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Presidential transition of Donald Trump

Planning for the presidential transition of Donald Trump, led by then Vice President-elect, former governor Mike Pence of Indiana,[6] began before Donald Trump won the United States presidential election on November 8, 2016, and became the president-elect. Trump was formally elected by the Electoral College on December 19, 2016. The transition was formerly led by Chris Christie until he and a number of his supporters were replaced or demoted on November 11. The transition ended when Trump was inaugurated at noon EST on January 20, 2017.

Trump for America[1]
Trump Transition Logo.svg
JANUS-Tête-à-Tête- Sitting President & President-elect, Barack Obama & Donald Trump squatting next to each other on arm-chairs in the Oval Office on November 10th 2016. (31196987133).jpg
President Barack Obama (left) and President-elect Donald Trump (right) meet in the Oval Office of the White House as part of the presidential transition
PredecessorDonald J. Trump for President
FormationNovember 6, 2016 (2016-11-06)
ExtinctionJanuary 20, 2017 (2017-01-20)
Legal status501(c)(4)[2]
PurposePresidential transition
Headquarters1717 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C., United States[3][4]
Mike Pence[5]
Director of Appointments
William F. Hagerty
Key people
Donald Trump

Transition proceduresEdit

In accordance with the Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act of 2010, candidate transition teams are provided office space by the General Services Administration (GSA).[7][8] Transition teams are also eligible for government funding for staff; spending on Mitt Romney's transition team in 2012 was $8.9 million, all funds appropriated by the U.S. government.[8]

Under existing federal law and custom, the Republican Party's nominee became eligible to receive classified national security briefings once his/her nomination was formalized at the party's national convention.[9]


Key responsibilities of a presidential transition include the identification and vetting of candidates for approximately 4,000 non-civil service positions in the U.S. government whose service is at the pleasure of the president; arranging the occupancy of executive residences including the White House, One Observatory Circle, and Camp David; liaising with the United States Strategic Command for receipt of the Gold Codes; and briefing senior civil service personnel about a new administration's policy priorities.[10]

Recent developmentsEdit

A law enacted by the United States Congress in 2016 amending the Presidential Transition Act requires the incumbent President to establish "transition councils" by June of an election year to facilitate the eventual handover of power.[9]

The National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), meanwhile, launched a new program called "Transition 2016" in 2016. Led by Ed DeSeve and David S. C. Chu, the program was described by NAPA as one which provides management and procedural advice to the leading candidates in establishing transition teams.[11]



In April 2016, representatives from the Trump campaign, as well as the campaigns of four other then-running Republican candidates, met in New York with representatives of the Partnership for Public Service to receive a two-day briefing and overview of the transition process.[12] According to Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, the campaign shortly thereafter began implementing the recommendations provided at the meeting.[13] In early May 2016, after Trump became the presumptive nominee, campaign officials announced they would name the members of a presidential transition team within the "upcoming weeks". On May 6, The New York Times reported that Trump had asked Jared Kushner to begin work on putting a transition team together.[14] Corey Lewandowski and Paul Manafort worked with Kushner in the selection of a transition chief.[15] Three days later, Trump announced that New Jersey Governor (and former rival Presidential candidate) Chris Christie had agreed to head the effort.[16]

On Friday, June 3, 2016, the Agency Transition Directors Council first assembled at the White House to review transition plans of each of the major executive departments; neither the Trump nor Clinton campaigns sent representatives to this initial meeting. At about the same time, the White House began transferring its preceding eight years of accumulated electronic files to the National Archives and Records Administration's Electronic Record Archive for preservation.[17]

The transition planning came under heavy criticism for lagging behind other recent transition planning efforts when it was shown to have hired only a "handful" of staff by late July.[18] At that time, Chris Christie named Bill Palatucci, a corporate attorney from New Jersey and the state's Republican National Committeeman, as general counsel; Palatucci reportedly began meeting with senior members of Mitt Romney's 2012 transition team shortly thereafter.[19] Meanwhile, on July 29, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough led a conference call with Chris Christie to discuss transition procedures. During the call, McDonough informed Christie that Anita Breckenridge and Andrew Mayock will be the administration's primary "points of contact" with the Trump campaign moving forward. The pair also discussed the planned availability of office space at 1717 Pennsylvania Avenue for the Trump transition team, which the General Services Administration was to make available beginning August 2, 2016.[20]

During the first week of August, the Trump transition office was officially opened. The same month, William F. Hagerty, a former member of Mitt Romney's transition team, was named director of appointments while John Rader, a senior aide to United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Bob Corker, was retained in the position of deputy director of appointments.[21][22]

In an example of "how removed the transition process is from the tumult and rancor of the campaign", representatives of the Trump and Clinton transition teams began holding a series of meetings with each other, and with White House officials, to plan details of the transition process.[23]

By October, it was reported the transition team had grown to more than 100 staff, many of whom were policy experts brought aboard to compensate for a dearth of policy staff employed by the Trump campaign.[24] For example, in October 2016, Robert Smith Walker, former chairman of the House Science Committee, was appointed space policy advisor.[25]

A November 9 memo from Ash Carter to the United States armed forces informed them of the pending transfer of military command.

Immediate post-electionEdit

In the early hours of November 9, 2016, media outlets reported Trump would secure enough votes in the Electoral College to win the presidential election, and become the 45th president of the United States. Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton conceded the election to him later that day.[26]

Security enhancementsEdit

Prior to Trump's return to his private residence at Trump Tower, the United States Secret Service initiated "unbelievable security measures", including closing East 56th Street to all traffic, reinforcing a cordon of sand-laden dump trucks that had been placed around the building the night before to defend the site from being rammed with a car bomb, and deploying New York City Police Department tactical teams around the skyscraper. The FAA, meanwhile, ordered a flight restriction over midtown Manhattan.[27][28][29]

Trump business interestsEdit

Map shows the number of companies owned by Donald Trump[30] that are operating in each country:
  Over 15

Following his victory at the election, Trump began transferring control of the Trump Organization to the company's other executives, including his three oldest children; Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric Trump in a blind trust.[31] According to a November 11 statement from the Trump Organization, it was "in the process of vetting various structures with the goal of the immediate transfer of management of the Trump Organization and its portfolio of businesses".[32][33]

At a press conference on January 11, 2017, Trump said he and his eldest daughter Ivanka would resign all management roles with The Trump Organization by inauguration day, January 20. Its assets would be put into a trust run by his two oldest sons Donald Jr. and Eric, together with existing Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg.[34] Trump would continue to own the business.[35][36] At the press conference, Trump attorney Sheri Dillon made a substantial presentation on the legal structure that was being put in place for the Trump Organization during the presidency. "No new foreign deals will be made whatsoever during the duration of President Trump's presidency," Dillon said, and new domestic deals "will go through a vigorous vetting process" and President Trump will have no role in them, among other assertions.[37]

Beginning of transition processEdit

Shortly after noon on November 9, outgoing president Barack Obama made a statement from the Rose Garden of the White House, in which he announced that he had spoken, the previous evening, with Trump and formally invited him to the White House the next day, November 10, for discussions to ensure "that there is a successful transition between our presidencies". President Obama said he had instructed his staff to "follow the example" of the George W. Bush administration in 2008, who he said could "not have been more professional or more gracious in making sure we had a smooth transition".[38]

The same day, United States Secretary of Defense Ash Carter issued a memo to the United States armed forces informing them of the pending transfer of National Command Authority to a new administration.[39] Also on November 9, the U.S. Intelligence Community offered the full President's Daily Brief to Trump and Mike Pence, with Trump receiving his first brief on November 15 in his office at Trump Tower.[40][41]

The Trump transition website launched on the evening of November 9, 2016

By the afternoon of November 9, a transition website – – had been launched. The website provided information on transition procedures and information for the media.[42] The website was later criticized for reposting content originally created by the Partnership for Public Service, however, Partnership CEO Max Stier declined to criticize the use and noted that the organization had been working with the major campaigns on transition planning, explaining that he hoped the group's materials would be "a resource that is used for the betterment of transitions".[43] Content on the transition website was licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.[44]

Trump and Obama met for the first time on November 10.

At 11:00 am on November 10, the President and President-elect held a private, 90-minute meeting at the White House, which was followed by a joint media availability in the Oval Office with a press pool composed of journalists from Reuters, Voice of America, Bloomberg, the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, ABC News, and McClatchey syndicate. During the availability, Trump thanked Obama for their meeting and said he looked forward to tapping him for future counsel.[45] According to Trump, Obama convinced him, during their discussion, to retain certain aspects of his signature policy Obamacare, including the ban on insurance companies denying new coverage to those with pre-existing conditions and the right of parents to keep their adult children on their health insurance policies until the age of 25.[46]

November 11 reshuffleEdit

On November 11, Trump telephoned transition head Chris Christie and told him his involvement with the Bridgegate scandal was a political liability and his performance heading the transition unsatisfactory (Trump, later, also expressed private frustration at Christie's retention of lobbyists in key transition posts). At the end of the call, Trump fired Christie from his position as transition chair. Over the next twenty-four hours, and with little warning, Christie loyalists were quickly removed from the transition team in what was characterized by NBC News as a "Stalinesque purge". Transition executive Richard Bagger, for instance, found himself suddenly locked-out of the transition team's offices. Bill Palatucci, Mike Rogers, and others, were also among those removed.[47][48][49][50]

Immediately after the reshuffle, Mike Pence was elevated to transition chair by Trump. Under Christie, many of the members of the transition team were registered lobbyists who had worked on issues overseen by the agencies they were charged with staffing or affected by policies they were preparing.[51][52] However, by November 16, Pence had introduced new restrictions that Politico described as "in some ways far more rigid than President Barack Obama's groundbreaking lobbyist ban". Under the new rules, while incoming administration officials who are currently registered lobbyists would be allowed, they would have to sign documents forfeiting their ability to re-register as lobbyists for five years after departing government.[a] In addition, Pence ordered that all lobbyists be removed from the transition team, with Politico reporting two days later that staff members who were registered lobbyists had begun to resign.[54][55][56]

Pence's tenureEdit

On November 15, Trump requested security clearance for son-in-law Jared Kushner (a member of the transition team), which would allow him to attend the full President's Daily Brief – a request that experts have called "unprecedented".[57] As of November 15, all briefings of the transition team by government were on hold pending the need for incoming chair Mike Pence to sign an agreement with the Obama administration.[58]

On November 16, Trump met with Alabama senator Jeff Sessions, who had been discussed as a possible contender for several cabinet positions.[59] Trump also met with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.[60]

On November 17, Trump met with former secretary of state Henry Kissinger in order to discuss matters relating to foreign affairs.[61] Later that day, Trump met with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe in an informal visit at Trump Tower. After the meeting, which was attended by Michael T. Flynn and Ivanka Trump, Abe said he had "great confidence" in Trump and described their discussion as "very candid".[62]

Past and current State Department officials, however, were disturbed by Ivanka's presence. Moira Whelan, a former John Kerry 2004 presidential campaign staffer who left the department in July after serving as a deputy assistant secretary for digital strategy in the U.S. Department of State, averred that "anyone present for such a conversation between two heads of state should, at a minimum, have security clearance, and should also be an expert in Japanese affairs ... meeting of two heads of state [sic][b] is never an informal occurrence. Even a casual mention or a nod of agreement or an assertion left unchallenged can be interpreted in different ways".[65][66]

On December 6, Michael G. Flynn, the son of Michael T. Flynn, was forced out of the transition team.[67] Spokesman Jason Miller did not identify the reason for Flynn's dismissal; however, The New York Times reported that other officials had confirmed it was related to a tweet he made regarding the Pizzagate conspiracy theory.[68]

On December 14, Trump met with CEOs and representatives from Silicon Valley tech companies in Trump Tower.[69][70][71][72][73]

Transition teamEdit

Chart showing agency appointment group leads of the Trump transition.


The Trump transition team was led by Vice President-elect Mike Pence. It originally had six vice-chairs, which was expanded on November 29, 2016 to thirteen vice-chairs: Ben Carson, Chris Christie (previously head of the transition from May 2016 through election day), Michael Flynn (incoming national security advisor), Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Jeff Sessions (incoming attorney general), with the addition of K. T. McFarland (incoming deputy national security advisor), Governor Mary Fallin, Senator Tim Scott, Representative Marsha Blackburn (previously on the executive committee), Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Representative Tom Reed, and outgoing representative Cynthia Lummis.[74][75][76]

The transition team also had an Executive Committee which included:[75]

Additional executive committee members added on November 29, 2016:

Structure and staffEdit

Former Ohio secretary of state Ken Blackwell led appointment selections for positions involving domestic issues.

An organizational chart of the transition team was made public by the New York Times.[79] It divided the work into two areas: "agency action" led by Ron Nicol[80] and "policy implementation" led by Ado Machida. The agency side, which oversaw appointments, was divided into six arenas:[80]

The policy side had three senior leaders including Ado Machida as director of policy implementation, Andrew Bremberg as executive legal action lead, and Carlos Diaz Rosillo as executive authority advisor. Bremberg is Senior Advisor and Chief of Staff for US Health and Human Services for the George W. Bush administration and advisor to Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and for presidential bid of Wisconsin governor. Scott Walker; he was previously reported to be serving the transition as an advisor on health issues.[83][84]

Retired general Keith Kellogg led the defense "agency action" unit of the transition.

The policy implementation team included the following policy areas:

  • Defense & National Security, led by Major General Bert Mizusawa.
  • Immigration Reform & Building The Wall, led by Danielle Cutrona, counsel to Senator Jeff Sessions.[51]
  • Energy Independence, led by Michael Catanzaro, an energy lobbyist whose clients include American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, Hess, Devon Energy, and Encana Oil and Gas.[51][52][85]
  • Tax Reform, led by Jim Carter, a lobbyist employed by Emerson.[51]
  • Regulatory Reform, led by Rob Gordon, who serves as staff director/senior policy advisor for the House Natural Resources Committee, Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.[51]
  • Trade Reform, led by Rolf Lundberg, a lobbyist and former employee of the Chamber of Commerce.[51]
  • Education, led by Gerard Robinson of the American Enterprise Institute.[51]
  • Transportation & Infrastructure, led by Martin Whitmer, a lobbyist at Whitmer & Worrall whose clients include the American Association of Railroads, National Asphalt Pavement Association and the Utilities Technology Council.[51]
  • Financial Services Reform, led by Brian Johnson, chief financial institutions counsel for the House Financial Services Committee
  • Healthcare Reform, led by Paula Stannard, former deputy general counsel and acting general counsel of HHS and currently a lawyer at Alston & Bird.[51]
  • Veterans Administration Reform, led by Bill Chatfield
  • Protecting Americans' Constitutional Rights, led by Ken Klukowski, senior counsel and director of strategic affairs for the First Liberty Institute.[51]

Other people reported to have been working on the transition team included:

Persons applying for political appointments via the website received this confirmation email.
Officials from both administrations meeting at the White House on January 13, 2017.

Large numbers of foreign policy advisors left the White House team unwilling to work with Trump's team.[88]

Cabinet designeesEdit

The following have been named as cabinet appointees by the president; all positions, except chief of staff and vice president, require the advice and consent of the United States Senate prior to taking office.

On November 30, Politico, which viewed Trump's chosen administration nominees as being more conservative as opposed to previous presidential administrations, described Trump as "well on his way to building a conservative dream team that has Republicans cheering and liberals in despair."[89] On the other hand, The Wall Street Journal stated that "it's nearly impossible to identify a clear ideological bent in the incoming president's" cabinet nominations.[90]

The Washington Post noted that Trump's cabinet would be "the wealthiest administration in modern American history."[91] The Post also noted that while some of Trump's appointments consisted of "his staunchest and most controversial allies" such as Bannon, Flynn and Sessions, other appointments appealed to the Republican establishment and had "the imprint of Mike Pence".[92]

Cabinet of President Donald J. Trump
  Individual elected into office, and does not serve at the pleasure of the President of the United States (all other cabinet members do)
  Individual officially confirmed by the United States Senate
  Individual serving in an acting capacity
  Individual took office with no Senate consent needed

Cabinet members (ordered by the presidential line of succession)Edit

Date announced / confirmed
Designee Office
Date announced / confirmed

Vice President
Announced July 15, 2016
Took office January 20, 2017
Former Governor
Mike Pence
of Indiana

Secretary of State
Announced March 13, 2018
Took office April 26, 2018
Former CIA Director
Mike Pompeo
of Kansas

Secretary of the Treasury
Announced November 30, 2016
Took office February 13, 2017
Former OneWest Bank CEO
Steven Mnuchin
of California

Secretary of Defense
Announced June 18, 2019
Took office July 23, 2019
Former Secretary of the Army
Mark Esper
of Virginia

Attorney General
Announced December 7, 2018
Took office February 14, 2019
U.S. Attorney General (1991–1993)
William Barr
of Virginia

Secretary of the Interior
Announced December 15, 2018
Took office January 2, 2019[n 1]
Former Deputy Secretary of the Interior
David Bernhardt
of Virginia

Secretary of Agriculture
Announced January 18, 2017
Took office April 25, 2017
Former Governor
Sonny Perdue
of Georgia

Secretary of Commerce
Announced November 30, 2016
Took office February 28, 2017
Former WL Ross & Co. CEO
Wilbur Ross
of Florida

Secretary of Labor
Announced July 18, 2019
Took office September 30, 2019
Former Solicitor of Labor
Eugene Scalia
of Virginia

Secretary of Health and Human Services
Announced November 13, 2017
Took office January 29, 2018
Former Deputy Secretary of HHS
Alex Azar
of Indiana

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Announced December 5, 2016
Took office March 2, 2017
Former Neurosurgeon
Ben Carson
of Florida

Secretary of Transportation
Announced November 29, 2016
Took office January 31, 2017
Former Secretary of Labor
Elaine Chao
of Kentucky

Secretary of Energy
Announced December 14, 2016
Took office March 2, 2017
Former Governor
Rick Perry
of Texas

Secretary of Education
Announced November 23, 2016
Took office February 7, 2017
Former Michigan GOP Chair
Betsy DeVos
of Michigan

Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Announced May 18, 2018
Took office July 30, 2018
Former USD (P&R)
Robert Wilkie
of North Carolina

Secretary of Homeland Security
Announced April 7, 2019
Took office April 11, 2019
CBP Commissioner
Kevin McAleenan
of Hawaii

Cabinet-level officialsEdit

Date announced / confirmed
Designee Office
Date announced / confirmed

White House Chief of Staff[n 2]
Announced December 14, 2018
Took office January 2, 2019
Former U.S. Representative
Mick Mulvaney
of South Carolina

United States Trade Representative
Announced January 3, 2017
Took office May 15, 2017
Former Deputy USTR
Robert Lighthizer
of Florida

Director of the Office of Management and Budget
Announced December 16, 2016
Took office February 16, 2017

Director of National Intelligence
Announced August 8, 2019
Took office August 16, 2019
NCTC Director
Joseph Maguire
of Florida

Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
Announced March 13, 2018
Took office April 26, 2018[n 3]
Former CIA Deputy Director
Gina Haspel
of Kentucky

Administrator of the
Environmental Protection Agency

Announced July 5, 2018
Took office July 9, 2018[n 4]
Former EPA Deputy Administrator
Andrew Wheeler
of Virginia

Administrator of the
Small Business Administration

Announced March 29, 2019
Took office April 13, 2019
SBA General Counsel
Chris Pilkerton
of New York
  1. ^ Bernhardt served as Acting Secretary from January 2, 2019 to April 11, 2019.
  2. ^ Officially Mulvaney carries the title of "Acting White House Chief of Staff", but since the position does not require confirmation by the U.S. Senate, the title "acting" does not impact the authority of the position.[93]
  3. ^ Haspel served as Acting Director from April 26, 2018 to May 21, 2018.
  4. ^ Wheeler served as Acting Administrator from July 9, 2018 to February 28, 2019.
Source: Trump Administration[94] and NPR[95]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Under President Obama, persons were restricted from resuming lobbying for two years after departing government; senior officials were restricted for the remainder of his administration. Obama also forb[ade] those who have been registered lobbyists in the past year from joining the administration to work on the issues they advocated around.[53]
  2. ^ The Prime Minister of Japan is that nation's head of government. The Emperor of Japan is that country's de facto head of state.[63][64] Also, neither was Mr. Trump a head of state at the moment.


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