Trump spokesman Sean Spicer talks with reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York.

Trump spokesman Sean Spicer talks with reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Transition Is Ahead of Schedule, Says Trump Spokesman

Evaluation of candidates for deputy and undersecretary positions is ongoing, Spicer said.

Eleven days from Donald Trump’s Inauguration, his transition team is executing a “far more aggressive and comprehensive effort” to prepare nominees for confirmation hearings than did previous transition teams, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters on Monday.

The Trump transition is “on same page or ahead” of the 2009 transition to President Obama and the 2001 transition to then-President George W. Bush, Spicer said, noting that Obama had seven top officials confirmed on Inauguration Day, and five more during his first week in office in 2009.

In the run-up to this week’s nine scheduled confirmation hearings, Trump’s nominees have been through 300 meetings with senators, 30 mock hearings at which they fielded 2,602 potential questions in 70 hours, with the help of 189 volunteers posing as senators, Spicer said. “To prepare them for success, they have been listening, learning and preparing.”

Repeating the Trump slogan that the team is “committed to draining the swamp,” Spicer spoke of a “bipartisan welcome mat placed on the Senate steps.” But he warned Democrats to reject calls from Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., for the Republican leaders to slow down the multiple hearings, in part because of reports that some of the nominees have filed incomplete financial disclosure and conflict of interest documents with the Office of Government Ethics.

Far more numerous than the highly visible Cabinet-level nominations receiving media coverage are the 700 or so vacancies that need filling for deputy, assistant secretary and undersecretary slots, Spicer acknowledged. Discussions on the posts “continue through the various departments,” he said. “We will continue to focus on cabinet ranks, but that doesn’t mean those conversations aren’t taking place.”

The nominees for sub-Cabinet positions, which also require Senate confirmation, will be tracked in a database announced last month by the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service and The Washington Post. As of Jan. 6, it showed 26 nominations and 664 coming vacancies in those Cabinet and sub-Cabinet jobs.

Max Stier, president of the Partnership, said Trump "is racing against the clock to take over a $4 trillion enterprise in less than two weeks. A successful transition is not defined by announcements of intended nominations but should rather be defined by how quickly the new administration gets its full team in place and up to speed.”