Experts say Trump transition work in progress slowed by politics, red tape

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Donald Trump is getting some low marks for his transition from White House winner to U.S. president, but some experts and supporters disagree, or at least urge Americans to wait before submitting a final grade.

“I don’t think it’s true. The transition is a means to an end, not an end itself,” Max Stier, of the nonpartisan Center for Presidential Transition, said Monday. “So far, I’d give him an incomplete. Ask me again in three months.”

Stier argues that Trump, or any U.S. president, needs about a year before their transition effort comes into full view.

Some of Trump’s early challenges, or problems, may be inherent or self-inflicted -- including his continuing strategy of eviscerating critics on Twitter.

Recent polls show a slim majority of Americans unhappy with Trump’s transition efforts.

A Gallup survey released Monday shows 51 percent of respondents do not approve of how Trump, a Republican, is handling the transition, which has largely consisted of nominating Cabinet members and signaling first-100-days policy goals.

President Obama, by comparison, had a roughly 12 percent disapproval rating about a week before taking office in 2009, according to Gallup. And a Quinnipiac survey released last week also showed roughly 51 percent of respondents are unsatisfied with Trump as a president-elect.

Still, Trump, like other incoming presidents, faces a long-standing congressional mandate requiring Senate confirmation for roughly 1,200 federal nominees, a process slowed by partisan politics and the sheer burden of completing background checks.

Doug Wilson, a Democrat, recently wrote in The Washington Post about his failed, three-year effort to get appointed to a part-time, non-paying position on the non-partisan U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.

“In theory, with the White House and the Senate unified politically, the process should be easier,” Wilson wrote. “But ... senators can still block nominations without furnishing an explanation or even identifying themselves.

“If we want these positions to be filled by experienced and talented people, we need political leaders who will focus on nominee qualifications and ignore the rest -- and we need a government that checks their backgrounds more quickly.”

In 2011, Congress, in fact, eliminated hundreds of posts subject to Senate confirmation.

“You’ll get a better government if you do that,” Stier said. “Then Congress could focus on the positions that need attention.”

Another self-induced problem for Trump is that his winning, outsider operation does not have a lot of people with Executive Branch experience.

However, Stier does not see the contradiction, or inconsistency, in Trump tapping some insiders to help with the transition while promising to “drain the swamp” in Washington.

“You need so-called insiders,” Stier said. “Many who want to see change are most familiar with how to get that change. .. The real question is will Trump's government work.”

Joe Desilets, a Republican strategist and senior staffer on Trump’s Pennsylvania campaign team, argued that Trump and his transition team have been “incredibly successful” on several fronts, despite the more liberal media continuing to report about Americans unwilling to accept Trump’s win.

“The Cabinet that President-elect Trump has assembled is a long list of incredible leaders from industry, politics and the military,” Desilets said. “Most importantly, Trump is putting together the team that he needs to enact the agenda and policies that he put forward to the American people during his campaign.”