Republican backpedals after saying he’d ‘step in’ if Biden doesn’t receive briefings


Senator James Lankford said ‘no loss’ from Biden receiving intelligence briefings but later tweeted support for baseless voter fraud claims * US politics – live updatesA Republican senator backpedaled on Twitter Wednesday night after telling a local Oklahoma radio station he would “step in” if Joe Biden did not begin receiving daily intelligence briefings by the end of the week.In an interview with local KRMG, first picked up by the Hill, the Oklahoma senator James Lankford was asked what he thought of the refusal by the office of the director of national intelligence to brief the president-elect until another arm of the bureaucracy certified Biden’s victory.“There is no loss from him getting the briefings, and to be able to do that,” said Lankford. “And if that’s not occurring by Friday, I will step in as well, and to be able to push and to say this needs to occur, so that regardless of the outcome of the election … people can be ready for that actual task.”In his suggestion that the “outcome of the election” was still in doubt, Lankford made himself an ally to Donald Trump’s cause of overturning the election or, failing that, spoiling public faith in it, as a means of weakening Biden.Yet apparently under pressure to clarify that he did not mean to suggest that Biden might have won, Lankford later tweeted support for the president’s pursuit of baseless voter fraud accusations.“President @realDonaldTrump is fully in his right to ask for recounts and for every legal question to be fully vetted and resolved,” Lankford wrote. “It is important for the 71 million Americans that voted for President Trump that at the end of all this their questions are answered.”The failure of elected Republicans to admit Biden won the election and to contradict Trump’s false accusations of voter fraud is allowing those accusations to flourish and persuading new voters every hour that the 2020 election – and by extension American democracy – is illegitimate, analysts say.The presidential transition process is stalled, meanwhile, with Biden aides shut out of office space, vetting of Biden appointees unable to begin and Biden himself excluded from the presidential daily briefing.It has been the custom of the White House to share the presidential daily briefing with the president-elect during the transition period ever since the advent of the briefing in the 1960s, David Priess, the author of a book on presidential briefings, told NPR. The briefing contain intelligence findings and analysis of potential threats and opportunities.Trump himself began to receive daily intelligence briefings soon after the 2016 election, but then revealed he usually skipped them, believing he did not need them, explaining on Fox News: “You know, I’m, like, a smart person.”An open letter signed by four former homeland security secretaries from both parties warned on Wednesday that delaying the presidential transition endangered the country.“At this period of heightened risk for our nation, we do not have a single day to spare to begin the transition,” the letter said. “For the good of the nation, we must start now.”Former House intelligence committee chair Mike Rogers, a Republican from Michigan, echoed the warning.“Our adversaries aren’t waiting for the transition to take place,” Rogers tweeted. “Joe Biden should receive the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) starting today. He needs to know what the latest threats are & begin to plan accordingly. This isn’t about politics; this is about national security.”When asked Tuesday about the daily briefings, Biden himself, who served in the senate for 36 years before serving for eight years as vice-president, called them nice but not, for the moment, necessary.“Obviously the PDB would be useful, but it’s not necessary,” Biden said. “I’m not the sitting president now.”


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