A Trump loyalist who was recently appointed as Pentagon chief of staff is controlling the Biden transition's team access to Pentagon officials, even blocking some career officials and experts from giving information about key defense issues to the transition team and telling political appointees to take the lead instead, say two current and two former U.S. officials.
In some instances, the chief of staff, Kash Patel, who was assigned to the Pentagon after last month's election, has recast policy descriptions to include content that reflects favorably on Trump's policies before the information is shared with the Biden transition, two of the officials said.
"He told everybody we're not going to cooperate with the transition team," one of the former officials said of Patel, and he has "put a lot of restrictions on it."
Patel made it clear early in the process that senior political officials would attend transition team meetings and briefings dealing with significant policy issues, the officials said, which is having a chilling effect on the information being shared with the Biden team.
While mundane issues and requests for information from the Biden team are tasked out to Pentagon policy experts, the two current officials and one former official said some significant or time-sensitive policies — such as those involving Iran, Afghanistan, and North Korea — are being handled by political appointees, some of whom Trump recently installed, or not answered at all.
Historically, career civilians and military officials prepare many of the briefing documents and information during a transition, according to officials who have participated in past transitions.
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