The president-elect and his transtion team must make effective use of the time between Election Day and Inauguration Day so as to "hit the ground running."
Preparation for the transition begins,
quietly, during the campaign. At some point, once their
nominations are effectively secured, both major
candidates designate people to head up transition planning.
announced Gov. Chris Christie as chairman of his transition team on May
501(c)(4) Clinton-Kaine Transition Fund on
Aug. 3, 2016, with John D. Podesta as president and Minyon Moore as
secretary, and on Aug. 16 she announced the senior leadership term for
her transition (+).
outgoing administration starts to take steps to ensure a smooth
transition. President Obama signed an executive order on
"Facilitation of a Presidential Transition" on May 6, 2016 (+).
After the excitement of Election Night, it is time to turn full attention to preparing to govern. The new president-elect and his transition team must make effective use of the time between Election Day and the Inauguration (+). Amid euphoria and exhaustion, responsibility looms. Expectations are high. The one-time candidate must assume a "presidential aura."
Charles Jones, a
visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, has an interesting way of
describing the process. He notes that the campaign is centered
person, the candidate. After the campaign, the challenge is
that person to the government." The transition requires skilled
A certain amount of tension in this
period is inevitable. People who have worked hard on the campaign
now see others being brought in to manage the transition. There
is much jockeying for position
and resumes proliferate.
With assistance from
the General Services Administration, the transition sets up in an
downtown DC well before Election Day. In the transition office
focus is on the nitty gritty of building a new administration.
attention is given to selecting personnel, learning about
the pending issues
in various agencies, and figuring out what policy initiatives to
advance. In addition to the high profile
White House staff and Cabinet positions myriad sub-Cabinet
posts must be filled, including deputy secretaries and
agency heads.(2) There
is no shortage of aspirants for positions in the administration; the
transition office will receive tens of thousands of resumes.
There is also no shortage of advice. Every manner of
and a large number of interested individuals weigh in on policies and
priorities for the new administration.
American Center for Law and Justice
American Hospital Association [PDF]
The American Legion
American Muslim leaders
Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget [PDF]
Federation for American Immigration Reform
The Heritage Foundation
International Bar Association [PDF]
Letters from attorneys general on the Clean Power Plan: oppose | support [PDF]
Potomac Institute for Policy Studies
Despite the animosity of the election campaign, the Obama
Administration worked hard to ensure a smooth transition
Nov. 10 President
and President-elect Trump met for an hour and a half in the Oval
Nov. 11 Trump announced that Vice President-elect Mike Pence would
serve as chairman of the Presidential Transition Team, and he
announced co-chairs, executive committee and executive director (+).
Trump largely directed transition work from Trump Tower in New
York. He continued to use Twitter to great effect.
of executive actions we can take on day one
to restore our laws and bring back our jobs (+)."
Forum to hold
its first meeting in early February (+).
Typically the president-elect's first announcement is White House
chief of staff,
first Cabinet pick announced is either
Secretary of State or Secretary of Treasury. Trump led with the
controversial announcement of alt-right aligned Stephen K. Bannon to be
strategist and senior counselor, balanced by establishment aligned RNC
chairman Reince Priebus
to be his chief of staff. His first Cabinet pick, U.S. Sen. Jeff
Sessions for Attorney General, provoked controversy as did a number of
his other picks. Trump's selection of Secretary of State provided
ongoing drama; many names were floated and the process carried on to
Dec. 13, when the transition office formally announced his selection of
Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil. Overall, Trump's Cabinet picks
were conservative, white, male and wealthy and included more people
without government experience than in past administrations (see Building the
Incoming administrations take care
their effectiveness and
support. Although vetting is intense,
there can be miscues, meaning there may be a nominee or two
who ends up withdrawing
from consideration. The 115th Congress was sworn in on January
3. Senate confirmation
hearings of Cabinet nominees began in relevant committees,
starting with Sen. Jeff Sessions for Attorney General on Jan. 10,
although the U.S. Office of Government Ethics raised concerns that
several nominees had "not completed their ethics review process [PDF]."
The divisions brought out in the campaign had not gone away.
after the election, there were hundreds of mostly small, mostly
peaceful protests around the country as well as reports in the media of
harassment, bullying and intimidation of people of color (1, 2, PDF).
matters rose to prominence at several points during the
transition. On Nov. 18 Trump reached a settlement on lawsuits
tweeting the next day, "I settled the Trump University lawsuit for a
small fraction of the potential award because as President I have to
focus on our country." In December Trump Hotels in Las Vegas and
Washington reached labor agreements. On Jan. 5 at Trump Tower in
New York Trump
gave a deposition in the case over chef Jose Andres' decision to back
out of a restaurant at the Trump International Hotel in Washington,
But the broader area of concern was the question of how Trump and
his family would separate his business interests from governing so as
avoid conflicts of interest (PDF,
Throughout the transition there were calls for investigations into
Russian interference in the
presidential election (+).
Among progressives, seeds of resistance were being sown in planning
for protests of the Inauguration (+).
(Magazine covers told the story as well: The Nation "Mourn, Resist,
Organize," Mother Jones "Rise
Up," and The American Prospect "Resisting
The transition is not
only the beginning of a new administration, but the end of an old
Handing over the reins of power requires considerable preparation on
the side of the outgoing administration. The new team must be
briefed; records must be boxed and filed. During its waning days,
outgoing administration will also endeavor to get as much done as
attempting to produce some last accomplishments to add to its legacy
and making a
final round of appointments, executive orders, regulations, and
pardons. President Obama gave his farewell address
in Chicago on Jan. 10, discussing "the state of our democracy" and a
number of threats to it and declaring himself "even more optimistic
this country than when we started" (+).
Much attention is given to the first 100 days. One
hundred is a nice round mumber, but it is arbitrary. The original first
days refers to the start of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's
tenure in 1933 during the Great Depression (>), and
days continues to be used as a convenient marker to measure a
president's early progress. Just as one cannot judge how a runner
will perform in a marathon from the first two miles, one should not
draw too many conclusions about a
term of 1,461 days from the first 100 days. Six months provides a
better marker. Nonetheless
the early actions of a new administration are fraught with symbolism
a sense of how it will operate.
As with his predecessors, Trump has used executive
orders and presidential memoranda to get his administration off to a
to fulfill campaign promises. Some of these have been quite
controversial, most notably the immigration ban he signed on Jan.
27 and re-issued in revised form on March 6. Trump's nomination
of Neil Gorsuch to the
was greeted warmly by his supporters.
Trump's Cabinet picks were confirmed without too much
trouble, but there were a few exceptions. The most contentious of
his nominees were
Andy Puzder, who eventually withdrew from consideration as Secretary of
Labor, Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, and Scott Pruitt as EPA
Administrator. USTR nominee Robert Lighthizer was the
final Cabinet nominee approved, on May 11. Each
nominee has a team to guide him or her through the
confirmation process; there are policy, legal, press and congressional
affairs aspects to consider. Traditionally the Senate will not
block a nominee unless he or she has ethical problems or is not
qualified. While the nominees go
through the confirmation
process, the work of the departments and agencies goes on under the
acting secretaries and leadership (PDF).
From the outset the new administration had an antagonistic relationship with mainstream media. At his Jan. 12 press conference Trump dismissed CNN as "fake news." On Jan. 22 senior advisor Kellyanne Conway coined the term "alternative facts" while defending press secretary Sean Spicer. Senior advisor Steve Bannon declared in an interview that, "The media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States." Speaking at CPAC on Feb. 24, Bannon described a "corporatist, globalist media that are adamantly opposed, adamantly opposed to an economic nationalist agenda like Donald Trump has."
The beginning of any administration is a time of many firsts. Some of President Trump's firsts include:
First Day - Jan. 20: Between the Inaugural Parade and Balls, President Trump signed an executive order "Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal," and he signed commissions of Mattis as Defense Secretary and Kelly as Homeland Security Secretary (they were confirmed earlier by the Senate, and sworn in later by Vice President Pence). Chief of staff Priebus issued a memo ordering an immediate regulatory freeze.
First Trip - Jan. 21: Trump visited CIA headquarters in Langley, VA, where he spoke for about 15 minutes to 400 employees.
First Meeting with a Foreign Leader - Jan. 27: Trump met with British Prime Minister Teresa May in Washington.
First Week - The Administration touted a "week of action" including 15 presidential actions directed towards fulfilling campaign promises (+). However, critics found much to criticize, whether it was Trump's seeming preoccupation with size of the crowd at his inauguration or his call for a major investigation into voter fraud based on the thinnest of evidence or his controversial executive order on refugees.
First Combat Operation - Jan. 29: Trump ordered a raid in the Yakla region of Yemen, targeting al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Many questions were raised about both the planning and the outcome of the raid, which cost the life of U.S. Navy SEAL William "Ryan" Owens as well as lives of Yemeni civilians. Trump went to Dover AFP for the arrival of Owens' remains on Feb. 1, and highlighted Owens' sacrifice in his Feb. 28 speech to Congress.
First Supreme Court Nomination - Jan. 31: Following the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in Feb. 2016, President Obama had on Mar. 26 nominated Judge Merrick Garland. However, Senate Republicans sat on the nomination, leaving an opening for President Trump. Indeed filling Supreme Court vacancies was one of the issues that helped tip the election to Trump. On Jan. 31 Trump announced his pick of Judge Neil Gorsuch, setting off a contentious confirmation battle (+).
First Solo News Conference - Feb. 16: Trump announced Alexander Acosta as his new pick for Labor Secretary and took questions (>). He again lambasted the media and declared his administration "is running like a fine-tuned machine."
First Address to Joint Session of Congress - Feb. 28: Observers generally lauded Trump's hour-long address for its conventional tone. "What we are witnessing today is the renewal of the American spirit," Trump declared, "Our allies will find that America is once again ready to lead (+)."
First Big Legislative Battle: The American Health Care Act (AHCA), a House bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, marked a key test for Republicans, who have sought for years to repeal the Affordable Care Act. While Trump and Speaker Ryan worked hard to move the legislation, labeled by some as "Trumpcare," members of the House Freedom Caucus and conservatives were skeptical of "Obamacare lite." The vote was initially set for Mar. 23 and then postponed to Mar. 24. On the afternoon of Mar. 24, shortly before the vote was to occur, Ryan pulled the bill (+, *).
[2008 | 2000]
While news organizations ran many critical stories about
Trump and his administration during the first 100 days, during that
same time, through appointments and lack of appointments, executive
orders, and memoranda, the
administration was making strides toward what senior advisor Steve
Bannon termed in Feb. 24 remarks at CPAC "deconstruction of the
High on Trump's accomplishments was the confirmation of Neil
Gorsuch as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court approved in a
Senate's vote on April 7. The Senate
Judiciary Committee held four days of hearings, Mar. 20-23 (>),
Repeal and replacement of the
Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) proved to be a more
challenge for the administration due to divisions among congressional
Republicans. Other setbacks came as federal judges blocked
executive orders on a travel ban and sanctuary citles.
administration plowed ahead with its agenda. On April 26, with
the 100 day milestone fast approaching, the administration announced a
"massive tax cut" proposal or tax
reform principles, but this was thin on detail and its prospects
April the U.S. dropped the "mother of all bombs" on
Afghanistan. Heightened tensions with North Korea loomed as a
potential trouble spot.
Questions about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential
continued to dog the Trump Administration during its first hundred
days, allthough Trump dismissed the matter as "a ruse" and
congressional investigations seemed to be making little headway (+).
Trump's proclivity for setting off controversies and distractions
continued. For example on March 4 he tweeted, "Terrible! Just
found out that Obama
had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing
found. This is McCarthyism!" However, he provided no
evidence. Media and pundits ran with this story for weeks.
There were reports of bitter infighting in the administration, Trump's job approval ratings were abysmal (>), and critics continued to raise questions about conflicts of interest and whether Trump and his family were profiting from his presidency (+). Opponents ("the resistance") continued to organize and protest. Any hopes that Trump, as an outsider, might be able to break the gridlock on Capitol Hill quickly fell by the wayside (+). Trump's supporters largely continued to back him, although a number of articles appeared suggesting he was straying from the populist and non-interventionist themes he espoused during his campaign.
In his weekly radio address Trump termed his first 100 days "just
successful in our country’s history" stating that, "In just fourteen
weeks my administration has brought profound change to Washington (+)."
However, many media reviews were scathing.
Matt Bai characterized the administration as "Team of Amateurs" and the New Yorker's John Cassidy wrote
that "it often looks like the Keystone Kops are in charge."
The Washington Post tallied
488 false or misleading claims by Trump in his first 100 days (>).
an "ad hoc presidency."
Feb. 2 - Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch on Capitol Hill. +
the leadership of both national party committees changes after a
The president-elect will select the chairman of his or her
party. For the losing side, a number of hopefuls compete to
the party, and there is much discussion about how to move beyond the
recent defeat. In December 2012, RNC chairman
Priebus announced a Growth & Opportunity Project "to
grow the Republican Party and improve future Republican
campaigns." A 98-page report containing 219 recommendations was
released on March 18, 2013 (+).
During the 2016 campaign
there was a lot of talk about how Trump's ascendancy marked the end of
the Republican Party (+),
but following the campaign it was
the Democrats who had to figure out what went wrong and how to fix
it. Part of that discussion centers on who should be the next
chairman of the DNC. Seven major candidates and several lesser
known candidates ran:
- U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (MN) started his campaign early and appeared to be the favorite. He gained the support of such progressive luminaries as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the backing of the AFL-CIO and other unions, and tallied numerous endorsements (+).
- South Carolina Democratic Party chair Jaime Harrison announced his bid on Nov. 14, stating that Democrats "must reach out to every state, every community, and every voter (+)." ...withdrew on Feb. 23 and endorsed Tom Perez
- New Hampshire Democratic Party chair Ray Buckley announced on Nov. 29, vowing "radical reform of how the DNC operates (+)." Buckley has served as a DNC vice chair and president of the Association of State Democratic Chairs (ASDC) since Jan. 2009, as state chair for close to a decade and a leading gay activist within the party. He is a veteran of Democratic politics, having started as a volunteer for Ed Muskie at age 12. ...withdrew on Feb. 18 and endorsed Keith Ellison
- U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez announced his candidacy on Dec. 15. Perez was seen as President Obama's choice. He described himself as a "turnaround specialist" and emphasized that "most of all, we need to listen (+)."
- Idaho Democratic Party executive director Sally Boynton Brown announced her candidacy on Dec. 16, seeking to build "a resilient, innovative Party for the 21st century." She is president of the Association of State Democratic Party Executive Directors (ASDED) (+).
- South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg offered a "fresh start," declaring "the solutions for our party won't come from Washington, they'll come from our communities." Buttigieg announced on Jan. 5. He is a Rhodes scholar, Afghanistan veteran, and gay and is still under 40 years old (+).
- Jehmu Greene, whose experience includes serving as president of Rock the Vote from 2000-05 and a political analyst on the FOX News Channel since 2010, was the final entrant in the field and said she would be a "fierce messenger" for the party.
Gov. Howard Dean was in the running for a short time but ended his bid
2. Former Gov.
and NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue also looked at
running but ruled it out.
The rules and
procedures for the election [PDF] were set by the
DNC Rules and
Bylaws Committee at
their meeting in Denver, CO on Dec. 1-3, 2016. A series of forums was held,
itself took place at the DNC winter meeting in Atlanta, GA on Feb. 25,
meeting there was also heated debate over a resolution to ban
from corporate PACs. None of the party officers is a straight
white male and early signs are the party is continuing its emphasis on
Another issue for Democrats
is the question
in July 2016 during the Democratic National Convention,
established a "unity commission" which will address that point and
possibly other issues. The party announced the 21 members of the
Commision on April 17 (+).
Meanwhile, the RNC named
its leadership for 2017 as Michigan Republican
Party chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and Trump for
President Ohio state director Bob Paduchik (+).
Additionally on Jan. 12, 2017 Trump announced a small leadership team
for his re-election campaign (+), and
on Jan. 20 he filed a Form 2 with the FEC.
The campaign did not stop (+).
Also in January several
outside groups took up the task of supporting President Trump's
agenda. Great America Alliance grew out of a super PAC that was
active during the campaign (+), while
Jan. 30 Trump-Pence leaders launched another group, America First
1. On Oct. 16, 2010, President Obama signed into law S.3196, the Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act of 2010, providing for the General Service Administration to provide for transition planning resources starting after the nominating conventions. Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-DE) and several other Senators introduced the bill in April 2010 (+), based on recommendations in a report from the Partnership for Public Service.
2. On Aug. 10, 2012, President Obama signed into law S.679, the Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011, which reduces the number of executive positions subject to Senate confirmation.
3. The end of Trump's first 100 days seemed to trigger a bump in 2020 speculation:
Chris Cillizza. There are at least 22
Democrats thinking about running for president in 2020. CNN,
Perry Bacon Jr. and Dhrumil Mehta. "The 7
Signs That Someone Might Be Running For President In 2020." FiveThirtyEight,
Lisa Hagen. "The 43 people who might run
against Trump in 2020." The Hill, May 8, 2016.