For a man whose temperament supposedly made him “unfit for office” President-elect Trump seems to be moving forward on his cabinet selections in a measured, thoughtful pace that should serve as a warning to his critics and foes alike.
My initial reaction to hearing Giuliani mentioned as secretary of state was tepid at best – I thought he would be fine as Attorney General but Rudy apparently turned that post down. I was less excited about him as Secretary of State. The position and the man didn’t feel like a match. That being said, I was also sure he would simply be given the post he wanted as a reward for his campaign service. Now it’s being reported that there are numerous candidates for that post – including Mitt Romney and South Carolina Gov Nikki Haley. It was not a simple gimme for Rudy although he might still get it. My point here is not to speculate on possible nominations but rather to stop and note what the process indicates for the future.
“For those who have chosen not to support me in the past, of which there were a few people. . . I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country.” – President-Elect Trump (from his Victory Speech)
Nice conciliatory words – but words nonetheless. And actions speak louder than…
Ted Cruz met with Trump for several hours two days ago. Since that surprise meeting rumors have circulated that Cruz is being considered for the Attorney General.
Mitt Romney is scheduled to meet with Trump on Saturday and rumors there point at Secretary of State as previously noted.
North Carolina Gov Nikki Haley met with Trump today and is being actively considered for a cabinet post – some have mentioned Secretary of State but I am willing to bet otherwise given the Romney meeting Saturday.
These three candidates have one common theme – they all attacked Trump vigorously – and were attacked equally by Trump – during the GOP primary campaign. Cruz, stung by the insults, famously refused to endorse Trump after being invited to make a keynote speech at the Republican Convention. Mitt Romney called Trump a racist – among other names. Of course Donald said Mitt “choked like a dog” referring to Romney’s failed 2012 campaign. Gov Halley famously referred to Trump as “the siren call of the angriest voices”. And now they meet in Trump Tower. Cruz sounded positively buoyant after his meeting – as much as Cruz can sound buoyant.
Chris Christie was demoted and likely removed from cabinet consideration. Christie had been dogged by Bridgegate and several aides were convicted in that event. More importantly, Christie had brought in several lobbyists as part of the transition team – obviously meshing poorly with the “Drain the Swamp” refrains. Vice-President elect Mike Pence was appointed head of the transition team in Christie’s place and immediately ordered all lobbyists removed from the transition team. A good move and a good sign. Thus far, I have been highly impressed with Pence – seems a good man.
Taken together, these events signal a fresh, inclusionary approach to Trump’s cabinet appointments – a sign that he is being thoughtful and is not simply surrounding himself with obvious campaign loyalists.
Today the transition team deployed their “landing parties” to federal agencies responsible for national security – meeting with the Departments of Defense, Justice and State and the National Security Council. The next wave of “landing parties” will tackle the economic agencies including Treasury, Commerce, Social Security and U.S. Trade. The third and final wave will target domestic agencies – Agriculture, Labor, Homeland, Interior, Energy, Transportation, Education, etc. – hopefully he can come up with an Agency Elimination Team as part of the overall process.
Just yesterday CNN was describing the entire transition team as one of infighting, chaos and delays. What a waste of a television channel.
Perhaps most significant of all is the pledge anyone now working on the transition team or being considered to work in the administration must sign:
“By signing below I hereby certify that I am not currently registered and reporting as a federal lobbyist as defined by the Lobbying Disclosure Act as amended or as a compensated lobbyist at the state level in any state. If I was listed as lobbyist in the most recent lobbying disclosure forms or reported to be filed by federal or state law, I hereby notify the president-elect’s transition team that I have filed the necessary forms to the appropriate government agency to terminate my [lobbying registration]. I will provide the transition team with written evidence of my federal or state lobbyist termination as soon as possible.”
The termination of registration is important as it keeps lobbyists from simply changing their titles while still retaining professional lobbyist status – something done routinely in past administrations. Furthermore, they are also required to agree on an unprecedented 5-year prohibition from working as a lobbyist for any part of the government sector for five years upon leaving the Trump Administration.
Multiple news sources have published articles stating this will make attracting candidates difficult. Judging from the parade of people into Trump Tower I would disagree.
There have always been numerous highly qualified people who refused to work in Washington’s hyper political swamp. Now that it’s being drained we may find some of these private sector people standing in the puddle.
And that is to our enormous benefit as a country.
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