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John Kelly says Trump hurting national security by delaying Biden transition

John Kelly says Trump hurting national security by delaying Biden transition
© Stefani Reynolds

Former White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE said President TrumpDonald TrumpGiuliani used provisional ballot to vote in 2020 election, same method he disparaged in fighting to overturn results Trump gets lowest job approval rating in final days as president Fox News' DC managing editor Bill Sammon to retire MORE is hurting national security by hindering President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenWoman accused of trying to sell Pelosi laptop to Russians arrested Trump gets lowest job approval rating in final days as president Trump moves to lift coronavirus travel restrictions on Europe, Brazil MORE’s ability to receive intelligence briefings and delaying his overall transition. 

“You lose a lot if the transition is delayed because the new people are not allowed to get their head in the game,” Kelly said Friday in an interview with Politico. “The president, with all due respect, does not have to concede. But it’s about the nation. It hurts our national security because the people who should be getting [up to speed], it’s not a process where you go from zero to 1,000 miles per hour.”

“Mr. Trump doesn’t have to concede if he doesn’t want to, I guess, until the full election process is complete. But there’s nothing wrong with starting the transition, starting to get people like the national security people, obviously the president and the vice president-elect, if they are in fact elected, to start getting them [up to speed] on the intelligence,” he added. 

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Kelly, who served as Trump’s chief of staff for more than a year and a half, also helmed the Department of Homeland Security for more than six months at the start of the administration. The president later dismissed the retired four-star Marine Corps general from the administration at the beginning of 2019 after clashes over his efforts to impose more control over the West Wing. 

Trump has refused to concede the election, and Biden has been hampered in launching his transition as the General Services Administration (GSA) declines to certify the results of the presidential race, which officials project Biden won. 

While Biden has maintained his officials have started preparing for a new administration come January, the lack of GSA certification has limited Biden’s access to classified information and hindered his staffers’ ability to work with current government officials.

“I know Mr. Trump better than most people do,” said Kelly. “I know that he’ll never accept defeat and, in fact, he doesn’t have to accept defeat here. He just has to do what’s best for the country and in the country’s interest.” 

Kelly’s remarks come as a growing chorus of Republicans say Biden should at least have access to classified intelligence, a tacit recognition that the former vice president defeated Trump in the election.

"There is no loss from him getting the briefings and to be able to do that and if that's not occurring by Friday I will step in as well, and to be able to push and to say this needs to occur so that regardless of the outcome of the election ... people can be ready for that actual task," Sen. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordThe Hill's 12:30 Report: What to expect for inauguration GOP Sen. Lankford apologizes to Black constituents for opposing election results 'I saw my life flash before my eyes': An oral history of the Capitol attack MORE (R-Okla.) told KRMG, an Oklahoma radio station, on Wednesday, a remark that was later echoed by several Senate Republicans.