Washington (CNN) – A stack of unopened messages from foreign leaders to President-elect Joe Biden are pouring into the State Department but the Trump administration is preventing him from accessing them, according to State Department officials familiar with the messages.
Traditionally, the State Department supports all communications for the President-elect, which is why many countries began sending messages to State over the weekend. But with Biden prohibited from accessing State Department resources by the Trump administration, because President Donald Trump refuses to accept Biden’s victory, dozens of incoming messages have not been received.
Biden’s team is in touch with foreign governments without State Department involvement, and he has held numerous calls with leaders, including Germany’s Angela Merkel and Canada’s Justin Trudeau. But they are operating without the logistical and translation support that the State Department operations center provides.
“They would prefer to be using the State Department resources,” said a source familiar with the situation, who noted that the Biden team is having to deal with the unexpected challenge of facilitating these calls.
Not only is Biden being blocked by the State Department from receiving messages and assistance facilitating and from preparing for calls, on Tuesday Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refused to acknowledge Biden’s victory, saying that “there will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration,” igniting a furor and roiling diplomats.
Biden is also being blocked from getting the same intelligence briefings as the President, known as the President’s Daily Brief, and should the Trump administration continue to block a typical transition close to Inauguration Day on January 20, there are concerns Biden’s administration will be playing catch-up the day he takes office.
Foreign leaders have begun to figure out that State cannot get them in touch with the President-elect and their teams have reached out to former Obama-era diplomats for their assistance on how to send congratulatory messages to Biden’s team, sources told CNN. Some foreign governments feel they are navigating an unfamiliar maze, foreign diplomats have told CNN.
CNN has asked the State Department and the Biden transition team for comment.
In the past, the State Department has facilitated a smoother process.
“It was helpful to have State ops place the calls and to provide translation services, and we were grateful for the cooperation from the Bush administration for making that happen,” said Denis McDonough, who served in the Obama administration and worked with Obama during the transition.
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