GOP Sen. Lankford: ‘I will step in’ if Biden doesn’t start receiving intel briefings
WASHINGTON – Several Senate Republicans have broken with the Trump administration to argue that President-elect Joe Biden should get access to classified intelligence briefings, even though the president continues to contest the election results.
Sen. James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican, said he will intervene if the Trump administration doesn’t start allowing Biden to receive the daily intelligence briefings by Friday.
Incoming presidents typically have access to those assessments during the transition, so they can be prepared to deal with any national security threats on day one.
"This needs to occur so that regardless of the outcome of the election, whichever way that it goes, people can be ready for that actual task," Lankford told Tulsa radio station KRMG on Wednesday.
“If that’s not occurring by Friday, I will step in,” said Lankford, who sits on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
So far, a key Trump appointee has refused to affirm Biden's electoral win, preventing the president-elect's team from beginning its official transition. Emily W. Murphy, head of the federal General Services Administration (GSA), has yet to sign off on an official declaration recognizing Biden's victory – a move that blocks his access to the intelligence briefings, as well as other critical materials and funding his team needs to prepare for the transfer of power.
Lankford, a member of the Senate Oversight Committee, said he has “already started engaging in this area.” He noted President Bill Clinton made available briefings to then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush in 2000, even though that election was much closer and hotly contested for weeks after voting ended.
Most Republican lawmakers have refused to acknowledge Biden's victory and backed up Trump's refusal to allow the transition to begin.
But Lankford is not alone in his push for Biden to be allowed to ramp up his official transition. Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election on Saturday. States will certify their election results in the coming weeks.
Sen. Marco Rubio, the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said any declaration from the GSA would not undercut the legal claims that President Donald Trump’s campaign is making in several states. Trump has claimed, without evidence, that voter fraud and other irregularities cost him the election.
"We need to have that contingency in place," Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., told Bloomberg News earlier this week. "I don't think allowing the GSA to move forward on some of the transition work prejudices in any way any of the legal claims the president intends to make."
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, has also argued that Biden should be allowed to begin the transition process, saying it's a matter of U.S. national security.
"It's very much in our national interest, in our foreign policy interest, national security interest, to make sure that if there's a new team that may become the leadership team, that they be given all access as quickly as possible," Romney told NBC News.
Republican Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has not acknowledged Biden's victory, said that Trump is "100% within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options."
Biden has said Trump's fraud allegation are baseless, and he is proceeding with the transition process despite the president's refusal to concede.