Well, why wouldn’t he? Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) told Tulsa radio station KRMG yesterday that voters deserve answers over questions raised about the results of the 2020 election. That shouldn’t interfere with a smooth transition if one is needed, Lankford said, and that Joe Biden should prepare for the presidency based on the results already seen.
That means getting full briefing on military and intelligence matters, Lankford declared, and pledged to get Biden access to those briefings himself if access didn’t get granted by tomorrow:
Republican Sen. James Lankford said in a radio interview Wednesday that President-elect Joe Biden should be receiving intelligence briefings that President Trump has denied giving to him as he challenges the 2020 election results. …
“There’s nothing wrong with Vice President Biden getting the briefings to be able to prepare himself so that he can be ready,” Lankford said on Tulsa station KRMG.
“There’s nothing wrong with a former vice president getting those. Kamala Harris is on the Intelligence Committee, she has all the clearance she needs to be able to do that. There is no loss from him getting the briefings,” he said.
He added that the General Services Administration could certify the election results by Friday — and he will push for Biden to receive the briefings after that is done.
“If that’s not occurring by Friday, I will step in to be able to push them and say this needs to occur, so that regardless of the outcome of the election … people can be ready for that task,” he said.
Not sure why this would be controversial in the first place. Joe Biden had full access to such information as VP, as Lankford notes, and for decades before that as a US Senator. It’s unlikely that his security clearances have been revoked; if Trump did revoke them out of political spite, that itself would be an abuse of power. Former high-ranking officials routinely keep those clearances to serve as resources for their successors, although they technically have to establish a “need to know” to access classified data.
Being on the cusp of a potential presidency is a fairly defensible “need to know.” At any rate, Biden’s status should hardly make a briefing remarkable, let alone controversial. And yet, for some reason Kayleigh McEnany won’t acknowledge the obvious, telling Fox & Friends this morning that she’ll have to defer that question to the White House. Which seems a strange response coming from the White House Press Secretary, but it’s not when coming from a campaign advisor:
WAIT. When asked about whether Joe Biden will receive access to intelligence briefings, Kayleigh McEnany says, “That would be a question more for the White House."
Kayleigh McEnany IS the WH Press Secretary, though she is appearing on FOX as a Trump 2020 adviser. pic.twitter.com/34gfs72fzE
— The Recount (@therecount) November 12, 2020
McEnany’s taking heat for this dodge, but she is stuck in a tough position thanks to the Hatch Act and campaign-finance laws. If McEnany appears on television as a member of the campaign, she can’t act in her official government capacity. If she appears in an official capacity, McEnany can’t discuss the campaign. The hosts on Fox & Friends should be aware of those boundaries, although perhaps Trump should choose one role for McEnany and leave it at that.
At any rate, the issue of intel briefings appears mainly settled, thanks to Lankford. It never should have been unsettled in the first place.
Update: It looks like tongues are loosening in the Senate in pushing back against Trump’s hard-line resistance to transitioning:
New – Sen. Chuck Grassley, who is the most senior Republican in the Senate, told me that President-elect Joe Biden should have access to classified briefings to prepare for the transition.
“I would think – especially on classified briefings – the answer is yes,” Grassley said.
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) November 12, 2020
This really is both basic and non-committal. It shouldn’t even be an issue. And yet, here we are …
Update: Just for the record, John Thune concurs:
New – Senate Majority Whip John Thune also believes it’s time for Biden to get classified briefings. “Well, I think that it probably makes sense to prepare for all contingencies," Thune said. https://t.co/gk7APp6Kxe
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) November 12, 2020