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Politics

Biden slams Pentagon political leadership for obstructing handover

President-elect says his transition team has 'encountered roadblocks'

President Donald Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper in November. Christopher Miller has been acting secretary at the Pentagon since.   © AP

WILMINGTON, Delaware (Reuters) -- President-elect Joe Biden said on Monday many of America's security agencies had been "hollowed out" under President Donald Trump and the lack of information being provided to his transition team by the outgoing administration was an "irresponsibility."

"We've encountered roadblocks from the political leadership at the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget," Biden said after a meeting with his foreign policy team.

"Right now we just aren't getting all of the information that we need from the outgoing administration in key national security areas. It's nothing short, in my view, of irresponsibility," he added.

After Biden beat Trump in the Nov. 3 election, the Democrat's team only began meeting with administration officials in late November to coordinate the handover.

Trump, a Republican, has refused to concede defeat and his administration only authorized cooperation with Biden on Nov. 23.

Earlier this month, Biden's team said they had met resistance to their requests for information from some Pentagon officials.

The Pentagon pushed back against the Biden team's earlier complaints. A senior defense official last week said that the Pentagon had conducted 163 interviews and 181 requests for information and that it would continue to provide information and meetings.

But Biden reiterated those concerns on Monday.

"We encountered obstruction from the political leadership of that department (Pentagon). And the truth is many of the agencies that are critical to our security have incurred enormous damage," Biden said after a meeting with his foreign policy team.

"The truth is that many of the agencies that are crucial to our security have incurred enormous damage. Many of them have been hollowed out - in personnel, capacity and in morale," he said.

Biden takes office on Jan. 20.

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