Trump, Advisers Start Building D.C. Team
Fresh from an upset victory in the race for the White House, President-elect Donald Trump and his advisers began the tedious but essential work Wednesday of building out his administration and considering the policy pushes it will undertake.
The preliminary discussions took place in Trump Tower as the nation came to grips with Trump as its next president and witnessed the first stages of the transfer of power to him.
In remarks from the White House, President Obama stressed unity during the transition, saying of Trump, “We are now all rooting for his success.”
"Peaceful transition of power is a hallmark of our democracy,” Obama said Wednesday. “Over next few months, we are going to show that to the world.”
Trump will meet with Obama on Thursday in Washington, D.C., to discuss his move into the White House and the role of the presidency before heading to Capitol Hill for a lunch with Vice President-elect Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan. Melania Trump will also meet with first lady Michelle Obama.
Trump is expected to move into the White House when he is sworn in as president, CNN’s Sara Murray tweeted Wednesday, citing Trump’s spokesman Jason Miller, although Trump plans to retain his New York residence for occasional visits.
Other key matters regarding Trump’s personal life and business empire still need to be decided, including how Trump will disentangle himself from the Trump Corporation and his various holdings and investments. He has previously suggested putting his company in the hands of his adult children.
Trump will in the meantime be building out a new company, of sorts, as he and his advisers select appointees and nominees for roles in his administration. His transition team on Wednesday launched a website, greatagain.gov, with updates and information on that process.
Internal deliberations have already started regarding who will fill the top posts in Trump’s White House, including chief of staff. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, are reportedly both under consideration for that role.
Some of Trump’s top advisers during the campaign, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, are considered contenders for Cabinet posts. Giuliani, however, told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that he likely would not be interested in an official role.
For other staff jobs, it remains unclear whether Republicans who did not support Trump will be welcome in his administration or would be eager to sign on. And some Trump allies are cautioning that fair-weather applicants should be kept at arm’s length.
“In Washington you can find a lot of talent,” said former Rep. Jack Kingston, a Trump adviser. “Loyalty is harder to get.”
Kingston, for his part, expressed openness to serving in the Trump administration, saying, “I’d love to find a way to stay very involved.”
But the transition efforts remain in the preliminary stages. Some staff members were diverted to work on the campaign in the final days before the election, slowing the effort’s progress.
“So much energy was put into the election itself,” Kingston said, “as opposed to how are we going to divide up the spoils.”
Trump’s policy plans for his first 100 days in office are also still being drawn. During the campaign, Trump mentioned that he would call for a repeal of Obamacare and begin to re-examine the country’s existing trade deals. He has also recently promised to “drain the swamp” in D.C. with ethics reform and regulation overhauls. Kingston predicts Trump’s priorities will mesh well with the Better Way framework developed by House Republicans earlier this year.
For now, however, Washington Republicans are in the dark — waiting to see what plans Trump and his team will map out, and whether his approach to governing will differ from his bombastic style on the campaign trail.
“The truth is, no one has a clue,” said one influential GOP strategist based in Washington. “It’s impossible to know what he’s going to do.”