President Trump’s promise to put America first is being ignored in the wake of the election. Instead of assisting with the possible transition to a new administration, Trump is putting up roadblocks that endanger national security.
Regardless of whether or not he believes the courts will eventually agree with his claims of a fraudulent election, Trump must assist president-elect Biden in preparing for a smooth transition. It is possible to pursue legal redress while still moving forward in the event that a new administration takes office in January.
“The delay in transitioning is an increasing national security and health crisis,” wrote John Kelly, former White House chief of staff under Trump. “It costs the current administration nothing to start to brief Mr. Biden, Ms. Harris, the new chief-of-staff, and ALL identified cabinet members and senior staff. . . . The downside to not doing so could be catastrophic to our people regardless of who they voted for.”
One example of the risk can be found in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The presidential election of the previous year included a 36-day court battle that was finally settled in favor of George W. Bush, cutting in half the traditional transition period. The bipartisan commission that studied the attacks later concluded that the delay diminished U.S. security and “hampered the new administration in identifying, recruiting, clearing, and obtaining Senate confirmation of key appointees.”
Now, in addition to the need for vigilance regarding national security, the United States is in the midst of a pandemic. Coronavirus infections have increased at an alarming rate in recent weeks, and a glitch-free transition will be crucial to making progress in fighting the disease.
As Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said: “It’s almost like passing a baton in a race — you don’t want to stop and then give it to somebody. You want to just essentially keep going. And that is what transition is.”
Instead, Trump is actively working to bring things to a standstill. The General Services Administration, headed by Trump appointee Emily Murphy, has declined to recognize Biden as president-elect. That prevents Biden’s team from gaining access to government office space and funding normally afforded an incoming administration to ensure a smooth transition.
While Murphy has faced growing pressure from the Biden team, the media and even Republicans in Congress, Trump has responded only by writing on Twitter, “Great job, Emily!”
Clearly, Trump is putting his own interests ahead of the nation. As of Friday, his campaign team and supporters had filed at least 16 lawsuits challenging election results in various states. At least 10 have been withdrawn or dismissed for reasons such as lack of evidence. Several suits are pending, and the Trump campaign’s only victory thus far involved a sparse number of ballots in Pennsylvania — not nearly enough to overturn Biden’s 78,000-vote victory in the state.
Regardless of the legal battles, Trump’s refusal to cooperate with the Biden administration is an appropriate coda for a self-centered presidency. Whether demanding fealty from staff or charging U.S. taxpayers more than $2.5 million in payments to Trump properties, the president consistently has put Donald Trump first.
It is no surprise that such megalomania has continued in the wake of the election. But we hold out hope that he will do the right thing by working with the Biden administration.