‘Beyond the pale’: Biden team met with growing anger from agency heads accused of obstructing transition

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Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden’s transition team continues to accuse members of the Trump administration of not cooperating, even as those same members keep arguing that the complaints from Biden’s team are bullschiff.

The latest complaint comes courtesy Yohannes Abraham, the executive director of Biden’s transition team, and marked the third time this week alone that someone on the transition team has complained about the Trump administration.

During a virtual briefing with reporters Wednesday, Abraham said his officials “have encountered obstruction from political leadership at various agencies, most notably at the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget.”

“Make no mistake, this lack of cooperation has real-world implications, most concerningly as it relates to our national security. This intentionally generated opacity makes it harder for our government to protect the American people moving forward,” he added.

“OMB leadership’s refusal to fully cooperate impairs our ability to identify opportunities to maximize the relief going out to Americans during the pandemic, and it leaves us in the dark as it relates to Covid-related expenditures and critical gaps.”

Listen:

OMB officials are reportedly “furious” over the allegations, according to The Hill.

“OMB has provided all factual information about ongoing programs to his team — everything they have requested — and we have taken 45 meetings with his staff. Further, he has been briefed on Operation Warp Speed. Additionally, moments after GSA’s ascertainment, OMB apportioned transition funds,” a spokesperson reportedly said.

“OMB is doing everything it can to further President Trump’s policy agenda of protecting our border, rebuilding the military, and putting America first. Further, it’s pretty beyond the pale to impugn the character of the hardworking men and women of OMB simply because he is unable, or unwilling, to gather the facts.”

Abraham is the third Biden transition official to complain this week. The complaints began Monday when Biden himself spoke of alleged Trump administration “roadblocks” while delivering a speech from Wilmington, Delaware.

“[W]e have encountered roadblocks from the political leadership at the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget. 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,” he claimed.

Listen:

Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher C. Miller promptly responded to the remarks by releasing a full statement refuting the allegation.

“The Department of Defense has conducted 164 interviews with over 400 officials, and provided over 5,000 pages of documents – far more than initially requested by Biden’s transition team,” he said.

“DOD’s efforts already surpass those of recent administrations with over three weeks to go and we continue to schedule additional meetings for the remainder of the transition and answer any and all requests for information in our purview.”

Yet less than 24 hours later, another member of Biden’s team  — incoming National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan —  complained to NPR that the Pentagon has been snubbing the transition team since Dec. 18th and that “dozens of written requests for information are outstanding as we speak.”

However, this so-called snubbing has already been previously addressed. Right before the Christmas holidays began, Pentagon officials confirmed that they’d be halting their regular transition activities until after the holidays.

Speaking with Axios, a senior Defense Department official said at the time that the decision was motivated by exhaustion from DoD staff and the fact that there weren’t that many meetings left.

“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.”

All this comes as President Donald Trump continues to challenge the results of the 2020 presidential election. As a reminder, if his challenges prove successful, all the transition work being done right now will be for naught.

This week the president’s legal team filed a petiiton asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a case concerning alleged election fraud in Wisconsin.

Lawyers for Trump’s reelection campaign challenged the voting results in the state and, on Tuesday, asked the high court to review the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision to dismiss the case involving about 50,000 absentee ballots.

The president’s team is looking for the Supreme Court to expedite the review before Congress meets on January 6 to certify the Electoral College votes.

Vivek Saxena

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