Former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and former national security adviser John Bolton on Sunday rebuked the Trump administration’s refusal to assist President-elect Joe Biden’s formal transition process, which they warned poses threats to national security.
Trump’s refusal to officially concede has already put a damper to Biden’s formal transition. General Services Administration chief Emily Murphy — a Trump appointee who has sole authority over whether Biden’s transition can officially move forward — has not signed the letter of “ascertainment,” which would allow Biden’s transition team to contact federal agencies or access the millions of dollars set aside for it.
During an interview on ABC News on Sunday, Johnson, who served as DHS secretary in the Obama administration, characterized Trump’s refusal to assist Biden’s formal transition as a disservice to Americans as well as national security.
“A new government cannot start on January 20 from a standing-still position. This is what transitions are for,” Johnson said. “Intelligence briefings, [the President’s Daily Brief], when you’re in office, in national security are your eyes and ears.”
Johnson added that Trump himself “should appreciate that,” citing how his presidential transition four years ago involved Johnson visiting Trump Tower to tell Trump “things before he became president that I thought he’d rather hear directly from the Secretary of Homeland Security.”
“And I know he appreciated it,” Johnson said. “So, it’s a disservice to the American public, it’s a disservice to our national security to make the incoming government wait until January 20 to actually begin to get up to speed on a myriad of issues.”
Ex-DHS Sec. Jeh Johnson tells @martharaddatz "this is going to be a time for healing" amid stark division among Americans, adding "it's the instinct of Joe Biden… to try to bridge the divide, to try to heal the rift that exists in our nation right now." https://t.co/n7MOSxWdol pic.twitter.com/Ous1ayYcdi
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) November 15, 2020
Former Trump national security adviser John Bolton, who has become a prominent critic of the sitting president, doubted that Trump would “go graciously” during an interview on ABC News Sunday.
“Well, if he had any character, I would say it’s perfectly in character. It displeases him when reality doesn’t conform to the image that he has of it,” Bolton said. “I do not expect him to go graciously.”
After saying that he expects Trump to go, but that it will involve “stab in the back theories” where the sitting president “will make life as difficult as he can for the incoming Biden administration,” Bolton stressed that the Trump administration’s refusal to aid the President-elect’s transition process “harms the country.”
“I’ve been through five separate transitions and I know how difficult it is coming in and going out,” Bolton said. “And every day that he delays under the pretense that he’s simply asking for his legal remedies ultimately is to the country’s disadvantage, certainly in the national security space, and I think given the coronavirus pandemic and the effective distribution of the vaccine and a range of other things as well.”
Bolton argued that Republicans should explain to Trump the need for a transition as soon as possible, before going on to raise alarms over Biden having yet to receive the Presidential Daily Briefing due to national security concerns.
Bolton first slammed Trump by claiming the sitting president “doesn’t pay any attention to the daily briefings either” before adding that “the national security decision making process is cumbersome.”
“Everybody agrees with that,” Bolton said. “There are a lot of different perspectives and a lot of different information that has to be considered.”
"If he had any character, I would say it's perfectly in character," John Bolton says of Pres. Trump's unwillingness to concede the election, adding that it "harms the country."
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) November 15, 2020
Later Sunday, Trump took to Twitter to rehash his attacks against his former national security adviser.
John Bolton was one of the dumbest people in government that I’ve had the “pleasure” to work with. A sullen, dull and quiet guy, he added nothing to National Security except, “Gee, let’s go to war.” Also, illegally released much Classified Information. A real dope!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2020