Inauguration Day is Friday but the Trump administration’s first official day in Washington was Thursday, as the incoming team clashed with Senate Democrats over its Cabinet nominations.
“There is no excuse,” White House Press Secretary-designee Sean Spicer said, for what he dubbed “delay tactics” by Senate Democrats on some of President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet selections. Spicer was in mid-administration form as he added that the Democrats’ tactics “call into question” whether they want a “government of continuity.”
Spicer, a longtime Republican National Committee spokesman, showed that while his boss may be a newcomer to Washington, he is not. He used part of his first in-person press briefing to hit Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York and other Democrats for stonewalling “consensus” Cabinet nominees like Transportation secretary pick Elaine Chao.
It was as if Trump was already the Republican chief executive and Obama had departed Washington via the presidential helicopter and aircraft one last time when Schumer fired back. He announced that the Senate will vote Friday on the Homeland Security and Defense nominations for retired Gens. John Kelly and James Mattis respectively. Those are not controversial. But others, to Democrats, are.
“Democrats will allow the confirmations of, and votes for, nominees who would not have been chosen by our parties. But what we will not support are nominees who are so extreme in their viewpoints, or their noncompliance with ethics laws and practice, that they have demonstrated themselves to be unfit,” Schumer said.
Once in Washington, the president-elect got into commander-in-chief mode by laying a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery and delivering remarks at several events around Washington.
After Speech, Low-Key Day One for Trump
Remember all those campaign-trail promises to get rid of this Obama policy and enact that Trump one via executive orders on his first day as president? Forget it, for the most part.
Trump’s team is signaling he will only sign “four or five” such documents after being sworn in — and a couple of those will be “logistical” in nature. That leaves two or three that will focus on policy. Spicer on Thursday would not say specifically which executive actions the new president will sign on Friday, but he mentioned the 2010 health care law and the fight against the Islamic State terrorist group as issues that are atop Trump’s priority list.
A Credential to Nowhere
Reporters who trekked to the Government Printing Office basement for a second time to pick up their Presidential Inaugural Committee credentials for Trump’s big day were greeted — or something to that nature — with a surprise.
That credential, one of many for which journalists had to apply to cover various Inauguration Day events, is not good for any of the evening’s balls. Why? Because Trump officials decided to go with the presidential protective pool, and bar the rest of the press from those galas. Running pool cameras will be rolling before and after Trump appears. Those PIC credentials, though, should make for nice mementos.
From One President to the Next, Some Final Advice
Since Trump’s surprising election victory in the wee hours of Nov. 9, President Barack Obama and his top aides have dropped subtle and not-so-subtle tidbits of advice for their successors. That continued during the Obama administration’s final hours.
Obama told reporters Wednesday that Trump needs to set up processes that ensure he’s hearing from multiple voices, including those on which he doesn’t agree on specific policy matters.
“If you find yourself isolated because the process breaks down or if you’re only hearing from people who agree with you on everything, or if you haven’t created a process that is fact-checking and probing and asking hard questions about policies or promises that you’ve made, that’s when you start making mistakes,” the outgoing president said.