A day-by-day timeline of how Trump is blocking the kind of presidential transition he got from Biden and Obama

  • President Trump's refusal to concede the election has complicated President-elect Joe Biden's transition to power.
  • The situation in 2020 is a marked contrast to 2016, when Hillary Clinton conceded and the Obama administration made a point on engaging with Trump and his officials. 
  • Here is a comparison of what happened each day in 2016 with what is happening now.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump's continued refusal to concede his election loss to President-elect Joe Biden is complicating the traditional handover of the presidency.

The process of Biden readying himself for power — despite opposition from Trump and his allies  — is a stark contrast to how the Obama administration gave way to Trump when he won four years ago.

Business Insider has assembled a day-by-day comparison, dated from when the election was called by the majority of the US news media (Insider called the 2020 election some 24 hours earlier than most):

Day 1: Hillary Clinton concedes / Trump golfs, insists that he won

In 2016, Clinton called Trump at around 2.30 a.m. the night of the election to concede his win, The Guardian reported.

The following day, the General Services Administration (GSA) authorized the release of funds for the presidential transition, according to CBS News. 

By lunchtime on November 9, Clinton had made her concession speech. That day, Defense Secretary Ash Carter gave the formal order for a peaceful transition of power, according to The Week. 

In 2020, Trump was at the golf course as major networks called the race for Joe Biden.

At the same time, his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, held a press conference in the front yard of Four Seasons Total Landscaping, announcing the president's intention to litigate over alleged voter fraud.

That evening, Trump tweeted: "I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!"

Day 2: Obama handshake / Trump fraud hotline

On November 10, 2016, Vice President Joe Biden met Vice President-Elect Mike Pence, and Melania Trump met First Lady Michelle Obama.

Trump and Obama took an hour and a half together in the Oval Office, The New York Times reported, and Obama shook Trump's hand in front of the cameras.

On November 8 2020, the non-partisan Center for Presidential Transition released a statement urging Trump to let the transition proceed. 

Instead, Republicans were soliciting calls to a fraud hotline set up by Trump, which was then flooded with prank calls. 

That day Melania made her first public statement in support of Trump's fraud allegations, tweeting: "Every legal — not illegal — vote should be counted."

Day 3: Obama preps farewell tour / Trump hypes legal challenges 

On November 11, 2016, details of Obama's global farewell tour were announced, in which the president said he would be helping prepare allies to work with Trump, the Associated Press reported. 

Three days after victory in 2020, without a concession from Trump, Biden met with and announced his coronavirus advisory board, designed to mark a break with Trump's chaotic handling of the pandemic.

On Twitter, Trump continued to hype his claims of election fraud. He sent a total of 25 tweets with links to right-wing media supporting him, or rumors about the count in some states  — many of which were flagged by the platform as disputed.

Day 4: Trump plots to undo Obama legacy / Pompeo predicts 'second Trump admin'

On November 12, 2016, Trump named Chris Collins as the head of his transition team, Reuters reported.

His transition team also signaled to The New York Post that he planned to pull the US out of the Paris Climate Accords, reversing an Obama policy.

(Biden has stated that he will cancel the US departure from the accords, foiling Trump's plan.)

In 2020, four days after the result, Trump's administration was still holding up Biden's progress.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joked in a press conference about preparing for a "second Trump administration," for which he was later praised by the president.

But privately, Trump advisors told The Washington Post that they were privately losing hope over the president's plans to fight the result. 

Biden addressed the lack of cooperation at a press conference, telling reporters in Delaware that he was moving ahead anyway: "We don't see anything that's slowing us down, quite frankly," he said.

He called Trump's refusal to concede "an embarrassment" but added: "it's not of much consequence."

Day 5: New president tries to set an agenda / Old president claims polls are a conspiracy

On November 13 2016, Trump named Reince Priebus as his chief of staff and Steve Bannon as his chief strategist, The Guardian reported.

Trump's interview with CBS's "60 Minutes" aired, in which he shifted from his former hardline position on Obamacare, moderating some of his campaign positions ahead of taking power.

At the same point in 2020, Trump continued to lob accusations. This time he attacked ABC News and The Washington Post, arguing that a joint Wisconsin poll they published purposefully understated his chances to discourage his supporters from voting.

There is no evidence for this. Trump added "we are now preparing to win the state." In fact, Biden won the state, which Business Insider called on November 4.

Day 6 – Trump seeks security clearance for his kids / State department blocks messages to Biden

On November 14 2016, Trump asked White House officials to look into getting top secret security clearance for his children Ivanka, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric, NBC News reported. 

The move was rejected, but in 2018 he overruled his chief of staff to give the clearance to Ivanka and his son-in-law Jared Kushner.

On Day 6 in 2020, Biden had still not been given access to messages of congratulation from world leaders by the State Department, CNN reported.

The State Department traditionally handles such messages for the President-elect, but has refused to hand them over while Trump has not conceded his loss, the network reported.

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