least 100 years.”

That’s because Emily Murphy, the administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration, was holding the transition funds hostage.

As a die-hard “Devil Wears Prada” fan, Danielle can’t think of Emily without hearing Meryl Steep cooly lambasting her assistant, portrayed by a real-life Emily (Blunt).

And if it sounds ridiculous that one particular Emily (a Trump appointee), or any person, can restrict access to the millions of taxpayer dollars the Biden-Harris team needs, that’s because it is.

That money is “necessary to begin the hard work of rebuilding the fuck show Trump has left for them,” says Danielle. “Peaceful transitions matter.”

But, citing precedent from the 2000 election, Emily wouldn’t release the funds until she ascertained Trump exhausted every single one of his (quasi-) legal paths to a second term.

On Monday, thanks to said Emily, President-Elect Biden will receive his first presidential briefing. But every single day his team was denied its ability to work could ultimately cost American lives.

In this all-Danielle episode, our resident pessimist breaks down the drama, including the inevitable Trump-crony pardons, why Biden’s Justice Department should prosecute Trump and where we go from here.

Episode Highlights – Reckoning Time???

(Emily) Murphy’s murky missive

While Rudy Giuliani and others in Trump’s legal goon squad filed reams of frivolous lawsuits that got laughed out of court, Emily was just churning her wheels. Then, finally, she penned a letter to the president-elect:

As the Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration, I have the ability under the Presidential Transition Act of 1963, as amended, to make certain post-election resources and services available to assist in the event of a presidential transition. I take this role seriously and, because of recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results, am transmitting this letter today to make those resources and services available to you.

Let’s pause for a moment to explain what happened this week that enabled Emily to do her job.

First, Georgia certified Biden’s win following a hand recount of more than five million votes. Then Republican canvassers in Michigan –– after two failed “coup attempts” to discount the votes of Black citizens –– finally certified the election results in Wayne County, which encompasses Detroit.

At that point, Trump’s already super-narrow, corrupt and litigation-littered path to 270 evaporated and Emily “had no grounds to fucking stand on,” says Danielle.

Apparently, democracy prevails

Emily goes on to humblebrag about her career in public service and her dedication to the American people –– “suck it,” Danielle says –– and then writes:

Contrary to media reports and insinuations, my decision was not made out of fear or favoritism. Instead, I strongly believe that the statute requires that the GSA Administrator ascertain, not impose, the apparent president-elect.


“This is why language is important,” Danielle argues. Apparent is also the word used by the handful of Republicans who’ve recognized Biden as the next president.

“It allows them to still have cover and favor with their king, Donald Trump, who they don't want to upset for fear of getting banished from the castle.”