President-elect Joe Biden said on Monday that his transition team had faced “obstruction” from the defence department, raising new concerns about the Trump administration’s co-operation with transition officials with just over three weeks until Inauguration Day.
“Right now, we just aren’t getting all the information that we need from the outgoing administration in key national security areas,” Mr Biden said in Wilmington, Delaware, after he and vice president-elect Kamala Harris were briefed by members of the transition’s agency review teams for agencies dealing with national security and foreign policy, like the defence and state departments.
“It’s nothing short, in my view, of irresponsibility,” Mr Biden said. In his remarks, the president-elect said that his team had “encountered roadblocks” from political leaders at the Defense Department as well as at the Office of Management and Budget.
Mr Biden emphasised the importance of a smooth transition, saying, “Right now, as our nation is in a period of transition, we need to make sure that nothing is lost in the hand-off between administrations.”
“My team needs a clear picture of our force posture around the world and our operations to deter our enemies,” he continued. “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.”
In a statement Monday, acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller defended the department’s level of co-operation with the Biden team.
He said the department was continuing “to schedule additional meetings for the remainder of the transition and answer any and all requests for information in our purview.”
“Our DOD political and career officials have been working with the utmost professionalism to support transition activities in a compressed time schedule, and they will continue to do so in a transparent and collegial manner that upholds the finest traditions of the department,” Mr Miller said.
“The American people expect nothing less, and that is what I remain committed to.”
The Biden transition was hamstrung at the outset by the Trump administration’s delay in formally designating Biden as the apparent winner of the election. - The New York Times