Biden accuses Trump's defense department and budget office of 'obstruction' and demands national security briefings for his transition team

  • President-elect Joe Biden on Monday said that his transition team is facing ongoing roadblocks from President Trump's political leadership at the Pentagon and Office of Management and Budget. 
  • "Right now, we just aren't getting all the information we need from the outgoing administration in key national security areas," Biden said.
  • Biden over the past week has repeatedly expressed concern about the lack of access he's received at the Pentagon as the US deals with the SolarWinds hack and amid tensions with Iran. 
  • The Pentagon has pushed back on the claim that officials are stonewalling Biden. 
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President-elect Joe Biden accused President Donald Trump's political appointees at both the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget of "obstruction" and refusing to provide key information to his presidential transition team during remarks in Delaware on Monday. 

"We have encountered roadblocks from the political leadership at the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget," Biden said during prepared remarks after a briefing from his national security advisers. 

"Right now, we just aren't getting all the information we need from the outgoing administration in key national security areas," he said. "It's nothing short, in my view, of irresponsibility." 

The Pentagon and Office of Management and Budget did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Insider.

"My team needs a clear picture of our force posture around the world and our operations to deter our enemies," Biden said. "We need full visibility into the budget planning under way at the defense department and other agencies in order to avoid any window of confusion or catchup that our adversaries may exploit."

This comes after Biden said last week that the Pentagon has refused to brief his national security team on several key issues, including the massive suspected Russian cyberattack on the US government this year. And Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller ordered his department to cancel meetings with the Biden transition team, Axios reported earlier this month. 

In response to the discovery of the SolarWinds hack, Trump claimed last week that "everything is well under control" and that the "Fake News Media" was falsely blaming Russia for the attack. But Biden said last week that the administration hadn't shared important information about the attack with his team, and his transition team says the obstruction is ongoing.

"The Department of Defense has continued to deny and delay meetings with our Agency Review Team members. There has been no substantial progress since transition officials spoke to the intransigence of the Department's political leadership earlier this month," a Biden transition official told Insider on Monday after the president-elect's remarks.

"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 January 20," the official added. 

The Defense Department has pushed back on the claim that officials are creating roadblocks for Biden and his team as the president-elect has repeatedly expressed concern that he's not receiving comprehensive information on national security in recent days. 

Biden argued on Monday that many federal agencies have been "hollowed out" under Trump, apparently referring to the administration's failure to fill a broad swath of positions across the government.

"The truth is, many of the agencies that are critical to our security have incurred enormous damage," Biden said. "Many of them have been hallowed out in personnel, capacity, and in morale. The policy processes have atrophied or have been sidelined."

As Biden has pushed for more thorough briefings and information from the Defense Department, Trump has issued new threats toward Iran.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have reached historic heights under the Trump administration, and Biden will have to contend with this as president on top of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing concerns over the SolarWinds hack. 

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