WASHINGTON – Prominent and powerful Republicans are signaling that Joe Biden should be treated as the next president even as they continue to support President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede as he mounts legal challenges in several states.
Without declaring him the winner, several GOP senators, including seven-term senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, now say they see no issue with Biden receiving the same daily intelligence briefings Trump is getting.
The briefings are provided to presidents and incoming president-elects so they can make decisions about ongoing national security issues as soon as they take office.
Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., went further Wednesday, saying he’ll try to force Trump administration officials to share the information with the former vice president if they continue to deny him.
“If that’s not occurring by Friday, I will step in,” said Lankford, who sits on the Homeland Security panel.
On Thursday morning, Grassley said he had “no problem” letting Biden have access to the briefings. Several other GOP senators quickly followed suit, including some of the president’s most ardent allies on Capitol Hill such as Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who chairs the Homeland Security panel, Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley.
And Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio said he’s not opposed to letting the Biden team have access to some governmental funding or recognition traditionally afforded an incoming administration.
“We need to have that contingency in place,” Rubio told Bloomberg News. “I don’t think allowing the (General Services Administration) to move forward on some of the transition work prejudices in any way any of the legal claims the president intends to make.”
GOP senators’ public declarations that Biden be at least allowed to participate in different aspects of the transition while Trump’s challenges play out is a small but significant shift in tone from party officials who have been careful not to exhibit disloyalty to the president.