Biden moves forward without help from Trump's intel team

WASHINGTON (AP) — The presidential race was hovering in limbo in 2000 when outgoing President Bill Clinton decided to let then-Gov. George W. Bush read the ultra-secret daily brief of the nation’s most sensitive intelligence.

Clinton was a Democrat and his vice president, Al Gore, was running against Republican Bush. Gore had been reading the so-called President's Daily Brief for eight years; Clinton decided to bring Bush into the fold in case he won — and he did.

President Donald Trump has not followed Clinton's lead. As he contests this year's election results, Trump has not authorized President-elect Joe Biden to lay eyes on the brief.

National security and intelligence experts hope Trump changes his mind, citing the need for an incoming president to be fully prepared to confront any national security issues on Day One.

“Our adversaries aren’t waiting for the transition to take place,” says former Michigan Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, who was chairman of the House intelligence committee. “Joe Biden should receive the President’s Daily Brief starting today. He needs to know what the latest threats are and begin to plan accordingly. This isn’t about politics; this is about national security.”

U.S. adversaries can take advantage of the country during an American presidential transition and key foreign issues will be bearing down on Biden the moment he steps into the Oval Office.

Among them: Unless Trump extends or negotiates a new nuclear arms accord with Russia before Inauguration Day, Biden will have only 16 days to act before the expiration of the last remaining treaty reining in the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals. Perhaps U.S. spies have picked up tidbits about the Russians' redlines in the negotiations, or about weapons it really wants to keep out of the treaty.

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President Trump in the days since the Nov. 3 election
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President Trump in the days since the Nov. 3 election
US President Donald Trump arrives for a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, on November 11, 2020. - US President Donald Trump made his first official post-election appearance Wednesday for what should be a moment of national unity to mark Veteran's Day, now marred by his refusal to acknowledge Joe Biden's win. The president visited Arlington National Cemetery, four days after US media projected his Democratic rival would take the White House. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump attends a "National Day of Observance" wreath laying ceremony on November 11, 2020 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. - US President Donald Trump made his first official post-election appearance Wednesday for what should be a moment of national unity to mark Veteran's Day, now marred by his refusal to acknowledge Joe Biden's win. The president visited Arlington National Cemetery, four days after US media projected his Democratic rival would take the White House. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
President Donald Trump salutes as he participates in a Veterans Day wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Donald Trump gives two thumbs up to supporters as he departs after playing golf at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling Va., Sunday Nov. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
President Donald Trump plays a round of Golf at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling Va., Sunday Nov. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
President Donald Trump speaks at the White House, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump waves to supporters as he departs after playing golf at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling Va., Sunday Nov. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
President Donald Trump speaks at the White House, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump arrives at the White House after golfing Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump walks away after speaking at the White House, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump, center standing, as he participates in a round of golf at the Trump National Golf Course on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Sterling, Va. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Donald Trump leaves the podium after speaking at the White House, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump participates in a round of golf at the Trump National Golf Course on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Sterling, Va. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Donald Trump speaks in the East Room of the White House, early Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
STERLING, VA - NOVEMBER 07: U.S. President Donald Trump golfs at Trump National Golf Club, on November 7, 2020 in Sterling, Virginia. News outlets projected that Democratic nominee Joe Biden will be the 46th president of the United States after a victory in Pennsylvania. (Photo by Al Drago/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump walks away after speaking at the White House, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump speaks at the White House, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump plays a round of Golf at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling Va., Sunday Nov. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
President Donald Trump speaks at the White House, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump speaks in the East Room of the White House, early Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
US President Donald Trump watches from the motorcade as he returns to the White House in Washington, DC, after playing golf on November 7, 2020. - Joyous celebrations erupted in Washington on Saturday after Joe Biden was declared winner of the US presidency, as several people poured into the streets of the US capital -- some of them chanting, cheering and singing in front of the White House. (Photo by ALEX EDELMAN / AFP) (Photo by ALEX EDELMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
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That's the type of information that might be in the PDB, a daily summary of high-level, classified information and analysis on national security issues that's been offered to presidents since 1946. It is coordinated and delivered by the Office of the National Intelligence Director with input from the CIA and other agencies. It is tailored for each president, depending on whether they prefer oral or written briefs or both, short summaries or long reports on paper or electronically.

Having access to the PDB also could help Biden craft a possible response to North Korea, which has a history of firing off missiles or conducting nuclear tests shortly before or after new presidents take office.

Biden has decades of experience in foreign affairs and national security, but he likely has not been privy to the latest details about how Iran is back to enriching uranium, or the active cyber attack operations of Russia, China and Iran. China’s crackdown on Hong Kong is heating up. And the threat from Islamic extremists, although curbed, still remains.

Biden is trying to play down the significance of the delay in getting access to the PDB.

“Obviously the PDB would be useful but, it’s not necessary. I’m not the sitting president now,” Biden said Tuesday. He didn’t answer a question about whether he’d tried to reach out to Trump himself on this or any other issue, saying only, “Mr. President, I look forward to speaking with you.”

He was also asked about needing access to classified information as soon as possible if Trump doesn’t concede the race.

“Look, access to classified information is useful. But I’m not in a position to make any decisions on those issues anyway,” Biden said. “As I said, one president at a time. He will be president until Jan. 20. It would be nice to have it, but it’s not critical.”

Biden is familiar with the PDB, having read it during his eight years as vice president. But threats are ever-changing and as Inauguration Day nears, his need for Trump to let him get eyes on the intelligence brief will become more critical.

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., predicted that the issue of whether Biden will get access to the intelligence brief will be resolved soon.

"I've already started engaging in this area. ... And if that's not occurring by Friday, I will step in and push and say this needs to occur so that regardless of the outcome of the election, whichever way that it goes, people can be ready for that actual task,” Lankford told KRMG in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Wednesday.

He said Vice President-elect Kamala Harris also should be getting the briefings, which should not be a problem because she already has security clearances as a member of the Senate intelligence committee.

While the Bush team had access to the intelligence brief in 2000, an election recount delayed the Bush team's access to government agencies and resources for more than five weeks. Biden is missing out on all counts: More than a week into his transition, Biden doesn't have access to the PDB, the agencies or government resources to help him get ready to take charge.

“President-elect Joe Biden and his transition team should not suffer a similar delay,” John Podesta, who served as White House chief of staff under Clinton, and Bush's chief of staff Andrew Card wrote in a joint op-ed published this week in The Washington Post.

“We have since learned the serious costs of a delayed transition,” they wrote. “Less than eight months after Bush’s inauguration, two planes flew into the World Trade Center, killing nearly 3,000 Americans.”

The 9/11 Commission Report on the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks warns of the danger in slow-walking presidential transition work in general, not just the intelligence piece. The Bush administration didn't have its deputy Cabinet officers in place until the spring of 2001 and critical subcabinet positions were not confirmed until that summer — if then, the report said.

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Trump and Biden on the campaign trail
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Trump and Biden on the campaign trail
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Phoenix Goodyear Airport, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020, in Goodyear, Ariz. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, closes his umbrella as he boards his campaign plane at New Castle Airport in New Castle, Del., Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, to travel to Florida for drive-in rallies. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Donald Trump points to the crowd after speaking at a campaign rally at Phoenix Goodyear Airport Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020, in Goodyear, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to members of the media outside a voter service center, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, in Chester, Pa. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at HoverTech International, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, in Allentown, Pa. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks with people outside a voter service center, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, in Chester, Pa. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Donald Trump waves to supporters after speaking at a campaign rally in Gastonia, N.C., Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)
TOPSHOT - Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden waves as he departs The Queen after taping an interview with CBS 60 Minutes, in Wilmington, Delaware, on October 19, 2020. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
Marine One helictopter, with President Donald Trump aboard, lands at the Altoona-Blair County Airport in Martinsburg, Pa, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020 for a campaign rally. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
President Donald Trump applauds after a campaign rally at Tucson International Airport, Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden waves as he arrives at The Queen theatre in Wilmington, Del., Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Donald Trump leaves the stage after a campaign rally at Tucson International Airport, Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
El candidato presidencial demócrata Joe Biden hace campa?a el 18 de octubre del 2020 en New Castle, Delaware. (AP Foto/Carolyn Kaster)
President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, in Prescott, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at Carson City Airport, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Carson City, Nev. (AP Photo/Lance Iversen)
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden boards his campaign plane at Raleigh-Durham International Airport in Morrisville, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, en route to Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Donald Trump dances after speaking at a campaign rally at Carson City Airport, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Carson City, Nev. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
DURHAM, NC OCTOBER 18: Presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks during a Voter Mobilization event at Riverside High School in Durham, North Carolina on October 18, 2020. (Photo by Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
President Donald Trump steps off Air Force One at Reno-Tahoe International Airport, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Reno, Nev. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Supporters listen as Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event at Riverside High School in Durham, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
CARSON CITY, NV - OCTOBER 18: President Donald Trump smiles during a campaign rally on October 18, 2020 in Carson City, Nevada. With 16 days to go before the November election, President Trump is back on the campaign trail with multiple daily events as he continues to campaign against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. (Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event at Riverside High School in Durham, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
CARSON CITY, NV - OCTOBER 18: President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally on October 18, 2020 in Carson City, Nevada. With 16 days to go before the November election, President Trump is back on the campaign trail with multiple daily events as he continues to campaign against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. (Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images)
El candidato presidencial demócrata Joe Biden hace campa?a el 18 de octubre del 2020 en New Castle, Delaware. (AP Foto/Carolyn Kaster)
President Donald Trump tosses face masks into the crowd as he arrives for a campaign rally at John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, in Johnstown, Pa. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
ABC NEWS - 10/15/20 ABC News will host a town hall with Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday, October 15, 2020 in Philadelphia. The primetime event , "The Vice President and the People" will be moderated by ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos and will allow voters to ask questions of the candidate. The live, 90-minute special edition of 20/20 airs on ABC at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.(Photo by Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images)JOE BIDEN, AUDIENCE
President Donald Trump sits during a break in an NBC News Town Hall, at Perez Art Museum Miami, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, in Miami. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - OCTOBER 15: Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden prepares for a live ABC News town hall format meeting at the National Constitution Center October 15, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The second presidential debate was originally scheduled for this day but was cancelled due to President Donald Trump's refusal to participate in a 'virtual' debate. Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus and was hospitalized for three days. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump speaks during an NBC News Town Hall, at Perez Art Museum Miami, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, in Miami. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden participates in a town hall with moderator ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Donald Trump talks with voters after an NBC News Town Hall, at Perez Art Museum Miami, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, in Miami. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden (L) and moderator George Stephanopoulos participate in an ABC News town hall event at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on October 15, 2020. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 15: President Donald Trump is seen through a television at a takeout pizza shop in the U street corridor as he speaks during a town hall on October 15, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden both participated in simultaneous presidential town halls in Miami and Philadelphia, after the cancellation of the second presidential debate. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - OCTOBER 15: Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden prepares for a live ABC News town hall format meeting at the National Constitution Center October 15, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The second presidential debate was originally scheduled for this day but was cancelled due to President Donald Trump's refusal to participate in a 'virtual' debate. Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus and was hospitalized for three days. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Supporters cheer as President Donald Trump departs a campaign rally at John P. Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport in Johnstown, Pa., Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Southwest Focal Point Community Center in, Pembroke Pines, Fla., Tuesday Oct. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, in Johnstown, Pa. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden speaks during a drive in rally in Miramar, Florida on October 13, 2020. - Joe Biden headed for Florida to court elderly Americans who helped elect Donald Trump four years ago but appear to be swinging to the Democratic candidate for the White House this time around amid the coronavirus pandemic. Biden, at 77 the oldest Democratic nominee ever, is to "deliver his vision for older Americans" at an event in the city of Pembroke Pines, north of Miami, his campaign said. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
Supporters cheer as President Donald Trump departs a campaign rally at John P. Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport in Johnstown, Pa., Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
PEMBROKE PINES, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 13: Wearing a face mask to reduce the risk posed by the coronavirus, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden poses for a socially-distanced selfie after delivering remarks about his ‘vision for older Americans’ at Southwest Focal Point Community Center October 13, 2020 in Pembroke Pines, Florida. With three weeks until Election Day, Biden is campaigning in Florida. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump moves to the song YMCA as he finishes a campaign rally at John P. Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport in Johnstown, Pa., Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Supporters look on as Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden speaks during a drive in rally in Miramar, Florida on October 13, 2020. - Joe Biden headed for Florida to court elderly Americans who helped elect Donald Trump four years ago but appear to be swinging to the Democratic candidate for the White House this time around amid the coronavirus pandemic. Biden, at 77 the oldest Democratic nominee ever, is to "deliver his vision for older Americans" at an event in the city of Pembroke Pines, north of Miami, his campaign said. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
Supporters listen as President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, in Johnstown, Pa. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) wears a mask depicting Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden as he speaks during a drive in rally in Miramar, Florida on October 13, 2020. - Joe Biden headed for Florida to court elderly Americans who helped elect Donald Trump four years ago but appear to be swinging to the Democratic candidate for the White House this time around amid the coronavirus pandemic. Biden, at 77 the oldest Democratic nominee ever, is to "deliver his vision for older Americans" at an event in the city of Pembroke Pines, north of Miami, his campaign said. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
President Donald Trump throws face masks into the crowd during a campaign rally at John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, in Johnstown, Pa. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
The Florida state flag hands behind Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden as he speaks at Southwest Focal Point Community Center in, Pembroke Pines, Fla., Tuesday Oct. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at John P. Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport in Johnstown, Pa., Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020.(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
While maintaining social distance, people try to make a selfie as Jill Biden, center, waves to supporters after she was introduced by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, left, with Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Texas, looking while campaigning for her husband and former Vice President Joe Biden in a parking lot event at Fair Park Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Supporters cheer as President Donald Trump departs a campaign rally at John P. Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport in Johnstown, Pa., Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Wendy Nelson holds up posters of Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden as she waits for she waits for motorcade to arrive, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, at Miramar Regional Park in Miramar, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Supporters cheer as President Donald Trump arrives for a campaign rally at John P. Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport in Johnstown, Pa., Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Miramar Regional Park in Miramar, Fla., Tuesday Oct. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
A crowd of fans cheer on President Donald Trump during a Make America Great Again campaign rally at the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport in Johnstown, Pa., Tuesday, Oct.13, 2020. (John Rucosky
MIRAMAR, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 13: Wearing a face masks and sitting in their cars to reduce the risk posed by the coronavirus, supporters listen to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden delivers remarks during a drive-in voter mobilization event at Miramar Regional Park October 13, 2020 in Miramar, Florida. With three weeks until Election Day, Biden is campaigning in Florida. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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For now, the office of National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe says it can’t begin talking with the Biden transition team until a federal agency starts the process of transition, which the Trump administration is delaying.

The office, which oversees more than a dozen U.S. intelligence agencies, said it must follow the Presidential Transition Act, which requires the General Services Administration to first ascertain the winner of the election, which Trump is contesting. GSA administrator Emily Murphy, who was appointed by Trump, has not yet officially designated Biden as the president-elect.

Intelligence agencies have given generalized intelligence briefings — minus information on covert operations and sources and methods — for presidential nominees since 1952. President Harry S. Truman authorized them for both parties’ candidates because he was upset about not learning about the U.S. effort to develop an atomic bomb until 12 days into his presidency.

“It’s an important and meaningful tradition, and I’m concerned that it’s not being continued,” said Denis McDonough, a former White House chief of staff during the Obama administration who oversaw the 2017 transition.

Biden started receiving these more general security briefings after he became the Democratic presidential nominee, but it's unclear if he is still getting those. A spokesman for Biden’s transition team declined to comment.

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