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Trump Team Makes False Transition Claim11/23 06:22

   

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- It's not just President-elect Joe Biden's transition 
that's under a microscope.

   President Donald Trump and his allies are harking back to his own transition 
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 laid out the 
case from the White House podium last week and the same idea has been floated 
by Trump's personal lawyer and his former director of national intelligence.

   The comparisons are part of a broader attempt by Trump and his team to 
undermine the legitimacy of Biden's election and his right to an orderly 
transition by unspooling mistruths about both this election season and Trump's 
treatment four years ago.

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

   But the situations are far different.

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

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

   The next day, President Barack Obama, who had portrayed Trump as an 
existential threat to the nation, invited the president-elect to the White 
House and visited with him in the Oval Office. Obama's aides offered help to 
Trump's incoming staffers.

   "My number one priority in the coming two months is to try to facilitate a 
transition that ensures our president-elect is successful," Obama said.

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

   Trump's team is not wrong that his own transition was chaotic, but the 
disarray in many ways was of his own doing.

   Trump fired the head of his transition, former New Jersey Gov. Chris 
Christie, and abandoned months of planning in favor of a Cabinet hiring process 
that at times resembled a reality show. His team ignored offers of help from 
the outgoing Obama administration.

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

   Trump has refused to concede, instead making baseless claims of electoral 
fraud and trying longshot legal challenges that risk undermining the nation's 
democratic traditions.

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

   But Trump's team largely ignored advice from Obama staffers, leaving 
briefing books unopened and ignoring special iPads loaded with materials. The 
lack of preparation left aides clueless even about how to work the overhead 
intercom in the West Wing.

   A potential transition plan worked on for months by Christie was cast aside. 
He was dismissed from his post as part of a long-running feud with the 
president's son-in-law and future senior White House adviser Jared Kushner.

   Some of Trump's hires were done on whim, as Cabinet candidates visited him 
in Trump Tower. The president-elect chose Michael Flynn for national security 
adviser after a recommendation from Trump's children and despite Obama's 
warnings. Flynn was out after less than a month in office.

   Christie, in his recent autobiography, wrote that 30 binders were discarded 
and that members of Trump's team "got rid of guidance that would have made 
their candidate an immensely more effective president" and "stole from the man 
they'd just helped elect the launch he so richly deserved."

   McEnany and others have claimed that Trump was undermined by an FBI 
investigation that was opened in the summer of 2016 into possible election 
interference, a probe that was taken over by special counsel Robert Mueller the 
following May after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.

   Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, in a news conference last week, claimed the FBI 
"made up the Russia collusion plot" that damaged Trump and "cost our country 
$40 million." Ric Grenell, Trump's former ambassador to Germany and acting 
director of national intelligence, has said that 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 charge anyone 
in the Trump campaign with conspiring with Russia to sway the election. 
Throughout his term, Trump has framed the investigation as part of a "witch 
hunt" meant to destroy his presidency and said it showed the federal 
bureaucracy was working against him.

   Obama had no role in directing the FBI's investigation into ties between 
Russia and the Trump campaign or in impeding Trump's transition to president. 
Though Obama was aware that his intelligence officials were investigating 
Russian interference, and had concerns about Trump and his background, the 
investigative decisions were made not by him but by his law enforcement and 
intelligence agencies.

   Since his loss to Biden, Trump has repeatedly challenged the fairness of the 
election with false claims about voting and he has looked for ways to block 
certification of the vote. The Trump administration has yet to formally 
acknowledge Biden's victory, slowing the transition at a time when the nation 
is facing a confluence of economic and health crises.

   "The lack of the transition and cooperation is the most reckless and 
irresponsible 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 in the third week of January. It's no time at all, 
it's over in the blink of an eye. The damage is severe."

   ___

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

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