Presumed president-elect Joe Biden has hailed running mate Kamala Harris’ continued role on the Senate intelligence panel as “good news” for a straggling transition process, while being barred from high-level briefings himself.
Addressing the transfer of power on Monday, Biden lamented that the proceedings would be “a lot easier if the president would participate,” but nonetheless vowed to tackle ongoing health and economic crises on “day one” of his administration, suggesting Harris’ seat on the intel committee could smooth out the process.
“The good news here is my colleague is still on the intelligence committee. So she gets the intelligence briefings. I don’t anymore,” Biden told reporters
#BREAKING: President-elect Joe Biden says he's getting intel through Vice President-elect Kamala Harris: "The good news is my colleague is still on the Intelligence Committee so she gets the intelligence briefings." pic.twitter.com/3ZWccUFKLN
— The Hill (@thehill) November 16, 2020
Nearly two weeks after Americans hit the polls to select their next president, the transition remains in limbo as President Donald Trump continues to contest the outcome of the race, pursuing legal challenges seeking to overturn results in several states. Though a flurry of suits have been filed by the Trump campaign and other Republicans since November 3, none have yet offered up any significant victories for Trump, nor compelling evidence to support his repeated claims of widespread voter fraud.
Since Trump has refused to concede and the Electoral College has yet to certify a final vote count, the transfer of power is stuck in gridlock, meaning that Biden does not have access to high-level intelligence briefings typically given to presidents-elect. In order to receive the briefings, the General Services Administration must officially recognize a winner, a process known as “ascertainment.” GSA head Emily Murphy has yet to declare Biden the victor in the 2020 race.
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A number of Senate Republicans have joined Biden’s demands to receive the briefings – a fact he noted during Monday’s presser – including Lindsey Graham (South Carolina), a staunch Trump ally, Chuck Grassley (Iowa), John Thune (South Dakota) and John Cornyn (Texas). Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who alongside Cornyn sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, insisted the briefings for Biden should begin immediately.
“That is really important. It’s probably the most important part of the transition,” Collins said, adding that while Trump should be permitted to pursue legal remedies “if he believes there are irregularities,” those lawsuits “should not delay the transition.”
We want the president-elect, assuming he prevails, to be ready on day one.
President Trump and his allies have countered that the transition should not begin in earnest until a clear winner has been declared, arguing that the election remains undecided and that ongoing lawsuits could still hand the president a second term.
Despite the lagging transition, however, Biden voiced confidence in his victory on Monday, saying that it would be a “shame” if his administration couldn’t become “fully operational” until inauguration day on January 20, but added “maybe that’s the only way to get it done.”
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