Dec 28, 2020
Joe Biden Speech Transcript on “Roadblocks” Between His Transition Team & Trump’s Administration
Joe Biden gave a speech in Wilmington, DE on December 28 in which he accused the Trump administration of obstruction and that his transition team has “encountered roadblocks” at the Pentagon & Defense Department. Read the full transcript here.
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Joe Biden: (00:05)
Federal, state and local law enforcement are working around the clock to gain more information on motive and intent. This bombing was a reminder of the destructive power that an individual or a small group can muster and the need for continuing vigilance across the board.
Joe Biden: (00:24)
I want to thank the police department in Nashville, particularly those five police officers who worked so quickly to evacuate the area before the explosion occurred, risking their own lives. And for all the firefighters and first responders who jumped into action early on that Christmas morning, last Christmas morning. Their bravery and cool headedness likely saved lives and prevented a worse outcome, and we are internally grateful to that law enforcement agency. And I know the hearts of all Americans are with the people of Nashville as they rebuild and recover from this traumatic event.
Joe Biden: (01:02)
Now Vice President Harris and I, along with our nominees that lead the national security institutions have just been briefed by some of the professionals who have been conducting agency reviews as a part of our transition. This a long standing part of the orderly transition of power in American democracy. We welcome teams from the incoming Trump Pence Administration four years ago, gave them access to all that we had. And over the past few weeks, teams of genuine policy and management experts, many of them previous government experience who have gone into agencies across the government to conduct interviews with personnel, to gather information and to assess the state of the federal government, excuse me, that we will shortly inherit.
Joe Biden: (01:53)
These teams worked under incredibly difficult circumstances, taking COVID-19 precautions and waiting weeks for the ascertainment, meaning that so they could go in and be cleared to go in, but they have done an outstanding job. For some agencies, our teams received exemplary cooperation from the career staff in those agencies. From others, most notably the Department of Defense, we encountered obstruction from the political leadership of that department. And the truth is, many of the agencies that are critical to our security have incurred enormous damage. Many of them have been hollowed out in personnel, capacity and in morale. In the policy processes that have atrophied or have been sidelined, in the despair of our alliances and the disrepair of those alliances, and our absence from key institutions that matter to the welfare of the American people. And the general disengagement from the world and 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.
Joe Biden: (03:19)
Rebuilding the full set of our instruments of foreign policy and national security is a key challenge that the Vice President elect Harris and I will face upon taking office, starting with our diplomacy. Today, we heard from the leaders of the state and USA ID agency review teams about the critical early investment we’re going to need to make in our diplomacy and our development efforts and in rebuilding our alliances to close the ranks with our partners and bring to bear the full benefits of our shared strength for the American people.
Joe Biden: (03:57)
When we consider the most daunting threats of our time, we know that meeting them requires American engagement and American leadership, but also that none of them can be solved by America acting alone. Take climate change, for example. The United States accounts for less than 15% of the global carbon emissions, but without clear, coordinated and committed approach from the other 85% of the carbon emitters, the world will continue to warm. Storms will continue to worsen. Climate change will continue to threaten the lives and livelihoods, and public health and economics of our existence and our, literally, the very existence of our planet.
Joe Biden: (04:43)
We’ve learned so painfully this year the cost of being unprepared for a pandemic that leaps borders and circles the globe. If we aren’t investing with our partners around the world to strengthen the health systems everywhere, we’re undermining our ability to permanently defeat COVID-19 and we’re leaving ourselves vulnerable to the next deadly epidemic. And as we compete with China to hold China’s government accountable for its trade abuses, technology, human rights, and other fronts, our position would much stronger when we build coalitions of like-minded partners and allies that make common cause with us in defense of our shared interest and our shared values.
Joe Biden: (05:28)
We make up only 25%, almost 25%, of the entire economy of the world, but together with our democratic partners, we more than double our economic leverage. On any issue that matters to the US and China relationship from pursuing a foreign policy for the middle class including a trade and economic agenda that produces and protects American workers, our intellectual prosperity and the environment to ensure security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region. To championing human rights, we’re stronger and more effective when we’re flanked by nations that share our vision and the future of our world.
Joe Biden: (06:11)
That’s how we multiply the impact of our efforts to make those efforts more sustainable. That’s the power of smart, effective American leadership. But 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 work without us.
Joe Biden: (06:34)
We also heard from key leaders of our intelligence and defense review teams, including Stephanie O’Sullivan, former Principal Deputy Director of the National Intelligence and retired Army Lieutenant General, Karen Gibson. We talked about the different strategic challenges we’re going to face from both Russia and China and the reforms we must make to put ourselves in the strongest possible position to meet those challenges. That includes modernizing our defense priorities to better deter aggression in the future, rather than continuing to overinvest in legacy systems designed to address threats of the past.
Joe Biden: (07:16)
We have to be able to innovate, to reimagine our defenses against growing threats in new realms like cyberspace. We’re still learning about the extent of the SolarWinds Hack and the vulnerabilities that have been exposed. As I said last week, this attack constitutes a grave risk to our national security. We need to close the gap between where our capabilities are now and where they need to be to better deter, detect, disrupt, and respond to those sorts of intrusions in the future. This is an area Republicans and Democrats are in agreement, and we should be able to work on a bipartisan basis to better secure the American people against malign cyber actors.
Joe Biden: (08:05)
And right now, as our nation is in a period of transition, we need to make sure that nothing is lost in the handoff between administrations. My team needs a clear picture of our force posture around the world and our operations to deter our enemies. 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.
Joe Biden: (08:36)
But as I said from the beginning, we have encountered roadblocks from the political leadership at 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.
Joe Biden: (09:01)
Finally, we spoke about the day one challenge that we’re going to need to address immediately, drawing on the skillset of the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. We were briefed on the steps needed to clean up the humanitarian disaster that the Trump Administration has systematically created on our southern border. We will institute humane and orderly responses. That means rebuilding the capacity we need to safely and quickly process asylum seekers without creating near term crisis in the midst of this deadly pandemic.
Joe Biden: (09:41)
These are hard issues and the current administration has made them much harder by working to erode our capacity. It’s going to take time to rebuild that capacity. We’re going to work purposely, diligently and responsibly to roll back Trump’s restrictions starting on day one, but it is not as simple as throwing a switch to turn everything back on, especially amid a pandemic. We’ll have to have a process to ensure everyone’s health and safety, including the safety of asylum seekers hoping for a new start in the United States, free of violence and persecution. Of course, an essential part of this will be managing the safe, equitable, and efficient distribution of vaccinations to as many Americans as possible as quickly as possible. FEMA has an enormous part to play in this. And we heard from the former FEMA director, Craig Fugate, today. Want to make sure that our administration is poised to make full use of FEMA’s domestic reach and capacity in managing our COVID response.
Joe Biden: (10:54)
And finally, from every briefer, I was heartened, I was literally heartened to hear about the incredible strength we’ll be inheriting in the career professionals and working people across these agencies. They never stopped doing their jobs and continue to serve our country day in and day out to keep their fellow Americans safe just as they’ve always done. These agencies are filled with patriots who’ve earned our respect, and who should never be treated as political footballs. I’m looking forward to the honor of working with them again, to asking further advice and inputs, to help shape the best possible policies for all Americans. I want to thank the incredible folks who’ve served on these agency review teams as part of this transition. They’ve dedicated their time and energy, their vital experience and expertise to help ensure Vice President Harris and I are ready to hit the ground running. And we look forward the start of a new year, fresh with hope and possibilities for better days to come, but clear-eyed about the challenges that will not disappear overnight.
Joe Biden: (12:10)
I want to reiterate my message to the American people. We’ve overcome incredible challenge as a nation, and we’ve done it before and we will do it again. We’ll do it by coming together, by uniting after years of pain and loss, a year particularly needed to heal, to rebuild, to reclaim America’s place in the world. This is the work that lies ahead of us and I know we’re up to the task. We will champion liberty and democracy once more. We will reclaim our credibility to lead the free world. And we will once again lead, not just by the example of our power, but by the power of our example. God bless you all and may God protect our troops. Thank you.
Speaker 2: (12:58)
Do you support the $2000 direct payments, sir?
Joe Biden: (13:14)