On Wednesday, The Daily Beast reported that President Donald Trump's National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien is at the forefront of enabling the president's refusal to accept a transfer of power — and that staffers are afraid they will be retaliated against even for mentioning President-elect Joe Biden's name.
"Officials familiar with the matter noted that O’Brien has also pushed national security officials to publicly embrace the absurd Trump message that the election has not been certified and that there are still legal battles playing out across the country that could turn in the president’s favor," reported Erin Banco, Spencer Ackerman, Asawin Suebsaeng, and Noah Shachtman.
"'If you even mention Biden’s name … that’s a no go. You’d be fired,' one national security official said. 'Everyone is scared of even talking about the chance of working with the [Biden] transition,'" said the report. "Asked if officials in the White House feel comfortable saying Biden’s name in the West Wing, one senior White House official said, half-jokingly, 'Sure, you can say his name. If you’re talking about who lost the election to the president.'"
According to the report, O'Brien has privately acknowledged that the president has, in fact, lost the election — but he has not said this to Trump himself, thus encouraging his behavior.
One Republican close to the White House said, “It's like dealing with a lunatic on the subway. Everyone just kind of sits and stares ahead, pretends they can't hear him, and waits for him to eventually get off.”
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