It’s time to put country over party, Mr. President.
That was the message from a number of Republican senators Thursday as they lightly urged President Trump to stop blocking Joe Biden from receiving national security briefings as part of the presidential transition process.
Still, most of the Republicans toed the pro-Trump line in refusing to fully acknowledge that Biden won the election.
“Both sides need to have access to the information because we don’t know who the president is going to be," said Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. "So allow that part of this process to still continue just for the sake of national security.”
Despite Lankford’s assessment, which was shared by many of his GOP colleagues, Biden won the Nov. 3 election decisively, having already secured 290 Electoral College votes — 20 more than the minimum needed to clinch the presidency.
Trump, though, has refused to admit defeat and keeps claiming without any evidence that Democrats stole the election from him and that courts need to invalidate millions of ballots cast for Biden.
While fighting a long-shot legal battle to get ballots tossed, Trump has refused to sign customary papers that would officially designate Biden as president-elect and allow him to access the top-secret Presidential Daily Brief and other government resources in advance of his Jan. 20 inauguration.
Careful not to outright break with Trump’s unfounded accusations, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) echoed Lankford in saying that the president should break the logjam and allow Biden access to national security briefings since he might "win in the end.”
“I think he should get the information," Cornyn told reporters. “I think it’s just part of the transition ... I think they need to be able to hit the ground running.”
Even Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of Trump’s most ardent allies on Capitol Hill, agreed.
“I think so, yes,” Graham said after being asked if Biden should receive intelligence briefings.
Former Republican members of Congress were less politically parsed about the need for Biden to get the ball rolling on his transition process.
“Our adversaries aren’t waiting for the transition to take place,” tweeted Mike Rogers, a former GOP congressman from Michigan. “Joe Biden should receive the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) starting today. He needs to know what the latest threats are and begin to plan accordingly. This isn’t about politics; this is about national security.”
Trump, who’s barely been seen in public since the election, hasn’t explained in detail why he’s thwarting Biden’s transition process. The president keeps pushing unfounded voter fraud claims over Twitter several times a day, though.
“Rigged Election!” he tweeted Thursday afternoon.
Trump’s stonewalling hasn’t deterred Biden from preparing for his presidency.
This week alone, the president-elect has unveiled a plan for expanding health care in the U.S., tapped ex-Obama adviser Ron Klain as his White House chief of staff and announced a new board of COVID-19 experts who will develop his administration’s pandemic response plan.
Taking a break from the transition work, Biden headed to Rehoboth Beach, Del., on Thursday afternoon for a long weekend with his family.
As to the intel briefings he’s missing out on, Biden isn’t sounding all that worried.
“Look, access to classified information is useful, but I’m not in a position to make any decisions on those issues anyway,” Biden said earlier this week. “As I said, one president at a time. He will be president until Jan. 20. It would be nice to have it, but it’s not critical.”
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