Top Trump adviser moves closer to accepting Biden win: 'Obviously, things look that way now'
November 16, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.
National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien attends a briefing on Enhanced Narcotics Operations at the US Southern Command in Doral, Florida, on July 10, 2020. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
National security adviser Robert O'Brien promised that there will be a professional transition from the White House National Security Council "if" President-elect Joe Biden is officially determined the winner of the 2020 election, acknowledging "obviously things look that way now" despite President Donald Trump's refusal to concede.
Washington (CNN)National security adviser Robert O'Brien promised that there will be a professional transition from the White House National Security Council "if" President-elect Joe Biden is officially determined the winner of the 2020 election, acknowledging "obviously things look that way now" despite President Donald Trump's refusal to concede.
While O'Brien did not say outright that Biden is the projected winner of the election, his comments go further than what other White House officials have said to date as far as acknowledging the reality of Trump's loss -- even as the President himself continues to falsely claim victory.
O'Brien's comments come amid growing concerns that a lack of coordination between the Trump administration and Biden transition team could leave the US vulnerable to national security threats as the nation waits for the President to concede defeat.
At the National Security Council, O'Brien has informally informed staff that they should focus on their jobs and let the electoral process, vote counting and legal battles play themselves out, according to one administration official.
Privately, officials told CNN last week that O'Brien, who was a national security attorney prior to joining the administration, recognizes that the President's path to victory is narrow, and is committed to holding a professional transition, but he cannot officially green-light any transition activities -- even preliminary outreach to Biden counterparts -- until the President is ready to concede or the GSA grants Biden ascertainment.
O'Brien seemed to say as much on Monday -- becoming one of the first top Trump advisers to acknowledge the likelihood of a Biden win publicly, though with the caveat of allowing the legal process to play out.
In addition to moving closer toward acknowledging Biden's victory, O'Brien also seemed to distance himself somewhat from the President in a statement Monday, saying he's learned the importance of wearing a mask and social distancing as a Covid survivor and encourages others to do the same, offering far more direct public health guidance than his boss, the President, ever has.