WASHINGTON – More than 100 Republican former national security officers, including former Defense and Homeland Security secretaries, warned that President Donald Trump’s refusal to allow a transition to President-elect Joe Biden imperils the nation.
In a statement released Monday, more than 100 senior former national security officers who served in Republican administrations demanded that members of Congress call on Trump to allow officers from Biden’s team to receive immediate briefings to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and threats to national security .
“The delay in allowing transition teams to meet and confer with officers on the Coronavirus Task Force and at the National Security Council, the Departments of State, Defense, and Homeland Security, and the other departments and agencies critical to US national security means that the incoming Biden Administration will be less prepared to defend America’s security when it assumes power in 59 days, “according to the statement.
Among those who signed the letter are former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former Republican senator Chuck Hagel who served as Defense Secretary in the Obama administration and retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden who served as director of the CIA and the National Security Agency. Some of the same officials signed a letter prior to the election supporting Biden.
Greg Brower, former assistant director of the FBI and a signatory to the statement, said in an interview that the refusal by Trump to concede has prevented officers from receiving unclassified and secret briefings about threats. Allies, Brower said, view the chaos and question whether the American government can be a trusted partner. Adversaries are certain to try to exploit the uncertainty
“Just how dangerous depends upon a lot of factors,” Brower said. “It’s impossible to know. It’s not one of those things where reasonable minds can differ as to whether to do the transition. There is no rational reason for not doing what has traditionally been done.”
The statement notes that the 9/11 Commission found that the shortened transition to the administration of George W. Bush during the disputed 2000 election “hampered the new administration in identifying, recruiting, clearing, and obtaining Senate confirmation of key appointees” who were responsible for dealing with the threat of the al Qaeda terrorists who attacked the United States. The commission recommended that minimizing disruption to national security policy during transitions become a top priority.
Trump’s trusted aides and senior members of Congress need to convince him that the transition begin immediately, Brower said.
“Those people need to, in my estimation, go to the president and explain to him and make sure he understands the special jeopardy he is putting the country in by refusing to allow this normal sort of transition to happen,” Brower said.