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Trump's refusal to concede creates strange gap between Biden and Harris on classified intelligence

November 20, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris took part in a classified briefing of the Senate Intelligence Committee this week and emerged in a strange position -- being more informed about current threats than President-elect Joe Biden but bound by congressional rules to keep that information from him.

Washington (CNN)Vice President-elect Kamala Harris took part in a classified briefing of the Senate Intelligence Committee this week and emerged in a strange position -- being more informed about current threats than President-elect Joe Biden but bound by congressional rules to keep that information from him.

Harris' twice-weekly committee briefings fall well short of what the incoming administration is usually getting at this point in a transition but she currently finds herself with more access to classified intelligence than the next commander-in-chief because his predecessor, President Donald Trump is refusing to provide Biden with briefings traditionally offered to an incoming president.

Harris' work on the Intelligence Committee is entirely separate from her role as the Vice President-elect, a Biden transition official told CNN, adding that "there is no co-mingling of those roles and responsibilities whatsoever. "

Some of that red tape could be peeled off this week if Trump's General Services Administration grants ascertainment, formally initiating the transition period and allowing current intelligence officials to engage with Biden and his team, according to a spokesperson for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

"It is in America's national security interest for an incoming administration to have access to intelligence briefings, threat assessments, and all of the data gathered by civil servants on the threats we face," a Biden transition official told CNN on Wednesday.

"President-Elect Biden should be getting access now to the same information that is traditionally provided to the president-elect, namely intelligence information and reporting, including the Presidential Daily Brief," said Jamil N.

ODNI, which is overseen by Trump's handpicked intelligence chief John Ratcliffe, referred all questions about Biden and the PDB back to the White House, underscoring the fact that the decision regarding Biden's access to the nation's most highly classified secrets rest with the President who will leave office in a matter of weeks.

At the same time, transition officials say the delay is not only a national security concern because it is preventing Biden and Harris from being briefed on the most classified intelligence, but also because it could impact the incoming administration's ability to full key positions.

For now, the Biden team has accepted ODNI's assertion that it is bound by GSA ascertainment and can only engage with the transition once the election results are certified -- a claim that has been disputed by experts who say Trump could allow the President-elect to start receiving intelligence briefings, including at the PDB level, as soon as tomorrow if he chose to do so.

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