President-elect Joe Biden said Monday afternoon that the outgoing Trump administration had purposely gutted key policy teams that oversee defense and national security, which Biden said had damaged America’s global leadership role and made his own presidential transition more difficult.
"The truth is, many of the agencies that are critical to our security have incurred enormous damage,” said Biden during a brief address from the Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. “Many of them have been hollowed out in personnel, capacity and in morale. The policy processes have atrophied or have been sidelined."
Biden also accused the White House of stonewalling his transition team, especially in matters of defense policy. The president-elect referred to these alleged holdups as obstruction on the part of the outgoing administration.
“Right now, we just aren’t getting all the information that we need from the outgoing administration in key national security areas. It’s nothing short, in my view, of irresponsibility,” Biden said.
Recent reports indicate that key political appointees in the Defense Department were directing career staffers to withhold critical information, including intelligence pertaining to the recent massive SolarWinds cyberattack, from their Biden team counterparts. Biden has previously given remarks airing his frustration on the administration’s lack of transparency on SolarWinds.
The Department of Defense vehemently denied such allegations, though Biden himself said his team has encountered roadblocks from the Defense Department and the Office of Management and Budget.
Trump has yet to concede an election he has clearly lost, despite members of his own admission making quiet concessions and resignations. The president, ensconced at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, has been largely quiet in recent days.
Before his remarks, Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris met with key advisers on national security and defense, who, according to Biden, stressed the need for his team to rebuild diplomatic relations with allies who have lost faith in American leadership.
Biden also briefly touched on the bombing in Nashville on Christmas Day, in particular thanking first responders.
“I want to thank the police department in Nashville, particularly the five police officers and first responders who helped save human lives,” he said. “I want the people of Nashville to know the hearts of the American people are with them."
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