President-elect Joe Biden and his team need access to daily intelligence briefings and coronavirus pandemic planning staff and information.
Permitting access will not interfere with the Trump’s right to challenge election results, costing him little. Late Monday, the General Services Administration announced that it had ascertained Biden as the “apparent winner” of the Nov. 3 election, clearing the way for the start of the transition from Trump’s administration and allowing Biden to coordinate with federal agencies on plans for taking over Jan. 20.
That is welcome news. Missouri’s senators and other prominent Republicans also should make sure Biden gets the presidential daily brief and that he and his team get coronavirus pandemic planning briefings and access to secure means of communication.
“At this point at least, I think he should absolutely be getting intelligence briefings,” U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said of Biden on Nov. 12, as reported by NPR.
“I don’t think they need to know everything. I think they do need to know some things, and national security would be one of them,” U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said of Joe Biden’s advisers while speaking to The New York Times. Blunt is a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
These briefings should not be a controversial issue. With one exception, the smooth transition of power has been the focus and practice between administrations since the early days of the Cold War. The practice began as the term of Missourian President Harry S. Truman was ending. Truman reached out to President-elect Dwight D. Eisenhower by telegram to ensure an orderly succession, as Truman’s grandson recounted in a column on Sunday’s opinion page.
In the telegram inviting Eisenhower and his Cabinet to the White House, Truman wrote: “I know you will agree with me that there ought to be an orderly transfer of the business of the executive branch of the government to the new administration, particularly in view of the international dangers and problems that confront the country and the whole free world. I invite you, therefore, to meet with me in the White House at your earliest convenience to discuss the problem of this transition, so that it may be clear to all the world that this nation is united in its struggle for freedom and peace.”
Those dangers are different today but no less serious. The independent, bipartisan 9/11 Commission reported that part of America’s vulnerability to the nation’s most deadly terror attack came from the chaos and delay of transition as the presidential race between Vice President Al Gore and soon-to-be President George W. Bush hung in the balance over Florida recounts. Because of those delays, the Bush administration did not have its national security team up to speed for at least six months after it took office.
Now we have a deadly pandemic that has killed nearly 85 times as many people as the 9/11 attacks to deal with in addition to other national security threats.
Trump said in a tweet Monday that he is directing his team to cooperate on the transition, opening access to critical national security and public health areas. Trump must take these matters seriously and cooperate for the safety of the nation. Our lawmakers should see that he does.