“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.
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.
In a statement to HuffPost, Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller said the Pentagon has conducted 164 interviews with over 400 officials and provided over 5,000 pages of documents to the Biden transition team.
“DoD’s efforts already surpass those of recent administrations with over three weeks to go and we continue to schedule additional meetings for the remainder of the transition and answer any and all requests for information in our purview,” he said. “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. The American people expect nothing less and that is what I remain committed to.”
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.”
This piece has been updated with comment from the Pentagon.