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What “roadblocks” has the Trump administration laid for presidential transition?

Biden has hit out at Trump administration for being obstructive and irresponsible in witholding information and briefings from his transition team.

What “roadblocks” has the Trump administration laid for presidential transition?
Mark Makela AFP

In a speech Sunday Joe Biden claimed that his transition team’s progress has been hindered by “roadblocks” and obstacles by the Trump administration. Specifically, he pinpointed the Pentagon and Defense Department.

What did Biden say about roadblocks in the transition process?

Speaking in Wilmington, Delaware Biden opened by thanking law enforcement for their work on the Christmas Day terrorist bombing in Nashville, Tennessee. He kept the focus on defense and national security, going on to criticise the management of the transition process by Trump’s teams. Specifically, Biden highlighted that his team had “encountered roadblocks from the political leadership at the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget."

He went on to assert that “not getting all of the information that we need from the outgoing administration in key national security areas” was “nothing short of irresponsibility.”

It appears that tensions have been building for some time between the Pentagon and the Biden transition team, over stalled briefings, which last week culminated in Biden saying his team was denied access to briefings on the widespread cyber attack that targeted government agencies and major American technology and accounting companies. 

It’s been reported that there was also a dispute between whether both teams had agreed to a two-week break during the holidays, and a transition official told CNN that the Defense Department continues to "deny and delay" meetings with agency review team members.

Highlighting the potential long term damage that lack of cooperation and trans"There has been no substantial progress since transition officials spoke to the intransigence of the Department's political leadership earlier this month," the official said. "As the President-elect alluded to, no Department is more pivotal to our national security than the Department of Defense, and an unwillingness to work together could have consequences well beyond 20 January."

Pentagon responds to Biden criticism

According to CNN, acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller defended the Pentagon's co-operation in the transition in a statement Monday, citing the department's "164 interviews with over 400 officials" and saying the agency has "provided over 5,000 pages of documents -- 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. Still, a source familiar with the situation told CNN that critical meetings remain outstanding.

The New York Times has reported that insiders say there have been Trump loyalists planted in transition briefings between Biden’s transition team and the Trump administrations’ Environmental Protection Agency, State Department, National Security Agency.

The Times says that while it’s not unusual for there to be some political presence in these meetings and can even be helpful, given Trump’s refusal to concede his defeat to Joe Biden in the presidential election the actions of Trump appointees appeared to be a malicious effort to slow the transition, some experts said.