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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 TrumpThe Memo: The Obamas unbound, on race Iran says onus is on US to rejoin nuclear deal on third anniversary of withdrawal Assaults on Roe v Wade increasing MORE is hurting national security by hindering President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenDefense lawyers for alleged Capitol rioters to get tours of U.S. Capitol Sasse to introduce legislation giving new hires signing bonuses after negative jobs report Three questions about Biden's conservation goals 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 LankfordRubio and bipartisan group of senators push to make daylight saving time permanent Senate inches toward COVID-19 vote after marathon session Ron Johnson grinds Senate to halt, irritating many MORE (R-Okla.) told KRMG, an Oklahoma radio station, on Wednesday, a remark that was later echoed by several Senate Republicans.