By Alex Marquart, Ryan Browne and Nicole Gaouette | Fintech Zoom
The Trump administration prevented President-elect Joe Biden’s transition group from assembly with its counterparts at Pentagon intelligence businesses this week, based on a former senior intelligence official acquainted with intelligence transition discussions.
The slowdown means the Biden group has not but been capable of meet with officers from the army intelligence businesses inside the Protection Division — together with the Protection Intelligence Company and the Nationwide Safety Company — at the same time as all different conferences by Biden assessment groups seem like occurring easily now after weeks of delay.
The Pentagon denies any effort to stymie the President-elect’s group. A senior protection official instructed Fintech Zoom that briefings had taken place on Friday for transition officers on army issues, together with senior-level coverage and worldwide safety points, however not on intelligence.
The Washington Submit first reported on the Biden group’s issues with the Protection Division transition workplace, which is led by a Trump loyalist linked to efforts to unfold conspiracy theories concerning the President-elect.
The delays come even because the General Companies Administration gave a inexperienced mild on November 23 for officers at federal businesses throughout the federal government to fulfill with the President-elect’s Company Assessment Groups — important to making sure a easy switch of energy.
Final week, preparations had been made for Biden’s Company Assessment Crew to fulfill with the assorted protection intelligence businesses this week, the previous intelligence official mentioned.
However early within the week, phrase got here from the Pentagon that the Biden group would haven’t any engagement with protection intelligence businesses till it had submitted questions upfront and listed the names of the individuals with whom it wished to work together.
At that time, the Biden group’s requests could be reviewed by the Protection Division’s normal counsel and Kash Patel, the Trump loyalist appointed to guide the Pentagon’s transition final month amid President Donald Trump’s purge of civilian management on the division.
“That’s a big FU from Defense to the incoming intelligence community transition team,” the previous official mentioned.
Sue Gough, a Protection Division spokesperson, denied there was any situation with the Biden groups’ potential to fulfill with intelligence officers on the Pentagon.
“The DOD Agency Review Team has not been denied any access,” Gough mentioned in a press release. “We continue to work with the DOD ART to schedule all requested interviews, briefings and updates.”
Biden transition group spokesman Ned price declined to remark. The Nationwide Safety Company and the Workplace of the Director of Nationwide Intelligence didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.
A protection official mentioned the Biden transition group for intelligence had “made direct coordination with DOD intelligence agencies for interviews, briefings and site visits,” and the Pentagon had then requested that it attain out to Patel for all of its requests for interviews and website visits “per the statute, GSA guidance” and the memorandum of understanding between the White Home and the President-elect.
“In case that isn’t clear,” the protection official mentioned, “the schedule change/delay occurred as a result of the (Biden group) didn’t attain out to DOD earlier than scheduling a gathering with DOD businesses, PER THE GUIDANCE and MOU. They weren’t denied, they simply needed to comply with the correct process.”
Gough mentioned in her assertion that visits had been “tentatively scheduled for early next week,” and that Patel and the performing below secretary of protection for intelligence and safety are working intently with others “and are completing coordination” for the Biden groups to go to.
The Protection Division’s stand on the difficulty has angered Director of Nationwide Intelligence John Ratcliffe, based on the previous intelligence official, who mentioned Ratcliffe meant to take the difficulty to the White Home.
The Workplace of the Director of Nationwide Intelligence was created to coordinate efforts among the many intelligence businesses throughout the administration.
“Ratcliffe was hot. He saw it as insubordination,” the previous intelligence official mentioned. “It was his authority as DNI to set the stage for and processes of the transition.”
Vince Stewart, a former head of the Protection Intelligence Company and former deputy director of US Cyber Command who now co-leads Biden’s intelligence transition group, visited the Workplace of the Director of Nationwide Intelligence this week to put the groundwork for a go to by Biden’s decide to switch Ratcliffe, Avril Haines.
Trump appointed Patel and Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the performing below secretary of protection for intelligence and safety, to their posts as a part of a slew of main modifications on the Pentagon, the place he has jettisoned a lot of the civilian management in latest weeks, changing them with political loyalists as his administration winds to a detailed.
Cohen-Watnick gained notoriety in March 2017 for his alleged involvement in offering intelligence supplies to then-Home Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, a California Republican who went on to assert that US intelligence officers improperly surveilled Trump associates.
Since firing Protection Secretary Mark Esper by tweet November 9, the President has ousted a minimum of three different high officers and changed them with perceived loyalists. Trump has additionally changed the members on two advisory boards, putting in his former marketing campaign supervisor on considered one of them.