Everything You Need to Know About Donald Trump’s White House Transition

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump points towards guests during an campaign event with employees at Trump National Doral, Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016, in Miami. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump points towards guests during an campaign event with employees at Trump National Doral, Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016, in Miami. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)


(ABC)– It has been 111 days since Donald Trump stood on a stage in Cleveland at the Republican National Convention and proudly proclaimed, “I alone can fix it.”

But amid the celebration of his shock electoral victory, Trump will likely want to keep his friends close as he works to confront the massive task of a smooth and peaceful transition of power.

While Trump and Hillary Clinton were trading barbs on the campaign trail, behind the scenes their transition teams and the Obama administration were mobilizing for a 71-day sprint to Inauguration Day.

ABC News has been tracking the effort over the past several months, with transition and campaign officials offering an inside look at what to expect before the president-elect embarks on his “first 100 days.”

Staffing Up

Arguably the most essential task of a president-elect is the selection of a cabinet and White House staff intended to carry out his or her agenda.

Trump’s administration will be responsible for filling roughly 4,000 political appointments, about 1,000 of which require confirmation by the Senate.

The nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Presidential Transition (CPT), which has worked with both the Clinton and Trump transition teams, recommends that the president-elect select his or her top 50 cabinet appointees and key White House personnel, such as the chief of staff, before Thanksgiving. Ideally, Trump’s transition team would send his “intent to nominate” appointments to the Senate before the end of December.

This allows time for essential tasks like issuing proper levels of security clearance.

Talk to Congress

With a Republican wave securing both the House and Senate Tuesday, Trump’s team will likely have a brighter outlook in being able to enact his proposed agenda and speedy confirmations for his pending political appointments.

Much of that will rely on Trump’s relationship with House and Senate leadership, and Speaker Paul Ryan already made a point of calling Trump on election night to congratulate him on his “big night.”

Trump’s running mate Mike Pence has also maintained his close relationships with Republican lawmakers even through the most tumultuous days of Trump’s campaign. It’s a partnership that could prove valuable in the long term for Trump’s agenda.

Democratic lawmakers, on the other hand, could still wield significant power in filibustering Trump’s agenda and positioning themselves similarly to how GOP lawmakers have sought to counter what they have called an overreach of power by President Barack Obama. Conversations with congressional leadership in the coming months will offer insight into the tone the American public can expect from their interactions over the next four years, as well as a realistic picture of the agenda that Trump’s administration can put into place.

Assuming the Mantle of Commander-in-Chief

There’s perhaps no more crucial an element to a transition of power than ensuring the security of the American people along with personnel and assets abroad.

With the handover of the role of commander-in-chief of the nation’s armed forces also comes an imperative to be able to handle any one of a myriad of global crises on day one.

Both Trump and Clinton received a few classified briefings from top intelligence officials following their respective conventions, but these were described as more of a boiler-plate primer for the security outlook of the world stage rather than revealing raw intelligence.

In the coming days, Trump, along with his top advisers, will begin much more in-depth daily intelligence briefings, along with regular meetings on major diplomatic and international issues. It’s also expected that the White House and Trump’s national security team will conduct a “black swan exercise” in the coming months to simulate what it would be like to manage a major crisis in real time.

Keeping With Tradition

Despite the president and first lady’s widely expressed deep distaste for Trump and what his presidency would mean for the future of the country, President Obama has said that he would have no problem extending traditional courtesies between the outgoing president and president-elect.

This would include an invitation to Trump and his family for a White House visit ahead of the inauguration. It would also mean first lady Michelle Obama taking Melania Trump on a tour of her future home while Obama meets privately with Trump.

The Obamas would also be expected to attend Trump’s Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol, and observe him taking the oath of office.

Mapping Out the ‘First 100 Days’

Over the course of the campaign, both candidates made sweeping promises about their goals for the country, but turning Trump’s promises into policy will require a more calculated and ambitious approach than he has spelled out in his numerous stump speeches.

According to the CPT, transition teams should prioritize the top two or three issues a president-elect will focus on in the starting days of his or her administration, and map out how to go about implementing them down to the dirty details.

For President Obama, handling the financial crisis of 2008 consumed the brunt of his first year in office, though he also managed to mobilize a team that helped him lobby for and eventually pass his administration’s signature health care law.

It’s unclear whether Trump will be faced with prioritizing a different domestic or international challenge over his promises to build a wall along the Mexican border or to repeal Obamacare.

Making the White House a Home

Among all of the pressing issues that await the president-elect, move-in day may understandably be lower on the priority list.

But the planning that goes into the five-hour moving period between the departure of the Obama family and the arrival of the president-elect’s family has been described in the past as “very well-organized ballet choreography.” It’s also the first true test of the staff that will seek to make the 132-room White House a home for Trump’s family the next four (or eight) years.

In the past, the incoming first lady and selected members of the transition staff would work with the White House Usher’s Office to prioritize what needs to be unpacked and the locations for various pieces of furniture. Trump will have the freedom to decorate the Oval Office in whatever manner suits him.

It’s a mad dash for the nearly 100 workers who partner in the move-in, and a fitting end to the transition of power where urgency, precision and care are guiding principles.

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