Pentagon Disputes Biden Claim on Obstruction of Transition Efforts

December 29, 2020 Updated: December 30, 2020

Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller on Dec. 28 disputed claims by former Vice President Joe Biden that the Pentagon is obstructing the transition process to a hypothetical Biden administration.

Biden had earlier that day asserted that his team had “encountered obstruction” from political appointees at the Department of Defense (DOD).

“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,” Biden said at the time. “We have encountered roadblocks from the political leadership at the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget.”

“Right now, we just aren’t getting all the information that we need from the outgoing administration in key national security areas,” the Democratic presidential nominee added. “It’s nothing short of irresponsible.”

In a statement, Miller pointed out that the Pentagon has conducted 164 interviews with more than 400 officials, responded to 188 requests for information, and handed over more than 5,000 pages of non-public and classified information, “far more than initially requested by Biden’s 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,” Miller 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,” Miller added. “The American people expect nothing less and that is what I remain committed to.”

The Pentagon is continuing to schedule interviews between career officials and the Biden team for early January, according to the statement. Three interviews are scheduled for the week of Dec. 28, one on cybersecurity and one on the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.

The Pentagon is also providing responses to requests from the Biden team concerning the distribution of the CCP virus vaccine, Miller said.

“DOD continues to support the presidential transition aligned with the President Transition Act, White House and Biden-Harris Transition Team Memorandum of Understanding, and DOD policy,” Miller said.

The Biden team and the Pentagon have previously clashed over whether the DOD is fully cooperating. After media reports surfaced claiming that the Pentagon had suddenly cut off briefings with the Biden team, the DOD issued a statement claiming that the briefings had been put on hold after a mutual agreement for a delay, given the holidays. The Biden team later disputed the claim.

“There was no mutually agreed-upon holiday break” for transition briefings from the DOD, Biden team spokesperson Yohannes Abraham told media outlets. “We think it’s important that briefings continue during this period, as there is no time to spare.”

“We were concerned to learn this week about an abrupt halt in the already limited cooperation there, and as indicated by DOD earlier today, we expect that decision will be reversed,” he added.

Zachary Stieber and Jack Phillips contributed to this report.

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