A flurry of messages from foreign leaders to President-elect Joe Biden is waiting for Biden’s response at the State Department but the Trump administration has ceased the incoming President from accessing them. According to State Department officials familiar with the matter.
Traditionally, the State department facilitates all communications for the President-elect which is the reason why many countries began directing messages to State. But with Biden not allowed to access the State Department resources currently controlled by Trump administration, dozens of incoming messages have not been delivered to the Democrat.
Biden’s team is making contacts with foreign governments through their own channels and the former VP has held numerous calls with world leaders including Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. However, being prohibited from accessing State department resources, Biden’s team has so far worked without the logistical and translation support provided by the department’s operations center.
“They would prefer to be using the State Department resources,” said a source familiar with the messages and added that Biden’s team is facing an unexpected challenger of taking the calls and congratulatory messages conveyed to them. Not only the President-elect is being blocked by State Department form facilitating messages and get the assistance required to receive them, on Tuesday Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined to acknowledge the septuagenarian’s win, saying that “”there will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration”.
Biden has also been denied the intelligence briefings knows as President’s Daily Brief as he waits for the Inauguration Day on Jan 20, 2021. Foreign leaders, navigating the unfamiliar maze, have also realized the State cannot their facilitate their contact with President-elect prompting them to divert to former Obama-era diplomats for their assistance on how to successfully dispatch congratulatory messages to former’s former deputy for clinching Presidency. State Department in past would facilitate a smoother transition.
“It was helpful to have State ops place the calls and to provide translation services, and we were grateful for the cooperation from the Bush administration for making that happen,” said Denis McDonough, who was involved with Obama during and after the Obama transition.
Calls are not of sensitive nature
The calls made to President-elect now are not highly sensitive and they are not normally received on secure lines during the transitional period. “These calls in the past have been handled on open lines. They are congratulatory calls,” McDonough said, noting that both sides are providing readouts, which is as per protocol.
Former White House occupant for 8-years Obama often made these calls to foreign leaders via his cell phone before inauguration, explained a state Department official involved in setting up those calls. But all of those calls went through the operations center for the sake of governmental record.
Career officials at the State Department are ready to assist Democrat when the time comes.
“The agencies implemented the law faithfully prior to the election. The materials are ready, the offices are ready, everything is ready; they are waiting for the green light,” said David Marchick, the director of the Center for Presidential Transition at the Partnership for Public Service.
Despite the non-availability of the support usually lend by State Department, Biden team has sent out readouts of all of the calls to help maintain the record. They are trying formalize the process and will use State Department resources when available, said a source privy to the unfolding situation.
After the completion of Obama’s second term and during the switch from Obama administration to Trump, the President-elect choose not to use State Department resources and instead made his calls out of Trump Tower refusing the support offered by the government.