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Trump dismisses Biden’s transition team, triggering virus and national security risks

Republican Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski said she believes the Trump administration should share vaccine distribution plans with Mr Biden, ensuring that “ as the president-elect is able to come and bring with it a transition team, that flow of information that we usually see when we have transitions. “

National security and health security experts view the pandemic as a threat to national security. They note that China and Russia are expanding their sphere of influence by promising vaccines to other countries in need.

“The Biden team will be responsible for this on January 20,” said Dr. James Lawler, a global health security expert at the University of Nebraska, who joined a former Secretary of the Navy and a former adviser. to Trump’s Homeland Security to an opinion piece Wednesday in the Washington Post. “It’s as important as what we do with our strategic nuclear forces and what the current threat assessments are around the world.”

Other subjects also have a short-lived fuse. The last arms control treaty between the United States and Russia, called New START, expires a few days after its inauguration. Mr Biden has expressed willingness to renew it, but his national security personnel have not had access to detailed discussions between National Security Advisor Robert C. O’Brien and his Kremlin counterpart, nor to a State Department team of negotiators. who have dealt with Russia on issues such as future inspections and audits.

A range of more recent threats also persist, such as terrorist plots or cyber attacks. The 9/11 commission concluded that the short transition brought about by the Florida recount in 2000 hampered the Bush administration’s ability to deal with Qaeda plots. At the time, President-elect George W. Bush discussed the dangers of short briefings in an interview with The New York Times at his ranch eight days before his first inauguration.

In many ways what is happening now, officials said, is the reverse of four years ago – when President Barack Obama’s team was ready with detailed briefings and potential stress tests (including including pandemic flu), and Mr. Trump’s advisers were unwilling to do so. receive them.

Mr. Trump’s new national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, who was sacked within a month, sat down to discuss urgent national security threats with Susan Rice, his predecessor. But other officials declined the briefings, apparently not wanting Mr. Obama’s worldview to mar theirs. Secretary of State John F. Kerry never met his successor, Rex W. Tillerson. Ernest J. Moniz, Obama’s energy secretary, never gave his full brief to Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas, who came to oversee, among other things, the overhaul of the US nuclear arsenal.

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