Maybe I’m just more tuned in to this election cycle than usual, but I seem to recall hearing about Transition Teams only after a new president has been elected.
At this stage, does the Biden campaign talking about transition seem a little cocky?
I don’t think it’s fair or accurate to say that Biden is being “public” with it. They filed a memorandum of understanding with the White House, a required step in this process, and that’s a matter of public record. This isn’t campaigning or gamesmanship, it’s a combination of bureaucracy and and basic reporting.
Is it early? Yeah, probably a bit, but this transition will be one of the most fraught we’ve ever seen. Trump’s White House is both petulant and wildly disorganized, the likelihood of them being on the ball come election day is next to nil. There’s a massive pandemic. The election results are likely to not be known on election night, and might stretch for days or weeks after. It will probably be contested. There’s few non-political people in Trump’s administration, so the number of people that will need to be staffed immediately upon inauguration will be unprecedented. In most administrations there are a lot of holdovers and career officials who span multiple administrations…Trump got rid of all those people.
Don’t read too much into it. The transition team is only theoretical until the election results are in, and I think it’s probably illegal to fundraise for it until the same. So all this is a plan, nothing’s been officially formed. Biden is using the lockdown to get ahead of some things, I think that’s wise.
The Presidential Transition Act requires his team to be working on it no later than September 1.
If Biden-Harris wins, I suspect there will be more serious violations of the Act, by the outgoing administration, than the famous removal of W’s from keyboards in 2001. Maybe DJT had best include this Act on the list of laws on his self-pardon list.
According to Wikipedia, Mitt Romney established his team in June 2012 before he won the Republican nomination, and Barack Obama did his in a similar time. Donald Trump began assembling his team in May of 2016 once he became the presumptive nomine, while Hillary Clinton waited until she became the nominee in August.
So Biden having a team in September is actually pretty late in the game if we look at other 21st century leaders. Following the examples of Romney and Trump, he should have actually started one in April when Bernie Sanders conceded the primary and Biden was presumed to be the Democratic nominee.
I have a family member who was a moderately important person in W’s campaign, and who landed a spoils system job in his administration. She said it was incredibly orderly: W had hundreds of his own people and they were placed based on their role in the campaign, which is how it’s been for ages. When Obama was elected, she was eventually let go for one of his people. It was all super professional, and it meant that each president ends up with people who understand and support his agenda in key positions (along with a steady civil service that preserve institutional knowledge and stability). It’s a pretty good system, that works pretty well, but it’s a huge thing that takes months to set up.
Trump on the other hand, had none of that. He most critically didn’t even have the hundreds of people to take on those roles, because his campaign was so irregular.
My understanding is Christie had a reasonably detailed transition planned, but that was tossed out when he fell out of favor.
I need to read that book. I was dealing with DOE frequently at the time but only saw a sliver of the chaos. I did read some of the chunks he published in advance in some magazine, and what I read seemed accurate.
Very true, and that’s rather an understatement. The Obama administration prepared comprehensive briefing books for the incoming administration, and according to former Trump insiders most of them were never even looked at. The idea that this bunch of clowns will participate in an organized and cooperative transition is ludicrous. Trump will be ranting about the “rigged” election and is more likely to refuse to leave office than facilitate the transition. I concur that Biden will need as many former Obama people as possible.