US President-elect Joe Biden says the Trump administration has done enormous damage to the country's security agencies and is continuing to throw up roadblocks in communication between officials and his transition team.
Speaking in Delaware, Biden said his team has faced "obstruction" from the "political leadership" at the Defense Department and the Office of Management and Budget as they've sought to gather necessary information to continue the transition of power.
"Right now we just aren't getting all the information that we need from the outgoing administration in key national security areas. It's nothing short, in my view, of irresponsibility," Biden said.
He warned that his team needs "full visibility" into the budget process at the Defense Department "in order to avoid any window of confusion or catch-up that our adversaries may try to exploit." He also said they need "a clear picture of our force posture around the world and of our operations to deter our enemies."
Biden's remarks came after he was briefed by members of his national security and defence teams and advisers, including his nominees for secretary of State, Defense and Homeland Security, as well as his incoming national security adviser. The president-elect said his team found that agencies "critical to our security have incurred enormous damage" during President Donald Trump's time in office.
"Many of them have been hollowed out in personnel, capacity and in morale," he said. "All of it makes it harder for our government to protect the American people, to defend our vital interests in a world where threats are constantly evolving and our adversaries are constantly adapting."
Trump has still refused to concede an election he lost by more than 7 million votes, and his administration did not authorise official cooperation with the Biden transition team until November 23, weeks after the election. Biden and his aides warned at the time that the delay was hampering their ability to craft a vaccine rollout plan, but have since said cooperation on that and other issues related to COVID-19 has improved.
Pentagon officials have pushed back on Biden's characterisation of the disconnect between the Defense Department and the Biden team. Acting Defence Secretary Christopher Miller said in a statement that the department has conducted 164 interviews with over 400 officials, and provided over 5,000 pages of documents, which is "far more than initially requested by Biden's transition team."
Biden also spoke in length in Delaware about the need to rebuild global alliances, which he said were necessary to combat climate change, address the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for future epidemics, and confront the growing threat posed by China.
"Right now, there's an enormous vacuum. We're going to have to regain the trust and confidence of a world that has begun to find ways to work around us or without us," he said.
Trump implemented an "America First" foreign policy that saw the US retreat from longstanding global alliances and treaties. The Trump Administration cut funding from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, withdrew from the World Health Organisation and the Paris Climate Accords.