The Trump Transition

Written by  //  March 12, 2017  //  Government & Governance, U.S.  //  Comments Off on The Trump Transition

Capital Journal is’s home for Trump Transition news.
Forty-five, Politico daily diary of the Transition
The Atlantic: Donald Trump Cabinet Tracker

trump-coin-front_grandePresident Trump Inauguration Commemorative Coin
We cannot find any precedent for this coin which seems to have been issued by the Trump-Pence team, although, according to the Michigan State Numismatic Society
“Since 1901, an official inaugural medal has been struck every four years to commemorate the inauguration of the President of the United States. The medal is commissioned by the Presidential Inaugural Committee, and is the official inaugural souvenir.”

Trump Lets Key Offices Gather Dust Amid ‘Slowest Transition in Decades’
(NYT) At the State Department, the normally pulsating hub of executive offices is hushed and virtually empty. At the Pentagon, military missions in some of the world’s most troubled places are being run by a defense secretary who has none of his top team in place. And at departments like Treasury, Commerce and Health and Human Services, many senior posts remain vacant even as the agencies have been handed enormous tasks like remaking the nation’s health insurance system.
From the moment he was sworn in, President Trump faced a personnel crisis, starting virtually from scratch in lining up senior leaders for his administration. Seven weeks into the job, he is still hobbled by the slow start, months behind where experts in both parties, even some inside his administration, say he should be.
The lag has left critical power centers in his government devoid of leadership as he struggles to advance policy priorities on issues like health care, taxes, trade and environmental regulation. Many federal agencies and offices are in states of suspended animation, their career civil servants answering to temporary bosses whose influence and staying power are unclear, and who are sometimes awaiting policy direction from appointees whose arrival may be weeks or months away.
“There’s no question this is the slowest transition in decades,” said R. Nicholas Burns, a former State Department official who served under presidents of both parties and has been involved in transitions since 1988. “It is a very, very big mistake. The world continues — it doesn’t respect transitions.”

11 March
Trump’s Firing of U.S. Attorneys Raises Eyebrows, Prompts Conflict
Preet Bharara, a fiercely independent prosecutor, was among 46 U.S. attorneys asked to resign by the Department of Justice.
(Vanity Fair) On Friday [10 March], 46 United States attorneys were ordered to offer their resignation, clearing away the remnant prosecutors appointed by the Obama administration. Some were told to vacate their offices by the close of business on Friday afternoon. … Two of the 46 attorneys were expected to stay on. A D.O.J. spokesperson told the Times that Trump personally called Dana Boente, in Virginia, and Rod Rosenstein, in Maryland, to tell them they would continue serving in their jobs. Boente is the acting deputy attorney general.
While firings like this aren’t unheard of for a new administration, this decision is unusually abrupt. “In January, I met with Vice President Pence and White House Counsel Donald McGahn and asked specifically whether all U.S. attorneys would be fired at once,” California Senator Dianne Feinstein said. “Mr. McGahn told me that the transition would be done in an orderly fashion to preserve continuity. Clearly this is not the case. I’m very concerned about the effect of this sudden and unexpected decision on federal law enforcement.”

2 March
The Donald Trump Cabinet Tracker
(The Atlantic) The Senate approved Ben Carson to serve as secretary of housing and urban development, and Rick Perry to lead the Department of Energy on Thursday.
The president now has all but two of his Cabinet picks confirmed. Former Georgia Governor Sunny Perdue is awaiting a hearing to lead the Department of Agriculture, and Alexander Acosta was nominated only last month to be secretary of labor after Trump’s first choice, Andrew Puzder, withdrew.
The Senate hasn’t formally rejected a Cabinet pick since it voted down President George H.W. Bush’s nomination of John Tower for defense secretary in 1989. But no new president has gotten all of their nominees confirmed in the last 30 years; those that become enmeshed in controversy or partisan brinkmanship (it’s often both) usually withdraw before a vote. Trump has lost one so far.

17 February
Trump’s Public Humiliation
By rejecting the national security adviser job, Robert Harward gave cover to every professional who wants to turn the president down.
(Slate) The rejection is stunning in several ways that go well beyond the scope of Trump’s personal sensitivities. First, it is very unusual—almost unheard of—for a senior military officer, retired or otherwise, to turn down a request from the commander-in-chief.
Second, and largely for that reason, by rejecting the offer, Harward has provided cover to other officers, and to civilian national security analysts with a similar sense of patriotic duty, to turn down this president, too. Service, in this case, is not its own reward and by no stretch worth the sacrifice.
Third, the Financial Times, Washington Post, CNN, and other news outlets are reporting that Harward turned down the offer in part because Trump wouldn’t let him fire several officials who Flynn had hired for his staff and install his own team instead. This suggests that Trump is adamant on keeping certain people loyal to him—including Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland, a former Fox News commentator who Trump admired. The news reports don’t mention whether Harward made demands about Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief political strategist who wrote the executive order that placed himself on the NSC Principals Committee and has created a parallel NSC structure called the Strategic Initiatives Group, comprising a few extreme right-wing associates. But any serious person would insist on the dismantling of this weird group as another condition for taking the job.
Senate Confirms Scott Pruitt as E.P.A. Head
(NYT) The Senate confirmed Scott Pruitt on Friday to run the Environmental Protection Agency, putting a seasoned legal opponent of the agency at the helm of President Trump’s efforts to dismantle major regulations on climate change and clean water — and to cut the size and authority of the government’s environmental enforcer.
Senators voted 52 to 46 to confirm Mr. Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general who has built a career out of suing to block the E.P.A.’s major environmental rules and has called for the dissolution of much of the agency’s authority.
Democrats, environmental groups and even current E.P.A. employees have harshly criticized Mr. Pruitt’s record of fighting the mission of the agency he will now lead, as well as his close ties with the fossil fuel industry he will now regulate. Both opponents and supporters of Mr. Pruitt’s say he is well positioned to carry out Mr. Trump’s campaign trail promises to dismantle the agency and slash its ranks of employees. Mr. Trump vowed to “get rid” of the agency “in almost every form.”
Michael Dubke to Be White House Communications Director
Mr. Dubke has described his view of his new White House role as an organizational one, helping to make the communications team more efficient.
Filling the communications director role had been seen as a pressing task by the president’s inner circle. The lack of a clear and direct message driven by the White House each day has been vexing to the president’s aides, officials said.

16 February
Puzder’s Replacement: The new nominee for labor secretary is Alexander Acosta, a Cuban-American lawyer who’s served on the National Labor Relations Board and led the civil-rights division of the Department of Justice. His long record of government experience, which includes positions that required Senate confirmation, makes him a safer bet than failed nominee Andrew Puzder—but a scandal over politicized hiring from his time at the Justice Department could still come back to haunt him. Also in executive-branch news: Mick Mulvaney, who’s expected to push for spending cuts, has been confirmed as Trump’s budget director. And while environmentalists have worried about the fate of the EPA under its longtime opponent Scott Pruitt, the agency is also under serious threat from Congress.
Donald Trump is falling way behind schedule in executive branch appointments
He’s losing nominees faster than he’s designating new ones.
(Vox) On February 8, President Trump announced the appointment of Elaine Duke to serve as deputy secretary of homeland security. It was the first nomination since the blizzard of initial picks ended on February 1, and unlike many of Trump’s choices, it was a very solid one. Duke is a career civil servant who was tapped as undersecretary of homeland security for management in the waning days of the George W. Bush administration and then served for a couple of years under Obama — exactly the sort of experienced deputy someone like John Kelly will need to help him run a large agency he’s never worked in before.
In the week since Duke’s name was sent to the Senate, Trump hasn’t nominated anybody — whether well-qualified or awful — to any Senate-confirmable positions. Instead, he’s lost his nominees for both secretary of the Army and secretary of labor.

15 February
Puzder: Trump’s nominee for labor secretary withdrew from consideration today after several Republican senators said they wouldn’t be voting for him. Democrats had long been skeptical of Andrew Puzder’s record of opposing labor regulations, but what ultimately cost him the GOP votes was a series of revelations from his home life: past allegations of abuse from his ex-wife, plus his admission that he employed an undocumented housekeeper and failed to pay the required taxes.

7 February
Betsy DeVos Confirmed as Education Secretary; Pence Breaks Tiebetsy-devos
The Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos on Tuesday as education secretary, approving the embattled nominee only with the help of a historic tiebreaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence.
The 51-to-50 vote elevates Ms. DeVos — a wealthy donor from Michigan who has devoted much of her life to expanding educational choice through charter schools and vouchers, but has limited experience with the public school system — to be steward of the nation’s schools.
Two Republicans voted against Ms. DeVos’s confirmation, a sign that some members of President Trump’s party are willing to go against him, possibly foreshadowing difficulty on some of the president’s more contentious legislative priorities.
Betsy DeVos Just Bought Herself a Trump Cabinet Position
Betsy DeVos’s Rocky Path as Trump’s Pick for Education Secretary
Tom Price, Dr. Personal Enrichment
So far, the nominee receiving the most attention is Betsy DeVos, Trump’s choice for education secretary, and she definitely deserves scrutiny. Still, I think Democrats have made a mistake focusing so much on her rather than on Price. He could do more damage — and his transgressions are worse than those that have defeated prior nominees.
he hasn’t been content to make money in the standard ways. He has also pushed, and crossed, ethical boundaries. Again and again, Price has mingled his power as a congressman with his desire to make money.

23 January
Looks like this is going to be a VERY long transition.
Donald Trump and a Sea of Empty Desks
He assumed office on Friday with the most incomplete team in recent history.
An incoming president is expected to fill about 4,000 positions. Nominees for more than 1,100 of them must be confirmed by the Senate. It is impossible for any president to fill all these positions by Day 1. But transition veterans recommend that a new president have a White House team assembled — 450 people who don’t require Senate confirmation — and have nominees for the top 100 positions that must be Senate-confirmed.
Mr. Trump is not even in the ballpark. There are no nominees for three-quarters of the top 100 jobs. His White House staff, some 30 of whom were sworn in on Sunday, is light on governing experience. Yet many of those, like the former “Apprentice” and “Celebrity Apprentice” contestant Omarosa Manigault, the assistant to the president and director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison, carry the titles that rank highest.
Mr. Trump completed his cabinet roster of 21 people only on Thursday, and there’s still a long road ahead for most. He named them without vetting them first, and an unusual number are wealthy individuals whose extensive holdings have taken the Office of Government Ethics longer to screen for potential conflicts of interest. Such conflicts or sheer unfitness may yet doom some of them. Mr. Trump’s transition team said last week that it expected the Senate to confirm seven cabinet nominees on Friday, which would be the same number as George W. Bush and Barack Obama had on Inauguration Day. The Senate cleared only two: Gen. John Kelly for homeland security secretary and Gen. James Mattis as defense secretary.
… Meanwhile, Mr. Trump’s team has had to ask some 50 essential officials to stay on, most of them national security and diplomatic professionals.
18 January
Trump’s National Security Team Is Missing in Action
Trump’s train wreck of a transition stumbles into office with key vacancies in top positions and wracked by infighting.
(Foreign Policy) The Trump Administration’s national security staff is alarmingly mostly vacant as he takes office today. “The delays and dysfunction threaten to cripple the incoming administration from the outset and raise the risk the White House will present confused or contradictory policies to the outside world. Without his team in place, the new president will likely be unprepared should an early-term crisis erupt abroad, or an adversary test the new administration’s mettle, said former officials who served in both Republican and Democratic administrations…The positions still to be filled include senior management and policy posts that oversee diplomacy, military budgets, nuclear weapons, counterterrorism, and media relations, said Obama administration officials, congressional staffers and people familiar with the transition. The Trump team has not yet named senior deputies for the State or Homeland Security departments. Meanwhile, dozens of important posts at the Defense Department remain vacant in part because of a growing feud between Trump’s advisors and James Mattis, the retired general picked to serve as the next defense secretary. As for the White House, the Trump team has yet to name a national security advisor for Vice President-elect Mike Pence and other key posts, officials told FP
Tom Price’s Dubious Trades in Health Care Stocks
(NYT) Even before Tom Price became President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Department of Health and Human Services, he played a big role in shaping health policy in the House. He also frequently traded health care stocks, raising questions about whether he used his position in Congress for personal profit.
Mr. Price, who will testify at a Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday, has bought and sold stocks worth more than $300,000 over the last four years, The Wall Street Journal reported last month. His trades included shares of at least two companies that stood to benefit from legislation he voted for, had sponsored or was involved in.
(LA Times) Two important stories to take note of as the nation prepares for some kind of repeal of Obamacare by the new Republican leadership on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue.
The biggest may be the report released Tuesday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which concluded as many as 18 million Americans would lose healthcare coverage without the provisions of the 2010 law. Others would see big jumps in their monthly premiums.
The man in the center of the spotlight for what would come in the wake of a repeal of Obamacare is Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), Trump’s pick for Health and Human Services secretary. Noam N. Levey takes a closer look at how Price has spent his career fighting to limit the healthcare safety net, even as more than a million people in his home state of Georgia were locked out of health protections.
The Betsy DeVos Hearing Was an Insult to Democracy
The strategy of putting DeVos’ nomination on a rocket sled so as to avoid exposing too much of her abysmal lack of qualifications was so obvious as to be insulting.
(Esquire) As nearly as I can tell, the nominees for the president-elect’s Cabinet fall into several different categories. There are the people you’d pretty much expect from any Republican administration. (James Mattis, Michael Flynn, Ryan Zinke). There are the people who understand the mission of their departments and have spent their lives undermining it. (Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, Rick Perry at Energy, Andrew Puzder at Labor). And there are the people who are fundamentally clueless about the general nature of public service. (Rex Tillerson at State.) On Tuesday night, DeVos demonstrated that she is that rarest of Trump administration fauna: Someone who fits capably into all three categories.
17 January

Trump set to take office without most of his Cabinet

Republicans are on track to take longer to fill out his team than for any administration since George H.W. Bush in 1989.
(Politico) “We were presented with the problem that the Trump administration was basically unprepared for presenting a Cabinet,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). “They compounded that problem by picking both billionaires with enormously complicated financial situations, and people who have enormous conflicts of interests.”
Trump made his Cabinet selections in rapid fire after the election, but has been hampered since by ethics complications for some of them, Democratic opposition and an unforgiving calendar.
If Democrats fight the GOP tooth and nail, it could be more than a month before Trump gets his 15 Cabinet secretaries and six cabinet-level slots filled—- and potentially a lot longer for him to begin installing deputy-level officials that often run the department while the secretary serves as the public face.
16 January
Just when you thought the Trump ethics disaster couldn’t get worse, it did
Richard Painter, a professor of law at the University of Minnesota, was the chief White House ethics lawyer from 2005 to 2007 and is vice chair of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Norman Eisen, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, was the chief White House ethics lawyer from 2009 to 2011 and is the chair of CREW.
(WaPost Opinion) For two weeks now, the majority leadership in the new Congress and the incoming Trump administration have been conducting a war on ethics. This has ranged from the effort to cripple the Office of Congressional Ethics to the Senate’s rush to confirm President-elect Donald Trump’s nominees before their financial conflicts disclosures were complete to Trump’s own inadequate plan to address his ethical problems. The latest front involves the Office of Government Ethics and its director, Walter Shaub Jr., who has had the temerity to speak up against Trump’s plan to deal with his conflicts of interest as “meaningless.”
Both of us, former ethics counsels for Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, respectively, have worked with Shaub, a career public servant who, in our experience, provided nonpartisan and wise advice. Now, Shaub is being pilloried — and may be at risk of losing his job — for doing just that, and asserting correctly that Trump’s approach “doesn’t meet the standards . . . that every president in the last four decades has met.”
Betsy DeVos Got Schooled in Her Confirmation Hearing
Democrats repeatedly stumped Trump’s pick for education secretary.
(The New Republic) Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of education, just failed her first test. At her Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday night, the billionaire conservative philanthropist and “school choice” advocate appeared unprepared to answer straightforward questions about school reform, and she aired extreme views that could cause headaches for the incoming administration.
And this from Senator Elizabeth Warren
“As Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos would be in charge of running a $1 trillion student loan bank. She has no experience doing that. In fact, Betsy DeVos has no experience with student loans, Pell Grants, or public education at all. Tonight at her confirmation hearing, I asked Betsy DeVos a straight forward set of questions about her education experience and commitment to protecting students cheated by for-profit colleges. If Betsy DeVos can’t commit to using the Department of Education’s many tools and resources to protect students from fraud, I don’t see how she can be the Secretary of Education.”
Monica Crowley bows out of Trump administration post following plagiarism revelations
(CNN) The move comes after CNN’s KFile uncovered multiple instances of plagiarism in her 2012 book, her columns for the Washington Times, and her 2000 Ph.D. dissertation for Columbia University. Crowley was slated to be the senior director of strategic communications for the National Security Council in Trump’s administration.
13 January
(LA Times) Trump is still a week away from being sworn in as president, but judging by the latest polls, he’s already started to wear out his welcome.
In the weeks immediately after the election, Trump got a small, but noticeable, boost in polls. … Independent voters, in particular, seemed to like the unifying tone he set with his speech on election night.
Two months on, that glow has worn off, and Trump’s standing with the public has returned to his normal, which is to say widely abnormal for any other newly elected president.
Only 44% of Americans approve of Trump’s transition so far, according to the latest Gallup figures, released Friday. A poll earlier in the week by Quinnipiac University pegged the number even lower — only 37% approved of Trump in that survey.
In either case, Trump stands far below the norm for a new president. In Gallup’s surveys, for example, 68% of Americans approved of Bill Clinton’s transition just before he took office, 61% approved of George W. Bush and a whopping 83% approved of Barack Obama.
Polls don’t say precisely why Trump’s standing has dropped, but there’s strong reason to think over-exposure plays a part.
12 January
Elizabeth Drew: Trump’s Crazed Transition
(Project Syndicate) A president-elect typically uses the transition time to make cabinet choices and to study up on the issues he will soon confront, but keeps quiet on policy until he’s been sworn into office. But Trump has only paid lip service to the hallowed principle that the US has just one president at a time. Shortly after the election, he began to conduct his own foreign policy. …
Trump’s habit of tweeting at all hours on all manner of subjects, has those in Washington, DC, including Republicans, on edge. The most worrisome aspect of this strangest of transitions is what it foretells about what will happen when Trump gains the full power of the presidency.
11 January
(Quartz) Trump’s cabinet nominees continue to be grilled… In another crazy busy day in US politics, senators hold confirmation hearings for—among others—former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump’s choice for secretary of State, and Mike Pompeo, his pick for CIA director. Again, many of the nominees still have not yet completed compulsory ethics reviews.
and Trump himself is—perhaps—lightly roasted. The president-elect’s much-delayed first press conference is supposed to focus on his conflicts of interest and plans for his business empire while he is in office. Trump has promised a “general news conference,” but the transition team hasn’t even announced a location yet.
5 January
AP source: Trump selects former Sen. Dan Coats as director of national intelligence
(PBS Newshour) President-elect Donald Trump has selected former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats to lead the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, a role that would thrust him into the center of the intelligence community Trump has publicly challenged, a person with knowledge of the decision said Thursday.
Coats served as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee before retiring from Congress last year. If confirmed by the Senate, he would oversee an agency created after 9/11 to improve coordination of U.S. spy and law enforcement agencies.
Former CIA director James Woolsey has split with Trump, ‘effective immediately’
“Effective immediately, Ambassador Woolsey is no longer a Senior Adviser to President-elect Trump or the transition,” Woolsey’s spokesman, Jonathan Franks, wrote in a statement that was first reported by CNN’s Jeremy Diamond. “He wishes the President-elect and his Administration great success in their time in office.”
Woolsey abruptly resigned from his position on Thursday, one day before Trump was set to receive a conclusive briefing from intelligence officials on Russia’s role in the election-related hacks. The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker reported that Woolsey became uncomfortable after being cut out of intelligence talks with Trump and his national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.
Woolsey came under scrutiny last week after implying to CNN’s Jim Sciutto that Trump could be “playing us” with regard to what he knows about Russia’s role in election-related hacks of Democratic Party organizations and officials.
3 January
(The Atlantic Daily) Transition Trouble: With less than three weeks to go before Trump takes office, his transition team is lagging behind schedule to fill positions in the new administration, largely because many of the nominees haven’t been fully vetted yet. On top of late starts to the weeks-long process, the team faces an extra hurdle in the fact that Trump has chosen a number of wealthy business executives, whose complex financial portfolios make their potential conflicts of interest particularly hard to straighten out. Meanwhile, Trump has his own conflicts of interest to worry about (you can follow our running list of them here). He has insisted that his business interests won’t sway him—but as numerous studies on the financial biases of doctors have shown, that’s a resolution much easier made than carried out.
2 January
Who is George Conway?
(National Review) Over the weekend, Beltway commentators were abuzz with rumors that President-elect Donald Trump is considering naming New York lawyer George Conway as the next Solicitor General. Why the buzz? For starters, Conway’s not a DC appellate regular. More significantly, Conway is married to Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, who was recently named counselor to the President. Based on these facts, some suggested a Conway would represent the elevation of connections over qualifications…. however … Any suggestion he’s unfit for the job is inaccurate and unfair.


26 December
Trump’s Health Secretary Pick Leaves Nation’s Doctors Divided
(NYT) …. the American Medical Association swiftly endorsed the selection of one of its own [Representative Dr. Tom Price], an orthopedic surgeon who has championed the role of physicians throughout his legislative career.
Then the larger world of doctors and nurses weighed in on the beliefs and record of Mr. Price, a suburban Atlanta Republican — and the split among caregivers, especially doctors, quickly grew sharp. … The “unqualified support” for Mr. Price is inappropriate, the letter [from A.M.A. members] says, because he has been “a strong opponent of so much of our clearly delineated A.M.A. policy” on issues like the Affordable Care Act, contraception and gay rights. Some doctors also said patients could be hurt by major changes in Medicare and Medicaid that Mr. Price, along with other House Republicans, has advocated. …
Mr. Price has introduced legislation to repeal Mr. Obama’s health law, including its expansion of Medicaid and subsidies for the purchase of private insurance. He advocates tax credits to help people buy insurance, greater use of individual health savings accounts and state-run “high-risk pools” for people with pre-existing conditions who might otherwise have difficulty finding affordable coverage. [Tom Price Is Eager to Lead H.H.S., and Reduce Its Clout]

23 December
Competing Power Circles Emerge in Trump WH Staff
(RealClear Politics) Conway, the campaign manager who helped keep Trump on message and was a key contributor to his election victory, will be counselor to the president while [Sean] Spicer, a longtime GOP insider who spent years at the Republican National Committee, will be White House press secretary.

19 December
Electoral College Settles Donald Trump’s Victory, but Little Else
The meeting of the Electoral College after presidential elections has long been little more than a tradition-bound formality, with political insiders gathering to ratify the preferences of their state’s voters and distribute 538 electoral votes. Yet as with so much else in this turbulent election year, even that civic ritual was punctuated by anger and dissent. … while Mr. Trump’s opponents needed 37 Republican defectors to bring his electoral-vote tally below 270, the bulk of electors who broke ranks — four in Washington State — were Democrats who otherwise would have voted for Mrs. Clinton. Instead, three voted for former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, a Republican, and one for Faith Spotted Eagle, a Native American tribal leader who has led opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline.
A Historic Number of Electors Defected, and Most Were Supposed to Vote for Clinton
The Electoral College on Monday voted for Donald J. Trump to win the presidency. Seven electors, the most ever, voted for someone other than their party’s nominee.

17 December
Outsiders Selected by Trump Aim to Unnerve Washington
As Mr. Trump finishes announcing his choices for cabinet and senior White House aides, a picture is emerging of an administration with little ideological cohesion and no single animating purpose. They are neither all hard-right conservatives, nor all mainstream conservatives. They are not all insiders or outsiders. Some have known Mr. Trump for years. Others met him in the weeks since he was elected.
Instead, Mr. Trump has recruited people to lead his government who can be roughly grouped into categories that appeal to the different parts of his psyche. In addition to the disrupters, there are the dealmakers, the loyalists, the establishment and the generals.
In Mick Mulvaney, Trump Finds Anti-Establishment Leader for Budget Office
(NYT)In Mr. Mulvaney, Mr. Trump has chosen for the Office of Management and Budget a spending hard-liner to join an economic team that could be ideologically in conflict, setting up possible collisions during major policy-making next year.
The team includes at Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs partner turned hedge fund manager who has spoken favorably of infrastructure spending that Mr. Mulvaney has opposed; a commerce secretary nominee, Wilbur Ross, known for the billions of dollars he has earned through international investing; and a National Economic Council director, Gary Cohn, who as president of Goldman Sachs has channeled tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to Democrats as well as Republicans.
Mr. Mulvaney has perpetually rejected short-term spending agreements and questioned the government’s need to increase its statutory borrowing limits to avoid default. He has repeatedly opposed some of his own party’s budget proposals, and quickly established himself as one of the most outspoken members of that 2010 class of Republicans. By 2013, at the start of his second term, he declined to support Mr. Boehner’s re-election as speaker, abstaining from the vote in protest.

16 December
John Andrews asks whether Carl Bildt, Joscha Fischer, Ana Palacio, and other Project Syndicate commentators are right to be so uneasy about the incoming US administration.
The Trump Enigma
(Project Syndicate) US President-elect Donald Trump’s incoming cabinet now includes retired generals, plutocrats, and people who would abolish the very departments they will lead. But it is still unclear how Trump will actually govern, which has become a source of growing anxiety for the rest of the world.

15 December
Here’s a thought: Trump knows what he’s doing
President-elect’s transition has been unconventional, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing
By Andrew MacDougall, previously director of communications for Stephen Harper.
(CBC) The doyens shouldn’t be so quick to say “You can’t do that” or “You can’t say that,” and instead try asking “Why can’t you do or say that?” And, if there’s no good reason, accept that different is possible, even if it might not, in the end, be preferable.
Yes, appointing someone like ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson secretary of state could be interpreted as a sop to Putin. But perhaps it’s also good to have someone in the post who understands, as much as anyone can, the mind of the world’s most threatening dictator. Perhaps it’s wise to have someone who has a lifetime of experience dealing with the sheiks and despots who preside over so much of the world’s mess.
One thing is certain: To howl indiscriminately is to play Trump’s game.
Donald Trump will require the outrage of his supposed betters to keep up momentum with his supporters. Hysteria over every breach of conventional wisdom threatens to lessen the impact of greater errors like dismissive responses to reports of Russians monkeying around in elections.
It’s a fine line between being Chicken Little and a potent critic. The stakes of the U.S. presidency are undeniably high, and so it’s important the leader is held properly to account.
This begins by accepting that not everything Donald Trump will do is stupid.

Ryan Zinke, Trump’s choice for Interior secretary, has an interestingly eclectic record. Environmental groups oppose his positions on oil drilling, mining and many other issues. But he has also opposed the GOP platform’s call for giving control of public lands to the states.
(LA Times) While Zinke has supported preserving the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is viewed as sacrosanct by many conservationists, he has also opposed a new rule to reduce the emission of the greenhouse gas methane during energy production on public land and a moratorium on new coal leasing. He praised a preliminary federal study that said hydraulic fracturing to produce oil and gas did not cause systemic damage to drinking water — but that finding was reversed in a final report this week

14 December
Trump names Elon Musk, Uber CEO to advisory team
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi will also join the President’s Strategic and Policy Forum.
(The Hill) Musk, Kalanick and Nooyi will join 13 other members of the President’s Strategic and Policy Forum who are expected to “meet with the President frequently to share their specific experience and knowledge as the President implements his economic agenda.”
The forum will be chaired by Stephen A. Schwarzman, the CEO and co-founder of Blackstone, one of the world’s largest private equity firms.

Divisions deepen inside Trump Tower
‘The transition has taken a decidedly nasty and more vitriolic turn,’ one aide says
Insiders paint a picture of constant score-keeping and simmering suspicion within Trump world — one even called it “vitriolic.” And they foresee incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, the party stalwart, and chief strategist Steve Bannon, the populist firebrand, headed for an inevitable clash.
Trump, a businessman-turned-politician, has long encouraged competition among factions within his organizations, creating a pressure-cooker environment where almost every decision resulted in a winner and a loser. In the end, one side would be vanquished and another would take its place, and the cycle would repeat. … Now, as Trump builds out his government, little seems to have changed.

13 December
Trump’s Treasury Pick Has a $230 Million Blemish on His Record
When Donald Trump announced his choice for Treasury secretary last month, he called Steven Mnuchin a “world-class financier,” citing business successes like his profitable turnaround of a California bank.
But soon after Mnuchin sold OneWest Bank last year, problems emerged that may tarnish his record there. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development opened an investigation into foreclosure practices in a division that handles loans to senior citizens. Accountants determined the unit’s books were a mess. Eventually, the bank’s new owner, CIT Group Inc., discovered a shortfall of more than $230 million.
Betsy DeVos and God’s Plan for Schools
(NYT) In most news coverage, Ms. DeVos is depicted as a member of the Republican donor class and a leading advocate of school vouchers programs.
That is true enough, but it doesn’t begin to describe the broader conservative agenda she’s been associated with.

12 December
Trump picks Perry to lead Energy Department he once vowed to kill
Conservatives view Perry as someone with management experience who would be willing to question the agency’s status quo.
On a presidential debate stage five years ago, Rick Perry blanked on the Energy Department’s name when trying to include it in a list of agencies he promised to abolish — memorably concluding with “oops.”
Now Donald Trump has chosen the former Texas governor to lead the sprawling department, which oversees the security of the nation’s nuclear weapons and has played major roles in President Barack Obama’s climate agenda and nuclear deal with Iran. Three sources close to the transition confirmed the choice Tuesday.

Trump dares GOP Senate to reject Tillerson
It could take only three Republicans to sink him, and Marco Rubio, John McCain and Lindsey Graham have all been critical.
Donald Trump is daring a fight with the Republican Senate with his nomination of ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, and though his confirmation is not assured, Trump seems likely to prevail.
Barring new revelations about Tillerson’s past and connections with Russia, there are early indications that he will be confirmed. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he “looks forward to supporting” Tillerson, and several members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee sounded positive notes about the nomination after it became official.

Flynn deputy raises more doubts about Trump team
Former Fox analyst K.T. McFarland, out of government for three decades, is the unlikely choice for the pressure-filled job of No. 2 at the National Security Council.
(Politico) McFarland’s support for Trump and his positions also made her welcome in his inner circle. Since her ill-fated Senate campaign, McFarland has positioned herself as an anti-establishment outsider wary of globalism and U.S. interventions abroad. Trump is “willing to rethink a lot of the conventional wisdom,” she said on Fox in August.
McFarland has celebrated Brexit, the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union; called the 2011 U.S. intervention in Libya “insane”; and said the U.S. might be able to find “common ground” with Russian President Vladimir Putin. She has also called Islamism a “death cult” that demands a more aggressive U.S. response.
(LA Times) Trump told his supporters that he chose a “killer” investor, Wilbur Ross, to lead his Department of Commerce. The president-elect has a long history with Ross — he helped navigate Trump’s first casino bankruptcy in Atlantic City. Chris Megerian explores their connection and Ross’ track record as an investor in steel and coal, two industries Trump has pledged to revive.

11 December
rex-tillerson-w-vladimir-putinRex Tillerson: an appointment that would confirm Putin’s US election win
The president-elect is reportedly favouring the Exxon Mobil CEO but experts say the Senate may bridle over a realpolitik choice that would benefit Russia
(The Guardian) If Rex Tillerson is nominated as the next secretary of state, it would confirm Vladimir Putin as one of the strategic victors of the US presidential election.
Barack Obama has ordered an inquiry into covert Russian intervention in the campaign, which the CIA says was designed to secure a victory for Donald Trump. But whether or not Russian intervention made a significant difference to the outcome, a Tillerson appointment would represent a significant gain for Moscow.While the other leading candidates for the job hold largely traditional and adversarial views on Russia, the outgoing chief executive of Exxon Mobil has a history of close business ties to Putin, who bestowed the Order of Friendship on Tillerson in 2013.
9 December
Exxon Mobil Chief Rises as Trump’s Choice for Secretary of State
(NYT) Rex W. Tillerson, the president and chief executive of Exxon Mobil, has emerged as President-elect Donald J. Trump’s top choice to become secretary of state, according to a person with direct knowledge of the search process.
For a lot more about Mr. Tillerson’s relationship with Russia:
What It Really Means to Be a ‘Friend of Putin’
Reported Secretary of State frontrunner Rex Tillerson is close to Vladimir Putin. Here’s what that costs these days.
(Politico) To do business in Russia—both for Exxon Mobil and for Tillerson’s own massive retirement fund, whose fortunes would rise significantly if a Trump White House lifted sanctions—you have to dance to Putin’s tune, and take whatever favors and humiliations he sends your way. Putin may act a friend and pin state medals on your breast, but he is, ultimately, a cynic. And to play ball with him, you have to be a cynic, too. Forget your honor, your rule of law, your independent judiciary, your human rights, your international law, and focus on the gold coins he throws to your feet.

(The Atlantic round-up) President-elect Donald Trump announced yesterday that fast-food magnate Andrew Puzder would be his choice to lead the U.S. Department of Labor. Puzder has been an opponent of minimum wage increases and a supporter of immigration reform. As labor secretary, he’s expected to roll back many of Obama’s changes to labor laws and to side with businesses over employees—which, critics note, may seem to conflict both with the agency’s mission of protecting workers’ interests and with Trump’s populist campaign rhetoric. So how will the American people receive Puzder? Here’s a history of public perceptions of business leaders—who have inspired a mixture of awe and suspicion all the way back to the Roman empire.
8 December
It just gets worse and worse
Donald Trump picks climate change sceptic Scott Pruitt to lead EPA
(The Guardian) Pruitt, a Republican, has been picked at a time when he is part of legal action waged by 28 states against the EPA to halt the Clean Power Plan, an effort by Barack Obama’s administration to curb greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants. His nomination is a clear signal of Republicans’ desire to dismantle Obama’s climate legacy.
“We’re very accustomed to the naysayers and the critics,” said Trump aide Kellyanne Conway. “Attorney General Pruitt has great qualifications and a good record as AG of Oklahoma and there were a number of qualified candidates for that particular position that the president-elect interviewed. We look forward to the confirmation hearings.”
Pruitt has called the EPA’s rule “unlawful and overreaching” and has cast doubt on the overwhelming scientific evidence that human activity is causing the planet to warm.
“Having Scott Pruitt in charge of the US Environmental Protection Agency is like putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. “He is a climate science denier who, as attorney general for the state of Oklahoma, regularly conspired with the fossil fuel industry to attack EPA regulations. Nothing less than our children’s health is at stake.”
Trip Van Noppen, president of Earthjustice, which has joined in defence of the Clean Power Plan in court, said “every American should be appalled” by Pruitt’s nomination.
Eric T Schneiderman, the attorney general of New York, said Pruitt was a “dangerous and unqualified choice” who had acted as an “agent of the oil and gas industry”.
“The science is clear: climate change and the existential threat it poses to all Americans is real,” he said. “Yet as attorney general, Mr Pruitt not only denied the existence of climate change, but took steps to accelerate its devastating effects on Americans.
“If the EPA under Scott Pruitt fails to uphold our nation’s environmental laws, I stand ready to use the full power of my office to compel their enforcement by the agency.”
(The Atlantic) Trump’s EPA Pick Is Skeptical of More Than Just Climate Change — As Oklahoma attorney general, Scott Pruitt sued the federal government to prevent rules about air and water pollution from taking effect.
Did Al Gore get played? Engaging with Trump brings risk for the left
(LA Times) When Al Gore emerged from his surprise meeting at Trump Tower earlier this week to suggest the president-elect was a good listener and maybe was keeping an open mind on climate change, there was hardly universal relief on the left. But there was a lot of suspicion that Gore had been played.
Within 48 hours, Donald Trump deepened those suspicions, naming Scott Pruitt, the attorney general of Oklahoma and a prominent climate-change skeptic, to run the Environmental Protection Agency.

Trump’s transition approval rating trails Obama and Bush
(Politico) Trump’s transition, initially dogged by reports that it was in disarray, has more recently had to contend with loud criticism of several appointees. The most controversial has been Steve Bannon, Trump’s incoming chief White House strategist, who previously ran Breitbart News, an anti-establishment, right-wing website that has published material that critics say is racist.
Civil rights groups have also taken issue with Trump’s pick for attorney general, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, whose appointment to the federal bench in the 1980s was derailed by accusations of racism. And liberals are attacking retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the incoming national security adviser, for his past comments about Muslims and history of spreading false conspiracy theories.
Trump has also drawn complaints for tapping billionaires and millionaires, such as Betsy DeVos to lead the Department of Education, and Steven Mnuchin, a Goldman Sachs veteran, to head Treasury. Other appointees, such as Housing and Urban Development nominee Ben Carson, face accusations that they are unqualified to serve.
Despite his transition’s low approval ratings so far, the Pew survey indicates that the public is more optimistic about Trump’s presidency than it was in October, when 57 percent of those surveyed thought he would be poor or terrible at the job.
Obama officials alarmed at slow pace of agency-level transition
Despite rush of Cabinet appointments, Trump’s team lags in crucial, lower-profile work that will help launch his agenda
(Politico) Donald Trump is beating President Barack Obama on the pace of splashy Cabinet announcements, but the president-elect is lagging his predecessor when it comes to other transition efforts critical to fulfilling his campaign promises.
The slower pace applies not only to key appointments throughout his administration, but also to Trump’s lower-profile agency review teams, whose nitty-gritty work with Obama’s career bureaucrats could make or break Trump’s pledge to get his presidency off to a barn-burning start.
Obama administration officials assigned to the transition say Trump’s representatives have been AWOL at some agencies, leaving them sitting on binders full of briefing materials that have been amassed since March.
The halting communication with the agencies is causing consternation among Obama administration officials — both the political aides who will resign as of Jan. 20 and the career public servants whose employment spans presidencies — tasked with helping facilitate a smooth transition. In some cases, such as at the U.S. Agency for International Development, they haven’t heard from anyone in Trump world.
6 December
Why Did Ivanka Summon Al Gore to Trump Tower?
The former vice president spoke with the president-elect about climate change—but that doesn’t mean anything yet.
Ivanka Trump did not mention climate change on the campaign trail, and the only prior evidence that she cares about the issue is a Politico article published earlier this month. The story quotes “a source close to [Ivanka]” who says that “Ivanka wants to make climate change … one of her signature issues.” … Donald Trump’s energy and environmental transition team is staffed by people who have long opposed basic tenets of climate science. Myron Ebell, for instance, who reportedly leads Trump’s EPA transition team, has rejected the existence of global warming altogether.

5 December
Trump Adviser Has Pushed Clinton Conspiracy Theories
(NYT) Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, President-elect Donald J. Trump’s choice for national security adviser, has a well-established penchant for pushing conspiracy theories about Islamic law spreading in the West and the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. Less well noticed was his willingness throughout the presidential campaign to indulge in conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton.
Six days before the election, Mr. Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, tweeted a fake news story that claimed the police and prosecutors in New York had found evidence linking Mrs. Clinton and much of her senior campaign staff to pedophilia, money laundering, perjury and other felonies. …
Despite the absence of evidence to back up the theory, some high-profile supporters of Mr. Trump have continued to spread it, including Mr. Flynn’s son, Michael G. Flynn. Throughout the campaign, Michael G. Flynn served as a gatekeeper for his father, and he now appears to have a job with the Trump transition team.
Flynn under fire for fake news
(Politico)  The national security adviser “is the nexus where all the tools of foreign and national security policy come together,” said David Rothkopf, editor of Foreign Policy magazine and author of “Running the World: The Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Power.””This is the least experienced president in American history,” Rothkopf added. “That means that his advisers are more important than they have ever been. Getting balanced advice to the president is more important than ever.”

(The Atlantic) The Doctor Is In: Trump announced this morning that neurosurgeon Ben Carson is his choice to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development. A spokesperson had previously said Carson would feel uncomfortable running the agency given his lack of government experience, but now it looks as though Carson might bring to bear his personal background of growing up in poverty. On the other hand, some critics of James Mattis, Trump’s choice for secretary of defense, think the experience he does have—as a recently retired Marine general—should disqualify him. But their hope of maintaining “civilian control of the military” may be a mistaken one.
3 December
A look at Donald Trump’s presidential transition to-do list
There’s still lots of work to do before Trump takes the oath of office
(CBC) There are 4,100 appointments to make and they include heads of agencies, secretaries for the 15 executive departments that make up the cabinet, White House aides and senior civil servants.
There are no hard and fast deadlines but the most senior positions are filled as quickly as possible. A general goal is to have that work done by Christmas. Once a decision is made, background checks and security clearances must be done. The FBI and other agencies involved are prepared for a surge of requests.
About 1,000 political appointee positions require Senate confirmation hearings. The cabinet jobs will be the priority. Those hearings should begin early in the new year, before inauguration day. The less senior appointees will be dealt with in the months after Jan. 20.
In addition to all the hiring they have to do, the president-elect and his team must prepare to implement campaign promises. The policy team comes up with specific plans for the first 100 to 200 days in office. This requires co-operation between the campaign team and the transition team and between the transition team and those landing teams embedded with the government.
What else is on Obama’s transition to-do list?
White House staff work with the National Archives and Records Administration to determine the artifacts, gifts and records — electronic or otherwise — that need to be removed from the White House.
The White House prepares memos on domestic, economic and national security issues that the new administration could face in its first few weeks in office.
The White House might co-ordinate a meeting between former chiefs of staff and the incoming one to share best practices.
There will be a “tabletop exercise” for outgoing and incoming cabinet members. They will go through a potential crisis management scenario so the new staff can see how it’s done.
2 December
(LATimes) By and large, Trump’s appointees don’t have experience running big government bureaucracies — retired Gen. James Mattis, his pick to head the Defense Department, stands as the chief exception by virtue of his time as a top military commander. But that doesn’t mean they lack ideas about policy.
Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Trump’s pick as attorney general, has spent two decades as a lawmaker taking strongly conservative positions on issues of immigration, law enforcement and civil rights. As head of the Justice Department, he could move aggressively to shape immigration enforcement, Brian Bennett reported.
Betsy DeVos, Trump’s choice for secretary of Education, has been one of the country’s leading crusaders for giving parents taxpayer funds to spend on private schoolsRep. Tom Price of Georgia, who is slated to head Health and Human Services, has led efforts to overturn President Obama’s healthcare law.
In each of those domestic policy choices, Trump has gone for the most conservative of options he had. That doesn’t necessarily prove where his policy priorities will land once he takes office, but it does undercut the argument that as a New Yorker who had once contributed heavily to Democrats, Trump would turn out to be more moderate in office than he had been in the campaign.
Trump likes to present himself as unpredictable, and he certainly appears to enjoy the speculation around his major appointments, most notably secretary of State. Little by little, however, his appointments have begun filling in blank spots on the canvas, and the emerging picture so far looks like an administration that will stand further to the right than any the U.S. has seen since at least Ronald Reagan, and perhaps before.
Trump Treasury May Mean Independence for Fannie and Freddie
(NYT) Steven Mnuchin, President-elect Donald J. Trump’s nominee to run the Treasury Department, electrified Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac shareholders on Wednesday when he signaled that the mortgage finance giants would finally be allowed to get out from under Washington’s thumb.
“We got to get Fannie and Freddie out of government ownership,” he told Fox Business. “It makes no sense that these are owned by the government and have been controlled by the government for as long as they have.”
Mr. Mnuchin is right. It has been more than eight years since the federal government took over Fannie and Freddie in the mortgage crisis; as such, they are the last big piece of unfinished business from that era.
1 December
Steven Mnuchin’s Defining Moment: Seizing Opportunity From the Financial Crisis
Donald Trump’s nominee for Treasury secretary made millions buying failed IndyMac and has résumé at odds with president-elect’s campaign rhetoric
(WSJ) In the interview, Mr. Mnuchin said the new administration’s goal would be to achieve annual economic growth of 3% to 4%. He said his top policy priorities would be to overhaul the federal tax code, roll back certain financial regulations, review trade agreements and invest in infrastructure.
Mr. Mnuchin is regarded within the Trump transition team’s inner circle as a skilled team player. Mr. Trump’s advisers say Mr. Mnuchin will fuse traditional Republican Party support for lower taxes and less regulation with the president-elect’s populist stances on trade and infrastructure.
James Mattis, Outspoken Ex-Marine, Is Trump’s Choice as Defense Secretary
(NYT) … in some important policy areas, General Mattis differs from Mr. Trump, who has been filling the top ranks of his national security team with hard-liners. General Mattis believes, for instance, that Mr. Trump’s conciliatory statements toward Russia are ill informed. General Mattis views with alarm Moscow’s expansionist or bellicose policies in Syria, Ukraine and the Baltics. And he has told the president-elect that torture does not work.
Despite his tough stance on Iran, General Mattis also thinks that tearing up the Iran nuclear deal would hurt the United States, and he favors working closely with allies to strictly enforce its terms.
30 November
(The Atlantic) Trump’s Government: The president-elect described job creation as a priority this morning when he announced his choices for two more Cabinet positions: Steven Mnuchin for treasury and Wilbur Ross for commerce. Both Mnuchin and Ross are business insiders, the former coming from Goldman Sachs and the latter from a private-equity firm. Elsewhere in Trump’s Cabinet, Congressional GOP leaders are well represented—a fact that’s surprising given his campaign rhetoric against the D.C. establishment. As for Trump’s opposition in Washington, Nancy Pelosi today secured another term as House minority leader. And meanwhile, seven senators have asked the White House to declassify information about how Russia may have influenced the election.
26 November
From Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal to Barrie McKenna of the Globe & Mail, there is increasing focus and alarm over the conflict of interest between running a country and running a business empire.
Branding the presidency
With his trademark swagger, the president-elect is venturing into a minefield of conflicts where no U.S. president has dared go before
(Globe & Mail) the U.S. president-elect is steadfast about one thing: his determination to keep the global business empire that bears his name intact and firmly in family hands when he moves to the White House.
Breaking with decades of presidential precedent, Mr. Trump is brazenly mixing affairs of state and his own business interests, even as he prepares for his January inauguration. And the billionaire real-estate mogul is bragging about how it will all make him even richer. … His business dealings with foreign governments may even be illegal under an obscure section of the U.S. Constitution. Allies and enemies alike will forever wonder who’s in the White House – the head of state, a profiteer-in-chief or some murky hybrid, exposing the country to unprecedented financial and national security risks. The only way out, ethics experts say, is to sell everything or put his empire beyond family control in a truly blind trust.
… Trump-owned condos, resorts and golf courses have become convenient backdrops for the cameras as he forges the team and policies of his new administration. And behind closed doors it’s business as usual. His daughter Ivanka, an executive in his organization, sits in on meetings and phone calls with foreign leaders, while his son-in-law Jared Kushner, a real estate developer, advises him on policy. And the president-elect met with British politician Nigel Farage in recent days, urging him to oppose a windmill farm that would mar the view from two Trump golf courses in Scotland.
… Among Mr. Trump’s global assets are roughly 10 deals in which developers pay him millions of dollars to use the Trump name on their buildings, including planned projects in countries where the lines between business and government are often murky – in the Middle East, China and former Soviet bloc countries. Over all, Mr. Trump has done business in 18 foreign countries, including hotel and condo towers in Toronto and Vancouver.
Peggy Noonan: No More Business as Usual, Mr. Trump
He has to abandon his company in order to deal on the country’s behalf.
(WSJ) Does he fully understand that a president can never use the office, its power and influence, for his own financial enrichment? That he can’t, however offhandedly, both do business and be president? That future and credible reports that he had engaged in such a conflict of interest would doom his presidency? And that solving the question of his businesses and their relation to his presidency is urgent?
25 November
5 Things To Know About Alt-Right Leader Richard Spencer
Richard Spencer, one of the leaders of the Alt-Right, has suddenly found himself in the news after a video surfaced of him shouting “Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!” at an Alt-Right conference as attendees gave Spencer the Nazi salute in solidarity. He has also been banned from Twitter.
Spencer claims he has ties to Stephen Miller, the national policy director on Donald Trump’s transition team. … Miller has denied any connection to Spencer and denounced his views.
23 November
This is very disturbing.
The Disruptive Career of Michael Flynn, Trump’s National-Security Adviser
(The New Yorker)  [Admiral Michael Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] this week suggested to me that Flynn would need to change in order to succeed in his new role. “Mike Flynn was a terrific intel officer when he worked for me as a two-star and was both dynamic and often contrarian,” Mullen said. “Those qualities need to be tempered as national-security adviser in order to serve the next President as a thoughtful and strategic adviser.” Whether Flynn now learns to bottle his rage, whether he reëmbraces fact over fiction, whether he’s capable of playing the role of a contemplative counsellor, will determine the outcome of his most difficult and important mission yet.
The Alt-Right Is Using Trump
Ben Shapiro on how the group will take advantage of its newfound prominence.
[The alt-right political movement has been accused of racism, anti-Semitism and misogyny and of sharing an ideology with far-right parties such as the French National Front. ]
22 November
But will they hold the line?
Willing to oppose Trump, some Senate Republicans gain leverage
(Reuters) It is no surprise that Democrats in the U.S. Congress will oppose Donald Trump but the most important resistance to fulfilling the president-elect’s agenda is beginning to emerge from Republicans on Capitol Hill.
A small number of influential Republicans in the Senate are threatening to block appointments to Trump’s administration, derail his thaw with Russia and prevent the planned wall on the border with Mexico.
The party held onto control of the Senate at the Nov. 8 election but by only a thin margin, putting powerful swing votes in just a few hands.
Paul, a libertarian lone wolf, says he will block Senate confirmations if Trump nominates either former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani or former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton to be secretary of state.
20 November
Nikki Haley named US ambassador to United Nations, reports say
South Carolina governor would be first woman chosen by Donald Trump for top role in administration
20 November
Inside Donald Trump’s Economic Team, Two Very Different Views
‘It is the supply-siders versus the zero-sum crowd’; trade policy seen as a particularly divisive issue
(WSJ) One group, which appeared ascendant in the closing weeks of the campaign, largely rejects mainstream economic thinking on trade and believes eliminating trade deficits should be an overarching goal of U.S. policy. That camp views sticks—tariffs on U.S. trading partners and taxes on companies that move jobs abroad—as critical tools to reverse a 15-year slide in incomes for middle-class Americans.
The opposing camp is closer to the traditional GOP center of gravity on taxes and regulation and includes many policy veterans staffing the transition team and advising Vice President-elect Mike Pence.
Those advisers have long championed supply-side economics and reject the hard-line position on trade that one side’s gain must come at the other’s expense. By offering more carrots—slashing red tape and taxes to make the U.S. the top destination for businesses—they say stronger growth will obviate any need for trade protectionism.
18 November
Donald Trump Names Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo His Pick for CIA Director
(ABC News) The three-term Republican congressman from Wichita, Kansas, is a member of the House Energy Committee and the Intelligence Committee, which is responsible with conducting oversight of U.S. intelligence agencies and practices.
A West Point graduate who graduated first in his class in 1986, Pompeo attended Harvard University Law School after leaving active duty, and was also an editor at the Harvard Law Review.
(Quartz) Donald Trump anointed Michael Flynn as his national security advisor. Flynn is a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and strident critic of the Obama administration. He believes America needs a more aggressive military strategy, is a big fan of Vladimir Putin, and wants closer ties with Russia.
Who Will Trump Pick for Secretary of Transportation?
One contender, Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes, seems to understand the importance of multimodal options.
(CityLab) For all his talk about “draining the swamp,” Trump has so far relied heavily on Washington insiders and lobbyists to handle his transition (the guy heading up the DOT transition spent a chunk of his career lobbying for the asphalt industry). Secretary of Transportation could be one opportunity to tap someone from the private sector. A candidate with experience negotiating public-private partnerships from the “other side” could bring badly needed practical perspective to Trump’s proposal to privatize federal infrastructure projects.
On the other hand, the new DOT secretary will also have a hand in hammering out the nuts and bolts of Trump’s much-talked about, little-detailed infrastructure spending bonanza. Privatizing all public works projects does not seem particularly viable, so a person who knows how to plunk real, public dollars on the table is going to be important.
Trump’s leadership thus far has been marked by compulsive action and a lack of focus. Maybe, just maybe, his transition team will pay some attention to vetting the DOT leader, a cabinet pick that could matter a lot. More than an end in itself, transportation is a means to many ends: increasing access to jobs and education, improving equity for disadvantaged communities, shifting environmental impacts, opening up economic development opportunities, shaping land use patterns. Her or his political views aside, a Trump cabinet member that brings some expertise and thoughtfulness to their leadership could go a very long way.
17 November
Trump’s Transition Team Is Straight From the Swamp
(TIME) As Trump builds his administration, how long will it take for Trump voters to notice that what he is preparing to deliver is an agenda none of them asked for — more Washington insiders, more corporate lobbyists and more pollution?
… the people running Trump’s transition team and, soon, staffing his administration are precisely the sort of old-school insiders Trump railed against on the campaign trail. And their agenda, if left unchecked, will deliver dirtier air and water and more climate chaos.
This org chart of the President-elect’s transition team tells the tale: the oil lobbyist who has been trying to block sensible rules to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas production; the coal lobbyist who has been trying to kill the first-ever rules to reduce climate pollution from power plants; and the poster boy for Trump’s betrayal of his outsider promise, Myron Ebell, the former tobacco apologist and Big Oil PR man now running Trump’s environmental transition team.

jared-kushner-daily-newsJared Kushner weighing White House role
(Politico) The real-estate developer and husband of Ivanka Trump mulls prospect of being senior adviser or special counsel
Kushner’s White House appointment would likely set off legal challenges over its potential violation of federal anti-nepotism law, according to both GOP and Democratic lawyers.
“We’re not talking about Kushner running a side task force here. We’re talking about a regular staff job. This falls right in the bull’s eye of the statute. I think it’s illegal,” said Norm Eisen, the former chief ethics lawyer in the Obama White House.
Added Richard Painter, who had a similar post in the George W. Bush White House, “He cannot take a take a job in the White House. Highly inappropriate … I don’t know why they think they can. Just read the language in the statute.”
At issue is a 1967 law signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson that barred public officials from hiring their relatives, from parents to siblings, aunts and uncles to a son-in-law or step-brother. It applied to members of Congress and the president of the United States..
16 November
The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza continues his relentlessly critical coverage
Donald Trump’s First, Alarming Week as President-Elect
Seven days may not be enough time to fully assess any new leader, especially in the case of Trump, whose first week was marked by seeming chaos in his efforts to put together an Administration. But what we’ve learned so far about the least-experienced President-elect in history is as troubling and ominous as his critics have feared. The Greeks have a word for the emerging Trump Administration: kakistocracy. The American Heritage Dictionary defines it as a “government by the least qualified or most unprincipled citizens.” Webster’s is simpler: “government by the worst people.”
Good profile of the young man who seems to exercise tremendous influence over DJT.
What Does Jared Kushner Really Want?
(Vanity Fair) What could make a wealthy scion of the Democratic elite appear to sell his soul for Trump? Family, perhaps, but maybe not the one that you think.
Cummings demands info on Jared Kushner’s role in Trump transition
(Politico) In a letter to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) specifically questioned whether Kushner will be participating in the daily defense, intelligence and national security updates. Cummings also noted that Trump’s son-in-law is legally barred from joining the new administration in an official capacity because of anti-nepotism laws.
(LA Times round-up) …  one week after the Republican won the presidency, the transition team had yet to discuss even basic elements of the government hand-off with key players at the Pentagon, the State Department and other vital agencies, in large part because of a delay in signing the paperwork dictating the nuts and bolts of the process.
As some key players drop out of the transition picture, Lisa Mascaro and Noah Bierman report that it appears Trump’s shoot-from-the-hip style is informing his approach to the handoff of power
As Cathleen Decker writes, uncertainty reigns as the transition gets underway, because Trump came into office riding the anger of an electorate whose resentments he correctly assessed, rather than because Americans fully embraced his policy positions. There were in fact few of those, and mostly without details.
Late Tuesday, that paperwork to get the ball rolling finally arrived at the White House, allowing the Obama administration to formally start collaborating with the incoming team. And Congress came back to town with Republicans hailing Trump and promising to get to work.
Still, don’t be fooled by the “Make America Great Again” hats — some deep divisions remain between the GOP Congress and the next president
(Quartz) Donald Trump denied his cabinet-selection process was a mess. On Tuesday night, the president-elect tweeted: “Very organized process taking place…I am the only one who knows who the finalists are!” In fact, according to multiple news reports, it’s been chaotic, as the head of his national-security team quit, vice president-elect Mike Pence got rid of lobbyists, and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner became the focus of “infighting.”
14 November
KKK, American Nazi Party praise Trump’s hiring of Bannon
(The Hill)  Trump has tried to distance himself from white nationalists, but his decision to bring Bannon to the White House has caused those questions to resurface.
Bannon told Mother Jones over the summer that his conservative news outlet was “the platform of the alt-right,” a far-right ideology that promotes white supremacy.
Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart ran headlines such as: “Bill Kristol, Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew,” “Gabby Giffords: The Gun Control Movement’s Human Shield,” and “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy.”
Bannon has also made anti-Catholic comments about Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on his radio show.
John Cassidy: Donald Trump’s Great Bait and Switch
(The New Yorker) Six days into the Trump transition, one of the biggest bait-and-switch operations in recent history is already well under way. Trump campaigned as an outsider who would overthrow a hopelessly corrupt Washington establishment. Now we learn that many members of that very establishment will play key roles in a Trump Administration.
Conservative policy experts, many of whom turned up their noses at Trump during the campaign, are also—selflessly, no doubt—prepared to help. On Saturday, the Journal reported that the Heritage Foundation, which for decades has been in the vanguard of promoting conservative policies such as privatizing Social Security and prisons, has dozens of staffers and alumni working on the transition. Have these free-market conservatives suddenly discovered the virtues of Trump’s threats to impose tariffs on China and Mexico? Hardly. But they can see much to like in his pledge to make a bonfire of financial and environmental regulations, and also approve of his tax plan, which, according to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, would boost the annual after-tax income of the top one per cent by $214,690, on average, and annual after-tax income of the top 0.1 percent by $1.1 million. (Amy Davidson wrote more in Comment this week about the questions those thinking about joining the Trump Administration must ask themselves.)
Obama Is Planning to Give Trump Some Extra Tutoring
(New York Magazine) During their private White House meeting on Thursday, Mr. Obama walked his successor through the duties of running the country, and Mr. Trump seemed surprised by the scope, said people familiar with the meeting. Trump aides were described by those people as unaware that the entire presidential staff working in the West Wing had to be replaced at the end of Mr. Obama’s term.
Trump is not consistent, so by the time Obama gets back, Trump may have decided that he doesn’t need the president’s help during the nine-week transition after all. But liberals need something to keep them going, and the idea of Obama and Trump forging an unlikely friendship is a more appealing best-case scenario than Mike Pence secretly calling the shots.
Trump’s Transition Team Is Just Now Learning What A President Does
(The Concourse) Apparently—as the Wall Street Journal has reportedTrump and his team really are just now learning what a president is even technically allowed to do.Immediately after Tuesday’s election, members of Trump’s team were given the task of readying the president-elect for his transition to the White House. But in the hours-long meetings that followed, outside advisors tasked with helping the team were horrified to learn just how little the people getting ready to run the federal government actually knew.  “They are blatantly unprepared and don’t really have any sort of plan at all so far,” our source told us. “The best illustration is there were no prepared policy statements or papers.
Why Obama Is Taking the High Road on Trump
(The Daily Beast) Maybe it’s wishful thinking or maybe he’ll be proved right, but on Monday afternoon, the president seemed to be putting his faith in Trump rising to the occasion in the White House.
Given several opportunities by reporters to say something negative about Trump, the direction he might be going, or his temperament, Obama took the high road, urging that Trump be given “time and space” to figure out the team he wants and how to balance what he said in the campaign with the more complex reality that now confronts him.“Campaigning is different from governing. I think he recognizes that and that he is sincere in wanting to be a good president. He’s going to try as best he can to make certain he delivers,” Obama said. “There are certain things that make for good sound bites but don’t always translate into good policies.”
Reports: Donald Trump Wants His Adult Kids To See America’s Most Carefully Kept Secrets
The president-elect has begun asking how he could secure high level clearances for Ivanka, Eric and Donald Jr., his three adult children with first wife Ivana, as well as for Ivanka’s husband Jared Kushner, according to CNN> and CBS. All four family members are members of his transition team, though Trump has said his children won’t serve formal roles in his administration but instead will run the family business while he runs the country.
“This is why we created the nepotism law in the first place. Huge conflicts of interest. You can’t have your kids being advisers. It has to be properly qualified officials who are experts in the fields,” Bradley Moss, a lawyer specializing in security-clearance law, told The Daily Beast. “It’s an issue of comfort for the President-elect because he’s relied on his children so much. But I don’t foresee a viable legal or ethical loophole or exception.”
(The Atlantic) Trump’s Government: The president-elect announced this weekend that his White House chief of staff will be Reince Priebus, chair of the RNC, while Steve Bannon, former head of Breitbart News, will be Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor. As representatives of the GOP establishment and the alt-right, respectively, Priebus and Bannon make an unlikely pair —but one that’s symbolic, perhaps, of the Republican Party under Trump. In the House, that tenuously united party is led by Paul Ryan, who spent the months before the election carefully distancing himself from Trump. But now they’re on the same side—and together, they have an opportunity to get a lot done
13 November
President-elect Trump speaks to a divided country on 60 Minutes with transcript
What can we expect from a Trump presidency? 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl finds some of his campaign issues were not meant to be taken literally, but as opening bids for negotiation
60 Minutes Is Already Helping Normalize Trump’s Presidency
(Media Matters) 60 Minutes gave a master class in normalizing a dangerous demagogue — inviting President-elect Donald Trump to reintroduce himself as a reasonable politician while glossing over the most dangerous features and promises of his recent campaign, including his reliance on the chief of the white nationalist “alt-right” website Breitbart News, Stephen Bannon, who has just been named White House senior counselor.
During the November 13 edition of CBS’s 60 Minutes, Donald Trump gave correspondent Lesley Stahl his first extensive interview since winning the presidential election. The interview was a disturbing start for journalism in a Trump presidency — asking softball questions, fixating on Trump’s personal feelings about becoming president, and repeatedly minimizing Trump’s most dangerous promises as mere campaign talk.
Stephen Bannon and Reince Priebus will lead Trump’s White House
(The Guardian) Donald Trump on Sunday named Reince Priebus as his White House chief of staff, rewarding a loyalist to his party and its long-serving chairman by making him his top aide in the Oval Office.
Trump, however, also named Steve Bannon, the head of his campaign and of the far-right website Breitbart, as his “chief strategist and senior counselor”
The statement that announced Trump’s decision named Bannon first, despite the vague title of his role. It said that Bannon and Priebus would work as “equal partners”.
White House chief of staff is considered one of the most powerful positions in Washington, charged with helping the president in almost every task and operating the complicated machinery of government.
Stephen Bannon, far-right outsider, becomes White House insider
(AP via Maclean’s) Donald Trump picks Breitbart’s Stephen Bannon—accused of amplifying fringes of the alt-right—to be his chief strategist
12 November
trump-children-guardian Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

Trump’s conflicts of interest take White House into uncharted territory
With his children, and not a blind trust, running his company, little prevents the president-elect’s political and business careers from bleeding into each other
(The Guardian) When President-elect Donald Trump enters the White House next year he will bring with him potential conflicts of interest across all areas of government that are unprecedented in American history.
Trump, who manages a sprawling, international network of businesses, has thus far refused to put his businesses into a blind trust the way his predecessors in the nation’s highest office have traditionally done. Instead he has said his businesses will be run by his own adult children.
Donald Jr, Eric and Ivanka Trump are all on the president-elect’s transition team executive committee, per ABC’s Candace Smith, as is Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.
But according to regulators who have overseen potential conflicts of interests under two former presidents, Trump’s arrangements were unprecedented and present a host of issues.
This is in no way a blind trust, said Karl Sandstrom, former chairman of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the regulatory body that oversees campaign finance, under Bill Clinton and George W Bush. “A blind trust is not anywhere near the same. You don’t still have access to the decision being made. That’s why you put assets in and don’t just have someone else manage the company,” he said. Trump’s assets will instead apparently remain united under his company, and operated under his name even if he is not directly in charge.

A Professor Who Called Trump’s Presidency Now Says It Won’t Last Long
Professor Allan Lichtman, who predicted Donald Trump would be elected, says Congress will likely impeach him in favor of Mike Pence.
As early as September, American University professor Allan Lichtman told The Washington Post that Trump would triumph. Now he’s saying Congress will likely impeach President Trump and remove him from office before the end of his first term.
“They don’t want Trump as president, because they can’t control him. He’s unpredictable. They’d love to have Pence — an absolutely down-the-line, conservative, controllable Republican. I’m quite certain Trump will give someone grounds for impeachment,” Lichtman told the Washington Post. …
Trump is already facing some legal troubles in civil court. He’s due to testify in one of the Trump University cases in late November.
The Constitution doesn’t specify that the impeachable offense has to happen while the person is president, but political science professor Eric Schickler said, “The conventional understanding of impeachment is that it is due to actions taken while in office.”

Donald Trump appears to soften on Clinton emails and Obamacare
In first interview since winning election, Trump says he may not repeal Obamacare and Clinton’s prosecution not a priority
(The Guardian) The president-elect, who had said he would “immediately repeal and replace” Obamacare after taking office, told the Wall Street Journal he might instead seek to reform the policy, keeping the ban on insurers denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.
He said he would also look to retain the provision that allowed young adults to be insured on their parents’ policies, adding that he had been convinced of the virtues of the two points in his meeting with Barack Obama on Thursday.
Trump and his family also filmed an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes to be broadcast on Sunday. The president-elect said he would amend, or repeal and replace Obamacare without any gaps in healthcare provision. “It will be just fine. It’s what I do. I do a good job and I know how to do this stuff,” he told Lesley Stahl. (12 November)

Five pillars of Obama’s legacy president-elect Trump is vowing to shatter
(National Post) After an extraordinary, 90-minute meeting between political arch-enemies Thursday, Donald Trump declared it a “great honour” to meet Barack Obama. The president, making equally nice, pledged to do whatever he could to help his brash successor transition into the job.
Don’t expect those warm and fuzzy sentiments to last long.
Trump has vowed to shatter virtually every pillar of Obama’s presidential legacy, a dismantling of eight years in the Oval Office that might be unprecedented in U.S. history.
The property tycoon ran largely against Obama’s record, promising to repeal, “cancel” or replace everything from Obamacare to the Iran nuclear deal. (Nov 11)

Trump’s Transition Team Works to Form Cabinet
Jeb Hensarling, a foe of financial regulation, is floated as a candidate for powerful Treasury role
(WSJ) The transition process has ramped up in recent days, people familiar with the matter said, adding that the team is far from making final recommendations to Mr. Trump. An initial website for the transition went online on Wednesday, and Mr. Trump has yet to name a chief of staff, which is typically the first announcement for a new administration.
The time between Election Day and Inauguration Day in January is often turbulent as an incoming administration faces a multitude of critical decisions in a tight span. In addition, to picking his top staff, the president-elect must vet and fill a cabinet composed of 15 executive departments and a host of other aides who have cabinet rank.
The incoming administration also must begin selecting about 1,000 top positions that require Senate confirmation, sketch out an agenda for the first few months of its term, write an inauguration speech and plan the ceremony.
In a sign of the fluidity of the situation, senior staff is still being added to the transition team. For example, PayPal co-founder and tech billionaire Peter Thiel is under consideration to play a senior role on that team, a person familiar with the matter said. The consideration of Mr. Thiel was reported by the Huffington Post.
In addition to Mr. Hensarling, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) was being discussed as a potential defense secretary or attorney general, several people familiar with the process said.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who played a prominent role in the Trump campaign, is also expected to have a place in the next administration. Mr. Giuliani has also been discussed as a possible attorney general or secretary of state, people familiar with the discussions said.
Trump Team Considering Rep. Jeb Hensarling as Treasury Secretary
House Financial Services Committee chairman has pursued top GOP priorities, such as rolling back Dodd-Frank
(RightWeb) Although [President-elect Donald Trump] emphasized domestic policy during his campaign, [he] often addressed national security and foreign policy issues, expressing inconsistent or ad hoc views that were excoriated by foreign policy pundits on the left and the right, as well as by numerous officials abroad.
Such was the rebuke of Trump’s campaign that in the days after his election reports surfaced that he was having trouble finding talented or experienced people among Republican Party ranks to fill high-level roles in his administration. Although numerous public figures, many of them controversial and arguably unsuitable, appeared ready and willing to take the top Cabinet-level posts for the Pentagon (perhaps Jim Talent or Stephen Hadley), National Security Advisor (Michael Flynn possibly), and Secretary of State (Newt Gingrich and John Bolton in the running), people close to is campaign fretted over not having any experienced bureaucrats to assist with the transtion and fill out key second-layer posts needed to effectively run the government.
The Daily Beast reported that sources close to Trump’s transition efforts said that it “was going to be very difficult to fill positions in that space because everybody that had experience was a never-Trumper.” According to the New York Times, some Trump opponents have begun to soften their opposition, “driven either by a stated sense of patriotic duty … or a somewhat less noble motive to avoid years of being excluded from Washington power circles.” The question remained whether the president-elect would overlook their earlier opposition: “Mr. Trump, a man known to nurse grudges long after doing so is beneficial, has boasted for months that he has a better understanding of how to best serve the nation’s security interests than nearly anyone who has made policy in the area for the past decade. At the same time, his transition team faces the daunting task of filling hundreds of jobs in a constellation of national security agencies.”

Trump’s cabinet: likely shortlist is a roundup of his campaign loyalists
Divisive campaign figures including Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich headline the candidates, while RNC chair Reince Priebus looks likely to be chief of staff
Some 3,000-4,000 new senior presidential appointees are due to take office in early 2017.
Having paid little attention to the transition during a bruising campaign, Trump’s senior team gathered on Wednesday to play catch-up. The group included transition chairman and New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman Reince Priebus, Alabama senator Jeff Sessions, and Jared Kushner, husband of Trump’s daughter Ivanka.

10 November
trump-and-obama-first-meetingObama, Trump Talk Policy Issues in First Meeting
President-elect says he respects Obama, will seek his counsel while in office
(WSJ) President-elect Donald Trump and President Barack Obama met for the first time Thursday, with the Republican businessman saying he has “great respect” for a man he’s called “the worst president in the history of the United States” and he plans to seek Mr. Obama’s counsel while in office.
The softening of Mr. Trump’s searing tone from the campaign came as he made the rounds in Washington, where he also met with Republican leaders in Congress who had been cool to his candidacy.
Mr. Obama, who hosted Mr. Trump in the Oval Office for 90 minutes, didn’t have any personal praise for the man he said couldn’t be trusted with the control of the country’s nuclear weapons, but he was jovial during their joint appearance before reporters and pledged to do “everything we can to help you succeed.” He said the two discussed a range of domestic and foreign policy issues and organizational logistics about life in the White House. [The body language in the photos says a lot. See photos at Donald Trump Doesn’t Like This Any More Than You Do]
Mr. Trump then went to Capitol Hill to meet with Republican leaders House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.).
Donald Trump at the White House: Obama reports ‘excellent conversation’ – as it happened
(The Guardian) President-elect Donald Trump was accorded a chilly but deferential welcome at the White House this morning as the president-elect met with President Barack Obama for a 90-minute private meeting in the Oval Office. In the first stage of a 72-day transition process between Tuesday’s unexpected election victory and Trump’s inauguration on 20 January, Obama said the two men discussed “foreign and domestic policy” and how to ensure the handover of power went smoothly.
“I want to emphasize to you, Mr. President-elect, that we now are going to do everything we can to help you succeed because if you succeed, then the country succeeds,” Obama told his successor during a brief photo opportunity afterwards.
President Obama Begins the Impossible Task of Trying to Educate Trump
Luckily for America, President Obama puts the country first at all times, and thus he planned carefully to assist the transition of power to the next administration. Little did he know how needed his careful planning would be, given that America has decided to treat the presidency like an entry level position by electing Donald Trump — a man who doesn’t even grasp the most basic limits and responsibilities of the three branches of government.
The following is the fact sheet provided by the White House for the steps they are taking to facilitate a smooth transition, including Being President for Dummies 101. “The President-Elect’s Agency Review Teams will receive detailed, agency-specific briefings that have been prepared by current Administration officials. Those briefings include organizational charts, budget materials, briefings on key agency priorities and areas of responsibility, and other materials describing the essential functions of that agency.”

Donald Trump Transition Team Planning First Months in Office
… has had smaller staff than previous Republican nominees
(WSJ) President-elect Donald Trump spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi on Wednesday and will have his first post-election meeting with President Barack Obama on Thursday to discuss the transfer of power between their two administrations in January.
Mr. Trump’s transition team has been gathering for months, and they packed into an office on Wednesday a block away from the White House to continue drafting blueprints for the new administration. Among the proposals: a policy that would ban many members of the transition team from lobbying the same federal agencies they are helping shape.
It would also limit his pool of potential hires by disqualifying or alienating many Washington consultants whose careers straddle public service and private business.
“There will be a real effort to put in place dramatically tougher ethics reforms,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said in an interview about Mr. Trump’s administration.
Mr. Obama, who was among Mr. Trump’s harshest critics on the campaign trail, struck a conciliatory tone in remarks Wednesday, praising Mr. Trump’s victory speech and pledging to work hard to ensure a successful transition.

Here Is What Donald Trump Wants To Do In His First 100 Days
(NPR) The plan (below) outlines three main areas of focus: cleaning up Washington, including by imposing term limits on Congress; protecting American workers; and restoring rule of law. He also laid out his plan for working with Congress to introduce 10 pieces of legislation that would repeal Obamacare, fund the construction of a wall at the Southern border (with a provision that Mexico would reimburse the U.S.), encourage infrastructure investment, rebuild military bases, promote school choice and more.
On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell mostly made nice with Trump but also shot down or expressed little enthusiasm in some of his plans. On Trump’s proposal to impose term limits on Congress, McConnell said, “It will not be on the agenda in the Senate.” McConnell has been a long-standing opponent of term limits, as NPR’s Susan Davis reports. “I would say we have term limits now — they’re called elections.”
McConnell also threw some cold water on Trump’s infrastructure plans, calling it not a top priority.
Amidst all of the AWFUL ideas, a few are very good, but will NEVER pass Congress, e..g. a 5 year-ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service; a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government; and a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.

Ian Bremmer
(Eurasia Group) A Trump presidency will bring major changes globally, but the most important will be long-term and chronic rather than acute.
Since the 2008 economic crisis, it’s been increasingly clear that the world is heading into profound (and longer-term) geopolitical recession, a G-Zero world as I’ve called it, where there’s an absence of global leadership. Two terms of an (eventually, reasonably popular) Barack Obama administration did nothing to ameliorate those trends: American allies around the world grew only more concerned about us commitments to their relationships and the broader institutions and values that underpinned them. American frenemies and adversaries saw more room to operate and develop regional and thematic (economic, infrastructure, diplomatic, and in some spaces security) alternatives to us leadership.
All of that is now set to expand dramatically. In short, a Trump presidency means the most significant hit to American power and leadership globally since the collapse of the Soviet Union. It means a great deal more G-Zero. It does not necessarily mean the us will decline as a marketplace per se—the comparative geopolitical stability of the western hemisphere, the decentralization of political power in the united states, and the intrinsic advantage of leading the world in a technology-driven marketplace are significant counterweights to the uncertainty of insularity of a Trump administration. But America’s footprint as the world’s leader, and the role of Americanization in a globalized world, now pass the point of no return.

Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s Campaign Manager, Says She Has Been Offered White House Job
Ms. Conway tweets she has been offered a post in Donald Trump’s administration, refuting rumors she had no interest

Trump Picks Top Climate Skeptic to Lead EPA Transition
Choosing Myron Ebell means Trump plans to drastically reshape climate policies
(Scientific American) Donald Trump has selected one of the best-known climate skeptics to lead his U.S. EPA transition team, according to two sources close to the campaign.
Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, is spearheading Trump’s transition plans for EPA, the sources said.
The Trump team has also lined up leaders for its Energy Department and Interior Department teams. Republican energy lobbyist Mike McKenna is heading the DOE team; former Interior Department solicitor David Bernhardt is leading the effort for that agency, according to sources close to the campaign.
The Trump team has also lined up leaders for its Energy Department and Interior Department teams. Republican energy lobbyist Mike McKenna is heading the DOE team; former Interior Department solicitor David Bernhardt is leading the effort for that agency, according to sources close to the campaign.
In his plan for his first 100 days in office: “I will lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal;  lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward; cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure.


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