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.

Day 7 – Trump gets first security briefing / China affirms Biden win

On Day 7 after Donald Trump's election result was confirmed — November 15, 2016 — the president-elect had his first top-secret intelligence briefing, CNN reported. 

While presidential candidates receive intelligence briefings during their campaigns, this was the first time Trump accessed the Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) — the highest level of security information. 

It's a key part of the ascent to power. The PDB put the president-elect on the same information footing as the sitting president, telling him about international adversaries and security threats.

Seven days after Biden's win was confirmed in 2020, he still did not have access to the briefings.

Despite the Trump administration's refusal to acknowledge Biden's victory, China officially did so. This left Russia as the only major world power not to accept the results.

Day 8 – Pence receives first daily briefing/ Biden holds on to Georgia

On Day 8 after the 2016 election result was confirmed — November 16, 2016 — Trump's transition team announced that it will require incoming officials to terminate their lobbying registrations, and vow not to lobby again for five years after leaving the administration.

Vice President Mike Pence, who had been elevated to transition chair, introduced these news measures.

The president also met with Alabama senator Jeff Sessions and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio.

On Day 8 in 2020, Biden's legal team in Georgia announced they do not expect a hand recount of votes to change the November 3 election results, solidifying his victory even more.

Biden is the first Democratic candidate to swing the state since 1992.

Meanwhile, Trump gave his first public remarks since his electoral defeat, appearing in the White House Rose Garden to tout the effectiveness of Operation Warp Speed, his administration's coronavirus vaccine program.

While speaking to reporters, Trump came very close to admitting that he lost the US presidential election, suggesting "time will tell" which administration will be in power next.

Day 9 – Trump meets Shinzo Abe / Trump says Biden 'won,' then denies it

On November 17, 2016 — the ninth day since the election was called — Trump met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

It was his first face-to-face meeting with a world leader as president-elect, according to The New York Times.

Reuters reported that Trump's team prepped Abe by telling him not to take his incendiary campaign rhetoric too literally.

On Day 9 in 2020, Trump appeared to accidentally concede the election by tweeting that Biden "won because the Election was Rigged."

He quickly recanted that, tweeting: "He only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA. I concede NOTHING!"

Twitter quickly flagged the tweet as "disputed."

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