Trump security adviser says Biden appears to have won election

Donald Trump’s national security adviser said it “obviously” looked as though Joe Biden had won the US election and promised a smooth transition, in the latest acknowledgment of the president’s loss from his allies.

“If the Biden-Harris ticket is determined to be the winner — and obviously things look that way now — we’ll have a very professional transition from the National Security Council,” Robert O’Brien said in remarks at a global security forum, which were filmed last week but aired on Monday.

Mr O’Brien’s promise of a smooth transfer of power comes despite the fact that Mr Trump has not conceded the election. The General Services Administration, which helps manage the functioning of federal agencies, has also not yet recognised Mr Biden’s victory — a pre-requisite for a formal transition to begin.

“[The Biden transition team is] going to have very professional folks who are coming in to take these positions, many of whom have been here before and spent a lot of time in the White House in prior administrations,” Mr O’Brien said at the forum, which was sponsored by the Soufan Center.

He added: “And the great thing in the United States of America, we’ve passed the baton and had peaceful, successful transitions even in the most contentious periods.”

He downplayed the fact that the transition has not yet begun nearly two weeks after the vote, a delay that some experts have warned could harm national security.

“I’m old enough to remember Bush vs Gore, and the transition there didn’t start until mid-December, and yet it got done,” Mr O’Brien said.

At the same time, he appeared to acknowledge the likelihood of Mr Trump’s eventual defeat, suggesting, for instance, that the recent deal the administration had brokered between Israel and a number of the Gulf countries was “a great legacy for the president to have as he leaves office”.

The airing of Mr O’Brien’s comments came a day after Mr Trump walked back a tweet in which he appeared to acknowledge Mr Biden’s victory.

In a tweet on Sunday, the president said Mr Biden had “won because the Election was Rigged”. However, he quickly recanted in later posts, saying: “He only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA. I concede NOTHING!”

On Friday, Mr Trump appeared to be on the verge of admitting there would be a new administration in January before catching himself.

The president’s legal team is pursuing challenges in several swing states in a last-ditch attempt to overturn the election result. On Sunday it revised part of its federal lawsuit challenging the result in Pennsylvania, to remove some of its previous claims that observers from the Trump campaign had not been allowed to watch ballots be counted.

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