According to a former senior intelligence official familiar with intelligence transition meetings, the Trump administration stopped President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team from meeting with its counterparts at Pentagon intelligence agencies this week.
The slowdown means that the Biden team has not yet been able to communicate with officials within the Defense Department’s military intelligence agencies—including the Defense Intelligence Service and the National Security Agency—even though all other Biden review team meetings now appear to be taking place smoothly after weeks of delay.
Arrangements were made last week for Biden’s Department Review Team to meet this week with the different defense intelligence agencies, the former intelligence official said.
But early in the week, word came from the Pentagon that unless it had sent questions in advance and listed the names of the individuals with whom it wished to communicate, the Biden team would have no engagement with defense intelligence agencies.
“That’s a big FU from Defense to the incoming intelligence community transition team,”That’s a big FU from Defense to the incoming intelligence community transition team.
Sue Gough, a spokeswoman for the Defense Department, denied that there had been any problem with the capacity of the Biden teams to meet with Pentagon intelligence officials.
A defense official said the Biden intelligence transition team had “made direct coordination with DOD intelligence agencies for interviews, briefings and site visits,” and the Pentagon then demanded that it reach out to Patel for all of its requests for interviews and site visits “per the statute, GSA guidance” and the White House-President-elected memorandum of understanding
According to the former intelligence officer, who said Ratcliffe wanted to take the matter to the White House, the Defense Department’s stance on the issue irritated National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe.
This week, Vince Stewart, a former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and former deputy director of the US Cyber Command, who is now co-leading Biden’s intelligence transition team, visited the National Intelligence Director’s Office to lay the groundwork for Biden’s visit to replace Avril Haines, Ratcliffe.
In March 2017, Cohen-Watnick gained attention for his alleged role in supplying intelligence materials to then-House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, a California Republican who went on to say that Trump associates were illegally tracked by US intelligence officials.