Biden Team Snubs Outgoing Pentagon Chief in Transition Spat

President-elect Joe Biden’s team denied Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller’s request for transition space at the Pentagon after he leaves office on Wednesday, a courtesy normally extended at the Defense Department.

The Biden transition told Miller’s team that it had denied his request for transition office space for himself and a handful of aides, in a reversal from past practice, according to a senior Defense Department official.

Outgoing secretaries typically get office space at the Pentagon for several weeks to handle any final tasks that remain undone by Inauguration Day.

Biden’s team didn’t give a reason for the denial, though the official said Miller’s team believed it was payback over the contention by Biden and his staff that the Trump administration sought to delay and obstruct the transition at the Defense Department. Early in January, incoming White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the transition team was encountering “intransigence” in the department and Office of Management and Budget, as well as “other places that we’ve had ongoing concern.”

A transition official, who asked not to be identified discussing private conversations, denied that the ongoing spat played any role in the decision. The official acknowledged it had been typical in the past to provide the office space but said Miller’s role as acting secretary, along with reduced staffing because of the coronavirus pandemic, made it inappropriate.

The official also noted that retired Army General Lloyd Austin, Biden’s nominee to be defense secretary, had decided to prepare for the transition from home.

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