Trump team’s ‘disturbing’ email as it tries to keep power

Nick Whigham
·Assistant News Editor
·4-min read

As Donald Trump and his backers in the White House tried to hang on to power, instructions were sent to crucial departments warning government employees not to engage with incoming Biden officials.

Workers at a number of government departments have been sounding the alarm about the disastrous impact Trump’s truculence could have on the nation as Biden is denied customary access to key briefings and information following the election win.

In an email sent by an official at the agency which oversees US immigration, employees were told not to communicate with the Biden team until a Trump appointee deems the result clear, Buzzfeed News US has revealed.

Trump golfs on the weekend at his course in Sterling, Virginia.
Donald Trump golfs on the weekend at his course in Sterling, Virginia. Source: Getty

The message was sent nearly a week after the US broadcast networks called the election for Joe Biden.

“It’s disturbing and disheartening that the agency is not permitting staff to aid the Biden transition team to ensure a smooth transfer,” one employee told Buzzfeed on the condition of anonymity.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services has undergone a stark overhaul in the Trump era with its focus on harsher border policies and restrictive visa processes. Biden has signalled his intention to review and potentially overhaul the department.

‘More people may die if we don’t coordinate’

The obstruction of the incoming Biden administration has caused concern among officials in other agencies, especially those responsible for dealing with the rapidly worsening coronavirus pandemic and issues of national security.

The president-elect on Monday (local time) warned of dire consequences if Trump and his administration continue to refuse to coordinate.

US President-elect Joe Biden speaking at a press conference in Delaware on Monday.
US President-elect Joe Biden held a press conference taking aim at the incumbent leader. Source: Getty

The remarks marked Biden’s toughest comments to date on Trump’s failure to acknowledge his election loss and cooperate with the incoming administration for a peaceful transfer of power.

“More people may die if we don’t coordinate,” he told reporters.

Biden called the vaccine distribution a “huge, huge undertaking” and said if his team had to wait until he took office to dig into the government’s distribution plan, they would be “behind, over a month, month and a half”.

“So it’s important that it be done, that there be coordination now, as rapidly as we can get that done,” he said.

Delayed transition highlighted in 9/11 report

Max Stier is the director of the Partnership for Public Service, a non-partisan group that oversees the Center for Presidential Transition and works to promote policy and smooth the transition between presidents.

Given the global pandemic and a turbulent international environment, he has expressed concern over Trump’s go-slow tactics.

“What's at stake, really, is our security, our safety. And with the world we're in today, with economic challenges that are incredibly severe, we have a lot that we should be worried about,” he told CNN last week.

The White House under darkness.
President Donald Trump has largely forgone any public events since losing the election. Source: Getty

He pointed to the September 11 terror attacks as an example of where a later than usual transition process was believed to have come at a cost. The election of George W Bush in 2000 was delayed due to a Florida recount and court challenge.

“You look back to 9/11 and the 9/11 Commission. It was very clear, looking back, that some of the delays that then-president George W Bush experienced during the transition resulted in his delaying getting his national security team in place,” he said.

“And that hurt us. That's a finding from the 9/11 Commission report.”

Trump chances '100 per cent dead'

Donald Trump and his Republican allies have been pointing to a slew of flimsy legal challenges as justification for denying the election result, and obstructing the usual transition process from the beginning.

But that has has become a whole lot harder after the president’s latest Hail Mary attempts to challenge the election were thrown out on Monday in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Rick Hansen, a professor of law and election law expert at the University of California, says the latest failures are the unequivocal nail in the coffin for Trump’s 2020 aspirations, saying they appear “100 per cent dead”.

“With an overwhelming number of losses and withdrawals of cases, there is no path for the Trump campaign to overturn the results in a single state, much less states making up more than 36 electoral college votes,” he wrote overnight.

“It’s over. Trump may still say he has won the election. But there is no path. Even the two key federal cases in Pennsylvania do not involve nearly enough votes to overturn the results there even if they were successful (and I don’t expect them to be).

“We are not talking three Hail Marys anymore. We are talking done.”

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