More than 100 former senior national security officials who served in Republican administrations are urging President Trump to concede the 2020 presidential election, saying his refusal to do so is “a serious threat to America’s democratic process and to our national security.”
The warning comes as the General Services Administration has yet to ascertain Joe Biden’s presidency, and as Trump refuses to concede, as his campaign has filed lawsuits in a number of key battleground states.
In a letter first obtained by The Washington Post on Monday, dozens of leading national security experts and former officials urged Trump to allow “for an orderly transition,” and called on Republican leaders, “especially those in Congress,” to “publicly demand that President Trump cease his anti-democratic assault on the integrity of the presidential election.”
“It has been clear for over two weeks that Joe Biden won the 2020 Presidential election, garnering 306 electoral votes, far more than the 270 electoral votes required to be elected,” they wrote in a letter. “Despite this clear outcome, President Trump has refused to accept the results and begin the transition process.”
The experts noted that Trump is “legally entitled to request recounts and file good-faith legal challenges,” but said that he has “presented no evidence of widespread fraud or any other significant irregularities,” saying that nearly every case has been “summarily dismissed.”
“President Trump’s refusal to permit the presidential transition also poses significant risks to our national security, at a time when the U.S. confronts a global pandemic and faces serious threats from global adversaries, terrorist groups, and other forces,” they wrote.
The officials warned that the delay in allowing transition teams to meet with officials on the Coronavirus Task Force and at the National Security Council, the Departments of State, Defense and Homeland Security, as well as other critical agencies “means that the incoming Biden Administration will be less prepared to defend America’s security when it assumes power in 59 days.”
The officials pointed to former President George W. Bush, saying that the 9/11 Commission concluded that the “shortened transition” due to the election dispute in 2000 “hampered the new administration in identifying, recruiting, clearing and obtaining Senate confirmation of key appointees” who were responsible for “addressing the gathering threat of al Qaida terrorists in the months leading up to the 9/11 attacks.”
The officials concluded that “the election is over, the outcome certain.”
“Over the past days, a number of Republican leaders have called on President Trump to respect the will fo the American people,” they wrote. “It is now time for the rest of the Republican leadership to put politics aside and insist that President Trump cease his dilatory and anti-democratic efforts to undermine the result of the election and begin a smooth and orderly transition of power to President-elect Biden.”They added: “By encouraging President Trump’s delaying tactics or remaining silent, Republican leaders put American democracy and national security at risk.”
The letter comes as the Biden transition has been in limbo, awaiting the GSA’s “ascertainment” decision— the formal declaration set up by the 1963 Presidential Transition Act. Until that ascertainment is made, the Biden team cannot formally begin the transition process. The delay is costing the Biden team access to more than $6 million in federal funding, security clearances and the ability to meet with officials at intelligence agencies.
A Biden transition official told Fox News Thursday that the Biden-Harris transition “has been planning for months for all possible scenarios.”
“While we wait for the GSA Administrator to uphold the will of the people and be a proper steward of taxpayer resources, we will execute on contingency plans, including continuing to solicit private funds to support transition planning,” the official said in a statement. “The nation faces too many challenges to not have a fully funded and smooth transition to prepare the President-elect and Vice President-elect to govern on Day One.”
Last week, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the GSA would certify Biden’s election “at the right moment.”
“There are questions that need to be answered,” McEnany said. “The GSA will determine when ascertainment is reached.
“There is a presidential transition act that determines exactly what an administration needs to do in advance of an election,” McEnany said. “We’ve done everything we statutorily needed to do.”
President Trump has yet to concede, despite President-elect Biden having garnered more than the 270 electoral votes necessary to win the presidency.
McEnany defended that move, saying the Trump campaign is “pursuing ongoing litigation” and “taking it day by day.”
“The president has been clear — he wants every legal vote to be counted and no illegal votes counted,” McEnany said.
As for concession, she said: “I will leave it to the president.”
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., have said that the courts are dealing with legal disputes.
“In all of these presidential elections we go through this process, there’s a way to deal with disputes, it’s called the courts and the courts in various states are dealing with whatever disputes there are, whatever evidence may be provided, and we are going to have an orderly transfer from this administration to the next one,” McConnell said last week. “What we all say about it is frankly irrelevant.”
He added: “All of it will happen right on time, and we will swear in the next administration on January 20.”