Dozens of messages from foreign leaders await President-elect Joe Biden at the State Department but the Trump administration is refusing to let him access them, CNN reported on Wednesday.
Department officials told CNN that the messages have been arriving at the State Department since the President-elect’s victory over the weekend. But since President Donald Trump continues to refuse to accept he lost, the White House has instructed agency officials not to cooperate with the incoming Biden administration, and Biden has been kept from accessing State Department resources.
In spite of the Trump administration’s efforts to block the incoming president, Biden’s team has been in contact with foreign governments without the help of State Department and the President-elect has held numerous calls with leaders, including German Prime Minister Angela Merkel and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
But a source familiar with the issue told CNN that the Biden team “would prefer to be using the State Department resources” in an effort to facilitate the calls more smoothly.
State department officials told CNN that since leaving the White House Biden would have been able access the State Department operations center by phone to place a call to a foreign leader — a resource provided to former presidents and vice presidents. But now, as the President-elect, he is being denied that access to that resource by the Trump administration.
The effort to block Biden from receiving messages at the State Department follows comments from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday when he refused to accept Trump’s defeat and called for “a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.”
According to CNN, foreign leaders appear to now realize that they will have to get in touch with the President-elect by other means, and their teams in some cases have reached out to former Obama-era diplomats for their assistance about sending congratulatory messages to Biden’s team.
The efforts by the Trump administration to prevent a smooth transition between administrations, as Trump’s GOP allies advance false claims about election fraud and Trump refuses to concede, raises questions about how Biden’s team will be briefed to hit the ground running on urgent matters.
Slow transitions in the past have also been cited for creating vulnerabilities to national securities that foreign adversaries can seize upon.
Biden made clear that combating COVID-19 will be his first battle as president and on Monday announced a task force of scientists and experts that will be dedicated to the work of combating the virus, but the Trump administration’s efforts to ban the incoming administration’s access to many of its resources likely hampers those efforts to some degree.