According to Axios, senior administration officials had said that the Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller ordered a Pentagon-wide halt to cooperate with President-elect Biden’s transition, which shocked officials across the Defense Department.
On Friday afternoon, Biden’s transition director Yohannes Abraham contradicted the Pentagon’s official response to the story by 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.
The delay he was referring to was the Trump administration’s delay in recognizing Biden as the president-elect.
“At no time has the Department canceled or declined any interview,” Miller had said in a statement. “After the mutually-agreed-upon holiday, which begins tomorrow, we will continue with the transition and rescheduled meetings from today.”
Miller’s move, which was unexpected and stunned officials throughout the Pentagon, was the biggest proof of distrust from the Trump administration’s top level toward the Biden team.
Meetings between President Trump’s team and the Biden team have recently been taking place throughout the government. After a delayed start, the Trump administration took its time on officially recognizing Biden as the president-elect.
On Thursday night, Defense Secretary Miller was appointed on November 9 after Trump fired Mark Esper right after the election — ordered officials to cancel all scheduled transition meetings.
A senior Defense Department official then tried to downplay the move and called it “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 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,” the same official said. “With the holidays, we are taking a knee for two weeks. We are still committed to a productive transition.”