President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team is reaching out to former Pentagon officials who worked for former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis as they seek to gather information for an incoming Biden team, according to two former officials who have been contacted by the transition team.
The conversations are the result of the inability to engage with current Pentagon officials at this time, the sources told CNN. And they come as an effort to build the transition team’s understanding about what has happened in the department over the last four years. Reaching out to former officials is “the next best thing,” one of the former officials explained.
Politico was the first to report on the communications.
More background: The Biden team is also aware that even when they are able to speak with current defense officials after the General Services Administration formally signs off on Biden’s victory, they may not be eager to engage or be as forthcoming as the officials who have already departed.
During some of these discussions people on the Biden transition team have sometimes referred to conversations with “Mattis people,” the second former official said, indicating that they are speaking to a group of these former officials.
But the Biden transition team – focused on information gathering – has not indicated that they want to hire these former officials who worked for Mattis.
“It is nice that I am not completely toxic because I was a Trump nominee, but I do not think that they would want to fill the place up with officials who were confirmed under Trump. They are not discussing a job with me,” the official said. “I am just being as helpful as I can be.”
The Biden transition team declined to comment.