President Trump’s former chief of staff John Kelly said the president is hurting the country’s national security by delaying the transition of power to President-elect Joe Biden.
“You lose a lot if the transition is delayed because the new people are not allowed to get their head in the game,” Kelly said in an interview with Politico on Friday.
“The president, with all due respect, does not have to concede," he added. "But it’s about the nation. It hurts our national security because the people who should be getting [up to speed], it’s not a process where you go from zero to 1,000 miles per hour.”
Kelly, a retired four-star general, served as Trump’s homeland security secretary before assuming the role of chief of staff from July 2017 to January 2019.
“The transition, in the national security realm in particular and the homeland security realm, is just so important that every day that the transition is delayed really kind of handicaps” the incoming team, Kelly said.
“I think it’s crazy not to” begin the transition process, Kelly added.
He went on to note that knowing Trump, he does not believe the president will ever “accept defeat” but said he doesn’t have to. "He just has to do what’s best for the country and in the country’s interest.”
Kelly also said that Biden should begin receiving intelligence briefings, according to Politico, joining a number of Republican members of Congress who have called on Trump to continue the tradition of allowing the incoming president and his top aides to receive access to high-level and sensitive material.
Analysts and former officials have also said that delaying the transition could have national security implications, particularly at a time when COVID-19 cases are surging across the country. The delay prevents Biden’s staff from beginning background checks, obtaining information on covert military operations around the world, and could impede the Biden administration from implementing new policies, experts said.
The General Services Administration has the authority to begin the transition process, but Emily Murphy, a Trump appointee, who leads the agency has yet to certify that Biden is the president-elect.
Jazmine Ulloa of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Material from wire services was used.