Biden team and Department of Defense continue to clash over transition “roadblocks” and “obstruction”

President-elect Joe Biden delivers remarks at the Queen Theater on December 28 in Wilmington, Delaware. 
President-elect Joe Biden delivers remarks at the Queen Theater on December 28 in Wilmington, Delaware.  Mark Makela/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden publicly sounded the alarm on Monday over what he referred to as “obstruction” coming from some parts of the Trump government during the transition process – particularly, the Department of Defense.  

Biden advisers tell CNN that it is critical for the transition team to have a full understanding of the department of defense’s operations, including on major issues including Covid-19, cyber security, and the budget.  

Their overarching concern – which Biden made clear in his speech in Wilmington on Monday – is that a lack of cooperation from the Trump administration now could have serious implications for the country’s national security and the welfare of service members both during the transition period and well beyond it into Biden’s presidency. 

One area where the Biden team and the Defense Department have clashed in recent days is on the issue of transition meetings. One source familiar with the situation had said on Monday that the Defense Department continues to “deny and delay” meetings, and that none have taken place since Dec. 18. However, the Defense Department has insisted that many meetings have taken place since then. 

Presented with several examples of meetings that were cited by the Defense Department, a person familiar said that as of Monday, there has not been a single meeting that has fallen under the scope of the mutually agreed upon Memorandum of Understanding between the Biden transition and the Trump administration. 

The Defense Department also said there are now three meetings scheduled for this week – two on Covid-19 and one on cyber security. A Biden transition official did not dispute the Defense Department’s account that those meetings are set to take place this week.  

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