A person close to Biden’s transition team told CNN that no decision has been made on how to handle these sensitive materials when the elected president takes office on Jan. 20, and the Trump administration is likely to maintain a strong adherence to such information. . at least initially, until they settle in and are selected by Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security consultant, they can assess their information security needs.
While Biden’s team is likely to have a more transparent goal, much has changed since many of its senior appointees were in government, and in a political climate around the corner of elections in Washington, some officials are cautioning in the first few months to prevent leaks. assess the needs and limits of sharing sensitive information.
When HR McMaster took over Trump’s second national security adviser for a month as president in February 2017, the distribution lists became smaller and smaller, officials said, although some people still had access to the National Security Council’s traditional computer portal that managed everything. with the exception of CIA intelligence, one official explained.
White House officials also significantly limited the number of people who could listen to Trump’s many calls or who could access the records after the calls were completed, people said.
“It’s probably wise to stay in control”
“In fact, too many people probably had access when Trump took office — it was good in some ways, but it could also be bad in some ways,” a former administrative official close to the transition team said. “Given the politically charged environment we’re in right now, it’s probably wise to maintain some control over them, though perhaps not in the form of a secret server.”
There are fast-moving issues where policies or military technology have changed in the last four years since Biden’s political team left the government, particularly with regard to China and Turkey, which the current U.S. official will prioritize in discussions with Biden’s landing troops.
The official said key details of Trump’s talks with foreign leaders such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman would only be shared if they were relevant to an ongoing political or national security issue.
“You have to cover a lot,” the U.S. senior official said. “We share everything that is relevant to them to get to know the reality when the keys are theirs. If there was something like that that was actually remarkable … like the things on the hidden side, we would highlight them very quickly.”
The Biden transition team did not respond immediately to the request for comment.
Biden will begin receiving presidential day briefings on Monday
Biden will begin receiving the President’s Day Brief on Monday, which is traditionally given to the elected president, which was nearly four weeks late for refusing to give Trump.
Meanwhile, binders have been created for the transition activities, in particular the work of the National Security Council, detailing how the First Coordination Committee, a key inter-agency meeting and other types of meetings take place, the official said, noting the Biden team had extensive experience in these areas. meetings and does not need information.
“The binders are BS,” the official acknowledged, but said they had been prepared and updated for weeks in case Trump lost the election.
Military operations are another area where the NSC, in addition to the Department of Defense, needs to inform the landing team in detail, especially about emerging technologies that Biden officials may not be able to accelerate.
The official noted that the incoming national security adviser, Sullivan, is a “non-defense guy,” so certain issues related to sensitive satellite programs and defense in China will be important to discuss with him and the landing team in depth.
Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, and his deputy, Matthew Pottinger, are holding “at least one or two meetings” with Sullivan and his deputy, the official said. The NSC and Biden landing team will then discuss the need for briefings for each NSC board.
The official noted that all briefings on the coronavirus response are likely to be handled by the White House Coronavirus Task Force and the HHS, and not by the National Security Council.