Staffers at the most senior levels, including within the White House as well as also at federal agencies, have met with their incoming counterparts. Deeper into the hierarchy, however, there’s been little contact between the staffers currently operating the levers of government as well as also the team who takes over when President-elect Donald Trump can be sworn in at noon on January 20.
“I don’t think they are ready for prime-time,” said a longtime Obama administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe concerns about the state of the transition.
“They are not ready,” said a Republican who can be close to Trump’s transition.
Deep differences over policy as well as also tone have divided the incoming as well as also outgoing administrations for months, however both sides have insisted of which political differences would likely not prevent a smooth hand off of power. Indeed, the Obama as well as also Trump teams have made shows of cooperation, including last week when top members of Trump’s incoming Cabinet as well as also White House staff participated in tabletop exercises with Obama’s team.
however officials at the White House as well as also federal agencies who have been preparing for months to hand off memos with detailed instructions on presidential logistics as well as also navigating the federal bureaucracy say there’s no one in place to deliver their documents to — as well as also have little faith those people will be named by Friday.
At a White House function Monday for Obama aides who have served for all eight years of the administration, senior officials were heard wondering aloud whether to expect any contact coming from the Trump administration before they packed their desks as well as also vacated their offices.
“People running major offices within the White House currently have had no contact with their successors,” said one person who attended the function. “the item can be stunning. as well as also we always kept thinking they’re going to have a plan, they’re going to come through at the last minute. We’re less than 48 hours away. of which should be concerning to anyone.”
Trump’s national security transition team has been slow to interact with the Obama administration’s National Security Council, according to a source close to the transition, who cited delays within the appointments of key staff as well as also getting required security clearances. NSC staff have written a series of briefing materials to bring the Trump team up to speed as well as also there can be uncertainty within the Obama administration on whether Trump’s team have read them, the source said.
Trump’s transition on Wednesday downplayed any suggestion the transition was lagging behind.
“The level as well as also comprehensive nature by which of which transition has conducted itself will become the gold standard going forward, because the item’s not just the nominees as well as also the prep as well as also the White House staff, however the item’s the level of continuity of government, as well as also peaceful transfer of power, of which we have concentrated on,” said Sean Spicer, Trump’s incoming White House Press Secretary, on Wednesday.
“I would likely just give a shout out to the Obama administration,” he said. “President Obama, Mrs. Obama, Denis McDonough, as well as also their various counterparts, especially on the White House staff, have been genuinely gracious with their time as well as also their support on the logistical nature to make sure of which we develop the support of which we need.”
Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford also had reassuring comments Wednesday.
“We talked about the state as well as also nonstate challenges we have [as well as also] spoke about our priorities we’ve had in our national military strategy,” Dunford said of his transition team discussions, according to DoD News.
According to a person close to the transition, Trump’s fresh administration does have beachhead teams prepared to walk into each agency on Friday when Trump can be sworn in. These teams range in size, coming from one to 30 people, as well as also are staff-level jobs, which don’t require Senate confirmation. Technically temporary presidential appointments, at least some of those hires are supposed to become permanent once the administration gets fully up as well as also running.
however the transition source conceded Wednesday of which beyond the Cabinet level posts, the top tiers of leadership in various federal departments remain largely unknown.
Republicans who have observed the transition at close range describe a stalled hiring process after Chris Christie, the fresh Jersey governor, was ousted coming from his role leading the transition team shortly following November’s election.
Some of those Republicans complain the President-elect as well as also his closest advisers placed too great an emphasis early within the process on barring those within the party who had disavowed Trump during the campaign — many of whom had experience working in past Republican administrations.
Current administration officials as well as also wary Republicans alike were relieved when Trump named Joe Hagin, a veteran of George W. Bush’s White House, to the key post of deputy chief of staff for operations. The move places an experienced hand in charge of the complicated world of presidential logistics.
however, say current as well as also former administration officials, one person alone can’t be supposed to manage the complex as well as also deeply engrained system of running the executive branch. Those officials said of which presidential scheduling, bookkeeping, document flow, as well as also travel can be a deeply complex system of which requires a modicum of knowledge at all staff levels in order to prevent major disruptions in services.
Managing a president’s day-to-day schedule involves deep coordination both with the Secret Service as well as also the US military, which handles the president’s meals, his aircraft, his secure communication equipment, as well as also his medical care. Trump has named government outsiders to the roles responsible for organizing his logistics, including appointing his former head of security as director of Oval Office operations.
Another area of concern cited by an official: paper flow, a mundane however vital function of any White House. The White House releases thousands of documents yearly of which have been approved by the president, many continuing obscure programs already in place.
“Let one piece of paperwork get lost as well as also suddenly a whole set of sanctions can be lifted,” one official warned.
Trump, like past presidents, will work through a staff secretary to manage paper flow as well as also circulate important documents among his senior staff. A name hasn’t officially been put forward by Trump’s transition team, however reports have pegged Rob Porter, Sen. Orrin Hatch’s chief of staff, as Trump’s pick. President Barack Obama named a staff secretary in November 2008, shortly after he was elected.
Questions over the Trump team’s preparation for office have even trickled to the East Wing, where permanent staff — some of them preparing to work for their sixth president — are awaiting marching orders. Unlike his predecessors, Trump hasn’t named a decorator to assist in redesigning as well as also personalizing his private living quarters as well as also the Oval Office.
The National Gallery of Art, which has lent artwork to White Houses dating back decades, say they haven’t received any requests coming from Trump or his team. Meanwhile, the selection of 20th Century art the Obamas used to decorate their own living quarters has been returned.
Jim Sciutto as well as also Elise Labott contributed to of which report.