Trump Isn’t Just Sabotaging Biden, He’s Sabotaging America

By delaying the Biden transition and vindictively sabotaging his incoming administration, Trump is throwing America's future into turmoil.
President-elect Joe Biden (Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons) and Donald Trump (AP)

President-elect Joe Biden (Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons) and Donald Trump (AP)

Updated at 6:28 pm ET, November 23: GSA Administrator Emily Murphy has finally started the transition after Michigan certified their results. The below article was published before the announcement and highlighted the damage that the delay caused.

President-elect Joe Biden holds a 6 million vote lead over Donald Trump and has secured 306 Electoral College votes, compared with the current occupant of the White House’s 232. Despite this, the Trump administration is refusing to accept that Biden is the President-elect, and the General Services Administration (GSA) chief, Emily Murphy, is refusing to sign off and allow the transition process to formally begin. Having gone beyond the embarrassing attempts by Republicans to undermine democracy, this is now at risk of doing serious damage to America’s future.

The most pressing issue facing the United States is the COVID-19 pandemic, with infection rates and fatalities from the virus increasing on a daily basis. There are few people in America who have not, in some way, been touched by the damaging and harmful effects of the contagion. Although, with Trump spending his final days in office tweeting and golfing, you wouldn’t know that. There’s hope on the horizon, with a number of vaccine candidates close to securing approval, but, for the world to recover, countries will need an effective distribution plan for the vaccines to be rolled out.

Right now, the coronavirus outbreak is causing devastation to the health and economic well-being of Americans. After Trump has spent much of this year abdicating responsibility, Americans need the Biden administration to hit the ground running and get straight to work, bringing the pandemic under control. The Trump administration’s childish refusal to speak to the President-elect’s incoming team will undoubtedly compromise America’s response, resulting in deadly consequences.

In fact, let’s be completely clear here: even more people will be infected with the coronavirus and die from the disease because of Trump’s deliberate obstruction. To be prepared to address the pandemic, Biden’s team needs access to crucial data, such as the amount of drugs and PPE in government storage. Biden’s team also needs to coordinate with the Trump administration so he can continue vaccine distribution seamlessly. None of that can happen while Trump’s enablers are engaging in some bizarre loyalty test, refusing to acknowledge the democratic will of the American people. Every day, every hour, that the transition is delayed further diminishes the chances of success for the next administration. Trump knows this and clearly doesn’t care about American citizens, being interested only in some ridiculous and futile attempt to hold on to power.

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Linked to the issue of Covid-19 is another significant domestic challenge for Biden: economic recovery. Since the start of the pandemic, Congress has only provided one direct financial payment to Americans in order to support them. One payment that, for many, barely covered a month’s rent, bills, and groceries. Even the support that was provided to businesses has now run dry and companies are being forced into permanent closure, putting individuals out of work and crippling fragile sectors of the economy.

Incoming presidents normally wait until they’re in office to address issues, in order to ensure that they can take credit for the success of their work, but Biden recognizes this is an extraordinary time, and taking credit is far less important than protecting Americans. The number of Americans who have been unemployed for more than six months is increasing at its fastest rate ever. The country needs an emergency coronavirus relief package before the end of the year. At the very least, a plan will need to be fully developed by the new administration and ready to go within days of taking office.

Biden has accepted this and, in a bipartisan meeting with governors, he expressed the need to deliver this “sooner rather than later”. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, have stalled and created a stalemate. Delaying the transition is only going to cause unnecessary pain and difficulties for around 12 million Americans who will see their unemployment support withdrawn at the end of the year, despite losing their jobs through no fault of their own.

But this goes further than the issue of Covid-19 or the economic recovery. Without formal recognition by the GSA, the incoming administration isn’t able to access crucial funds for the transition and, more importantly, it cannot get sight of the classified information it requires in order to understand ongoing political issues and to vet potential cabinet secretaries. During Trump’s presidency, America has witnessed the negative impact that an understaffed administration can have and the failures that emerge from unfilled gaps in departments. Being in that parlous situation was a foolish choice made by Trump. With the unprecedented and chaotic situation facing the United Stated right now, Biden’s administration cannot afford to find itself in the same position on day one. Trump and his team know this, but, rather than working in the best interests of the country, they choose to put the future wellbeing of millions of Americans in jeopardy.

Adversaries of the United States aren’t standing idly by while Trump throws a temper tantrum. They aren’t sitting around for two months until 12 noon on Inauguration Day. Unnecessarily prolonging this bizarre and destructive situation, and forcing a delay to the transition period, is putting the country at risk. The President-elect is currently not receiving classified briefings that are normally granted to the incoming administration, forcing Biden to hold his own security briefings with defense, diplomatic, and intelligence experts to prepare for potential foreign policy challenges. After all, Biden’s main international concern will be rebuilding America’s standing on the world stage after Trump’s four-year isolationist approach. Agreements will need to be re-joined and resurrected, while relationships will need to be rekindled.

Domestic and international threats aren’t put on hold. They still exist and, potentially, are becoming increasingly serious due to the Trump administration’s blatant disregard for taking the right path. We saw the consequences of a delayed transition emerge back in 2000 when legitimate concerns on the election outcome prevented George W. Bush’s team from getting to work straight away, as the country had to wait for a candidate to reach the 270 threshold while the recount in Florida took place.

The 9/11 Commission found that a longer transition and greater cooperation would have made the country a safer place. While this wouldn’t necessarily have prevented the 9/11 attacks, it would’ve ensured the Bush administration was better prepared to respond to, and address, any potential threats before and after they emerged. Now, in 2020, there are sensitive national security issues that only the existing White House administration will be aware of, as well as a close-knit circle of senior congressional figures, military officials, and intelligence operatives who hold vital information. The ongoing success of intelligence missions and military operations depends on a smooth and informed transition between successive administrations.

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We’re already seeing an area where this will be an important element. While in office until January, Trump has the power to engage in last-minute maneuvers that could have long-lasting consequences. Attempting to ram through foreign policy in this ill-judged and poorly considered manner, such as has happened with the recently announced withdrawal from Afghanistan, without ensuring that the next administration is aware of the operation and the potential issues it could create, risks putting American lives at risk both at home and abroad.

Trump’s actions here are clearly vindictive. In fact, recently he’s reportedly told allies that he knows he’s lost the election but is deliberately impeding Biden and the Democratic Party in retaliation for the legitimate claims that were made regarding foreign election interference in 2016. The court cases have no merit, which is why Trump’s team has been defeated in court over 30 times since Election Day. The concern is that Trump’s not just damaging, or attempting to damage Biden’s presidency, he’s hurting America and impeding its potential future success.

The coronavirus response, the economic recovery, and America’s national security cannot wait. This isn’t about a partisan battle between Republicans and Democrats. This isn’t even about Trump’s failure to accept reality and concede the election. Nor is this about the damage that the GOP is doing by attempting to undermine democracy. This is about America’s future, which is being put at risk by the actions of the current administration.

Republicans have long since abandoned their oath of office and their responsibility to serve their constituents, but this really is time for them to decide which side of history do they want to be on. Their actions right now are causing irreparable damage to the country they claim to love and protect. It’s time to stand up to Trump’s chaos, or get out of the way, because America can’t afford to suffer any longer from their destructive behavior. The transition must be allowed to proceed immediately and without any further delay. Failure to do this will undoubtedly cause further chaos and needless devastation for the United States.

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Opinion // 2020 / Coronavirus / Donald Trump / Elections / Joe Biden / National Security