U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison said Monday the transition to the Biden presidency would be “smooth” and “seamless,” marking the latest Trump administration official to acknowledge President Trump’s loss, despite his refusal to concede in the wake of this month’s election.
“We are going to have a smooth transition so they have all the information they need to determine what the policy is,” Hutchison said of President-elect Joe Biden and his incoming team. “I think there will be a seamless transition.”
The remarks from the former Texas senator, who spoke at a virtual news conference in Brussels, stand in contrast with many within the Republican Party — including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and current Texas Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz — who have voiced support for Trump’s legal challenges to the election’s results.
Pompeo, who was in Europe and the Middle East this month on a 10-day diplomatic trip, has insisted the U.S. election process is inconclusive with votes still being counted.
Last Monday, after weeks of dragging its feet, the General Services Administration informed Biden that it was ready to begin the transition process, freeing up millions of dollars in federal spending and allowing his team official access to government agencies.
Biden spoke last week with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and European Union leaders, who have recognized him as the next U.S. president.
Hutchison made clear that Biden would take over starting Jan. 20, referring to him as the president-elect several times.
“We are going to work in a transition for a new administration coming in and we’re going to make sure it is smooth. That’s what we have in democracies and that’s what we are going to produce,” she vowed.
Hutchison added that Biden’s first trip to Europe as president will likely be to NATO as “he is such a supporter of the trans-Atlantic bond.”
“President-elect Biden certainly is pro-NATO,” she said. “I served with him in the United States Senate and I know he is very much a multi-lateral organization supporter. We like to have allies. He likes to have allies. And I think that is ongoing from this administration to the next administration.”
Trump has made no secret of his antagonism toward the alliance, a theme since early in his presidency. He at first refused to publicly assert the U.S. commitment to Article 5, which states that an attack on one NATO member is an attack on all. It has only been invoked once, following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on the U.S.
Trump has also repeatedly chastised members for not paying more for the alliance’s defense, threatening to pull out of NATO should countries not up their spending.
In taking over the White House in January, Biden has the potential to overturn or halt major Trump administration decisions that link with NATO, including the order earlier this month to withdraw thousands of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, and Trump’s July plan to move thousands of U.S. forces from Germany.