The Trump administration has blocked Joe Biden’s transition team from meeting with officials at US intelligence agencies controlled by the Pentagon, current and former US officials have said.
The president-elect’s team had asked to meet with senior officials at military intelligence agencies within the Defense Department (DoD), which include the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency, but were not allowed to do so, the Washington Post reported.
According to the report, the meetings were requested this week, and appeared to have been turned down, or delayed – although officials have since denied that was the case.
Sue Gough, a spokeswoman for the Defense Department, said on Friday that the Biden team “has not been denied any access,” and that the requested meetings will occur at some point next week.
But the Pentagon made multiple procedural requests that appeared to delay the Biden team’s meeting with intelligence agencies, which included asking for attendees’ names in advance, topics to be discussed and estimations on the time to be allotted, the Post reported.
An anonymous former official told CNN that the requests had come in the eleventh hour, and that they were “a big FU from Defense to the incoming intelligence community transition team".
A current Pentagon official, also anonymous, said the Biden team was told to contact Kash Patel, whom president Trump appointed to lead the Pentagon's transition last month, after they already contacted Defense Department intelligence agencies.
“They weren't denied, they just had to follow the proper procedure," said the official, suggesting the Biden intelligence team were to blame, and not the Pentagon or Trump administration.
A Biden transition team spokesperson declined to comment on the matter, when contacted by both CNN and the Post.
The president has fired at least four officials at the department since his election loss to Mr Biden, including Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and hired loyalists instead.
The delay to the Biden team’s meeting with intelligence agencies comes almost a month after the General Services Administration acknowledged his status as president-elect, which started the presidential transition process after weeks of delay.