The Slatest

GOP Senator Says He’ll “Step In” if Biden Doesn’t Get Security Briefings by the End of the Week

Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma sits with his hand, holding a pen, on his cheek.
Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma takes a stab at doing his job. Pool/Getty Images

So far, the Republican response to President Donald Trump’s ludicrous attempt to cling to the presidency through the courts hasn’t exactly been a profile in courage. The legal charade is increasingly embarrassing, but still we get Republicans of all stripes saying things like: “What’s the downside for humoring him?” As their leader shreds through the trust and credibility of American elections, the thinking among the GOP is, essentially, Let the big guy have one last ride. Even the head of the Republican National Committee’s tweet that Kamala Harris would be the tiebreaking vote in a deadlocked Senate warranted a hasty deletion, once again proving that any public acknowledgment of reality is now verboten. The lack of principle is galling; the obsequiousness of GOP legislators has been an utter humiliation. Put together, it makes statements like Republican Sen. James Lankford’s declaration Wednesday that he will “step in” if President-elect Joe Biden doesn’t start to get the presidential daily briefings by the end of the week, resemble courage.

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The Oklahoma Republican indicated that the General Services Administration, which has so far refused to sign off on initiating the transition, would soon clear the way for the Biden transition to begin. The concocted line from the Trump administration is that they won’t sign off on the transition until the election is certified, a process the Trump campaign is actively trying to delay and derail through the courts. Lankford, who is a member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said Biden should begin receiving national security briefings, as is customary during a transition. “If that’s not occurring by Friday, I will step in,” Mr. Lankford said in an interview on KRMG radio in Tulsa, “to be able to push them and say, ‘This needs to occur,’ so that regardless of the outcome of the election, whichever way that it goes, people can be ready for that actual task.”

That small sliver of professionalism is now a revolutionary act in today’s Republican Party. But even Lankford refuses to cross Trump in his mission to somehow reverse the election result. “I’m going to wait this out,” Lankford said of the postelection chicanery. “Joe Biden can continue to be able to function and say, ‘I’m the president-elect,’ and great if you want to say that, go do it, and to be able to do your preparation work. … The president can say, ‘Not so fast. I’ve got questions to answer.’ Great, go ask them.”

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