This country is closing in on two weeks since outgoing President Donald Trump was defeated at the polls. President-elect Joe Biden has only widened his lead since then, amassing 5 million more votes than the incumbent. He has far surpassed Trump in electoral votes with 290 at this writing and is on track for 306.
Trump still refuses to concede. But what is far worse are the actions he has taken in the aftermath of the election. Precious days are slipping away as Trump obstinately forbids his administration from cooperating with the Biden transition team.
Biden has been blocked from the daily presidential briefing, with its up-to-date intelligence. His team has been barred from full access to classified documents and agency officials needed for a smooth handoff. The Trump administration continues to withhold transition funds, office space and other resources.
Even during the contested recount of 2000, when only a single state was in play and Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush were separated by just hundreds of votes, Bush was given full intelligence briefings.
Access to transition funds and space, regrettably, were withheld for more than a month while Gore and Bush battled it out in court. That delay may have cost this nation dearly. In its official report, the 9/11 Commission found that delay was a contributing factor to lack of preparation for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks because it hampered Bush's ability to assemble his national security team. The report noted that avoiding future transition disruptions was in the national interest.
Must we relearn this hard lesson? Pressure is slowly building for Trump to at least grant access to briefings, with support from Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and others. But it's come too slow, and our vulnerability increases by the day, particularly since Trump has set out on a revenge-spree of firing those whom he considers disloyal.
Most disturbing has been his firing of Defense Secretary Mark Esper and purge of civilian leadership at the Pentagon. As is his wont, Trump has replaced them with a cadre of perceived loyalists. To what end, in his remaining weeks in power, is a frightening prospect to contemplate.
Trump also forced two resignations at the Department of Homeland Security. Thankfully, some administration officials remain determined to do their jobs despite Trump's threats. On Thursday, a council of federal and state election officials, including Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), released a remarkable statement that declared this election "the most secure in American history."
In direct contradiction of Trump, they noted, "There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes or was in any way compromised. … While we know there are many unfounded claims and opportunities for misinformation about the process of our elections, we can assure you we have the utmost confidence in the security and integrity of our elections and you should too."
Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon told an editorial writer that CISA's director, Chris Krebbs, who may also become a Trump target, has been a stalwart throughout the election and is widely respected among secretaries of state across the political spectrum for his fairness and determination to protect the 2020 election.
Now it's time for Senate Republicans to step up and insist that Biden be allowed to get about the work of transition. They owe that to the country they are sworn to protect.