November 16, 2020

White House Transition

“President-elect Joe Biden’s top adviser said Sunday that a government agency’s delay in officially acknowledging his electoral victory could hinder his efforts to prepare for the distribution of a coronavirus vaccine… The Trump administration hasn’t issued a typically routine technical designation that would allow Mr. Biden’s staff to view detailed classified information, send representatives to embed with government agencies and have the State Department facilitate calls with foreign leaders.” Wall Street Journal

Many on both sides argue that Biden should receive intelligence and other briefings:

“Cooperation on the transition would not harm Trump’s court battles in any way. It also would be extremely unlikely to harm current or future operations of government. Yet the failure to start transition planning could hinder a new administration’s ability to carry out basic, noncontroversial actions of government that serve the American people…

This is not about who should have power; it is about making sure that the public is well served, no matter who is in charge. If Trump directs his team to cooperate in a smooth transition, then wins his court case, nothing will have been lost. If he doesn’t cooperate, though, and he loses in court, which seems likely, then he will be blamed for stubbornness and selfishness by those who suffer from the effects of a delayed or botched transition.”
Editorial Board, Washington Examiner

Former national security adviser Susan Rice writes that “the Trump administration’s continued refusal to execute a responsible transition puts our national security at risk. Without access to critical threat information, no incoming team can counter what it can’t see coming. If, today, the Trump administration is tracking potential or actual threats — for instance, Russian bounties on American soldiers, a planned terrorist attack on an embassy, a dangerously mutated coronavirus, or Iranian and North Korean provocations — but fails to share this information in a timely fashion with the Biden-Harris team, it could cost us dearly in terms of American lives.”
Susan E. Rice, New York Times

“On Tuesday two former chiefs of staff, John Podesta and Andy Card, flagged the delayed transition after the contested 2000 election as a factor in the 9/11 attacks… What’s more, Card and Podesta noted that Bush *did* start receiving intelligence briefings even as the litigation was playing out in Florida. The delay that damaged the transition was GSA refusing to release transition resources to the Bush campaign because it couldn’t fairly ‘ascertain’ him as the winner until after the court battle… Biden’s not even getting the intel briefings that Bush got, and GSA hasn’t released transition resources to him even though the same agency made an ‘ascertainment’ that Trump had won the election the day after the vote in 2016.”
Allahpundit, Hot Air

Even the head of Trump’s Warp Speed program is now saying that he’d like to be able to brief the Biden team, and that the program’s success ‘is a matter of life and death for thousands of people.’ ‘Vaccination programs need to be coordinated and seamless,’ Tom Frieden, a former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told me. ‘There are enormous complexities to covid vaccination. In the case of our fight against covid, anything that slows momentum could cost American lives.’”
Greg Sargent, Washington Post

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