Transition Briefing: Passing the Presidency to Donald Trump

Transition Briefing: Passing the Presidency to Donald Trump

- in News

Welcome to the new Trump Transition Briefing, a rundown of notable events in Washington’s changing of the guard from President Obama to President-elect Donald J. Trump. Here are the things we are watching for on Thursday.

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Donald J. Trump at his election night event in New York City.

Credit
Eric Thayer for The New York Times

It begins with a meeting.

Mr. Obama and Mr. Trump are set to get together at the White House, a significant step in the handoff and a meeting between men who have had little good to say about each other. Mr. Trump has famously and falsely questioned Mr. Obama’s birthplace and citizenship, and Mr. Obama has scalded him as unfit for office and worse, including during a roasting at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. But the two seem to have agreed to let bygones be bygones to secure the nation’s traditional peaceful transition of power.

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President Obama outside the Oval Office on Tuesday.

Credit
Al Drago/The New York Times

In remarks at the White House on Wednesday, Mr. Obama promised that his staff would do all it could to bring about a successful handover. Will that include a friendly photo of the two adversaries?

‘Landing teams’ and iPads await Trump’s aides.

The White House will also begin putting into effect the plans it has been working on since spring to bring the president-elect and his team up to speed. “Landing teams” at each federal agency will begin working with aides designated by Mr. Trump to hand over key operations, some of them via iPads loaded with vital information, others through cloud-based systems or internal websites. Mr. Trump will also gain access to a new personnel tracking interface created by the Obama administration to handle the vast array of documents and data that is involved in hiring 4,000 political appointees in a short time.

Is Tim Kaine the future of the Democratic Party?

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Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia in Richmond on Tuesday, preparing to leave for New York and what the Clinton campaign expected to be a victory party.

Credit
Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

As the losing vice-presidential candidate, Mr. Kaine will no doubt take some time to mourn what might have been. But he remains a senator from Virginia, and that will provide him a platform to challenge a President Trump.

Mr. Kaine will have some competition for the anti-Trump mantle in several of his Senate colleagues: Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who ran against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary; Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who emerged as a fierce, populist fighter on the trail; and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the chamber’s new Democratic leader.

But keep an eye on Mr. Kaine, who delivered Virginia for Mrs. Clinton and has two years before he faces re-election. Like House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, who emerged as the leader of the Republican opposition after losing as the 2012 vice-presidential nominee, Mr. Kaine may become someone Democrats rally around. And who knows? Democrats will need a candidate to challenge Mr. Trump in 2020.

The knives are out.

Fans of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” may have a new show to watch for the next 10 weeks: the jockeying and backbiting as Mr. Trump begins building out his administration. It’s a process that happens in every transition to a new president, but Mr. Trump’s attacks on the Washington establishment, including Republicans, mean the pool of talent that he might draw from is much murkier.

There’s already talk, of course, that Mr. Trump may reward those who were very loyal to him — a group that pointedly does not include some key Republicans who abandoned him during the campaign. And the campaign operatives who engineered his victory are certain to have first dibs on choice West Wing offices if they want them.

But the process of filling those jobs is never tidy, and there’s every reason to believe it will be even less so for Mr. Trump. So watch for the inevitable trial balloons that go nowhere and the opposition research from Democrats that scuttles at least a few of Mr. Trump’s first picks. The swordplay may not be life or death as in “Game of Thrones,” but it’s sure to be just as sharp.

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