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Pressure mounts for Biden to get high-level intelligence briefings

Top Republicans call for Biden to receive classified briefings
Top Republicans call for Biden to receive cla... 02:25

Washington — A growing number of Republicans in the Senate say President-elect Joe Biden should begin receiving high-level intelligence briefings as he prepares to take over the presidency, which he is not yet getting due to the lack of formal acknowledgement from the General Services Administration that he is the likely winner of the presidential election.

Mr. Biden is pushing forward with his transition, naming his White House chief of staff, speaking with foreign leaders of the nation's allies and tapping a slew of experts for government-wide agency review teams, but he is not yet receiving the high-level President's Daily Brief, a daily summary of intelligence that contains the nation's most sensitive information.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which is responsible for compiling the President's Daily Brief, said earlier this week it would not have contact with Mr. Biden's transition team until notified by the head of the GSA, who ascertains the likely successful candidate in the election. But the administrator of the GSA, Emily Murphy, has not yet determined Mr. Biden as the apparent next president, leaving in limbo millions of federal dollars to support the transition, government resources and Mr. Biden's access to high-level intelligence briefings.

In keeping with common practice, Mr. Biden received lower-level intelligence briefings after formally becoming the Democratic nominee in August.

While President Trump continues to falsely claim he won the election, a chorus of Republicans are saying they believe Mr. Biden should be receiving the higher-level briefings, and warning that the delay in the transition process could have negative implications for the nation's security.

Republican Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the most senior GOP senator, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a close ally of Mr. Trump's, separately told reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday they believe Mr. Biden should be receiving high-level briefings. 

South Dakota Senator John Thune, the second highest-ranking Republican in the upper chamber, said it "makes sense" for the president-elect to be briefed on the nation's most sensitive intelligence.

"As these election challenges play out in court, I don't have a problem with, and I think it's important from a national security standpoint, continuity," Thune said. "And you've seen other members suggesting that."

Texas Senator John Cornyn told reporters he believes the information "needs to be communicated in some way."

"I just don't know of any justification for withholding the briefing," he said, adding that if Mr. Biden "does win in the end, I think they need to be able to hit the ground running."

Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who along with Cornyn serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the president-elect should be receiving briefings "right now." 

"That is really important," she told reporters on Capitol Hill. "It's probably the most important part of the transition. In addition, like any apparent winner he should have access to office space, federal employees, materials, supplies, whatever, but the standard assistance that the apparent winner receives, and that doesn't in any way preclude President Trump from pursuing his legal remedies if he believes there are irregularities. But it should not delay the transition, because we want the president-elect, assuming he prevails, to be ready on day one."

While Mr. Biden was projected five days ago as the winner of the White House, Mr. Trump has yet to concede the election and instead continues to falsely claim he is the actual winner. The Trump campaign has mounted several legal battles in key states with the goal of delaying the certification of election results, alleging with scant evidence their poll workers were denied access to the vote counting and others witnessed election fraud.

But Mr. Trump faces a steep climb in his efforts contesting the outcome of the election, as Mr. Biden leads him by more than 5.2 million votes nationwide. When the president-elect takes office January 20, he will inherit several crises, including the coronavirus pandemic and a bruised economy.

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