The Pentagon is postponing one day of meetings with the Biden transition team until after the holidays, in order to focus on Operation Warp Speed and other priorities, according to senior defense officials.
Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller released a statement Friday morning noting the postponement was “mutually-agreed upon”:
Our key focus in the next two weeks is supporting essential requests for information on OWS and COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] information to guarantee a flawless transition. This is my major focus area.
After the mutually-agreed upon holiday pause, which begins tomorrow, we will continue with the transition and rescheduled meetings from today.
Again, I remain committed to a full and transparent transition – this is what our nation expects and the DoD will deliver AS IT ALWAYS HAS.”
Miller also said the Pentagon would continue to provide all required support to the Biden transition team to keep the nation and citizens safe.
“As of today, we have supported 139 interviews sessions more than 200 DoD personnel, 161 requests for information, and disclosed thousands of pages of non-public and classified documents, exceeding prior transitions. At no time has the Department cancelled or declined any interview,” Miller said.
A Pentagon statement indicated that the postponement affected approximately 20 interviews with 40 officials that would be rescheduled for after January 1.
Axios, which first reported the delay, suggested the delay was “the biggest eruption yet of animus and mistrust toward the Biden team from the top level of the Trump administration.”
A senior defense official called that “B.S.”
“We rescheduled one day of interviews before the holiday break to get Warp Speed and other priorities right, before people leave for the holidays,” the official said.
Despite reports of alleged friction, the Pentagon has provided 265 officials for 139 interviews with the Biden transition team, responded to 161 requests for information (RFI), provided 4,400 pages of controlled non-public information, and provided 900 pages of classified information, according to a Pentagon statement.
The Pentagon is continuing to schedule interviews with senior leaders and career officials, the statement said.
The statement added that the information provided is comparable to, if not more than, what the Obama administration provided the Trump administration, and on approximately the same timeline.
“In 2016, a total of approximately 175 RFIs were responded to and 180 interviews were conducted from November 19th through January 12th. Most of these interviews were with junior career officials, not senior leaders,” the statement said.
“Implementing guidance from the Secretary, DoD has made available leaders at the highest levels of our organization, many senate-confirmed as well as other politically appointed leaders, and has ensured senior career officials and experts were also part of the interview process,” it added.