WASHINGTON — A Trump loyalist who was not too long ago appointed as Pentagon chief of employees is controlling the Biden transition’s staff entry to Pentagon officers, even blocking some profession officers and specialists from giving details about key protection points to the transition staff and telling political appointees to take the lead as a substitute, say two present and two former U.S. officers.
In some cases, the chief of employees, Kash Patel, who was assigned to the Pentagon after final month’s election, has recast coverage descriptions to incorporate content material that displays favorably on Trump’s insurance policies earlier than the data is shared with the Biden transition, two of the officers mentioned.
“He instructed all people we’re not going to cooperate with the transition staff,” one of many former officers mentioned of Patel, and he has “put quite a lot of restrictions on it.”
Patel made it clear early within the course of that senior political officers would attend transition staff conferences and briefings coping with important coverage points, the officers mentioned, which is having a chilling impact on the data being shared with the Biden staff.
Whereas mundane points and requests for data from the Biden staff are tasked out to Pentagon coverage specialists, the 2 present officers and one former official mentioned some important or time-sensitive insurance policies — reminiscent of these involving Iran, Afghanistan, and North Korea — are being dealt with by political appointees, a few of whom Trump not too long ago put in, or not answered in any respect.
Traditionally, profession civilians and navy officers put together lots of the briefing paperwork and knowledge throughout a transition, in keeping with officers who’ve participated in previous transitions.
Most requests for data from the Biden transition staff go to Tom Muir, director of Washington Headquarters Providers and senior civilian transition director, a present official mentioned. Muir then briefs Patel, who weighs in on requests for interviews and which staffers will deal with requests for data.
Some briefing paperwork have gone by means of Patel earlier than going to the transition staff, and he has put a political spin on some data and fully withheld it in different circumstances, in keeping with the present and former officers.
“This has been extra politicized than earlier transitions,” one official mentioned. “Patel is controlling the data stream.”
In some circumstances, in keeping with the 2 present officers, the profession officers have been fully reduce out of the method, with political appointees taking the lead slightly than the subject material specialists who deal with the problems.
Pentagon officers have supplied the Biden Company Evaluation Group (ART) with some briefing paperwork, in keeping with a senior protection official and one of many former protection officers. In previous years transition groups obtained binders, however this yr the Pentagon has delivered iPads with data, the officers mentioned.
In an announcement launched after this story first posted, Appearing Secretary of Protection Christopher Miller wrote, “The DoD and its transition management are totally cooperating with the Biden transition staff, inserting nationwide safety and the safety of the American individuals on the forefront of any and all discussions.”
Final week, a senior protection official mentioned that Patel was main the transition efforts for the Pentagon, simply two weeks after Patel arrived within the Pentagon after being named chief of employees to performing Secretary of Protection Chris Miller.
Three different Trump loyalists have additionally taken over highly effective Pentagon positions because the Nov. 3 election, together with retired Military Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, who’s now performing the duties of the undersecretary of protection for coverage; Ezra Cohen-Watnick, now the performing undersecretary of protection for intelligence and safety; and retired Military Col. Doug Macgregor, now senior adviser to Appearing Secretary Miller.
Members of the Biden ART have requested to talk with numerous political appointees, profession civilians, and navy officers, a protection official mentioned. A senior protection official mentioned that “Kash has not been deciding on people to do conferences,” however the official did acknowledge that the Pentagon’s transition staff does add extra individuals to conferences “to verify we’ve the suitable individuals there.” The official mentioned it’s to make sure they supply as a lot data as attainable.
Patel has mandated that requests from the transition staff to talk with profession civilians or navy officers be authorized by both Patel or Muir, additionally a political appointee, earlier than they will proceed, in keeping with two present U.S. officers. Up to now most requests have been authorized, however the officers say that they haven’t responded to all requests.
In an announcement, a Pentagon spokesperson mentioned, “We proceed to work carefully with the DoD ART and different Company Evaluation Groups to schedule requested by-name interviews of DoD management, each political appointees and profession civil servants. Now we have supplied hundreds of pages of paperwork, together with categorized supplies, for his or her overview and follow-on questions, in accordance with statute, insurance policies, and the Memorandum of Understanding between the White Home and the Biden-Harris Transition Group — and we shall be offering extra as acceptable.”
A senior protection official mentioned the Pentagon’s transition staff facilitated 21 interviews this week and has 47 extra scheduled for subsequent week, together with conferences with the regional combatant commanders and the chiefs of the navy providers. The official mentioned they’d 5 conferences about Covid-19 this week, and had different conferences about personnel and readiness and different coverage points. The Pentagon has supplied the Biden transition staff with greater than 1,500 pages of data through Microsoft tablets, the official mentioned.
The Biden transition staff declined to remark.
Patel, who was named as Pentagon chief of employees on Nov. 10, previously labored within the Trump administration on the Nationwide Safety Council. He additionally served as an aide to Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., who labored on the contentious Home investigation into Russian interference within the 2016 election.