Biden accuses Trump’s Pentagon and OMB of obstruction, demands cooperation

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden delivers a speech after a conference video call focused on foreign policy at his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, December 28, 2020.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

President-elect Joe Biden said Monday his transition team has run into “roadblocks” and “obstruction” from Trump administration officials at key agencies, hindering the incoming Biden administration’s efforts to prepare for the presidency.

“The truth is, many of the agencies that are critical to our security have incurred enormous damage,” Biden said during remarks in Delaware following a briefing from his national security and foreign policy agency review teams.

“Many of them have been hollowed out, in personnel, capacity, and in morale. Policy processes have atrophied or have been sidelined,” Biden said.

Biden, who is set to take office in less than a month, singled out the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget in his speech.

“From some agencies, our team has received exemplary cooperation,” Biden said. “From others, most notably the Department of Defense, we’ve encountered obstruction from the political leadership of that department.”

He later added: “We’ve encountered roadblocks from the political leadership in the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget. 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.

The Pentagon and Office of Management and Budget did not immediately respond to CNBC’s requests for comment.

Biden applauded his agency review teams for doing an “outstanding job” despite the coronavirus pandemic and the delays in receiving federal funding from Trump’s General Services Administration. Those obstacles came as President Donald Trump has refused to concede to Biden and as his campaign legal team and others continue their efforts to overturn the election.

A pressing concern, Biden said, is ensuring “that nothing is lost in the handoff between administrations.”

“We need full visibility into the budget planning underway at the Defense Department and other agencies in order to avoid any window of confusion or catch-up that our adversaries may try to exploit.”

While the president-elect’s remarks were among his most critical of the Trump administration from the Wilmington lectern, they were not the first marker of Biden’s struggles with Trump’s Defense Department.

The tensions between the Pentagon and Biden’s team spilled into public view earlier this month, over a dispute about acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller’s decision to cancel meetings with the transition team for the rest of the year.

Miller said in a statement that there was a “mutually agreed upon holiday pause,” but a Biden spokesman shot back that no such agreement was made.

“Let me be clear: There was no mutually agreed-upon holiday break,” transition spokesman Yohannes Abraham had told reporters.

It was weeks after the election that Defense officials confirmed the transition process within the Pentagon had begun.

“The first meeting today was by video conference, It was a good, productive meeting where we sort of laid down some of the ground rules,” Tom Muir, director of the Washington Headquarters Services, said during a Nov. 24 Pentagon briefing.

“They are looking forward to participating in discussions here in the Pentagon,” added Muir, who facilitates the transition process.

Muir said at the time that the Biden team will have dedicated office space in the Pentagon and appropriate access to intelligence.

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Panthers try, obstruction, Andrew Johns blow up, bunker, social media reaction

Rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns savaged the bunker after Brian To’o scored the Penrith Panthers’ first try of the Grand Final — but fortunately it didn’t cost Melbourne.

Cameron Smith led the Storm to another premiership as Craig Bellamy’s men held on for a 26-20 win in Sydney on Sunday night.

Down 26-0 in the 52nd minute, the Panthers looked to have finally scored their first try when lock Isaah Yeo kicked wide with To’o putting the ball down in the corner.

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But referee Gerard Sutton sent the call straight upstairs, checking for a possible obstruction.

While the grounding was fine, the obstruction rule again came under the microscope. In a season where the referees and bunker have been hammered over their interpretation of the rule, it appeared Yeo ran behind a decoy runner before kicking.

The commentators instantly believed it was an obstruction. But bunker official Steve Chiddy thought otherwise.

“Isaah Yeo has kicked the ball not clearly on the outside of the — sorry, on the inside of the defender, and has not disadvantaged the defence, playing on to this point,” he said.

Johns erupted over the decision to award a try, saying Yeo clearly gained an unfair advantage by running behind a teammate.

“Well, they don’t know the rules. They don’t know the fabric of the game,” Johns fumed.

“They don’t understand what happens with putting a question mark to the defence, the defence solves it.

“He runs behind the back of his play. This is an out-and-out obstruction.”

Johns was still fuming as Nathan Cleary kicked the conversion to make it 26-6 with 27 minutes remaining.

“He goes behind his player … You cannot do that,” Johns added.

“When Isaah Yeo gets the ball, there are a few options. One is to run himself, one to play the short ball, one to play at the back. He put that problem to the Storm defence and they’ve solved the problem, so then he double dips and runs behind his own player.

“Everyone who knows the game knows you can’t do that. You cannot run behind one of your own players and take advantage.”

Nine commentator Phil Gould also weighed in.

“He’s got the rule wrong. He’s got the rule wrong,” Gould added. “The bunker is wrong because Yeo has clearly run behind Capewell. He knows he’s run behind Capewell. That’s why he kicked it. He knew he was going to get penalised.”

Johns wasn’t alone in his fury, with vision of Bellamy exploding in the coaches box showing the Melbourne Storm coach wasn’t pleased by the decision either.

Social media was equally as perplexed.

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Penalty try, Panthers vs Storm, Justin Olam, referee, Stephen Crichton obstruction

The 2020 Grand Final saw a stunning start with a penalty try awarded just four minutes into the game as the Melbourne Storm drew first blood before going on to beat Penrith 26-20.

Getting the ball in good field position after a Panthers mistake, the Storm went wide.

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Winger Josh Addo-Carr was tackled but passed the ball back on the inside to his centre Justin Olam who dived for the corner — but referee Gerard Sutton sent the call up as a no try.

The bunker checked the sideline and then saw the ball dislodged by the knee of Panther Tyrone May, who kicked out with his leg in an effort to stop the try.

The more the bunker official Steve Chiddy looked at the play, the more the commentators on Channel 9 started to point to it being a potential penalty try.

It is illegal for a defender to kick the ball out of a rival’s grasp with their feet because it is deemed dangerous play.

The bunker sent it back as a penalty try — the first penalty try in a Grand Final since 2013

“Tyrone May has used the foot to kick the ball out of the possession of Justin Olam. In our opinion, we believe a try would have been scored,” Chiddy said.

The Panthers immediately protested with captain James Tamou told by Sutton “He can’t kick at it with a foot, mate. He believes he kicks at the ball.”

Gould called the decision “incredible”, clearly disagreeing with the call.

“I don’t know what Tyrone May could have done any differently there,” Gould said.

“It is not what I would call indiscriminate kicking but the referee ruled he’s played at the ball with his foot.

“That is a stunning start to this game. Stunning.”

But while social media was somewhat divided, the main sentiment was that it was a good call.

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The news went from bad to worse for Panthers, who went to hit straight back.

The Panthers were pushing hard towards the Storm line when it appeared Josh Mansour went over in the corner.

But it was called back when Stephen Crichton was called for an obstruction.

As the game went on, nothing appeared to be going the Panthers’ way with the Storm rolling on to a 22-0 lead at the break.

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