Trump be­gins to play catch up on tran­si­tion to White House

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

WASH­ING­TON — The Repub­li­can pres­i­dent-elect paid lit­tle at­ten­tion to tran­si­tion plan­ning lead­ing up to his stun­ning vic­tory.

With 72 days be­fore he takes con­trol of the ex­ec­u­tive branch, Trump and his se­nior team on Wed­nes­day im­me­di­ately be­gan the her­culean task of pick­ing a Cab­i­net and tap­ping hun­dreds of ap­pointees to se­nior roles in key de­part­ments — State, De­fence, Home­land Se­cu­rity, Com­merce and Trea­sury among them — many re­quir­ing mul­ti­ple se­cu­rity re­views or Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion. “They have a long way to go,” said Max Stier, pres­i­dent and CEO of the Part­ner­ship for Pub­lic Ser­vice, an out­side group that was work­ing with both cam­paigns on tran­si­tion plan­ning since the sum­mer. “It’s im­per­a­tive to have the right peo­ple brought in fast and they’re pre­pared.”

Stier de­scribed the tran­si­tion as “a point of max­i­mum vul­ner­a­bil­ity” for the na­tion.

As pres­i­dent-elect, Trump is en­ti­tled to get the same daily in­tel­li­gence brief­ing as Pres­i­dent Barack Obama — one that in­cludes in­for­ma­tion on US covert op­er­a­tions, in­for­ma­tion gleaned about world lead­ers and other data gath­ered by Amer­ica’s 17 in­tel­li­gence agen­cies.

Trump’s se­nior team hud­dled pri­vately to be­ing a more fo­cused pe­riod of tran­si­tion plan­ning. The group in­cluded the tran­si­tion chair­per­son, New Jersey Gov­er­nor Chris Christie, Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee Chair Reince Priebus, Alabama Sen­a­tor Jeff Ses­sions, Vice Pres­i­dent-elect Mike Pence and daugh­ter Ivanka Trump’s hus­band, Jared Kush­ner, among oth­ers.

The team is putting a pre­mium on quickly fill­ing key na­tional se­cu­rity posts, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the con­ver­sa­tions but not au­tho­rised to dis­cuss them pub­licly.

“We had a great meet­ing and I thought it was valu­able. And lots of work has been done,” said Ses­sions, a top Trump ad­vi­sor. “So it’s the beginning, re­ally a solid beginning. First phase of the beginning.”

Bill Hagerty, Trump’s di­rec­tor of pres­i­den­tial ap­point­ments, de­clined to de­tail a time­line for Trump’s first per­son­nel moves. A chief of staff is tra­di­tion­ally ap­pointed in the ini­tial weeks af­ter an elec­tion.

“It’s some­thing that’s got to be pretty close held un­til the pres­i­dent-elect is ready to be­gin to an­nounce ap­point­ments,” he said.

A small tran­si­tion team has been meet­ing since early Au­gust to dis­cuss leg­isla­tive pri­or­i­ties and plans for tak­ing over agen­cies.

While Christie pro­vided Trump with weekly up­dates, un­til now, the cam­paign and tran­si­tion op­er­a­tions func­tioned as rel­a­tively dis­tinct en­ti­ties and in dif­fer­ent cities — Trump’s cam­paign in New York and the tran­si­tion team in Wash­ing­ton.

An or­gan­i­sa­tional chart for the tran­si­tion team ob­tained by AP con­firms that some fa­mil­iar names are play­ing se­nior roles shap­ing a Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Na­tional se­cu­rity plan­ning was be­ing led by for­mer Michi­gan Representative Mike Rogers, who pre­vi­ously worked for the FBI. Joseph “Keith” Kel­logg, a re­tired Army lieu­tenant gen­eral, was head­ing de­fence plan­ning. For do­mes­tic is­sues, the Trump tran­si­tion team was re­ly­ing on the lead­er­ship of Ken Black­well, a for­mer Cincin­nati mayor and Ohio sec­re­tary of state.

A Trump spokesper­son did not re­spond to ques­tions about the team, but key al­lies re­jected the no­tion he was be­hind where he should be in tran­si­tion plan­ning.

“Don­ald Trump is tak­ing this very se­ri­ously,” Priebus said, sug­gest­ing that Trump’s deal-mak­ing skills would en­able him to quickly “make things hap­pen for the Amer­i­can peo­ple”. “He will get things done,” Priebus de­clared. It’s far from clear who would oc­cupy Trump’s Cab­i­net and se­nior staff. His in­ner cir­cle is fa­mously small, de­fined by loy­alty to the pres­i­dent-elect and largely de­void of es­tab­lish­ment lead­ers.

Trump of­fered a roadmap for prospec­tive ad­min­is­tra­tion fig­ures while on stage dur­ing his vic­tory speech on Wed­nes­day.

The pres­i­dent-elect praised Christie, who joined Trump on stage as he de­clared vic­tory, de­spite Christie’s abysmal poll num­bers at home and con­tin­ued scru­tiny for the so-called Bridge­gate scan­dal.

For­mer New York Mayor Rudy Gi­u­liani emerged as one of Trump’s clos­est ad­vi­sors and reg­u­lar trav­el­ling part­ners in the cam­paign’s fi­nal stretch. The for­mer fed­eral prose­cu­tor is a pos­si­ble fit for a post like at­tor­ney gen­eral or na­tional se­cu­rity ad­vi­sor.

Ses­sions was the first ma­jor Capi­tol Hill law­maker to back Trump. His hard-line im­mi­gra­tion views be­came a cen­tre­piece of the in­sur­gent cam­paign. Ses­sions’ chief of staff, Rick Dear­born, has also emerged as a key fig­ure in tran­si­tion plan­ning. While many Repub­li­can na­tional se­cu­rity lead­ers shunned Trump, re­tired lieu­tenant gen­eral Michael Flynn was the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee’s most ex­pe­ri­enced na­tional se­cu­rity voice. Flynn ac­com­pa­nied Trump when he re­ceived his first clas­si­fied in­tel­li­gence brief­ing.

Steven Mnuchin, a Gold­man Sachs vet­eran and CEO of a pri­vate in­vest­ment firm, served as Trump’s fi­nance chair and in­stantly be­comes a con­tender for Trea­sury sec­re­tary. For­mer House Speaker Newt Gin­grich could emerge as a pos­si­ble sec­re­tary of state. Ten­nessee Sen­a­tor Bob Corker, who was con­sid­ered for Trump’s run­ning mate and chairs the For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, may also be in line for a job. — AFP

Res­i­dents search for a six-year-old girl swept away by flash floods in Diep­sloot, north of Jo­han­nes­burg, South Africa. The search was called off for today. Po­lice say they need more resources to con­tinue the search. — Sapa

Don­ald Trump

Jacob Zuma

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