‘This Is A Dangerous Moment’: Fmr. Defense Sec. Leon Panetta Slams Trump For ‘Going AWOL,’ Refusing to Cooperate With Biden Transition


Leon Panetta, who served as Secretary of Defense and Director of the CIA for President Barack Obama, sounded the alarm about President Donald Trump’s administration’s refusal to cooperate with President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team.

Panetta made the comments in a Saturday evening interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, who asked him, “How much damage potentially is being done to the transition by the president’s refusal to concede and allow the General Services Administration to allow the process to go forward?”

“We have a president who has gone AWOL,” replied Panetta. “AWOL from the election and its results. AWOL from Covid-19 and the impact it’s having. AWOL from the transition, and very frankly, AWOL from the presidency. And that has created a dangerous moment here.”

Panetta described the situation as serious, “not something to take lightly, particularly when it comes to national security.”

He went on to describe the kinds of intelligence briefings that are “absolutely essential to making a new president aware of the threats that are out there facing our country,” and said that having a new president sworn into office without being “fully prepared” would “put our forces at risk.”

“That’s the kind of danger that we’re facing as a result of the president refusing to cooperate with the president-elect,” Panetta said.

Blitzer noted that our adversaries like Iran, China, Russia, and North Korea were “looking at the confusion here in Washington, D.C.” and might be considering if there was “an opportunity to take advantage.”

“Yeah, it’s creating an intelligence gap,” Panetta agreed, adding that there was “no question” that our adversaries would seek to take advantage of that gap to weaken the United States.

“This is dangerous,” Panetta continued. “This is a dangerous moment. Because they could do things that, unfortunately, will not be reported to the elected leadership of the country. We are vulnerable, and that’s the bottom line.”

Blitzer brought up how the outgoing George H.W. Bush administration had immediately looped in the officials from the incoming Bill Clinton administration, getting them briefed “right away.”

Panetta, who served as Clinton’s chief of staff and then became CIA director during the transition from George W. Bush to Obama, concurred that both were smooth transitions, with access to the new administrations granted quickly.

Blitzer pointed out that both Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris already had high security clearances: as a former vice president, Biden would have had the highest level clearance, and Harris was also getting classified information because she served on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“It makes no sense at all that they’re not being briefed right now, as the incoming administration needs to get ready for whatever is going to happen,” Blitzer concluded.

Watch the video above, via CNN.

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Sarah Rumpf joined Mediaite in 2020 and is a Contributing Editor focusing on politics, law, and the media. A native Floridian, Sarah attended the University of Florida, graduating with a double major in Political Science and German, and earned her Juris Doctor, cum laude, from the UF College of Law. Sarah's writing has been featured at National Review, The Daily Beast, Reason, Law & Crime, Independent Journal Review, Texas Monthly, The Capitolist, Breitbart Texas, Townhall, RedState, The Orlando Sentinel, and the Austin-American Statesman, and her political commentary has led to appearances on the BBC, MSNBC, NewsNation, Fox 35 Orlando, Fox 7 Austin, The Young Turks, The Dean Obeidallah Show, and other television, radio, and podcast programs across the globe.