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Hullabaloo


Thursday, January 19, 2017

 
Ready on Day 1?

by digby

The man who promised to run the country like he ran his businesses, including the four bankruptcies, has had the most disastrous transition in history. Most of his people have not been properly vetted or passed FBI background checks. His cabinet appointees are a mess. His staff is inexperienced, corrupt and extreme.

So what's going to happen in the short run? A DC hand explains:


On the other hand, this is scary. Who ARE these people?

At 12:01 p.m. Friday, Donald Trump’s aides will deploy a team of temporary political appointees into federal agencies to begin laying the groundwork for the president-elect’s agenda while his nominees await Senate confirmation, sources familiar with the plan told POLITICO.

While the transition team has been building the so-called beachhead teams for months, they are taking on outsize importance because few of Trump’s nominees will be confirmed by the time he’s sworn in.

Trump’s transition has instructed members of the beachhead teams to skip the inauguration and be at their desks the moment he is sworn in, sources close to the transition said.

Trump transition spokeswoman Jessica Ditto disputed that beachhead members were given instructions that would require them to miss the inauguration.

"We have approximately 520 individuals on the beachhead teams and they have worked with the agencies to go in any time after 12:01 [p.m.] on Friday — each team has worked out their own timing," she said in an email. "These individuals are honored to help the Trump Administration on Day 1 and are ready to serve our country."

Beachhead members will get badges just like any other federal employee and begin to take over the agencies, said Max Stier, president and CEO of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service, which advises incoming administrations on transitions. The goal is to ensure a smooth transfer of power not just at the White House, but at crucial federal agencies as well.

“The beachhead team is a newish structure, built by the [Mitt] Romney transition,” Stier said. “The basic concept is a recognition that incoming administrations do not have the full confirmed team in place. How do you put people in to keep the agencies running?”

Reed Cordish, whom Trump recently tapped as his assistant for intragovernmental and technology initiatives, organized the agency beachhead teams — whose size varies agency to agency, anywhere from a few people to a dozen. However, the size of these teams has grown exponentially in the past two weeks, with Republicans around town emailing each other congratulatory notes about making it into these coveted slots.

Landing on a beachhead team may translate into a job at that agency, at least for the first four months or so of the new administration until a secretary can get confirmed and officially put together his or her team. “It means that you’re almost guaranteed a job if you want one in that department,” said a GOP strategist close to the transition.

Trump’s team has long worried that career federal workers and President Barack Obama’s political appointees will seek to undermine the president-elect’s agenda. The transition sees the beachhead teams, named after the line of defense that the military constructs as it lands in enemy territory, as a check on existing agency officials.

The transition team has also instructed the teams to begin collecting information and laying organizational groundwork so that Trump’s secretaries and undersecretaries can hit the ground running once they’re confirmed.

In addition, Trump’s team has identified a few dozen Obama political appointees who have been asked to stay on after Friday to help with the transition, sources said.

For example, the Justice Department announced on Tuesday that Trump’s team said U.S. attorneys and U.S. marshals can stay past Friday.

As is customary when a new president enters the White House, all political appointees must submit resignation letters that take effect at noon on Inauguration Day. Many Obama administration officials had not heard until recently whether they would be asked to stay.

One Obama administration official said some people who have been asked to stick around are on the fence because they’ve already begun to line up jobs outside the government.

This feels like a coup.

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