And the exact opposite of how President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team has worked so far – long-term aides have chosen predictable officials for top jobs and worked to quell potential tensions between the moderate and progressive wings of the Democratic Party.
The lessons learned from Trump’s transition finally provided a roadmap for how his presidency should run — cuffless decision-making, high traffic, and bitter internal struggles in policy areas such as immigration, trade, and foreign policy. America saw a preview of everything between its nervous victory and its January 2017 inauguration.
So, if Trump’s example is any guidance, then Biden’s approach could also be a blueprint for what to expect in the next four years.
“Trump is famous for believing that the preparations are for the losers and the Biden team seems to be the opposite,” said one of Trump’s former interim officials. “Trump never wanted to prepare for a meeting because he thought he could bring him on the wing and that he only needed to prepare if, of course, you’re not good or you can’t think on your feet.”
Four years later, those around the outgoing president are still divided on whether he gave the right voice during the 2016 transition.
Many of his supporters say Trump is right to ignore traditions, such as fearing quickly reinforcing all mid-level employees in every office, and focus more on key policies such as the 2017 Republican Tax Bill, strengthening the multitude of conservative judges, and international agreements such as the Paris Climate Convention or the Iranian Atomic Convention.
For critics and even some allies, Trump’s failure to make a meaningful transition violates the ability to govern in the first year and beyond.
“They still haven’t recovered,” former governor Chris Christie said in a podcast released over the summer by Partnership for Public Service, a non-partisan group. Christie was the original leader of Trump’s transition team before he was fired after Trump’s victory.
“The first year is almost over and they still haven’t recovered because you can’t recover from losing all your work,” he said. “As you can see, there were either a lot of vacancies at the beginning of the Trump White House, or ones filled with a lot of Obama detention.”
The consequences, he said, were far-reaching.
“It has affected this administration in every significant way since you can imagine it since they did it,” Christie said.
Trump’s inauguration was as messy as his transition to the presidency. The president continues to falsely declare he has won and banned his staff from contacting Biden’s inbound team for weeks, a long-standing tradition.
“His entry was marked as the same chaos as his exit,” said one source familiar with the White House’s interim planning.
Part of the problem, Trump’s former transitional officials said, comes from different factions competing for dominance: Trump’s New York staff, the campaign, the Conservative movement, and more established Republicans affiliated with the Republican National Commission. They all came together during the transition.
“Trump has never held an elected office. Even in his business, he didn’t have shareholders to whom he would report, so he could run things the way he wanted and store information the way he wanted, ”said Martha Joynt Kumar, director of the White Presidents’ Transition Project, which offers past presidential transitions and offers. study. information for incoming administrations. “He’s not used to a situation where power is shared.”
Close Trump aides like Hope Hicks, John McEntee, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller and Kellyanne Conway spent most of their time in New York after the 2016 election, working alongside the president. Meanwhile, more policy-focused or more experienced DC staff worked from Washington.
The two crews often did not communicate with each other, anticipating the pattern that would hit the White House.
These factions “spent a lot of time on power, office space, and appointments, facilitated by a weak chief of staff,” a second Trump transition official said, referring to Reince Priebus. “So I can’t say that a single, obvious schedule had to be met. There were plenty of competing agendas.
Political or agency expertise was underestimated in order to look for splashing passes that Trump’s team could march in front of reporters in the gilded lobby of the Trump Tower.
And the early cracks in Trump’s team were obvious to everyone, thanks to the ubiquitous leaks in the Oval Office and meetings held in closed doors.
“One of the problems with Trump’s cabinet when he first became president is that it didn’t reflect his worldview because he didn’t have one,” said David Axelrod, former senior adviser to President Barack Obama. “He had some labels and some impulses, with a secretary of state and a defense minister who really didn’t accept what he thought or said.”
Axelrod says Biden is already showing the world a different style of governance. With his help, he is given advice to those who have been on the Biden track for decades and prioritize featured jobs with a traditional resume. The selections given at this point are mostly satisfied with the moderates, while not being too angry with the progressive.
“Biden, with half a century of experience, believes diplomacy is important, alliances are critical, and has designated a lot of people who believe in it,” Axelrod added. “The ‘boring beautiful’ line is real.”
Part of the functional transition is knowing what the president wants to achieve politically before inauguration and then hiring people to do so, said Clay Johnson, who led the George W. Bush transition team before he became head of the Bush administration. members of the presidential staff.
“I don’t know what Biden’s plans are, but it seems like the Biden people know the appointment process and know how the government works,” Johnson said. – They seem to have previous experience with this.
The Trump transition did not have an ideologically coordinated cabinet, due in part to Trump’s determination to employ top figures like Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. As a long-time senior executive at Exxon, Tillerson believed in overseas cooperation and alliances – which Trump criticized at the beginning of his presidency. Trump’s full focus on recruiting people who seemed to come from “central casting,” as he put it, went to the detriment of freeing well-crafted plans and policies on the first day of the White House.
“No one did any meaningful work during the transition and in the White House, much of it started from scratch,” one transitional official said. “It indicates how Trump and his friends treated the presidency.”