“Our DoD policy and career leaders have worked with the utmost professionalism to support transition activities on a tight schedule and will continue to do so in a transparent and collegial manner that respects the finest traditions of the Department,” said Miller said.
Biden’s comments rekindled tensions with the Pentagon just over a week after defense officials abruptly called off a series of meetings with the transition that were scheduled for December 18. on a two-week vacation break and meetings would resume in the New Year, but Biden’s executive director of transition Yohannes Abraham has refuted that claim.
But Biden said on Monday that what he saw as a foot drag on the part of the Trump administration was particularly irritating in light of the recently revealed massive cyber attack that hit much of the federal government and other threats. global. Biden also said the Christmas Day bombing in Nashville, Tennessee underscored the importance of the issue.
“We have to make sure that nothing is lost in the transfer between administrations,” said the president-elect. “We need full visibility into ongoing budget planning in the Defense Ministry and other agencies to avoid any window of confusion or catch-up that our adversaries might try to exploit.
Biden reiterated his concerns that Pentagon political leaders, made up of newly installed Trump loyalists, are obstructing the normal transition process. In particular, Biden said his team needed “full visibility” into the Pentagon’s budget planning, noting that opponents could seek to exploit a “window of confusion” during the change of administration.
“We have encountered obstacles from political leaders in the Defense Ministry and the Office of Management and Budget,” he said.
The Pentagon continued to “deny and delay” meetings with members of the Biden agency’s review team, a transition official at POLITICO said on Monday after the president-elect’s remarks, noting that the two parties had made “no substantial progress” since the problem first arose. light.
“As the president-elect alluded to, no department is more essential to our national security than the Department of Defense, and the refusal to work together could have consequences well beyond January 20,” said the manager.
Pentagon spokeswoman Sue Gough reacted strongly, saying the DOD has been “completely transparent” with the transition team about the upcoming budget and has even provided leading information on the 2022 tax program- 2026. The OMB has not yet authorized the ministry to release full details of the five-year program, she said.
The department has three meetings with the Biden team scheduled so far this week: two related to Covid-19 and one on cybersecurity, Miller said in the statement.
But the Defense Ministry has not held a meeting with the transition team since December 18, according to a source familiar with the discussions. Of the three meetings scheduled for this week, one was added on Monday and two more were approved on the evening of December 23. And the person said the Pentagon continues to delay further requested meetings.
Biden on Monday was keen to differentiate the cold reception his team received from Pentagon officials, and to a lesser extent from the OMB, from other parts of the federal government apparatus.
“For some agencies, our teams have enjoyed exemplary cooperation from the career staff of those agencies,” said Biden. “On the part of others – notably the Ministry of Defense – we have encountered obstacles from the political leaders of this department.”
The president-elect recently stepped up his criticism of the Trump administration’s handling of the transfer of power, which was complicated by the outgoing president’s refusal to accept his electoral defeat to Biden and his legally dubious attempts to stay in power in subverting the will. of the American electorate.
Some administration officials, wary of the repercussions of the president or his followers, have been wary of appearing too eager to assist in the transfer of power and have at times received conflicting messages from the White House on preparing for the final stages of the process. current administration.
Biden also appeared to be trying to manage expectations of what his administration would be able to do from the start in the unfolding of policies initiated under Trump, including on immigration and America’s role on the international stage.
“These are difficult issues, and the current administration has made them much more difficult in trying to erode our capabilities,” Biden said. “It will take time to rebuild this capacity.”
He said the United States should repair relations with other countries that were strained under the Trump America First philosophy, but that it was necessary to counter China’s growing political influence abroad.
“We are stronger and more effective when we are flanked by nations who share our vision for the future of our world,” Biden said. “This is how we multiply the impact of our efforts and make them more sustainable.”