Officials at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative appointed by President Donald Trump are delaying the transition to President-elect Joe Biden’s team by refusing to schedule meetings, according to officials with knowledge of the situation.
No meetings yet: USTR political staff members are still rebuffing efforts from Biden’s transition landing team to meet with career staff at the agency, said one former trade official familiar with the situation.
If meetings are scheduled in the future, USTR has made clear that a Trump political appointee will have to be present with the career staffers, the former official said.
Smooth handoff threatened: Meetings between career staff and transition officials are typically used to ensure that an incoming administration is up to date on an agency’s plans and actions. If the freeze continues, it could mean Biden’s USTR team will come into office without the latest information on the agency’s pending tariff investigations or negotiations with foreign countries, like ongoing trade talks with the U.K. and Kenya.