How Trump's refusal to concede affects Biden's national security transition

Nov 10, 2020 Travel News

How Trump’s refusal to concede affects Biden’s national security transition

President Trump’s refusal to concede the election to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has already affected Mr. Biden’s transition, particularly on national security issues.

Mr Biden has yet to receive a daily presidential briefing, and it was not clear whether his team would have access to classified information, the most important pipeline for knowing the threats the United States faces.

Like previous presidents-elect, Biden enjoys Secret Service protection and a no-fly zone has been established above his home in Delaware. But if Mr. Trump’s administration continues to refuse to recognize Mr. Biden as the winner, it could complicate his security until his inauguration.

Here are some of the issues involved:

Mr Trump can prevent Mr Biden and his aides from receiving the daily presidential briefing, the collection of the latest government secrets and the best intelligence information, throughout the transition. There is no law stipulating that Mr Biden must receive it, although in previous administrations dating back to at least 1968, presidents allowed their elected successors to receive the briefing after winning.

Previous presidents saw it as good governance, David Priess, a former CIA officer and author of the “President’s Book of Secrets,” said of the daily bulletin.

“As with so many norms and traditions, it’s hard to say that will happen with this president,” Mr. Priess said.

Mr Trump’s indifference to standards is a central theme of his presidency, making it unlikely that he will start following them now that he has lost the election.

A White House spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on why Mr. Trump had not allowed Mr. Biden to receive the briefing. A spokesperson for the Biden campaign also did not respond to a request for comment on whether the president-elect should already receive the briefing.

In the aftermath of the disputed 2000 election, when the votes in Florida were being recounted, President Bill Clinton authorized George W. Bush to receive the President’s daily bulletin. As vice president, Al Gore already had access to the intelligence.

Along with the daily presidential briefing, transition team leaders must have access to classified in intelligence agencies, like the CIA, to make personnel decisions and begin planning administration.

On that front, Mr. Trump may make it much more difficult for Team Biden to access these documents. By , the Trump administration must formally recognize Mr. Biden as president-elect to share classified with his team. This decision is usually made by the head of the General Service Administration, a little-known agency that oversees the transition. The head of that agency, Emily W. Murphy, is a Trump political appointee who has so far refused to nominate Mr. Biden as president-elect. As long as the GSA refuses to recognize Mr. Biden, the team cannot legally see the documents.

Former vice presidents like Mr Biden do not enjoy full-time Secret Service protection, but Mr Biden has had a detail of protection as of the start of this year. The Secret Service also expanded the no-fly zone over Mr Biden’s home to cover an entertainment complex in downtown Wilmington, Delaware, where he addressed the nation on Saturday night. .

But if the Trump administration – through the GSA – continues to fail to recognize Mr. Biden as president-elect, it is likely to hamper the typical transition that occurs between Mr. Biden’s temporary security detail. Biden and the one specifically designed to protect presidents, known as the Presidential Protection Division. Under previous administrations, the Secret Service made both teams work during the transition, with the new president becoming increasingly composed of officers and officers from the Presidential Protection Division as the day of the election approached. inauguration. Such a transfer requires significant resources and changes in staff working hours, and former agency officials say the Secret Service is very unlikely to begin this transition unless the GSA has authorized it. .

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.