In 2017, Sen. Ron Johnson said a swift transition to a new administration was essential. Now he's silent as Trump blocks Biden's transition.
In December 2017, Sen. Ron Johnson, the Republican chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, wrote a letter to the General Services Administration in which he said that an orderly and swift transition between presidential administrations is necessary to protect national security.
However, now, as Donald Trump blocks the General Services Administration from giving the green light for work to proceed on President-elect Joe Biden's transition to the White House, Johnson has been silent.
Johnson's letter to the GSA read in part: "An incoming administration must be ready to govern on day one. Any threat to the close coordination between the transition and outgoing administration could create vulnerabilities to governance, readiness, and national security."
The letter was written after lawyers for the Trump campaign complained that the GSA had provided Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election with emails sent by the Trump transition team between the election and Trump's inauguration in January 2017.
But Johnson has not said anything about the GSA's failure to declare ascertainment, a finding made by the agency's administrator on the "apparent successful candidate" in an election, which frees up funding for the presidential transition and gives the incoming administration access to government employees and buildings to help fill thousands of political appointee roles.
The Washington Post reported that the White House told senior government leaders that they should not cooperate with Biden's transition, as Trump and his supporters lie and push baseless allegations of fraud to try to stall final certification of the results of the election Trump lost.
Instead, Johnson has used his Twitter account to push baseless allegations of malfeasance by tech companies in the 2020 election.
The GSA's refusal to give Biden the confirmation he needs to formally begin the transition is the second time the transition has been delayed in 20 years. And the repercussions of delayed transition work can be serious.
In 2000, legal wrangling over the result of the presidential election race between Al Gore and George W. Bush delayed the transition for weeks, as the result came down to a recount of a few hundred votes in Florida. A Supreme Court ruling in Bush v. Gore ended the recount, handing George W. Bush the White House.
The 9/11 Commission, which looked into what led to the deadly terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, noted in its final report that the delayed transition after the 2000 election played a role by preventing key national security positions from being filled in a timely manner.
The report noted: "The dispute over the election and the 36-day delay cut in half the normal transition period. Given that a presidential election in the United States brings wholesale change in personnel, this loss of time hampered the new administration in identifying, recruiting, clearing, and obtaining Senate confirmation of key appointees."
The report went on to recommend that, in the future, "The outgoing administration should provide the president-elect, as soon as possible after election day, with a classified, compartmented list that catalogues specific, operational threats to national security."
A number of the lawsuits Trump and his campaign have filed to prevent certification of the 2020 election results have been quickly dismissed. So far the Trump campaign has not ponied up the millions of dollars it would need to pay to conduct recounts in states such as Wisconsin.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.