Trump’s refusal to concede election defeat will ‘cost us dearly’ in American lives, says Susan Rice

President’ former chief of staff John Kelly made similar comments on Friday

Josh Marcus
Sunday 15 November 2020 00:48 GMT
Susan Rice, ex-US ambassador to the United Nations
Susan Rice, ex-US ambassador to the United Nations (Getty Images)

Susan Rice, a former top diplomat and national security adviser during the Obama administration, is the latest in a group of bipartisan leaders saying Donald Trump’s refusal to concede the election and formally begin the transition process is harming national security.

“The risks to our national security are mounting,” she wrote in an opinion piece on Saturday in the New York Times.

“Vital exchanges of information and expertise that would help combat Covid-19 and jump-start the economy remain stalled,” she added in the article, and argued the delay could “cost us dearly in terms of American lives”.

Ms Rice has been part of three presidential transitions, and said that even after the contested 2000 election, which was settled in the Supreme Court, the outgoing Clinton administration strived to conduct a prompt, thorough process.

“Despite the abbreviated transition timetable and the controversy surrounding the election, we on the exiting Clinton team did our utmost to provide [secretary of state Colin] Powell with everything that he might want in terms of information and support,” she wrote. She also noted that the 9/11 Commission found that delays in that year’s transition process had a noticeable security impact.

The piece also notes that the Obama team strenuously prepared for the Trump transition, only to have many of the new officials decline to meet with their Obama-appointed counterparts.

The comments from the former UN ambassador and security adviser come a day after John Kelly, the president’s former chief of staff and head of Homeland Security, made a similar argument, that boycotting the transition meant a dangerous lapse in preparedness.

“You lose a lot if the transition is delayed because the new people are not allowed to get their head in the game,” Mr Kelly told Politico on Friday. “The president, with all due respect, does not have to concede. But it’s about the nation. It hurts our national security because the people who should be getting [up to speed], it’s not a process where you go from zero to 1,000 miles per hour.”

Senate Republicans like James Lankford of Oklahoma, Marco Rubio of Florida, and Roy Blunt of Missouri have similarly argued president-elect Biden should get presidential intelligence briefings, which begin during the transition.

The incoming administration will not be able to do that, however, until the General Services Administration, responsible for supporting federal agencies, recognises Mr Biden as president-elect. This frees up funds, office space, and most importantly direct access to federal agencies to begin preparing for the next four years.

The GSA’s administrator, Trump appointee Emily Murphy, has not yet certified the transition, prompting the Biden camp to consider legal action.

In the meantime, some agency staffers are secretly preparing for a Biden administration anyway, on the assumption Mr Trump will eventually admit defeat, CNN reports.  

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