Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller reportedly ordered a halt to cooperation with the transition team of Joe Biden on Thursday, resulting in cancelled meetings building-wide.
According to Axios, officials across the Defense Department were shocked at the directive, and unsure of what prompted it. Apparently, a top Biden official was also taken by surprise by the directive.
Administration officials told the news outlet that cooperation with the Biden transition team could resume after a holiday pause.
Miller’s move, which stunned officials throughout the Pentagon, was the biggest eruption yet of animus and mistrust toward the Biden team from the top level of the Trump administration.
Meetings between President Trump’s team and the Biden team are going on throughout the government, after a delayed start as the administration dragged its feet on officially recognizing Biden as president-elect.
Then on Thursday night, Miller — who was appointed Nov. 9, when Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper right after the election — ordered officials throughout the building to cancel scheduled transition meetings.
A senior Defense Department official downplayed the move, calling it “a simple delay of the last few scheduled meetings until after the new year.”
“We had fewer than two dozen remaining meetings on the schedule today and next week,” the official said, adding that “the DoD staff working the meetings were overwhelmed by the number of meetings.”
“These same senior leaders needed to do their day jobs and were being consumed by transition activities. With the holidays we are taking a knee for two weeks. We are still committed to a productive transition.”
In reaction, Trump campaign adviser Steve Cortes said on Twitter, “Good! Joe Biden could not get even a low-level security clearance right now. He’s compromised by the Chinese Communist Party.”
Good! Joe Biden could not get even a low-level security clearance right now. He’s compromised by the Chinese Communist Party.
Axios: Acting Pentagon chief halts Biden transition briefings. https://t.co/Kni463LRpt
— Steve Cortes (@CortesSteve) December 18, 2020