Patterico's Pontifications


GOP Senators: Joe Biden Needs Access to Security Briefings

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:19 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Progress for the GOP. With four Republican senators now acknowledging Joe Biden as the President-elect, there has been a call by GOP members for him to have access to security briefings so he will be fully prepared to take the reins in January:

A growing number of Republican senators, including members of GOP leadership, said Thursday that President-elect Joe Biden should get the intelligence briefings that he is currently unable to receive because of President Trump’s refusal to accept the election results.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the most senior Republican in the Senate, told CNN that Biden should receive classified briefings, but that “we ought to do what we did” after the 2000 election with respect to the General Services Administration signing off on transition paperwork.

Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.), told CNN: “Well, I think that it probably makes sense to prepare for all contingencies. And 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. And you’ve seen other members suggesting that. I think that makes sense.”

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said in a radio interview: “There’s nothing wrong with Vice President Biden getting the briefings to be able to prepare himself so that he can be ready. If that’s not occurring by Friday, I’ll step in as well and to be able to push him to say, this needs to occur so that regardless of the outcome of the election, whichever way it goes, people can be ready for that actual task.”

Senate Homeland Security Chair Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told reporters: “I have no problem with it. … In general, from what I’ve seen, intelligence briefings are really not worth a whole lot. The things we see in the SCIF don’t add much value.”

Meanwhile, practiced politician, Mitch McConnell, is involved in his own post-election balancing act. He’s not outrightly supporting Trump’s claims of voter fraud yet believes that Americans should see how this all plays out in the courts. All of this while not losing sight that run-off election in Georgia is critical and that it’s crucial that the GOP keeps majority power in the Senate:

The GOP leader is defending Trump’s right to challenge the vote counts in several key battleground states, arguing the courts are meant to handle disputed election results and that “wealthy media corporations” should not project the winner.

But McConnell is also keeping his distance from the president’s claims of voter fraud that his campaign has yet to back up with any hard evidence.

“What I’m going to do here in the Senate is concentrate on the business that we have left to do,” he told reporters Tuesday, adding he would “let the presidential election go through the various stages that it goes through under the Constitution.”

So what is Trump’s administration planning on doing during this strange time? As this Wall Street Journal report indicates, officials seem to accept that there will be a new president coming on board in January, and while they are cleaning house and setting last minute rules and regulations, the President himself is, well, a bit distracted:

Mr. Trump hasn’t discussed what elements of his policy agenda he wants to execute before leaving office, White House officials said. One official said there has been little formal planning on what needs to get done in the final months of the Trump administration. Some aides have begun compiling a list of regulations and other measures that can be completed before Inauguration Day, another official said.

Officials said they expect negotiations with lawmakers about the next round of coronavirus relief legislation will resume at some point. Some White House policy aides are also discussing potential executive orders on a range of issues, such as banning banks from refusing to lend to fossil-fuel companies, officials said.

White House adviser Stephen Miller and other officials are also rushing to complete a series of immigration regulations and rules that would make it tougher to win asylum and appeal a deportation order and effectively eliminate the H-1B visa lottery, which would largely shut off the program for recent college graduates, administration officials said. The Biden administration could seek to reverse the rules but it would take time and would likely prompt a fresh round of legal challenges. …

Asked what policy matters Mr. Trump might focus on over the next 70 days, another official said, ‘Not a lot.’ The official said it has been difficult to shift the president’s attention away from the election.

Yeah, I’d say he was a bit distracted:

This is madness.


Why Is Trump Firing Top Civilian Officials at the Pentagon?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am

Why is Trump firing top Pentagon officials? The Resistance thinks it’s the first step in a slow-motion coup, but the guys at the National Security Law Podcast say that’s unlikely because Trump is firing only civilian officials, not military officials. They point to a David Ignatius column that could explain it, however. Trump wants to declassify information that would put sources at risk, but might arguably burnish his contentions about Russian election interference:

President Trump’s senior military and intelligence officials have been warning him strongly against declassifying information about Russia that his advisers say would compromise sensitive collection methods and anger key allies.

An intense battle over this issue has raged within the administration in the days before and after the Nov. 3 presidential election. Trump and his allies want the information public because they believe it would rebut claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin supported Trump in 2016. That may sound like ancient history, but for Trump it remains ground zero — the moment when his political problems began.

Even Bill Barr agrees that the declassification would endanger sources, but the folks being installed feel differently.

The issue may have played a role in Trump’s surprise decision on Monday to fire Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper. According to the senior defense official, Esper wrote a letter last month to John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, strongly endorsing Nakasone’s position and “urging that the information not be released due to the harm it would do to national security, including specific harm to the military,” the senior defense official said.

. . . .

At the NSA, the Trump team just installed as general counsel Michael Ellis, a former chief counsel to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a locus of pro-Trump arguments that the Russia investigation was poisoned fruit. As the spy agency’s chief legal officer, Ellis could be an ally in a Ratcliffe-led campaign to declassify intelligence that would otherwise be tightly held because it might reveal sources and methods.

In a battle between what is good for the country and what Trump thinks is good for Trump, which do you think wins?


Speaking of Trump and his supporters putting Trump’s interests ahead that of the country, most Republicans are still going along with the charade that the pending recounts and frivolous lawsuits might change the election result. Even the one lawsuit that I think may have merit — the one challenging the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to allow ballots to be counted after Election Day when the Legislature did not authorize it — will not swing that state. But folks are still pretending. The candidates in the Georgia Senate runoff have bowed to Trump’s demands that they call for the resignation of the state’s Republican Secretary of State, for no reason other than failing to do so would get them a nasty tweet from Trump.

And in my favorite news to date, the Senate majority leader in Pennsylvania, Jake Corman, is softening on the issue of upending his state’s vote and simply calling the election for Trump. He and the majority leader of the state House of Representatives assured voters on October 19: “We have said it many times and we will happily say it again: The Pennsylvania General Assembly does not have and will not have a hand in choosing the state’s presidential electors or in deciding the outcome of the presidential election.”

But on November 6, he hedged:

When asked Friday to confirm if the state legislature will award the state electors to the party that wins the popular vote, Corman said he does not like “to get into hypotheticals” but outlined his understanding of the election code.

“We will follow the law,” Corman said. “That’s all we’ve asked for in this process all along.”

“Under normal circumstances,” the legislature plays no role in selecting electors, he said.

To do that would be a coup. The fact that people are even worried about this is astounding. But I think that’s Trump’s game plan. Throw enough dust in the air to make it sound like there’s fraud everywhere, and get local hacks to disregard the election results.

Good for Trump, very very very bad for the country. Which wins?

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