In a “60 Minutes” interview set to air Sunday, former President Barack Obama said Republicans who are backing President Trump’s fraud claims and his refusal to concede the election are on “a dangerous path,” as pressure mounts on him to recognize Joe Biden as president-elect.
Obama was asked by correspondent Scott Pelley about the effect of Trump’s claims regarding widespread election fraud in the country. There has not been significant evidence presented to back up those claims, and some of them have been undermined by the Trump team’s own lawyers in court.
Obama said that the claims were a result of the fact that Trump “doesn’t like to lose,” but the former president said Trump’s actions are not the most concerning part of the fraud claims.
“I’m more troubled by the fact that other Republican officials who clearly know better are going along with this, humoring him in this fashion,” Obama said. “It is one more step in de-legitimizing not just the incoming Biden administration but Democracy generally. And that’s a dangerous path.”
The interview comes as Biden’s transition is in a kind of limbo, as it sets up agency review teams and names officials like chief of staff Ron Klain, but still has not officially been ascertained to be the winner by the General Services Administration (GSA).
The GSA ascertainment would unlock public funds for the transition and allow Biden’s transition organization to use government offices and get intelligence reports, among other things. According to reports, the White House and Trump appointees have told career officials that they are not going to work with the Biden transition team until the GSA ascertainment officially happens.
The GSA has said that it is following precedent by not ascertaining a winner in the election, as it did not do so in 2000 until the legal saga between former President George W. Bush and his Democratic opponent Al Gore ended.
But a delayed transition in 2000 was blamed for putting the U.S. at greater risk in the lead-up to the 9/11 terror attacks, according to the 9/11 Commission Report, because it harmed Bush’s ability to appoint national security personnel.
President Donald Trump arrives to speak at the White House, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Washington. Trump has still not conceded the presidential election and has made unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Others also say the GSA should promptly certify that Biden is the president-elect as it is increasingly clear that Trump’s legal challenges and recounts are not uncovering alleged fraud on nearly the scale it would take to close the leads that Biden holds in several states.
Several Republican senators in recent days have also called on Biden to begin receiving the Presidential Daily Brief, the highly classified intelligence and national security report meant to keep the president up to speed on key issues affecting the defense of the nation.
Obama’s interview also comes as the former president is promoting his upcoming memoir. In an excerpt published by The Atlantic on Thursday, Obama wrote the “jury is still out” on whether the U.S. can live up to its founding ideals.
“I’m encouraged by the record-setting number of Americans who turned out to vote in last week’s election, and have an abiding trust in Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, in their character and capacity to do what is right,” Obama continued. “But I also know that no single election will settle the matter.”
Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Thomas Barrabi contributed to this report.