President-elect Joe Biden is accusing the Trump administration’s senior political staff within the Department of Defense (DOD) and other agencies of putting national security at risk by obstructing the White House transition process.
Biden, who campaigned for the presidency on a platform of restoring America’s standing across the globe, made the remarks Monday in Wilmington, Delaware, when discussing the national security and foreign policy challenges his administration is set to inherit. At the event, Biden accused senior political officials within President Donald Trump’s administration of refusing to cooperate with the official handover of power.
“For some agencies, our teams received exemplary cooperation from the career staff in those agencies,” Biden said. “From others, most notably the Department of Defense, we’ve encountered obstruction from the political leadership of that department.”
Arguing that America’s national security infrastructure had been “hollowed out” over the past four years, the president-elect claimed senior administration officials were putting national security at further risk by refusing to cooperate with the transition. Biden, most notably, suggested such “obstruction” could create a “window of confusion … that our advertisers may try to exploit” in the days after his administration takes office.
“Right now as our nation is in a period of transition, we need to make sure that nothing is lost in the handoff between administration [sic],” he said. “My team needs a clear picture of our forced posture around the world and our operations to deter our enemies.”
Biden also singled out the DOD and the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for supposedly refusing to grant his team “full visibility into the budget planning underway.”
“As I said from the beginning, we’ve encountered roadblocks from the political leadership of the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget,” Biden said.
“Right now, we just aren’t getting all the information we need from the outgoing administration in key national security areas,” he added. “It’s nothing short, in my view, of irresponsibility.”
Biden’s transition team did not return requests for comment on this story.
The president-elect’s accusation that the senior political officials within the DOD are obstructing the transition process has received pushback from acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller. Miller, who succeeded former Defense Secretary Mark Esper in November, released a statement in mid-December after Axios reported DOD officials were delaying meetings with Biden’s transition team.
At the time, Miller said the DOD had only postponed one day of meetings with Biden’s staff because of logistical planning for the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine.
“We have supported 139 interview sessions [with] more than 200 DoD personnel … disclosed thousands of pages of non-public and classified documents,” Miller stated. “At no time has the Department canceled or declined any interview.”