Trump's new defense secretary has reportedly ordered the Pentagon to halt Biden transition cooperation

  • Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller has ordered the Pentagon to halt cooperation with the Biden transition team, Axios reported Friday.
  • A Pentagon official said that the reason was that the staff involved in the transition is "overwhelmed."
  • The start of the transition was delayed, limiting the time to complete necessary tasks, and the senior Pentagon leader in charge of the transition was installed after a purge of the department's civilian leadership and has been on the job just over a month.
  • Cooperation will likely restart sometime after the holidays, a Pentagon official told Axios.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump's newest Pentagon chief has ordered the Department of Defense to halt efforts to cooperate with President-elect Joe Biden's team on the transition, Axios reported Friday, citing senior administration officials.

Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller sent the order instructing staff to cancel scheduled transition meetings Thursday night, stunning department officials, Axios reported.

The Trump administration delayed the start of the transition as the president disputed the results of the presidential election, forcing officials in federal departments and agencies involved in the transition process to scramble to hold meetings before Biden officially takes office on January 20.

A senior Pentagon official told Axios that Miller's directive was issued because the Pentagon staff involved in the transition are "overwhelmed."

"We had fewer than two dozen remaining meetings on the schedule today and next week," the official said, explaining that "the DoD staff working the meetings were overwhelmed by the number of meetings."

"These same senior leaders needed to do their day jobs and were being consumed by transition activities," the official added, telling Axios that the department is "taking a knee" for a couple of weeks but is "Still committed to a productive transition."

A number of senior leaders are new to the Pentagon, including the official tasked with leading the transition.

Shortly after the election, Trump's White House purged the Pentagon's civilian leadership, specifically the secretary of defense and his chief of staff, as well as the top policy and intelligence positions, and filled vacant posts with Trump loyalists.

Kash Patel, the new chief of staff to the new acting secretary of defense, is a former Hill staffer and member of the National Security Council who is widely seen as a Trump ally. He took over the transition at the Department of Defense after only two weeks on the job.

A former Pentagon official told Insider late last month that "the individuals being installed do not have the level of experience their predecessors did to assist with the transition." The official said that the transition process would be "hampered because you will have new people that don't have that experience."

The Pentagon did not respond to Insider's request for comment about Miller's directive to halt, likely temporarily, cooperation with Biden's team on the transition.

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