Biden faces a test of access to confidential information while inheriting Trump’s secret server

A person close to the Biden 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 it is likely that the Trump will -Administration continues to have a firm grip on this information, at least until they are settled in and Jake Sullivan, Biden’s choice for a national security advisor, can assess their information security needs.

A senior US official said the Biden team will have access to a secret server with confidential information In the context of President Donald Trump’s controversial discussions with foreign leaders based on need-to-know information, the Trump administration stands ready to share any information it deems relevant to its future decision-making process.

While Biden’s team will likely aim to be more transparent, a lot has changed since many of its high-profile officials were in government, and the politically charged atmosphere in Washington shortly after the election has urged some officials to be cautious in the first few months Preventing leaks and assessing the needs and limits of sharing sensitive information.

back to back Leaks of controversial remarks Several officials Trump made during talks with leaders of Mexico and Australia in the early days of Trump’s White House emerged from an unusually loose policy on distributing recordings of calls involving leaders from Saudi Arabia, Russia and Of Ukraine.

When HR McMaster took over Trump’s second National Security Advisor a month into the presidency in February 2017, distribution lists got smaller, officials said, although some people could still access records through the National Security Council’s traditional computer portal, which handled everything except operational An official explained information from the CIA.

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White House officials also worked to significantly limit the number of people who could eavesdrop on many of Trump’s calls or access the recordings after those calls were completed.

The disclosure of a complaint by an unidentified whistleblower last year exposed concerns among White House officials regarding alleged attempts by the government to “block” access to internal information, including the president’s discussion with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July 2019, which which triggered the hearings too Trump’s impeachment from the House of Representatives.

“It is probably wise to be in control.”

“The fact is, too many people probably had access when Trump took office – it was good in some ways, but it can be bad in some ways,” said a former administrative officer close to the transition team. “Given the politically charged environment we’re in right now, it is probably wise to keep control of it, albeit possibly not in the form of a secret server.”

There are fast-moving issues where politics or military technologies have changed in the four years since Biden’s political team left, particularly with respect to China and Turkey. This will be a priority in talks with the Biden landing teams, according to the current U.S. official.

The official said basic details regarding Trump’s talks with foreign leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman will only be shared if they are relevant to an upcoming policy or national security issue.

“There is a lot to report,” said the senior US official. “We’ll share whatever is relevant to them to get a grip on reality when the keys are theirs. If there is such a thing that actually matters … things on the covert side, for example, we’ll highlight them very quickly. “

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

Biden will receive the President’s daily briefings starting Monday

Biden is expected to receive the president’s daily briefings on Monday, a courtesy traditionally given to the president-elect that was delayed by nearly four weeks because Trump refused to admit.

Meanwhile, binders have been put in place for the transition activities, particularly with regard to the work in the National Security Council, with details of how the main coordinating committee, a major interagent meeting and other types of meetings will be conducted, the official said, noting that the Biden- Team is very experienced with these meetings and does not need any information.

“The folders are BS,” the official admitted, but said they would have prepared and updated them for several weeks in case Trump lost the election.

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Military operations are another area where the NSC, in addition to the Department of Defense, needs to provide detailed information to the landing team, especially given new emerging technology that Biden officials may not be fully familiar with.

The official noted that the new National Security Advisor, Sullivan, is “not a defense attorney”. Therefore, certain issues related to sensitive satellite programs and defense measures related to China are important to discuss thoroughly with him and the landing team.

Trump’s national security adviser Robert O’Brien and deputy Matthew Pottinger will have “at least one or two meetings” with Sullivan and his deputy, the official said. The NSC and Biden landing team will then discuss whether briefings are required from each of the NSC’s directorates.

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The official noted that any information related to the coronavirus response is likely being processed by the Coronavirus Task Force at the White House and HHS, rather than the National Security Council.

This article has been updated.

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