Transition Roundup: Reassurances on Inauguration Security Measures; Another Cabinet Resignation
Here’s today’s list of news updates and stories you may have missed.
President Trump released a video on Thursday night in which he condemned the violence at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday and then said after his campaign pursued all legal avenues, a “new administration” will begin on January 20. “My focus now turns to a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power,” he said, only 13 days before Inauguration Day. Here are some of the other recent headlines you might have missed.
President-elect Biden announced more Cabinet picks Thursday. He will nominate Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo to be Commerce secretary; Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to be Labor secretary; Isabel Guzman, director of California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate, to be head of the Small Business Administration; and Don Graves, long-time adviser to Biden on the economy, to be deputy secretary of Commerce. Additionally, the transition team named more Office of the Vice President staff and National Security Council members on Friday.
The Secret Service released a statement on Friday outlining security measures for Inauguration Day. “As the lead agency for all National Special Security Event security operations, the U.S. Secret Service is responsible for designing and implementing an appropriate operational security plan, which is carried out in concert with partners charged with specific areas of management and response leading up to and throughout the event,” it reads. “For well over a year, the U.S. Secret Service, along with our NSSE partners, has been working tirelessly to anticipate and prepare for all possible contingencies at every level to ensure a safe and secure Inauguration Day.”
The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies also released a statement on Thursday, affirming its commitment to safety. “[Wednesday] was a sad and solemn day for our country. The outrageous attack on the Capitol, however, will not stop us from affirming to Americans—and the world—that our democracy endures,” said Sens. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., committee chairman and ranking member, respectively. “Our committee’s bipartisan, bicameral membership remains committed to working with our many partners to execute ceremonies that are safe and showcase our determined democracy.”
Biden inaugural committee members tweeted they are “confident in our security partners and JCCIC, who have spent months planning for this historic event, and are working with them to ensure the utmost safety and security.”
General Services Administration leadership asked for resignation letters from their political appointees by Friday, which they requested on Wednesday night “to demonstrate GSA's commitment to a peaceful transition of power,” an agency spokesperson said in a statement to Government Executive on Thursday. “Administrator Murphy shared this news with all GSA employees at an agency-wide virtual town hall today and stated that she was appalled and deeply saddened by the violence that occurred [Wednesday] at the nation’s Capitol. GSA senior leadership will do everything possible to ensure GSA peacefully transitions to the Biden administration.”
The nonprofit Partnership for Public Service’s Center for Presidential Transition said on Friday, “Wednesday's events in Washington were so shocking, horrific and troubling that for a moment, living through the pandemic did not seem like the most important issue facing our country.” It also urged the Senate to move “quickly” on taking up Biden’s nominees as its “role is even more important during this time of multiple crises - it is imperative.”
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was the second Cabinet official to resign on Thursday after the riots. “We should be highlighting and celebrating your administration’s many accomplishments on behalf of the American people,” she wrote in a letter to Trump, obtained by The Wall Street Journal. “Instead we are left to clean up the mess caused by violent protesters overrunning the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to undermine the people’s business. That behavior was unconscionable for our country. There is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me.”
Pence is opposed to the Cabinet secretaries using the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to remove Trump from office, Business Insider reported on Thursday. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are at least two of the Cabinet officials who discussed involving the amendment, according to CNBC.
Mark Vandroff, senior director for defense policy at the National Security Council, resigned on Thursday, but did not give a reason in his resignation letter, Defense News reported on Thursday. He was one of many administration officials to depart after the riots on Wednesday.
On Thursday, top House Democrats asked FBI Director Christophe Wray for a briefing about how the FBI is investigating the violent protests at the Capitol and what it plans to do to prevent similar incidents in the future. “Given the incendiary environment caused and exacerbated by President Trump’s rhetoric, along with the upcoming inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden, it is imperative that the FBI leverage all available assets and resources,” they wrote.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, urged the FBI and Transportation Security Administration to put the “violent perpetrators” on the no-fly list. “It does not take much imagination to envision how they might act out on their way out of D.C. if allowed to fly unfettered,” he said. “This is an action that TSA and the FBI, by law, are able to take but, to my knowledge, have not yet taken.”
Speaking on Thursday, the U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C., would not rule out pursuing charges against Trump for possibly inciting the violence at the Capitol, The New York Times reported. This comes as the president has discussed in several conversations since Election Day pardoning himself, the Times also reported.
Alejandro Mayorkas, Biden’s pick for Homeland Security secretary, made over $3.3 million as a corporate lawyer and adviser over the last two years, Politico reported on Friday. “The most problematic might be Intuit, the tax preparation company behind TurboTax,” said the report. “More than a dozen lawmakers — including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — urged the Federal Trade Commission in 2019 to investigate whether efforts by Intuit and other tax prep companies to conceal their free tax filing options from the public, which were exposed by a ProPublica investigation, constituted ‘unfair and deceptive practices or unfair methods of competition.' ”
Upcoming: Biden will introduce his nominees for his economic and jobs team at approximately 1:30 p.m.
Today’s GovExec Daily podcast episode discusses how to make public service jobs more attractive.
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