New issues have arisen around the presidential transition involving two parties: the Pentagon and the future Biden Administration team. On this occasion, acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller ordered the Pentagon to momentarily stop cooperating with the Democrat’s transition.
There is some speculation about what happened. According to an exclusive Axios report, the decision to suspend meetings “surprised Defense Department officials,” according to administration officials who argued that the reasons were purely logistical.
Still, the decision was not well received by Biden’s transition team.
“Biden’s transition director, Yohannes Abraham, contradicted the Pentagon’s official response to this story on Friday afternoon, telling reporters, ‘Let me be clear: there was no mutual agreement on the holiday,'” the article reported.
“In fact, we believe it is important that the briefings and other commitments continue during this period as there is no time to lose, and that is particularly true in the aftermath of the Trump administration’s delay in recognizing Biden as president-elect.”
But Trump’s acting secretary, Miller, stepped up to the plate in response to Abraham’s claims: “At no time has the Department cancelled or declined any interviews. … After the mutually agreed upon holiday, which begins tomorrow, we will continue the transition and rescheduled meetings starting today.”
The article suggests that “behind the scenes,” several Trump administration officials hinted at the resumption of cooperation after a break in the December vacation. At the same time, officials consulted by Axios said they were not “sure what prompted Miller’s action,” or whether it was President Trump who approved the order.
What the Pentagon says
Miller’s move surprised officials throughout the Pentagon and, according to the exclusive story, has been the most concrete action of mistrust “toward the Biden team from the highest level of the Trump Administration.”
The order prompts the Pentagon to suspend security brefings to Biden’s transition team until January.
But the Pentagon downplayed Miller’s order. It has been described as a “simple delay of the last few meetings until the end of the year” due to the enormous workload involved in the constant delivery of vital classified reports to the transition team.
“We had just under two dozen meetings remaining on the schedule today and next week,” said a senior Pentagon official adding that “the Defense Department staff working on the meetings were overwhelmed by the number of meetings.”
“These same senior leaders needed to do their daily jobs and were being consumed by transition activities (…) We remain committed to a productive transition,” the article said.
It is worth mentioning that after the transition was delayed by the Trump Administration’s electoral legal efforts, meetings between President Trump’s team and Biden’s team have been held throughout the government.
Now, it is not only the Democrat’s transition team that is upset. There is anger on the part of senior Pentagon officials against members of the Biden Administration, which intensified after The Washington Post ran a story Wednesday night revealing how much money the government would save if Joe Biden stopped construction of President Trump’s border wall.
According to Axios, “Trump officials blame the leak on Biden’s transition team,” although they say they have no evidence of that.
Twenty-four hours later, the acting Secretary of Defense ordered officials throughout the building to cancel the scheduled transition meetings. This raises speculation about Miller’s move.