U.S. government transition post 2020 election

Written by  //  November 28, 2020  //  Government & Governance, U.S.  //  No comments

Lawfare
Equal We Are Not | Lawrence Lessig

Aides’ Ties to Firms Present Biden With Early Ethics Test
Some of the president-elect’s choices for top posts have done work for undisclosed corporate clients and aided a fund that invests in government contractors.
One firm helps companies navigate global risks and the political and procedural ins and outs of Washington. The other is an investment fund with a particular interest in military contractors.
But the consulting firm, WestExec Advisors, and the investment fund, Pine Island Capital Partners, call themselves strategic partners and have featured an overlapping roster of politically connected officials. … The two firms are examples of how former officials leverage their expertise, connections and access on behalf of corporations and other interests, without in some cases disclosing details about their work, including the names of the clients or what they are paid.
WestExec’s founders include Antony J. Blinken, Mr. Biden’s choice to be his secretary of state, and Michèle A. Flournoy, one of the leading candidates to be his defense secretary. Among others to come out of WestExec are Avril Haines, Mr. Biden’s pick to be director of national intelligence; Christina Killingsworth, who is helping the president-elect organize his White House budget office; Ely Ratner, who is helping organize the Biden transition at the Pentagon; and Jennifer Psaki, an adviser on Mr. Biden’s transition team. …
Republicans have already signaled that they intend to bore in on WestExec in confirmation hearings for Mr. Blinken, and other nominees with links to it.

23 November
Biden’s nominees have pushed policies that Trump used to fuel his rise
President-elect Joe Biden’s initial slate of nominees demonstrates that he aims to reverse much of President Trump’s agenda with figures who have promoted the policies that Trump rebuffed, denigrated and used to help fuel his rise to power.
Biden’s top picks, announced Monday, in the past helped push for trade deals, aimed to sign international treaties and advocated for foreign wars, positions that after Trump’s victory in 2016 triggered widespread soul-searching among Democrats over how they had misread the sentiments of voters on whose support they had long counted.
What they learned from that defeat and how they try to govern this time will be a major test of whether Biden feels a need to respond to the anxieties among supporters of Trump — who in November received the second-most votes in American history, behind only Biden; whether he views his election as a sweeping mandate to shift in an entirely different direction; or whether he settles somewhere in the middle.

President-elect Joe Biden can finally start his formal transition to the White House . The General Services Administration formally recognized Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election tonight, allowing his team to get working on the logistics of the transition, with President Donald Trump announcing the move in a tweet.The president also said he was not conceding
FINALLY!

The G.S.A. administrator has formally designated Biden the apparent winner of the presidential election.

(NYT) Emily Murphy, the administrator of the General Services Administration, on Monday formally designated Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the apparent winner of the presidential election, providing federal funds and resources to begin a transition and authorizing his advisers to begin coordinating with Trump administration officials.
Ms. Murphy refuted Mr. Trump’s assertion that he directed her to make the decision, saying in her letter that “I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts.”
In her letter, Ms. Murphy said she made her decision on Monday because of “recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results,” likely referring to the certification of votes by election officials in several states and a string of court decisions that have rejected Mr. Trump’s challenges.
Biden Will Nominate First Women to Lead Treasury and Intelligence, and First Latino to Run Homeland Security
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. plans to name Janet L. Yellen as Treasury secretary, a nomination that would put a woman in charge of the Treasury for the first time in its 231-year history.
The expected appointment came as Mr. Biden moved to fill other top cabinet roles, selecting Alejandro Mayorkas as the first Latino to lead the Department of Homeland Security and Avril Haines as the first woman to be the director of national intelligence.
Mr. Biden is also expected to create a new post of international climate envoy and tap John Kerry, a former secretary of state who was a chief negotiator for the United States on the Paris climate change accord.
Biden picks Antony Blinken as secretary of state, emphasizing experience and the foreign policy establishment
Blinken will be nominated to one of the highest-profile Cabinet positions at a time when Biden is planning to prioritize foreign policy as a major pillar in his administration, with vows to reassemble global alliances and insert the United States into a more prominent position on the world stage.
Soon after taking office, Biden plans to rejoin the Paris climate agreement, stop the U.S. exit from the World Health Organization and resuscitate the Iran nuclear deal. Blinken has been described as having a “mind meld” with Biden on a range of issues that will be important in his early tenure.
9 things to know about Antony Blinken, the next US secretary of state
Blinken’s appointment, first reported Sunday night by Bloomberg News, was confirmed by three people familiar with an announcement scheduled for Tuesday. Jake Sullivan, another top Biden adviser, is expected to be named as national security adviser, according to two people familiar with the announcement.
Biden also is planning to announce Linda Thomas-Greenfield as his nominee for ambassador to the United Nations, giving a former career Foreign Service officer and African American woman one of the most high-profile diplomatic posts in government, according to three people familiar with the decision.

21 November
Why You Don’t Mess Around With Presidential Transitions
Being president is a tremendously difficult job. Starting the first day without preparation could set up a presidency to fail.
(The Atlantic) In his new memoir, Barack Obama reveals that there was a terrorist threat on his Inauguration Day. As he addressed the nation, he was prepared to interrupt himself to read evacuation instructions for the millions gathered on the National Mall. Obama had been in the job just seconds, and he was experiencing his first stomach drop—the possibility of a mass-casualty event.
In addition to the surprises and tonnage of incoming challenges, simply starting the job is a gargantuan undertaking. It may help to imagine a presidential transition as a private-sector company going through a merger. With only two months of preparation, the new CEO must take over a $2 trillion enterprise with 4 million employees and hire 4,000 managers, 1,500 of whom have to be vetted by a hostile board of directors. Then, on his first day in the corner office, the new top man must be ready to face the most difficult challenges of running the business while simultaneously launching a brand refresh and implementing an entirely new strategic plan. Oh, and he’ll have to do all of his prep work through Zoom, during a pandemic spike that he’s supposed to manage between meetings about how to revive a crumpled economy.
President Trump makes brief appearance at Group of 20, but skips pandemic meeting.
Since the election, Mr. Trump has taken no questions from reporters. But he has played golf on Nov. 7, 8, 14, 15 and 21.

20 November
Business and World Leaders Move On as Trump Fights to Reverse Election
It is as if the vast machinery of diplomacy, business and lobbying has suddenly been recalibrated for the Biden era.
(NYT) The leaders of Western Europe have called Mr. Biden, as has the president of the world’s rising superpower, Xi Jinping of China. … Bank trade groups have begun meeting with Biden aides in anticipation of new fights over regulation. Foreign diplomats assuming a sharp turn in American foreign policy are retooling their agendas. Corporate executives, who are usually allergic to political statements, are saying out loud what most of Mr. Trump’s supporters have so far refused to acknowledge.
Directing his sprawling transition remotely from his home in Delaware, Mr. Biden and his aides are moving swiftly to set up the next administration by announcing senior members of his White House staff and moving on to nominating cabinet secretaries next week. Policy experts are developing plans for what Mr. Biden can do as soon as he is inaugurated.
After Trump Meeting, Michigan Lawmakers Maintain They Will Follow the Law
Two Republicans who attended the meeting vowed not to interfere with the certification process in their state.
Bloomberg: A transition without precedent
Two months out from the next presidential inauguration, the U.S. is in uncharted territory.
Business groups are on edge over Donald Trump’s refusal to concede. The 2012 Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, has said it’s “difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting president.” President-elect Joe Biden calls it “outrageous” and hard to fathom.
Yet Trump stands by his unfounded claims that widespread fraud invalidates the election and insists he will prevail, as he blocks Biden’s efforts to build an administration.
His campaign has also revised its lawsuit seeking to block the certification of results in Pennsylvania, adding a proposal that the Republican-controlled legislature choose the winner instead of voters.
The moves come amid setbacks for Trump in two other states where Biden edged him out. Georgia officials completed a recount that showed Biden keeping a decisive lead. And an Arizona judge dismissed a Republican lawsuit seeking to force the state’s biggest county to re-do a hand recount of some votes.
With the coronavirus raging to fresh heights in the U.S., calls to allow Biden’s transition team access to money and government officials are gaining urgency.
And while it’s increasingly clear who will be in the White House as of Jan. 20, uncertainly over the state of America when that day arrives is intensifying. —
Why the ‘dangerous’ press conference from Trump’s lawyers matters
Team Trump’s lawyers hold a bewildering press conference at the Republican National Committee.
…Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani…baselessly alleging during a frenzied news conference that the fraud was nationally coordinated. The president’s legal team alleged already debunked claims of voter fraud, baseless allegations of corrupted and hackable voting machines, election interference by foreign communists, and even references to antifa.
Giuliani’s central claim — detached from reality — is that there’s a “pattern” of fraud emanating from “a centralized place,” as part of a nefarious “plan” that apparently exists only in his imagination.
And then it got worse. … the outgoing president’s lawyers concocted a hysterical tale involving George Soros, “communist money,” the Clinton Foundation, Venezuela, antifa, Cuba, and possibly China. Apparently, all of this also has something to do with Hugo Chavez, who’s been dead for seven years.

Here’s who could serve in top roles in the Biden administration
(CNN)President-elect Joe Biden is set to announce who will serve in top roles in his administration in the coming days and weeks.
Jennifer Rubin: Six things we can already tell about the Biden administration
Biden’s transition so far is exactly like the campaign. He and aides screen out 90 percent of the alarmism and acrimony one gets on social media. They have a plan. They stick with it. Aides do not make themselves the story. We do not hear of conflicts internally.
To begin, the senior members of Biden’s White House who have already been announced are both remarkably experienced in federal government and with Biden specifically (e.g., Ron Klain, Mike Donilon). They are also diverse (five of the first nine are women). This is no surprise, given CNN’s report that on the transition team “41% of the senior staff are people of color. The majority of transition staff — 52% — are women, and 53% of the senior staff are women.” A diverse campaign often begets a diverse transition, and in turn, a diverse administration. (Women, including many women of color, are reportedly under consideration to lead the departments of Defense, Treasury, Justice, Interior, Agriculture and just about every other Cabinet post.)

18 November
Tom Wheeler: With only 11 weeks, a transition delayed is a transition denied
Farm policies, energy policies, labor policies, transportation policies and a myriad of other areas over which the federal government has responsibility do not develop by themselves. A transition delayed is a transition denied and its consequences are real for the citizens and businesses of the United States.
(Brookings) As we enter the second week since the 2020 presidential election, The Washington Post
reports that Donald Trump’s White House “instructed senior government leaders to block cooperation with president-elect Joe Biden’s transition team.”

Meet the Biden-Harris agency review teams
(Biden-Harris Transition) Agency review teams are responsible for understanding the operations of each agency, ensuring a smooth transfer of power, and preparing for President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris and their cabinet to hit the ground running on Day One. These teams are composed of highly experienced and talented professionals with deep backgrounds in crucial policy areas across the federal government. The teams have been crafted to ensure they not only reflect the values and priorities of the incoming administration, but reflect the diversity of perspectives crucial for addressing America’s most urgent and complex challenges.
The Presidential Transition Act requires presidential transitions to disclose the “most recent employment” and “sources of funding” for all agency review team members. The Transition Team has three types of agency review team members:

Trump national security adviser Robert O’Brien says it looks like Biden has won
At the Soufan Center’s global security forum, O’Brien also predicted a “very professional transition.”

15 November
Trump, Trying to Cling to Power, Fans Unrest and Conspiracies
The president’s refusal to concede has entered a more dangerous phase as he blocks his successor’s transition, withholding intelligence briefings, pandemic information and access to the government.

14 November
Heads roll as Trump launches post-election purge
“Causing chaos may be Trump’s highest priority,” said Dov Zakheim, an undersecretary of Defense in former President George W. Bush’s administration. “He doesn’t want anyone in position to help Biden’s transition. You need government holdovers who can assist the new people coming in. He’s causing disruption and making that transition very difficult.”

12-13 November
Susan Rice: Here’s How Trump’s Stalling Risks Our National Security
I’ve seen my share of presidential transitions. The administration hurts the country by not cooperating with President-elect Biden.
“Mr. Biden and his top national security team have not been provided the daily intelligence briefings to which they are entitled. Mr. Biden’s team is not receiving classified information. The Biden-Harris agency review teams are constituted but have been denied access to every element of the executive branch. Vital exchanges of information and expertise that would help combat Covid-19 and jump-start the economy remain stalled.”
Biden team reaching out to former Mattis officials for help with transition
Biden is aiming to build an effective, bipartisan Defense Department leadership team, said one former Trump Pentagon official.
Biden signals Wall Street crackdown with transition picks
News of the appointments buoyed the hopes of progressives who have been skeptical about whether Biden would try to rein in Wall Street.
(Politico) President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team has recruited a who’s-who of Wall Street critics to help launch his administration, the latest indication that the days of light-touch bank regulation under President Donald Trump are coming to an end.
Leading the transition’s preparation to run financial regulatory agencies is Gary Gensler, an Obama-era regulator — and former top Goldman Sachs executive — who enraged big banks by imposing sweeping new rules on the industry in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
Small Cracks Emerge in G.O.P. Support for Trump’s Baseless Fraud Claims
President Trump retains a powerful hold on his party. But a growing number of Republican elected officials and party leaders have signaled they will indulge his conspiracy theories for only so long.

11 November
President-elect Joe Biden Names Ron Klain as White House Chief of Staff
(Biden-Harris Transition) Klain was most recently a Senior Advisor to the Biden for President campaign and has previously served the president-elect in a number of roles including as his Chief of Staff when he became Vice President. Klain is also known for his role as the White House Ebola Response Coordinator at the height of that public health crisis.
Robin Wright: The Seven Pillars of Biden’s Foreign Policy
The President-elect may prove more popular abroad than he is at home, partly because of his global experience. Between his first election to the Senate, in 1972, and becoming Vice-President, in 2009, Biden did two stints as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, travelled for decades to conflict hot spots and disaster zones, and met with nearly a hundred and fifty foreign leaders from almost five dozen countries. The President-elect is a well-known commodity. So are his views.
Although Biden has not announced his full foreign-policy team, the seven pillars of his foreign policy are already well defined. First, the West is back. … One of Biden’s top priorities is to breathe life back into the eroding transatlantic alliance with Europe, which, until Trump took office, had provided the foundation of U.S. interests since the Second World War.
The second pillar of Biden’s worldview is pooling resources, particularly on shared threats. He is expected to work quickly to repair relations with NATO.
The third pillar stems from Biden’s belief in international treaties and institutions. He wants to rejoin accords that Trump abandoned.
Biden also wants to work with the three European powers—Britain, France, and Germany—as well as Russia and China to strengthen the Iran nuclear deal that was originally negotiated in 2015, and that Trump abandoned in 2018. …

9 November
Barry Eichengreen: America’s Dangerous Interregnum
Outgoing US President Donald Trump’s behavior between now and the inauguration in January of his successor, Joe Biden, is likely to be as obstructionist as his administration was chaotic. Biden should draw two lessons from a previous incumbent US president who didn’t handle defeat well. 
(Project Syndicate) There are two lessons here. The president-elect and those around him need to take extra precautions for their personal safety, given the inflamed political climate and Trump’s ongoing efforts to fan the flames. And Biden now, like FDR then, must reiterate his message of hope and unity as an antidote to the coronavirus and political division. In 1933, it was “fear itself” that Americans had to overcome. Today, when it is fear of each other that Americans must overcome, Biden’s affirmation that there are “no red or blue states, just the United States” is a good start.

7 November
Biden plans immediate flurry of executive orders to reverse Trump policies
Biden’s top advisers have spent months quietly working on how best to implement his agenda, with hundreds of transition officials preparing to get to work inside various federal agencies. They have assembled a book filled with his campaign commitments to help guide their early decisions.
(WaPo) He will rejoin the Paris climate accords, according to those close to his campaign and commitments he has made in recent months, and he will reverse President Trump’s withdrawal from the World Health Organization. He will repeal the ban on almost all travel from some Muslim-majority countries, and he will reinstate the program allowing “dreamers,” who were brought to the United States illegally as children, to remain in the country, according to people familiar with his plans.
Biden is planning to set up a coronavirus task force on Monday, in recognition that the global pandemic will be the primary issue that he must confront. The task force, which could begin meeting within days, will be co-chaired by former surgeon general Vivek H. Murthy and David Kessler, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner.

Trump could make a Biden transition messy: Here’s how
Trump’s GSA is in charge of welcoming Biden’s team before inauguration.
The GSA [General Services Administration] enables the transition of power from one administration to another and controls the taxpayer money that pays for it.
Under a 1963 law, it’s up to the GSA’s politically appointed administrator to decide when a winner is “ascertained.” At that point, it opens the doors of U.S. federal agencies and provides operational funding to the president-elect and his team. Then, the incoming administration has just over two months to organize itself ahead of Jan. 20 Inauguration Day.
The GSA chief, currently Emily Murphy, must “ascertain” who won the election. Murphy, who was appointed by Trump in 2017, has the power to decide [“ascertain”] when election results are evident enough to trigger a transition of power. And if Biden is the apparent winner in her judgment, Murphy’s GSA decides when his team would be given the keys to transition and the $9.9 million to pay to build a new administration, including the vetting of an entire new Cabinet.

Biden to Face Long List of Foreign Challenges, With China No. 1
President Trump will be handing Joseph R. Biden Jr. a difficult cleanup act in America’s relations with many countries. But it may not take much for Mr. Biden to improve the mood.
(
NYT) U.S. relations with China are the worst since the countries normalized ties four decades ago. America’s allies in Europe are alienated. The most important nuclear anti-proliferation treaty is about to expire with Russia. Iran is amassing enriched nuclear fuel again, and North Korea is brandishing its atomic arsenal.
Not to mention global warming, refugee crises and looming famines in some of the poorest places on earth, all amplified by the pandemic.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is inheriting a landscape of challenges and ill-will toward the United States in countries hostile to President Trump’s “America First” mantra, his unpredictability, embrace of autocratic leaders and resistance to international cooperation.

An Opportunity for Democratic Renewal
(Lawfare) The closer-than-expected race did not produce the election result for which millions of Americans who value the traditional presidency—its norms, institutions and behaviors—were hoping. The much-anticipated blue tsunami failed to wash away Trumpism, and disappointment in the ambiguity of the result is understandable, maybe even inevitable. The partial nature of Trumpism’s defeat will certainly limit the degree to which a Biden administration can enact reforms to restrain future Donald Trumps.
It is, however, a tremendous opportunity to bolster and strengthen American democracy—one that people should not underestimate and the political system must seize.

Trump’s bid to discredit election raises fear that he will undermine a smooth transfer of power
Trump associates have said privately that the president is unlikely to formally concede the race under any circumstances in the traditional manner of a concession speech and a phone call to Biden.
And though some aides have suggested that they are hoping to convince him to publicly commit to a peaceful transition, experts warned that Trump could work to scuttle cooperation with Biden’s team in ensuring a smooth turnover of the management of the federal government on Inauguration Day come Jan. 20.

26 October
We May Need the Twenty-fifth Amendment if Trump Loses
Throughout the past four years, there has been chatter about Donald Trump’s mental health and stability, but little political will to make use of the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the Constitution, which allows Congress to deem a President “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” and remove him from power. The discussion resurfaced more seriously this month, however, in light of Trump’s hospitalization for COVID-19 and the White House’s lack of transparency around his treatment. The news that he was medicated with the steroid dexamethasone, used for seriously ill COVID-19 patients, also alarmed many because its known side effects include aggression, agitation, and “grandiose delusions”—behaviors that, judging from the President’s Twitter account, at least, he already seemed to exhibit.
On October 9th, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled a new bill to establish a Commission on Presidential Capacity to Discharge the Powers and Duties of the Office, which would help carry out the Twenty-fifth Amendment process in the event that the President becomes incapable of doing his job. (Sponsored by the Democratic representative and former constitutional-law professor Jamie Raskin, of Maryland, the House bill is similar to one he introduced in 2017.) Announcing the bill only a week after disclosure of the President’s COVID-19 diagnosis and three weeks before the election, Pelosi invoked the Amendment as a “path for preserving stability if a President suffers a crippling physical or mental problem.” She added, “This is not about President Trump. He will face the judgment of the voters, but he shows the need for us to create a process for future Presidents.”

23 October
Here’s Who Biden Is Considering for Top Jobs in His Administration
[A]ccording to Democrats familiar with the work, behind closed doors the transition team has been measuring out just how much rebuilding is necessary at the White House and government agencies. They’re considering not just top-level Cabinet appointments but lining up possible candidates for little-known bureaucratic roles, too — in part the kind of work any responsible transition might be doing, but also a reaction to Trump’s four years of destruction. And they’re also making contingency plans for transitioning to a new administration if the outgoing Trump team won’t help, as exiting functionaries are expected to in a sane political universe.

22-23 October
Trump just quietly passed an executive order that could destroy a future Biden administration
‘Through this order, President Trump has declared war on the professional civil service by giving himself the authority to fill the government with his political cronies who will pledge their unwavering loyalty to him, not to America’
The order, which the White House released late Wednesday evening, would strip civil service protections from a broad swath of career civil servants if it is decided that they are in “confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating positions” — a description previously reserved for the political appointees who come and go with each change in administration. It does that by creating a new category for such positions that do not turn over from administration to administration and reclassifying them as part of that category. The Office of Personnel Management — essentially the executive branch’s human resources department — has been charged with implementing the order by publishing a “preliminary” list of positions to be moved into the new category on what could President Donald Trump’s last full day in office: January 19, 2021.
Trump Issues Order Giving Him More Leeway to Hire and Fire Federal Workers
The move would give the president greater freedom to weed out what he sees as a “deep state” bureaucracy. The executive order, which could be rescinded if he is not re-elected, was condemned by civil service unions.

Leave a Comment

comm comm comm