Pentagon officials eye 'off-site' meetings with Joe Biden's team

Pentagon officials may have to provide incoming officials with information away from the Pentagon, because Trump can't accept reality.
Image: Pentagon
An aerial view of the Pentagon building in Washington on Dec. 26, 2011.Dan De LUCE / AFP - Getty Images file

As Donald Trump continues to pretend he didn't lose the election, the presidential transition process that was supposed to begin last week is effectively frozen, waiting for a pointless and scandalous tantrum to come to an end. This affects, among other things, national security.

Indeed, when the 9/11 Commission assessed systemic breakdowns ahead of the 2001 terrorist attacks, it pointed specifically to the shortened transition period between the Clinton and Bush/Cheney administrations. The 9/11 Commission Report explained, "The dispute over the [2000] election and the 36-day delay cut in half the normal transition period. Given that a presidential election in the United States brings wholesale change in personnel, this loss of time hampered the new administration in identifying, recruiting, clearing, and obtaining Senate confirmation of key appointees."

Twenty years later, the Wall Street Journal reports that some U.S. national-security officials are considering "unofficially meeting at off-site locations" with members President-elect Joe Biden's team, in the hopes of preventing problems in the near future.

Pentagon officials said Tuesday they hadn't formally begun the transition process, but have started providing unclassified briefing material, as they are allowed to do. Some officials at the Pentagon said they would be willing to meet off site with members of the Biden team should the standoff extend into December. The officials said that waiting past mid-December and into the holiday season wouldn't give the incoming team enough time to learn about jobs that could affect the safety of deployed U.S. service members.

One Defense Department official was quoted saying, "January is too late."

The fact that we've reached this point -- Pentagon officials would have to provide incoming officials with information away from the Pentagon, because Trump can't accept reality -- is ridiculous on its face.

But it's also a poor substitute for an actual, legitimate transition process. As the WSJ's report added, officials couldn't share classified information with the incoming team at these off-site discussions, and "the transition process would be inconsistent, the officials warned, as it would be determined by the willingness of individual current officials to share information with his or her successor."

Ideally, Americans would have a president who'd put his own country's national security interests above his ego. For the next 63 days, Americans will not have such a president.