Pentagon denies blocking Biden transition team
The Pentagon on Saturday pushed back strongly against reports that the Trump administration blocked the Biden-Harris transition team from meeting with defense intelligence agencies, insisting the Department of Defense is committed to a smooth hand-off even as President Donald Trump still refuses to concede the election.
The Washington Post and other outlets reported on Friday that the Pentagon rejected requests from the Biden team to meet with leaders at the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency and other military spy services, despite a General Service Administration decision on Nov. 23 permitting the official transfer of power to proceed.
“The DoD and its transition leadership 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," Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller said in a statement on Saturday.
The Pentagon has already conducted “dozens” of interviews and meetings with Biden's Pentagon review team and has “many dozens more” scheduled in the coming weeks, according to a separate statement emailed to reporters. The department said it has also provided thousands of pages of documents, including classified materials.
However, the Biden team has yet to meet with members of the defense intelligence community due to a process issue, said a senior defense official who briefed reporters on Saturday by phone on condition they not be identified by name.
Initially, the Biden transition team had improperly reached out directly to the agencies instead of the DoD transition team, and was told that they instead needed to submit requests to the Pentagon.
“That was more of an internal issue for the Biden team than a DoD issue,” said the defense official.
The issue has been resolved and meetings are now scheduled on Monday and Tuesday with the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, according to DoD.
The earlier news reports suggested that Kash Patel, a Trump loyalist who the White House recently installed as Miller’s chief of staff, was involved in blocking the meetings.
But the senior defense official who briefed reporters pushed back on that characterization, saying that Patel has delegated much of his responsibility as head of the transition to Tom Muir, the career civilian head of the DoD transition team.