Acting defence secretary Chris Miller ordered the Pentagon-wide halt on cooperation with the incoming Biden administration in a move that has stunned leadership, Axios reported Friday. Miller reportedly issued the order throughout the building to cancel scheduled meetings on Thursday night.
President Donald Trump appointed Miller to replace former defence secretary Mark Esper in the immediate aftermath of the election. It is unclear what prompted the scheduled meetings to be cancelled. But a senior Defence Department official told Axios it was 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 DoD staff working the meetings were overwhelmed by the number of meetings,” the official told the outlet.
“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.”
The order comes as the intelligence community scrambles to respond to a massive cyber attack 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.
While it was unknown if Donald Trump was involved with the Pentagon’s move, senior advisers began publicly supporting the decision on Friday.
Trump campaign adviser Steve Cortes responded by mocking President-elect Joe Biden, saying on Twitter, “Biden could not get even a low-level security clearance right now”.
“He’s compromised by the Chinese Communist Party,” Cortes said in a tweet.
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
Of course, there’s no evidence that Mr. Biden has any compromising relationship with the Chinese government.