The Trump administration reportedly blocked President-elect Joe Biden's transition team from meeting with intelligence leaders at Pentagon despite repeated requests. According to a report in The Washington Post, Biden's transition team was prevented from holding meeting with the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and other intelligence agencies this week.
This has left the transition team in the dark about the current espionage operations. This comes at a time when all other meeting by Biden's transition team appear to be happening smoothly now after weeks of delay. However, the Pentagon has denied purposefully harassing Biden's team from conduction any such meeting.
An Unexpected Delay
According to The Washington Post, the meeting requests were straightaway rejected by the Trump administration despite the General Services Administration clearing the way for a smooth transition last month. However, Pentagon has denied cancelling meetings between senior intelligence officials and Biden's transition team.
The rejections came even as Biden advisers spent much of this week meeting with officials at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the CIA, agencies that are part of the US intelligence community but independent of the Defense Department.
Things were going according to plan till last week when arrangements were made for Biden's Agency Review Team to meet with the top defense intelligence agencies this week but things changed all of a sudden. Earlier this week, Pentagon sent a message that the meetings with the defense intelligence agencies would be put on hold till Biden's team submitted specific set of questions that it wanted to ask the agencies and the people it would like to meet.
It was reported by the Post that Biden's team has been having problems with the Defense Department transition office since it is headed by a Trump loyalist connected to efforts to spread conspiracy theories about the President-elect.
The Pentagon reportedly has said that the meetings will take place next week. As of now requests made by Biden's team would be reviewed by the Defense Department's general counsel and Kash Patel, a Trump loyalist appointed to lead Pentagon's transition last month, and then only specific meeting would be fixed.
According to a former defense official, Biden's transition team had directly approached the Defense Department's intelligence agencies for interviews and meetings. Pentagon at that time had asked the transition team to approach Patel with all the requests for interviews and site visits "per the statute, GSA guidance" and the memorandum of understanding between the White House and the President-elect.
The Defense Department's stand on the issue has offended the Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, according to the former intelligence official, who said Ratcliffe intended to take the issue to the White House. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence was created to coordinate efforts among the intelligence agencies across the administration. It now needs to be seen, if Biden's intelligence transition team is lucky enough to hold a meeting next week.