WASHINGTON — The White House instructed federal agencies on Monday to begin preparations in case Donald Trump is defeated in November and a new president takes office, a routine contingency ahead of the election.

Russell Vought, acting director of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, issued a memorandum ordering dozens of agencies to appoint a transition director by Friday, in keeping with the Presidential Transition Act.

The law helps prepare for the potential inauguration of a new president, but is also “helpful to prepare for leadership transitions that occur between the first and second terms of administrations,” Vought wrote.

Each agency’s director will make up the Agency Transition Directors Council, which will meet May 27, Vought wrote. Its responsibilities include creating a strategy for addressing “interagency challenges and responsibilities” during a transition, coordinate any transition activities and prepare career staff to backfill certain roles during a transition.

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden has said be believes Trump may seek to use the pandemic to delay the election.

“Mark my words I think he is gonna try to kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale why it can’t be held,” Biden said during a virtual fundraiser last week.

He cited Trump’s threat to block funding to the Post Office, which would handle mail-in ballots if the election were conducted that way to preserve social distancing. “Now what in God’s name is that about? Other than trying to let the word out that he’s going to do all he can to make it very hard for people to vote. That’s the only way he thinks he can possibly win.”

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