As COVID-19 cases continue to spike nationwide, what we need now more than ever is a peaceful and cooperative transition of power.
Yet President Donald Trump made little effort to participate in this transition, refusing to concede the presidential election (the first modern-day president to do so), demanding vote recounts and going so far as to allege voter fraud. He even fired Chris Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, after Krebs upheld the security of the election.
Trump does have the right to contest the election through legal means and wait for states to certify their votes. But the results aren’t looking so great for him. Not surprisingly, vote certifications and recounts have not turned the election in his favor, and many of his lawsuits have been shot down.
Most significantly, Trump held off on providing President-elect Joe Biden with highly important intelligence briefings. Known as the President’s Daily Brief, it covers national security concerns ― something that the next president should definitely have access to, especially during a pandemic.
At the minimum, Trump’s actions were uncivil, maybe even petty. But they were also dangerous and irresponsible.
This isn’t the first time a transfer of power was slowed down by an election. It happened before in the 2000 election due to a narrow margin between candidates George W. Bush and Al Gore. The 9/11 Commission later cited the postponement of this transfer of power as a flaw that led to the terrorist attacks in 2001.
2020 has been a tumultuous year, and thousands of Americans are still struggling with job losses and COVID-19. We need sensible government leadership, not denial and a lack of cooperation.
But Trump only continued to make false claims of voter fraud on Twitter, so much so that his tweets were labeled with the warning “This claim about election fraud is disputed.” Even fellow Republicans and Attorney General William Barr have spoken out against him.
“Every valid vote under a state’s law should be counted,” Senator Susan Collins of Maine said. “Allegations of irregularities can be adjudicated by the courts. We must all respect the outcome of elections.”
Along with Trump’s efforts to stall the inevitable, there was another reason the transition was delayed. The General Services Administration, a government agency tasked with kickstarting an official transition by determining the winner of the election, did not do so until Nov. 23 even though Biden received the required number of electoral votes.
The move freed up millions of dollars in funding and finally allowed government agencies to begin working with Biden’s team. Trump was not personally responsible for making this decision, but the fact that he appointed GSA administrator Emily Murphy could explain why she took her time.
Meanwhile, Biden had begun hiring staff members and was already working to address economic issues and coronavirus concerns. He wasn’t able to accomplish much more than that since Trump and his administration wouldn’t budge.
But now that the transition is in full swing and the government machine is starting to run smoothly again, there’s not much Trump can do to stall it any further.
For the sake of the nation, Trump needs to set aside his pride and cooperate fully with the incoming administration until he leaves office in January. It’s the least he can do.