President-elect Joe Biden on Monday said President Donald Trump’s administration is blocking his transition planning in key areas of national security.
“We have encountered roadblocks from the political leadership at the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget,” Biden said during a speech in Delaware. “Right now, we just aren’t getting all the information that we need from the outgoing administration in key national security areas.”
“It’s nothing short of irresponsible,” he added.
The Pentagon and the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Emily Murphy, the administrator of the General Services Administration and a Trump appointee, waited weeks after Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election to officially certify him as such. Her obstruction meant that Biden and his team were unable to access government funding and resources to begin planning an orderly transition.
Biden gave an update Monday on his transition and work with the federal agencies. In some agencies, he said, he and his team have “received exemplary cooperation from the career staff.”
But “from others, most notably the Department of Defense, we encountered obstruction from the political leadership,” he said.
The Washington Post reported this month that Trump administration officials were blocking Biden officials from meeting with officials at intelligence agencies overseen by the Pentagon. Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller pushed back, saying officials are “fully cooperating with the Biden transition team, placing national security and the protection of the American people at the forefront of any and all discussions.”
Biden also said Monday that many critical national security agencies have “incurred enormous damage” under Trump and are “hollowed out” in terms of personnel, capacity, morale and policy processes.
With a pandemic, hacks into government networks and other strategic challenges, Biden said it’s crucial to make sure there is a smooth transition ― and full cooperation on everyone’s part.
“Right now, as our nation is in a period of transition, we need to make sure that nothing is lost in the handoff between administrations,” he said. “My team needs a clear picture of our force posture around the world and of our operations to deter our enemies. We need full visibility into the budget planning underway at the Defense Department and other agencies in order to avoid any window of confusion or catch-up that our adversaries may try to exploit.”
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