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The Trump team is making false arguments about its 2016 transition

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WASHINGTON It’s not just President-elect Joe Bidens’ transition that’s under a microscope.

President Donald Trump and his allies look back on his own transition from four years ago to make a false argument that his own presidency was denied a fair chance for a clean launch. Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany exposed the case from the White House podium last week and the same idea was floated by Trump’s personal lawyer and his former director of national intelligence.

The comparisons are part of a larger attempt by Trump and his team to undermine the legitimacy of Bidens’ election and his right to an orderly transition by exposing false truths about this election season and the Trumps treatment four years ago. years.

It’s worth remembering that this president never had an orderly transition of power. His presidency was never accepted, McEnany told reporters who questioned the Trump administrations’ refusal to cooperate with the Biden transition.

But the situations are very different.

The day after her loss in 2016, Democrat Hillary Clinton conceded.

Donald Trump is going to be our president, she said. We owe him an openness and the chance to lead.

The next day, President Barack Obama, who had described Trump as an existential threat to the nation, invited the president-elect to the White House and visited him in the Oval Office. Obama aides offered help to new Trump staff.

My number one priority over the next two months is to try to facilitate a transition that will ensure the success of our president-elect, Obama said.

In his inaugural address, Trump thanked Obama and his wife, Michelle, for their gracious assistance throughout this transition and called them magnificent.

The Trumps team is not wrong that their own transition was chaotic, but the disarray in many ways was theirs.

Trump sacked his transition chief, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and ditched months of planning in favor of a Cabinet recruiting process that at times felt like a reality show. His team ignored offers of help from the outgoing Obama administration.

That’s a far cry from the description McEnany posted as pressure mounts for Trump to concede and his administration to begin cooperating with Biden’s transition team. Among other things, Biden is denied access to the daily presidential intelligence briefing and detailed briefings on the vaccine distribution plan as COVID-19 deaths in the United States eclipse 255,000.

Trump has refused to concede, instead, baseless allegations of electoral fraud and long-term legal challenges that risk undermining the country’s democratic traditions.

In 2016, despite his claims, Trump received standard cooperation during the transition.

But Trump’s team largely ignored the advice of Obama’s staff, leaving briefing books unopened and ignoring special iPads loaded with documents. The lack of preparation left the assistants unaware of even how to operate the suspended intercom in the west wing.

A potential transition plan worked on for months by Christie has been set aside. He was removed from his post amid a long-standing feud with the president’s son-in-law and future White House senior adviser Jared Kushner.

Some of Trump’s hires were made on a whim, as Cabinet candidates visited him at Trump Tower. The president-elect chose Michael Flynn as his national security adviser after a recommendation from Trump’s children and despite Obamas’ warnings. Flynn was absent after less than a month in office.

Christie, in her recent autobiography, wrote that 30 filing cabinets were thrown away and members of Trump’s team got rid of advice that would have made their candidate an immensely more effective president and stolen from the man than they were. had come to help elect the launch it so richly. deserved.

McEnany and others have claimed Trump was undermined by an FBI investigation that was opened in the summer of 2016 into possible election interference, an investigation that was resumed by Special Advocate Robert Mueller the following May after Trump has fired FBI Director James Comey.

Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani at a press conference last week claimed the FBI invented the Russian collusion plot that damaged Trump and cost our country $ 40 million. Ric Grenell, former Trump ambassador to Germany and acting director of national intelligence, said what Obama offered was not a peaceful transition because the FBI was already working to undermine Trump.

After nearly two years, Mueller found insufficient evidence to accuse anyone in the Trump campaign of conspiring with Russia to influence the election. Throughout his tenure, Trump framed the investigation as part of a witch hunt intended to destroy his presidency and said it shows the federal bureaucracy is working against him.

Obama played no role in directing the FBI investigation into Russia’s links to the Trump campaign or in hindering Trump’s transition to the presidency. Although Obama knew his intelligence officials were investigating Russian interference and worried about Trump and his background, the investigative decisions were not made by him but by his law enforcement agencies and officials. intelligence agencies.

Since his loss to Biden, Trump has repeatedly challenged the fairness of the election with false statements about the vote and he has sought ways to block certification of the vote. The Trump administration has yet to officially recognize Bidens’ victory, slowing the transition at a time when the country faces a confluence of economic and health crises.

The lack of transition and cooperation is the most reckless and responsible thing he has ever done, David Plouffe, a former senior Obama adviser, said in a recent interview. We have an election in early November, the new president takes over the third week of January. It’s not at all the time, it’s over in the blink of an eye. The damage is serious.

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Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.



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