Presidential transitions: Obama vs. Trump

Presidential transitions: Obama vs. Trump

Trump didn't plan for a transition, and now we have chaos, writes Chris Lu

[Read the full story at USA Today]

In April 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama tasked me to start planning for a possible presidential transition. Even for a politician who had called one of his books The Audacity of Hope, this was pretty audacious. At the time, Obama was waging a hard-fought primary contest against Hillary Clinton. If he prevailed, there would be five months of general election campaigning.

In discussing the need for early preparation, our conversation turned to the1972 film The Candidate, in which a political novice wins an improbable race for the Senate. After his victory, in the final scene, the candidate (played by Robert Redford) turns to his campaign manager and says, “What do we do now?”

Obama didn’t want to be that kind of candidate, especially since our transition would be the first transfer of power after the 9/11 attacks. That’s why planning for an Obama presidential transition began six months before Election Day 2008 and continued for 77 days afterward until he took the oath of office on Inauguration Day.

New reporting by Axios shows how another candidate with long odds barely planned at all. And then he won.

Based on a leak of more than 100 documents evaluating potential personnel selections, the Axios report reveals that Donald Trump’s 2016 transition was hampered by disorganization, inadequate personnel screening, and missed red flags about ethical issues and conflicts of interest. Adding to the dysfunction was Chris Christie’s dismissal as transition head three days after Trump’s victory and the disposal of his transition plan. 

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