National security adviser Robert O’Brien said Monday morning that it “obviously” looks as if former Vice President Joe Biden has won the presidential election and promised “a very professional transition” with the incoming team at the National Security Council.
O’Brien’s remarks are the first on-the-record acknowledgment by a senior White House official that Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, appear to have won the election, a victory that foreign governments have already recognized but that President Trump has spent more than a week disputing. Although Trump appeared to acknowledge Biden’s victory Sunday by tweeting, “He won, ” he quickly backtracked with a tweet saying, “I concede NOTHING! ”
The president’s refusal to concede defeat in the election has alarmed observers in the national security community who are concerned that delaying the transition — or not having a proper transition at all — will damage national security. But O’Brien sought to allay those fears during his remarks in the virtual DefenseOne 2020 Global Security Forum. “If the Biden-Harris ticket is determined to be the winner, and obviously things look that way now, we’ll have a very professional transition from the National Security Council, there’s no question about it, ” O’Brien said, before going out of his way to credit the incoming team. “They’re going to have very professional folks who are coming in to take these positions, many of whom have been here before and spent a lot of time in the White House in prior administrations. ”
The General Services Administration, a low-profile federal agency in charge of building leases and contracting, has to date refused to sign off on an order recognizing Biden as the next president. As a result, his team has been blocked from receiving millions of dollars in funding, access to offices and other government services that are designed to help ease the transition to a new administration.
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