Last week the Pentagon responded to complaints that the Trump administration was slow-rolling Pentagon transition briefings with the incoming Joe Biden national security team. A Pentagon statement noted that many factors had impacted the ability to perform the hundreds of national security briefings.
These included Covid and the holidays, as well as Biden team members trying to circumvent the Pentagon to connect directly with various Department of Defense (DOD) agencies. The statement added that only some meetings or briefings had needed to be rescheduled to after the New Year.
Not content with that explanation, presumptive President-elect Joe Biden launched a video on Monday via Twitter escalating the accusations against DOD and the Trump administration.
We have encountered roadblocks from the political leadership at the Department of Defense, and the Office of Management and Budget. Right now, we just aren’t getting all the information that we need from the outgoing administration in key national security areas. It’s nothing short…of irresponsibility.
Right now, my team isn’t getting all the information that we need from the outgoing administration in key national security areas.
It’s nothing short of irresponsible. pic.twitter.com/T67NbgSFLl
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) December 29, 2020
However, acting Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) Chris Miller didn’t hesitate to counter the Biden accusations, immediately issuing a statement responding to and correcting Biden. As quoted by American Military News (AMN), Miller’s statement read:
The Department of Defense has conducted 164 interviews with over 400 officials and 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.
Our DoD political and career officials have been working with the utmost professionalism to support transition activities in a compressed time schedule and they will continue to do so in a transparent and collegial manner that upholds the finest traditions of the Department.”
AMN continued by noting that the Pentagon also stated that — in addition to the hundreds of meetings and thousands of pages of non-public and classified information — the DOD “has also fulfilled 188 requests for information (RFIs) since transition efforts began on Nov. 23.”
According to AMN, DOD spokesperson Susan Gough said:
We continue to schedule interviews with senior leaders and career officials for early January. Additionally, we will coordinate any urgent Operation Warp Speed or COVID-related requests as they arise over the holidays, as well as provide responses to RFIs specifically related to COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
Gough added that the DOD has three interviews scheduled this week with the Biden team, two of which are Covid-19 related and one that is cybersecurity related. She added, according to AMN, that the DOD will continue to provide the Biden team with access to classified information and visits to the Pentagon.
The Pentagon, she said, will also work with the Agency Review Team to validate a new pilot program designed to rapidly onboard the political appointees of a new administration and provide confirmation support to prospective nominees.