That said, crucial elements of the transition cannot proceed without official clearance by the General Services Administration, the obscure agency that oversees the basic functioning of federal agencies, including the presidential transition. A green light from the agency frees up the office space and money necessary to kick the transition into high gear. It also triggers certain meetings and procedures and allows incoming officials to access classified information and computer systems.
Typically, such authorization is granted within hours of the presidential race being called. As of this writing, the authorization has yet to occur. As The Times noted on Monday, this is blocking Mr. Biden’s teams “from moving into government offices, including secure facilities where they can discuss classified information. The teams cannot meet with their counterparts in agencies or begin background checks of top cabinet nominees that require top-secret access.”
All of this has serious implications for national security. In the chaotic aftermath of the 2000 election, in which the outcome really was unclear, the transition process was delayed. This “hampered the new administration in identifying, recruiting, clearing, and obtaining Senate confirmation of key appointees,” concluded the 9/11 Commission, which analyzed the circumstances surrounding the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. In its report, the commission stressed the need going forward to get incoming officials settled quickly to “minimize as much as possible the disruption of national security policymaking.”
The White House has also yet to follow the commission’s recommendation to swiftly provide the president-elect “with a classified, compartmented list that catalogs specific, operational threats to national security; major military or cover operations; and pending decisions on the possible use of force,” according to The Washington Post.
So not only is Mr. Trump trying to monopolize the nation’s attention and keep the spotlight off Mr. Biden and the reasons he was elected, but the current commander in chief’s acting out is creating a worrisome opportunity for America’s foreign adversaries to exploit.
On Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Biden projected an air of unruffled certainty. “The fact that they’re not willing to acknowledge we won at this point, is not of much consequence in our planning and what we’re able to do between now and Jan. 20,” he said.
It is Mr. Biden’s job to steady the nation. That is what elected leaders are supposed to do. But make no mistake: Mr. Trump is once more putting his own interests above the good of the American people. That so many Republican officials continue to enable him is the fitting coda to his presidency.