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More Republicans signal support for Biden to receive security briefings

A growing number of Republicans say President-elect Biden should be able to receive a daily national security briefing. Biden has also announced longtime aide Ronald Klain will be his chief of staff. Meanwhile, President Trump’s reelection campaign continues its legal challenges to the election -- despite many rejections. Yamiche Alcindor and Lisa Desjardins join Judy Woodruff to discuss.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Now we turn to our other top story tonight, the presidential transition.

    President-elect Joe Biden is forging ahead, despite President Trump's refusal to concede. Last night, he tapped a longtime aide to be his chief of staff.

    There is also a growing chorus of Republicans who say the president-elect should be able to receive a daily national security briefing as soon as possible.

    Meanwhile, the Trump campaign's legal challenges to the vote count go on, despite many rejections.

    To discuss all this, I'm joined by our Yamiche Alcindor and Lisa Desjardins.

    Hello to both of you.

    So, Lisa, following the Biden folks, we know that he so far, as we reported, he has been denied access to these — what he normally would get, which is a daily intelligence briefing. But, as we say, there are some Republicans who are beginning to speak up for him.

    Tell us about that.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    This is fascinating.

    Today, we saw more Republicans come out not for saying that the election is over, but saying that it is time for president-elect Biden to get classified briefings. That includes some top Republicans and some Trump allies, like Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

    They seem to be threading a needle here, Judy, not yet ready to openly defy the president, President Trump, but saying that some steps need to be taken to allow president-elect Biden to understand critical classified information.

    Here is one of those Republican senators, Mike Rounds of South Dakota.

  • Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D.:

    Look, one of these two men will be the president of the United States after the election results have come in.

    And I think, at this point, just as a matter of protecting our nation's interests, I do think that both thee president and his competition here, the — Vice President Biden, should have access to those classified reports.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    You hear that threading of the needle there, where Republicans are saying, if Joe Biden becomes president, he should have this information, still not saying they're ready to declare him, all of them, president-elect.

    Judy, this was sort of tipped off by Oklahoma Senator James Lankford, who is pressing the General Services Administration, an agency with a very broad name, to make this call to kind of push forward with transition in some ways.

    The GSA, which is run by a Trump appointee, has refused to do that so far. Adding to this pressure, Judy, there was a letter today from 150 national security officials, former officials, generals, admirals, folks who worked in many different counterterrorism agencies, saying president-elect Biden needs these classified briefings. If he doesn't get them, there could be, in their words, immense consequences for national security.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, Yamiche, what about at the White House? Any movement today in terms of how they are handling, how they see this transition? And any movement in terms of the president accepting the election result?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    There isn't much movement.

    The president remains angry, isolated and unwilling to acknowledge that Joe Biden is, in fact, the president-elect. And it was one week ago today that the president took to the White House podium to say that he had won the election and was doing what no president before him had done, which was challenge the integrity of the election.

    And the president has continued to do that over and over again in tweets and messages. But one thing that we have to note, this is the longest period of time the president has not spoken publicly in his entire presidency.

    The president is someone who likes to speak in front of the camera, likes to engage with reporters. We just not — have not heard him. That goes to the isolation.

    I should tell you that I have been talking to people in this White House, and they feel anxious and fearful. They are very anxious that the president is having to continue to process this and that the world really is waiting for President Trump to get on board with the fact that he has lost this election.

    And there are young White House staffers, young Republicans who have been warned that, if they start looking for new jobs, if they start trying to move on, that they will be fired immediately.

    But campaigns aides tells me that they are — people already starting to roll off. So, coming this weekend, you're going to start seeing the campaign staff gets smaller and smaller. So, even though President Trump doesn't want to admit it, this is a White House that is unwinding, is backing away from President Trump.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, Yamiche, staying with you, you have been taking a really close look at some of the claims the president, the people around him are making, both in their public statements and in these legal suits, legal actions.

    What are you finding?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    That's right.

    The president and his allies continue to make false claims, in most cases, that there is mass fraud that hurt President Trump in this election. And just this hour, the Trump campaign was holding a briefing for reporters, and they said that it's going to take time, that this is not something of a matter of instant gratification, and they're not going to bite all of the apple at once.

    As a result, they have been really trying to — really try and defend their lawsuits.

    But I want to walk you through some of the claims that they're making that critics say are fiction and frivolous. One is, in Nevada, they're saying there that there are ballots that have military addresses used by active military officials that should be invalidated. There are, of course, people that say that those addresses are, of course, completely valid.

    In Michigan, we saw a woman, a Republican woman, say that she saw poll workers wearing Black Lives Matter gear and a man was following her that looked big. That's her claim there.

    Then we see, in Arizona, there was this argument that sharpies, if you used a marker on a ballot, that it wasn't going to be counted. All of those things have either been disclaimed or are being — or are being fought through in court.

    But what we're seeing is judges throw these cases at one after the other because of some of the information that I just said. These are not people who have real information about voter claim. Instead, these are — anecdotal information that they say could be problematic.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, finally, Lisa, quickly, back to you.

    We know that the president-elect Biden is starting to make some announcements about positions he wants to fill. His chief of staff, he says, will be Ron Klain. What do we know about him and how he will operate?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Ron Klain has been with president-elect Biden since he was a whiz kid at 28 on the Judiciary Committee.

    This election, Judy, indicates that President Biden is going to rely on people who know him and people who are expert and strong in their fields, Ron Klain, a long resume, including his work, fighting the Ebola pandemic, when Biden was in the White House before.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    All right, we will leave it there.

    Lisa Desjardins, Yamiche Alcindor, thank you both.

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