Donald Trump’s national security adviser gestured toward reality Monday, acknowledging that Joe Biden would likely be the President in 2021.
Still, days after every major news network projected Biden would be the winner of the 2020 contest, and despite repeated losses in court for President Donald Trump’s legal effort to throw out thousands of votes, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien only partially acknowledged Biden’s victory.
“Look, 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,” O’Brien said in an interview at the Soufan Center Global Security Forum.
NBC News flagged the remarks Monday when they were broadcast online.
Later, O’Brien referenced the 2000 election, the last time that the incumbent administration delayed the official “ascertainment” of the election’s victor because the election’s results were contested.
“I’m old enough to remember Bush v. Gore, and the transition there didn’t start until mid-December, and yet it got done,” O’Brien said. “And if we’re in a situation where we’re not going into a Trump second term, which I think people where I’m sitting in the White House would like to see, if it’s another outcome, it will be a professional transition, there’s no question about it.”
The administrator of the General Services Administration in 2000, Dave Barram, told TPM that the 2020 results were nothing like those in 2000, given that Biden’s lead stands at thousands of votes across multiple states, rather than just a few hundred in one state.
And observers of both parties have pointed to the 9/11 Commission’s finding that the delayed election results in 2000 got George W. Bush’s national security team off to a painfully slow start.
NBC News noted that, at times, O’Brien hinted at reality — for example, by calling Trump’s diplomatic work in the Middle East “a great legacy for the President to have as he leaves office.”