Joe Biden’s “transition team” is furious with Defense Secretary Christopher Miller for calling “a holiday pause” in intelligence briefings, shutting the door for Biden and his team to partake in top information.
Biden and his supporters had fought diligently to receive the briefings claiming that Biden was the “President-Elect”, and even though Biden had not legally been titled the “President-elect”, President Donald J. Trump and his administration agreed to allow Biden get the briefings.
Now that is privilege has come to a halt.
News of the “halt” comes as the intelligence community scrambles to respond to a massive cyberattack that breached multiple federal agencies, including Defence, State, Treasury, Homeland Security, Commerce, and the Department of Energy’s National Security Administration, which is responsible for the country’s nuclear arsenal.
I covered the story of the cyber attack here:
The halt announced on Friday came after the Defense Department issued a statement saying, “At no time has the Department canceled or declined any interview. … After the mutually-agreed-upon holiday, which begins tomorrow, we will continue with the transition and rescheduled meetings from today.”
Reaction from Trump campaign adviser Steve Cortes on Twitter was interesting, saying Biden “could not get even a low-level security clearance right now”.
“He’s compromised by the Chinese Communist Party,” Cortes posted.
But it could be because they are just really busy. “As of today, we have supported 139 interview sessions, more than 200 DoD personnel, 161 requests for information, and disclosed thousands of pages of non-public and classified documents, exceeding prior transitions,” Miller said in his statement. “At no time has the department canceled or declined any interview.”
Axios reported that Biden’s team was furious:
“Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller ordered a Pentagon-wide halt to cooperation with the transition of President-elect Biden, shocking officials across the Defense Department, senior administration officials tell Axios.
The latest: Biden transition director Yohannes Abraham contradicted the Pentagon’s official response to this story on Friday afternoon, telling reporters, “Let me be clear: there was no mutually agreed-upon holiday break.”
- “In fact, we think it’s important that briefings and other engagements continue during this period as there’s no time to spare, and that’s particularly true in the aftermath of ascertainment delay,” Abraham continued, referring to the Trump administration’s delay in recognizing Biden as president-elect.”
Axios, cited a defense official it didn’t identify as saying workers were feeling overwhelmed by the number of meetings.
The New York Post reported, that Pentagon officials have been ordered to halt cooperation with president-elect Joe Biden’s transition team as the Defense Department said it was being overwhelmed by the volume of transition meetings and would reschedule them for after a “holiday pause.”
It’s unclear what prompted Miller’s directive, which surprised staffers across the Defense Department, the report said.
Asked if the Pentagon was not being truthful in claiming a mutual agreement, transition spokeswoman Jen Psaki replied: “I don’t think we need to communicate that. I think you can make your own judgments.”
The Director of National Intelligence, which serves as head of the US Intelligence Community that includes the Department of Defence, announced on Wednesday that “a number of agencies have not finished coordinating on the product”.
That could be the report expected on Friday:
Amanda Schoch, ODNI Director of Strategic Communications: "This afternoon the DNI was notified by career intelligence officials that the Intelligence Community will not meet the December 18 deadline, set by Executive Order and Congress…" (1/3)— Office of the DNI (@ODNIgov) December 16, 2020
"The DNI is committed to providing this report to our customers expeditiously.” (3/3)— Office of the DNI (@ODNIgov) December 16, 2020
The Department of Homeland Security is holding classified briefings for Congress on Friday to outline how the scope and scale of the hack are wider than the 18,000 SolarWinds Orion customers who installed the back-door about six months before the presidential election, according to Reuters.
Homeland Security reportedly issued a bulletin on Thursday to warn the attack targeted multiple US agencies and included targets outside of those that used the compromised SolarWinds software.
Considering the amount of high level investigations going on, it might be wise to let the Biden team take a little break.