Trump administration spins up a presidential transition

The law requires both groups to be established six months ahead of a presidential election, according to the Presidential Transitions Improvements Act of 2015. One of the original co-authors of that act, former Delaware Sen. Ted Kaufman, happens to be a Biden confidant. Congress made a few minor tweaks to the law in 2019.

Chief of staff Mark Meadows will chair the White House council, which also includes deputy chief of staff for policy coordination Chris Liddell, acting OMB Director Russell Vought, deputy chief of staff for operations Tony Ornato, counsel Pat Cipollone and director of the presidential personnel office John McEntee, among others. It’s not yet clear who the Biden campaign will tap to serve as its representative to the council, if and when he officially becomes the Democratic nominee.

The administration has also started other transition activities, it announced on Wednesday: The General Services Administration is planning to organize meetings with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Justice and the FBI. Those meetings are meant to ensure that transition team members get proper clearances so they can access classified information; and as the outgoing administration prepares a classified summary of “specific operational threats to national security, major military or covert operations, and pending decisions on possible uses of military force, which should be provided to the president-elect as soon as possible after the date of the general elections,” the report said.

GSA has also picked the Commerce Department headquarters in downtown Washington as transition office space for the Democratic nominee, presumably Biden. To meet the operational needs of the candidate, the agency is updating the space to prepare it for the nominee’s transition staff — which could number 100 or more people — to occupy it on Sept. 1.

Mary Gibert, a senior GSA official, was formally tapped last month to again serve as the agency’s federal transition coordinator, a position she held in the chaotic Obama-Trump transition in 2016 as well.

Nahal Toosi contributed to this report.

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