Updated Nov 12, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Top GOP senators say Biden should have access to classified briefings

A growing number of Republican senators, including members of GOP leadership, said Thursday that President-elect Joe Biden should get the intelligence briefings that he is currently unable to receive because of President Trump's refusal to accept the election results.

Why it matters: Only four GOP senators have acknowledged Biden as the next president, with the rest saying the appropriate legal processes should be allowed to play out. But even the ones still supporting President Trump's legal fight are pushing for Biden to begin to receive classified briefings for national security reasons.

What they're saying:

  • Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the most senior Republican in the Senate, told CNN that Biden should receive classified briefings, but that “we ought to do what we did” after the 2000 election with respect to the General Services Administration signing off on transition paperwork.
  • Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.), told CNN: "Well, I think that it probably makes sense to prepare for all contingencies. And as these election challenges play out in court, I don't have a problem with, and I think it's important from a national security standpoint, continuity. And you've seen other members suggesting that. I think that makes sense."
  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said in a radio interview: "There's nothing wrong with Vice President Biden getting the briefings to be able to prepare himself so that he can be ready. If that's not occurring by Friday, I'll step in as well and to be able to push him to say, this needs to occur so that regardless of the outcome of the election, whichever way it goes, people can be ready for that actual task."
  • Senate Homeland Security Chair Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told reporters: "I have no problem with it. ... In general, from what I've seen, intelligence briefings are really not worth a whole lot. The things we see in the SCIF don't add much value."
  • Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.): “Yeah, I think he should.”
  • Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio): “Yeah, I don’t think that would hurt."
  • Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas): "There's no justification for withholding this."

Where it stands: More foreign leaders have called to congratulate Biden than have Republican senators. Republican lawmakers are still defending the president's legal efforts, which could mean weeks of distraction from the work that is necessary to ensure a smooth transition of power.

Go deeper: The top Republicans who have acknowledged Biden as president-elect

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