Trump adviser promises ‘very professional transition’ in White House’s first concession

It’s the first time anyone in the White House has talked publicly about Trump’s electoral defeat

Josh Marcus
Monday 16 November 2020 20:26 GMT
Trump should concede and 'put country above his ego', Obama says
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The Trump administration’s national security adviser told a security forum in Dubai on Monday there would be a “very professional transition” to the Biden administration, the AP reports, the closest anyone in the White House has come to admitting defeat so far.

“If the Biden-Harris ticket is determined to be the winner — obviously things look that way now — we’ll have a very professional transition from the National Security Council. There’s no question about it,” Robert O’Brien said during an interview at the Global Security Forum on Monday, though he noted there are ongoing lawsuits from the Trump campaign challenging the election. 

“They’re going to have very professional folks coming in to take these positions.”

Mr O’Brien also referred to one of the administration’s signature diplomatic achievements, the normalization of relations between the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Israel, as “a great legacy for the president to have as he leaves office.”

It’s a rare, frank discussion of the president’s position following his electoral defeat, which he and his inner circle refuse to concede. President Trump, along with senior officials like the vice president Mike Pence, secretary of state Mike Pompeo, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, and trade adviser Peter Navarro all have said in recent days he will be the winner.

But current and former officials involved in national security have been among the leading voices calling for him to acknowledge the loss and begin the formal transition process, arguing the delays could risk intelligence preparedness between the two administrations.

The president’s former chief of staff and Homeland Security chief John Kelly said on Friday the refusal to concede “hurts our national security,” a sentiment echoed by former Obama administration national security adviser and UN ambassador Susan Rice, who wrote in the New York Times on Saturday that the obstinance will “cost us dearly in terms of American lives."

Senior Republicans in the senate like Marco Rubio of Florida have also called for president-elect Joe Biden to begin receiving presidential intelligence briefings. 

The national security community has also refuted the president’s baseless claims of massive voter fraud and a rigged election.

On 12 November, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency declared the presidential contest  “the most secure in American history,” and said, “there is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes or was in any way compromised”. 

Still, despite what any senior adviser in the White House says or doesn’t say, the transition won’t officially begin until it is certified and granted resources by the General Services Administration, a logistical agency of the federal government, whose Trump-appointed leader has refused to do so. (She is, however, reportedly reaching out to contemporaries and looking for a new job for 2021, which she has denied).

The Trump administration continues challenging the results of the election in public and in court, but as many of the lawsuits come undone, it seems its tightly controlled public front is collapsing too. 

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