On Friday, after President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in, the Senate is expected to confirm his picks for defense secretary, retired Gen. James Mattis, and homeland security secretary, retired Gen. John Kelly, plus maybe designated CIA director, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) — but the other nominees will have to wait. Those won't be the only holes in the new Trump administration, however. Trump has named only 30 of his roughly 660 executive office appointees, according to the Partnership for Public Service, putting him far behind recent incoming presidents.
To keep the government running, the Trump transition team said Thursday it will keep on 50 essential national security and State Department officials appointed by Obama until their replacements are in place. Included in the list is Thomas A. Shannon Jr., who will be acting secretary of state.
There are a few big reasons Trump is so far behind in staffing his administration, The New York Times says, including his decision to remove New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) as his transition chief 10 weeks ago and disregarding the detailed plan Christie put in place to fill in top and midlevel positions. The other reason, The Times reports:
Since his election on Nov. 8, Mr. Trump has had little interest in the minutiae of his transition, saying it was "bad karma" to get too involved, according to a person who spoke with him at the time. At one point, he wanted to halt the planning altogether, out of superstition, the person said. [The New York Times]
"In 21 years of covering the State Department and in eight years of serving there, I've seen rocky transitions and experienced what feels like a hostile takeover," Strobe Talbott, president of the Brookings Institute and a former journalist and Bill Clinton administration official, tells The New York Times, "but I've never seen anything like this."