President-elect Joe Biden is warning of massive damage done to the national security apparatus by the Trump administration and “roadblocks” in communication between agency officials and his transition team that could undermine Americans’ security.
Throughout remarks Monday in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden said his team has faced “obstruction” from the “political leadership” at the Defense Branch and the Office of Management and Budget as they’ve sought to collect essential information to continue the transition of power.
“At the moment we just aren’t getting the entire information that we need from the outgoing administration in key national security areas. It’s nothing short, in my view, of irresponsibility,” Biden said.
He warned that his team needs “full visibility” into the budget process at the Defense Branch “to be able to keep away from any window of confusion or catch-up that our adversaries may try to exploit.” He also said they need “a lucid picture of our force posture around the globe and of our operations to deter our enemies.”
Biden’s remarks came after he was once briefed by members of his national security and defense teams and advisers, including his nominees for secretary of State, Defense and Homeland Security, in addition to his incoming national security adviser. The president-elect said his team found that agencies “critical to our security have incurred immense damage” all over President Donald Trump’s time in office.
“Many of them have been hollowed out in personnel, capacity and in morale,” he said. “All of it makes it harder for our government to give protection to the American people, to defend our imperative interests in a world where threats are constantly evolving and our adversaries are constantly adapting.”
Trump has still refused to concede an election he missing by more than 7 million votes, and his administration did not authorize official cooperation with the Biden transition team until Nov. 23, weeks after the election. Biden and his aides warned at the time that the delay was once hampering their ability to craft their own vaccine rollout plan, but have since said cooperation on that and other issues related to Covid-19 has improved.
Final week, alternatively, Biden himself said that the Defense Branch “won’t even brief us on many things” and suggested on account of this, he didn’t have a total understanding of the full scope of the recent cyberhack that breached a lot of government systems.
Pentagon officials pushed back on Biden’s characterization of the disconnect between the Defense Branch and the Biden team. Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller said in a commentary that the branch has conducted 164 interviews with over 400 officials, and given over 5,000 pages of documents, which is “far more than to begin with requested by Biden’s transition team.”
Miller also said that his team is continuing to schedule meetings for the remaining weeks of the transition and “answer any and all requests for information in our purview.”
Speaking Monday, Biden said they’re still gathering information approximately the extent of the cyberhack, but described the want to “modernize” The united states’s defense to deter future such attacks, “reasonably than continuing to over-invest in legacy systems designed to address the threats of the past.”
Biden also spoke in length approximately the want to rebuild global alliances, which he said were essential to combat climate change, address the Covid-19 pandemic and get ready for future epidemics, and confront the growing threat posed by China.
“At the moment, there’s an immense vacuum. We’re going to have to regain the agree with and confidence of a world that has begun to find ways to work around us or without us,” he said.
Trump has implemented an “The united states First” foreign policy that saw the United States retreat from longstanding global alliances and treaties. The Trump Administration cut underwriting from the North Atlantic Treaty Association, withdrew from the World Health Association and the Paris Climate Accords.
The shift absent from international diplomacy also precipitated an exodus of staff from key agencies, like the State Branch. Trump himself has had a contentious relationship with the intelligence community, criticizing its findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to spice up his candidacy. And still other national security agencies have faced staff cuts and unstable leadership all the way through Trump’s time in office as the president often fired his branch heads with little notice, continuously leaving departments with acting secretaries or vacant positions in their top ranks.
The situation has left what experts say is a major morale crisis all the way through the federal government, and Biden said Monday that “rebuilding the full set of our instruments of foreign policy and national security is the key challenge” he and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris face when they take office on January 20.