Biden warns security agencies ‘enormous damage’ during Trump administration

Elected President Joe Biden painted a grim landscape over the state of the country’s national security and foreign policy agencies, warning that those departments had suffered ‘enormous damage’ in the four years President Trump held and that they had “hollowed out” is in staff, capacity and morality. “

Mr. Biden commented on the process of investigating the agency that has taken place in the weeks since the election, saying that its teams assessing the state of the federal government have in some cases received ‘exemplary cooperation’ from career staff.

“But from others, especially the Department of Defense, we have been hindered by the political leadership,” he said.

“The truth is that many of the agencies that are critical to our security have done enormous damage,” the president-elect said.

Mr. Biden said the actions of the Trump administration “make it harder for our government to protect the American people, to defend our vital interests.”

The president-elect’s remarks follow a briefing by members of his review teams for national security and foreign policy agencies “on their findings and key challenges that the Biden-Harris government will inherit,” his transition team said before his remarks.

Mr. Biden said it was crucial to ensure that “nothing is lost” during the change in presidential administrations, stressing the need for his team to have a ‘clear picture’ of the country’s global power and operations. to deter enemies, as well as “visibility” in the budget planning that is going on at the Pentagon and other agencies to avoid “any window of confusion or overtaking” that could be exploited by enemies.

“We have encountered roadblocks of the political leadership at the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget,” he said. Biden said. “At the moment we are not getting all the information we need from the outgoing government in key national security areas.. This is nothing but my responsibility. “

The president-elect said that during the Trump administration, his agency investigation teams discovered that the policy processes were “weakened or eliminated”. The US, he said, “will regain our credibility to lead the free world.”

“At the moment there is a huge vacuum,” he said. Biden said. “We will have to regain the trust and confidence of a world that has begun to find ways to work around us or without us.”

The president-elect begins his remarks by acknowledging the blast that erupted in downtown Nashville on Christmas morning and praising the Nashville police officers who quickly evacuated the area before the blast, as well as the firefighters who responded to it. has.

“Their bravery and cool-headedness probably saved lives and prevented a worse outcome, and we are eternally grateful,” he said.

In remarks before meeting with advisers, Mr. Biden said the country has seen in the four years of the Trump administration that “our security is threatened by the stand-alone approach under this government.”

“The truth is that the challenges we face today cannot be solved by one country acting alone,” he said. “They demand American leadership. They demand cooperation with our allies and our partners.”

The president-elect spoke about the numerous challenges facing his administration once he takes office, including reversing the economic devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic and mitigating the spread of the virus.

Mr. Biden will also have the task of responding to the massive cyber attack which has affected numerous government agencies, including the departments of energy, state and treasury.

The offenders, allegedly carried out by Russian hackers, has infiltrated computer networks through a popular software product from SolarWinds, a Texas-based company that also works with many of the nation’s largest companies. The full extent of the cyber attack and the damage done remains unclear. Mr Biden last week the mr. Trump condemns because he had the offense on his watch and promised to take it seriously.

The president-elect said he had not seen or heard any evidence to suggest the offense was under control, adding that the Department of Defense would not even inform us about many things. However, a Defense official disputed that.

According to Pentagon officials, there is an interruption between the transition team and the Department of Defense for the holidays and they will resume in early January. The transition team said there was no agreed break.

Ellee Watson contributed to this report