Senate Republicans still aren’t acknowledging that Donald Trump lost the election. But they’re getting a little closer, Politico reports.
As Trump refuses to concede and continues to wage legal battles based on unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud, Senate Republicans are increasingly deferring to the presidential transition process— arguing it should at least begin so that President-elect Joe Biden can receive high-level intelligence briefings.
“Both of them have got to be ready to serve, if selected. We don’t know who the winner is. So keep the briefings going,” Senator James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) said. “Ultimately, the president has to make this decision.”
According to Politico, Lankford, who chairs a Homeland Security subcommittee, noted that in 2000, then-President Bill Clinton allowed George W. Bush to begin receiving presidential-level intelligence briefings during the recount in Florida. Lankford added that he plans to question the government agency responsible for jump-starting the transition process if a certification is not made by Friday.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida), the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, already has said that Biden should start receiving the Presidential Daily Brief, an intelligence report curated for the president and senior White House officials. Senator Roy Blunt (R-Missour), a member of the Intelligence Committee and the No. 4 Senate Republican, agreed on Thursday, November 12.
“Whether [Biden] actually gets the product itself, I think the information needs to be communicated in some way,” Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), a member of the Intelligence Committee, told Politico, adding. “I don’t see it as a high-risk proposition, and if in fact he does win in the end, I think they need to be able to hit the ground running.”
Other Republicans were less committal, only saying that they would have no issue if Biden began receiving the briefings, Politico said.
“All trends look like he’s going to be the president of the United States,” Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) said.
“I see no problem with that,” added Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who has said that the results of the election will be known in December when members of the Electoral College will meet. “I think there’s a process.”
Trump has continued to rail against the election results since Biden secured enough Electoral College votes on Saturday, November 7, to take the White House, and Republicans this week have mostly stood by the president.
By law, the General Services Administration has the sole authority to kick-start a presidential transition by unlocking federal funds and allowing transition officials to have access to agencies and departments. But a Trump appointee who leads the GSA, Emily Murphy, has yet to certify that Biden is the president-elect, preventing his team from speaking with the government agencies it will soon run.
Without sign-off from the president, Biden also cannot receive the intelligence briefings that usually are afforded to the president-elect. The briefings hold increased importance now as the incoming president will need to be up-to-speed on multiple crises facing the nation, including skyrocketing coronavirus infections and other national-security matters.
Biden has been moving forward with the transition—talking to world leaders and lawmakers, and starting to fill staff positions. To date, he has not made the lack of high-level intel an issue.