As Joe Biden and the press continue to insist, incorrectly, that Biden is “president-elect,” the Trump administration has stated it will not provide Biden any intelligence briefs until the election is officially decided. While Biden supporters in the Intelligence Community (IC) wail, with only the media “projecting” Biden as the winner, Trump is on firm legal and constitutional ground.
NBC News reported that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) issued a statement that said it will not have any official interactions with the so-called Biden “transition” until the General Services Administration (GSA) decides on a winner. This official process, called “ascertainment,” is required by the 60-year-old Presidential Transition Act.
According to the ODNI statement, it continues:
ODNI follows the statutory direction provided in the Presidential Transition Act, which requires ascertainment of the candidate by the administrator of GSA prior to supporting a potential presidential transition. ODNI would not have contact with any transition team until notified by the GSA administrator.
NBC News reports that the GSA chief has not yet signed the letter of “ascertainment” due to the legal challenges and counting still pending. Because of that, Biden is not receiving the President’s Daily Brief (PDB), the daily high-level intelligence summary that goes to POTUS and most senior officials in the government.
“Shame on DNI Ratcliffe for hiding behind the Presidential Transition Act,” Larry Pfeiffer, a former senior CIA official, said, according to NBC News. “All it would take is a presidential head-nod to make it happen…this was done in 2000 for George Bush even as election challenges continued.”
However, during the 2000 Gore-Bush election contest, which I was involved in as part of the Bush Florida Recount Team, vote recounts in that state meant the winner was not decided until well after Thanksgiving – on Dec. 13.
And in that case, GW Bush did not get the intelligence briefings from the Clinton White House until early December, said David Priess, a former CIA officer and author of “The President’s Book of Secrets: The Untold Story of Intelligence Briefings to America’s Presidents from Kennedy to Obama.”
On Tuesday, NBC News reported Biden confirmed to reporters that he was not receiving the daily brief. “Obviously the PDB would be useful but it’s not necessary,” he said. “I’m not the sitting president now.”
Indeed, he is not. And until Joe Biden is “ascertained” as the winner by GSA, he also is not the “president-elect” for any presidential transition purposes.