State Department tells staff: transition to Biden administration has begun

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the media prior to meeting with Kuwait's Foreign Minister in Washington, D.C., U.S., November 24, 2020. Saul Loeb/Pool via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department has informed staff that the transition process has begun and a team had been assigned inside the agency to support a handover to the incoming Biden administration, according to an internal email seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

The guidelines, sent on Wednesday, came after the General Services Administration (GSA), the federal agency that must sign off on presidential transitions, notified President-elect Joe Biden on Monday that he could formally begin the handover.

"Following the November 3 election, representatives of President-elect Biden's Transition Team have arrived at the Department of State to support preparations for the transition," the email said.

A "dedicated" team would support Biden's transition team to ensure they receive the necessary information and logistical support, the email said.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in an interview with Fox News on Tuesday, also confirmed the move. "Today we began the process to see what the GSA's decision was, and will do everything that's required by law. We'll make this work."

Pompeo came under fire two weeks ago at a press briefing when he said there would be a smooth transition to a "second Trump administration" despite Biden's election victory. After hours of withering criticism, he softened his tone and promised a "good transition" for whoever was in the White House on Jan. 20, the presidential inauguration day.

Biden, a former vice president, secured well over the 270 votes in the Electoral College needed to win the presidency, but Trump waged a futile legal battle to overturn the results of the election, falsely claiming that it was stolen.

On Tuesday, Biden introduced his foreign policy and national security team and vowed to steer the United States away from the unilateralist nationalism pursued by Trump and work together with U.S. allies.

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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