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Pentagon officials have been ordered to halt cooperation with president-elect Joe Biden’s transition team, reports said Friday, as the Defense Department said it was being overwhelmed by the volume of transition meetings and would reschedule them for after a “holiday pause.”
Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller on Thursday night ordered officials to cancel scheduled transition meetings, Axios reported.
It’s unclear what prompted Miller’s directive, which surprised staffers across the Defense Department, the report said.
The move comes after the DOD initially said it was working with the Biden transition team. A top Biden official told the website that their team was unaware of the directive.
In a statement to Axios, Miller said that: “After the mutually-agreed upon holiday pause, which begins tomorrow, we will continue with the transition and rescheduled meetings from today.”
“At no time has the Department cancelled or declined any interview,” the statement said.
A senior Defense Department official waved off the move as “simple delay” of fewer than two dozen scheduled meetings until after the new year — saying that “we are still committed to a productive transition.”
The official said that staffers “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.”
Miller was named to the post on Nov. 9, after Defense Secretary Mark Esper was fired earlier that month.
Acting Undersecretary of Defense for Policy James Anderson resigned shortly after and 11 members of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board were then abruptly booted by the outgoing Trump administration.
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