Biden faces a test about accessing sensitive information because he inherits Trump’s secret servant

A person close to Biden’s transition team told CNN that no decisions have been made about how to handle these sensitive materials when the president-elect takes office on Jan.20, and that they are likely to maintain close control of the Trump administration over such information. At least initially, until they are settled and Jake Sullivan, choosing Biden as their National Security Adviser, can assess their information security needs.

A senior US official said that Biden’s team would be granted access to A. Secret server containing sensitive information Related to President Donald Trump’s most contentious conversations with foreign leaders on a need-to-know basis, the Trump administration is ready to share any information it deems relevant to future decision-making.

While Biden’s team is likely to be more transparent, much has changed since several senior appointees in government, and the politically charged atmosphere in Washington following the election made some officials urge caution in the early months, to prevent leaks and assess needs and limits. Share sensitive information.

Back to back Controversial statements leaks Several officials told CNN that Trump during calls with leaders of Mexico and Australia in the early days of Trump the White House resulted from a policy of unusually loose records distribution, leading officials to eventually resort to using a secret server to store records from calls involving Saudi leaders. Russia and Ukraine.

When HR McMaster took over as Trump’s second national security advisor, a month after his presidency in February 2017, distribution lists grew, officials said, although few individuals still had access to records from the National Security Council’s traditional computer portal, which handled With everything. One official explained excluding operational information to the CIA.

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White House officials have also moved to drastically reduce the number of individuals who can listen to many of Trump’s calls, or who can access the records after those calls are completed, people said.

The disclosure last year of a complaint by an anonymous whistleblower exposed concerns among White House officials about alleged attempts by the administration to “shut down” access to inside information, including the president’s discussion in July 2019 with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, sparking hearings that began. Led to Trump impeached By the House of Representatives.

It might be wise to keep some control

“The truth is, a lot of people probably got to power when Trump took office – that was good in some ways, but in some ways it could also be bad,” said a former administration official close to the transition team. “Given the politically charged environment we are in now, it would be wise to maintain some control over it, although perhaps not in the form of a secret servant.”

There are fast-moving issues where military policies or techniques have changed in the four years since Biden’s political team left the government, in particular, with regard to China and Turkey, something the current US official said would be a priority in discussions with Biden’s landing teams.

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The official said key details regarding Trump’s talks with foreign leaders such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will only be shared if they are related to an outstanding policy or national security issue.

“There is a lot to cover,” the senior US official said. “We’ll share anything relevant for them to get to grips with reality when the keys are theirs. If there is something like that that’s actually noteworthy … things on the secret side, for example, we’re going to shine a big light on them quickly.”

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The Biden transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Biden will begin receiving daily presidential briefings on Monday

Biden is set to begin receiving daily presidential briefings on Monday, a compliment traditionally given to the president-elect, that has been delayed for nearly four weeks due to Trump’s refusal to compromise.

Meanwhile, volumes have been created for transition activities, specifically in relation to work at the National Security Council, with details on how the main coordination committee is conducted, the main interagency meeting, and other types of meetings, the official said, noting that the Biden team is highly experienced. In these meetings and does not need the information.

The official acknowledged that the “folders are BS,” but said they had prepared and updated them for several weeks, should Trump lose the election.

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Military operations is another area where the National Security Council, as well as the Department of Defense, have to brief the landing team in detail, especially given newly emerging technologies that Biden officials may not be fully aware of.

The official noted that the incoming National Security Adviser Sullivan is “not a man of defense,” so some issues related to sensitive satellite programs and China-related defenses will be important for a thorough discussion with him and the landing team.

The official said Trump’s National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and his deputy, Matthew Pottinger, would have “at least one or two meetings” with Sullivan and his deputy. The NSC and Biden landing team will then discuss whether briefings are required from individual directorates on the NSC.

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The official indicated that it is likely that all briefings related to the response to the Coronavirus will be handled by the White House Coronavirus Task Force and HHS, and not by the National Security Council.

This article has been updated.

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