Joe Biden has not been given access to classified briefings by Donald Trump as part of the transition process, with the Secretary of State on Tuesday insisting the only transition would be to a second term Trump presidency.
The president-elect has yet to receive the presidential daily briefing, a compilation of the US government’s most significant intelligence insights, according to the New York Times, leaving him in the dark about the most critical threats the US faces as he prepares to take office in January.
Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, controversially claimed there would be a “smooth transition to a second Trump administration”.
Asked about Mr Trump’s widely disputed claims of voter fraud in the presidential election, Mr Pompeo said: “I’m very confident that we’ll count – and we must count – every legal vote, we must make sure that any vote that was not lawful ought not be counted… we’ll get it right. We’re in good shape.”
It also remains unclear when Mr Biden’s senior aides would have access to classified information, a crucial part of the transition team’s preparations so that they can hit the ground running after Mr Biden’s inauguration on January 20.
For decades, serving presidents have typically authorised their successors to be given the briefings to ensure a seamless transition, but there is no legal requirement to do so.
During the contested 2000 presidential election, between then Vice President Al Gore and George W Bush, President Bill Clinton authorised Mr Bush to receive the daily briefing.
However Mr Trump, who is challenging the presidential election result through several lawsuits, has given no indication that he will honour the longstanding tradition.
Mr Biden’s transition team is also facing other logistical obstacles because the official tasked with formally recognising Mr Biden as president-elect has not authorised the transfer of power.
The formal handover process cannot begin until Emily Murphy, head of the General Services Administration (GSA) and a Trump appointee, signs off.
While some developments have taken place, such as a temporary increased security detail around Mr Biden and his inner circle and air space being restricted over his home in Delaware, it could delay a more comprehensive security unit around the president-elect.
According to the New York Times, the Presidential Protection Division – the Secret Service unit which is specifically designed to protect presidents – is unlikely to be fully mobilised unless the GSA has authorised it because of the significant level of resources it requires.
Meanwhile Mr Biden’s sister, Valerie Biden Owens, has suggested the president-elect is “never going to see Donald Trump again” as she dismissed the Republican as “history” in an interview with Axios.
Ms Biden Owens, a long-term political adviser to her older brother, was asked whether Mr Biden would find a path forward with Mr Trump.
“Why? I mean, it’s a moot point,” she responded. “He’s never going to see Donald Trump again. Donald Trump is going off the stage and on 20 January that’s history, that’s past. Joe’s not gonna talk about Donald Trump. Who cares?”
Ms Biden Owens also insisted that her brother, who will be 78 when he takes office, would “absolutely” run for a second term.
“He’s transitional in that he’s bringing in all these young people and bringing [us] back again [so] we’re not a divided country… But sure. He’s going strong,” she said.