Washington/Wilmington, Delaware, November 12
A growing number of Republican lawmakers called on the Trump administration to stop blocking Joe Biden from receiving intelligence briefings, in a tacit acknowledgement the Democrat will soon occupy the White House despite the president’s refusal to concede.
Most Republican officials and lawmakers have publicly supported President Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the election results via a series of lawsuits filed in individual states, following the president’s unfounded claims of widespread voting fraud.
Biden has been moving ahead with the work of preparing to govern and spoke with Pope Francis as his fellow Democrats in Congress blasted Republican election “shenanigans” and urged action on the coronavirus pandemic.
With a few states still counting ballots, Biden has won enough battleground states to surpass the 270 electoral votes needed in the state-by-state Electoral College that determines the next president. Biden is also winning the popular vote by more than 5.2 million votes, or 3.4 percentage points.
Republican senators, including John Cornyn, Ron Johnson, Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham on Thursday urged Trump’s administration to allow Biden access to presidential daily intelligence briefings.
The President-elect traditionally receives such briefings from the intelligence community to learn of threats facing the United States before taking office.
“I don’t see it as a high-risk proposition. I just think it is a part of the transition. And, if in fact he does win in the end, I think they need to be able to hit the ground running,” Cornyn told reporters. He refused to say, however, that Biden had won.
The top House of Representatives Republican, Kevin McCarthy, opposed the idea.
“He’s not president right now. I don’t know if he’ll be president January 20th,” McCarthy said, refusing to acknowledge Trump’s defeat.
The General Services Administration, a federal agency, has not yet recognized Biden as the winner, freezing funding and other resources earmarked for the transition of power.
Ron Klain, whom Biden tapped on Wednesday as his future White House chief of staff, told MSNBC on Thursday receiving transition funding is important in setting a course for next year’s battle against the coronavirus, especially since the US government has a vaccination campaign planned for early in the year.
“The sooner we can get our transition experts into meetings with the folks who are planning a vaccination campaign, the more seamless the transition to a Biden presidency from a Trump presidency can be,” Klain said.
The two top Democrats in Congress – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer – on Thursday decried the Trump administration’s refusal to engage with Biden’s transition team.
The Democratic leaders also urged Republicans to join them in passing legislation to address the pandemic and buttress the battered economy.
“The Republicans should stop their shenanigans about an election that President Trump has already lost and focus their attention on the immediate issue at hand – providing relief to a country living through the COVID health and economic crisis,” Schumer said.
Biden, who is set to become America’s second Roman Catholic president, after John F Kennedy in the 1960s, spoke with the pope on Thursday, thanking him for his “blessing and congratulations”, his transition team said.
Biden’s attention is now expected to focus on his selections for key cabinet posts ahead of taking office. He was scheduled to meet in private with transition advisers on Friday, his team said, as he did on Thursday.
ELECTION MOST SECURE IN HISTORY
The Trump campaign has filed multiple lawsuits challenging the vote counts in individual states. Legal experts have said the litigation stands little chance of altering the outcome, and state election officials have said they saw no evidence of serious irregularities or fraud.
Hand-count audits of random ballot samples in the battleground state of Arizona, where Biden continues to lead amid ongoing vote counting, found only minor discrepancies, according to the secretary of state’s office.
In a joint statement on Thursday, top government cybersecurity and election officials said the election was the “most secure in American history” and there was “no evidence” any voting system was compromised.
The statement was issued by the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and came just hours after Reuters reported the agency’s director has told associates he expects to be fired.
Christopher Krebs has drawn Trump’s ire over a CISA website, “Rumor Control,” that has debunked false claims about the election.
In a sign of weakening support for Trump’s claims of widespread election fraud, Ohio’s Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican who endorsed Trump, told CNN on Thursday “we need to consider the former vice president as the president-elect.” The Las Vegas Review-Journal, owned by major Republican donor Sheldon Adelson, ran an editorial noting there was no evidence of fraud and saying Trump “seeks to delay the inevitable.”
Karl Rove, White House deputy chief of staff to Republican former President George W. Bush, wrote in the Wall Street Journal that “once his days in court are over, the president should do his part to unite the country by leading a peaceful transition and letting grievances go.” Reuters