President-elect Joe Biden said political appointees in the Defense Department and other agencies have engaged in “obstruction” as his transition team seeks information about ongoing planning on national-security measures.
“We’ve encountered roadblocks from the political leadership in the Defense Department and the Office of Management and Budget,” Biden said after being briefed remotely by his national-security and foreign-policy agency review teams. “Right now we’re not getting all the information we need from the outgoing administration in key national-security areas.”
Reports indicate that earlier this month, acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller ordered Pentagon officials to halt cooperation with the Biden transition team, after the president-elect began receiving the daily presidential briefing on Nov. 30. Axios reported that the Trump administration was considering resuming cooperation “after a holiday pause.”
Biden cited the recent large-scale hacking of multiple parts of the federal government and major private companies including Microsoft
as one reason he needs to hit the ground running when he assumes office on Jan. 20.
“We need full visibility into the budget planning under way in the Defense Department and other agencies in order to avoid any window of confusion or catch-up that our adversaries might try to exploit,” he said.
Multiple news outlets reported that the hack, which could impact upwards of 18,000 government agencies and private companies, was backed by the Russian government and was part of a broader years-long cyberespionage campaign of as-yet-unknown scope.
Biden also stressed that a major foreign-policy objective will be to foster alliances with friendly democratic nations to tackle issues including climate change and U.S.-China trade relations.
“When we consider the most daunting threats of our time, we know that meeting them requires American leadership,” he said. “We’re stronger and more effective when we’re flanked by nations that share [our values].”