There was a welcome sigh of relief last week that President Trump seems to be ending his fruitless assault on President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
For weeks, an unending number of legal challenges by the Trump campaign questioning the veracity of Biden’s vote count have been thrown out by one judge after another.
Trump finally authorized the General Services Administration to begin the process, clearing the way for the president-elect and his staff to obtain federal clearances for full government briefings and the use of public funds.
To illustrate how bizarre the presidential transition process has become, The Washington Post ran a headline across the top of its Nov. 24 edition that read “Trump relents, lets transition proceed.”
Beneath that banner headline ran a subhead saying that the president “effectively ends bid to reverse loss.” Yet, beneath that: “President won’t concede as political pressure grows.”
Nevertheless, Biden aides have held more than 20 meetings with Trump officials, and have reportedly engaged in discussions with every major agency in the Trump administration.
The blow that ended Trump’s resistance came Monday, when the Michigan Board of State Canvassers certified that Biden had won there, too. Biden will now start receiving the daily presidential brief, a report of the most classified global information that could affect America’s security.
The Biden team has received new, secure email accounts, and will also be given voluminous briefing books that are highly classified. They provide updates on budgets, pending projects and regulations, among other government-wide information.
“America is back,” Biden said Tuesday night when he introduced his new foreign policy and national security team on national television. “Ready to lead the world, not retreat from it, once again to sit at the head of the table. Ready to confront our adversaries and not reject our allies.”
But as Biden introduced his national security leaders, it was immediately clear that he had asked them to talk about where they came from and their background, focusing more on breaking barriers.
There was Alejandro Mayorkas, who held several posts in the Obama administration and will be the country’s first Latino Homeland Security secretary, and Avril Haines, a former deputy director of the CIA, who will become the first female director of national intelligence.
Of his team, Biden said “they’ll tell me what I need to know, not what I want to know. To the American people, this team will make us proud to be Americans.”
Biden said he would like to speak with Trump, but thought it was unlikely to come about. “Of course I would, if he asked,” Biden said.
Biden’s transition team is being run by Ted Kaufman, who has been one of his closest and longest-serving advisers.
“My fellow career diplomats and public servants around the world, I want to say to you, ‘America is back, multilateralism is back, diplomacy is back,’” said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, whom Biden picked to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Meantime, it was clear that Biden is going to become our next president, and that the reins of government will soon be in his hands.
Haines, who has headed several career posts in the Obama administration, but who will now oversee Biden’s intelligence agencies had a few words of advice for the incoming president.
“Mr. President-elect, you know that I have never shied away from speaking truth to power.” Then she told Biden that he will appreciate the intelligence apparatus even “when what I have to say may be inconvenient or difficult — and I assure you, there will be those times.”
Antony Blinken, a veteran foreign policy adviser and Biden’s choice for secretary of state, told a story about his past that may be among the most memorable remarks of the evening.
His stepfather, a Holocaust survivor from Poland, was saved by an American soldier after four years in a concentration camp.
“He fell to his knees and said the only three words he knew in English that his mother had taught him: ‘God Bless America,’” Blinken said. “That’s who we are. That’s what America represents to the world, however imperfectly.”