Transition Roundup: A Violent Start to the Transfer of Power
Here’s today’s list of news updates and stories you may have missed.
After pro-Trump violent protests broke out at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Congress reconvened at night and certified that Joe Biden is the winner of the presidential election. Dan Scavino, White House deputy chief of staff for communications and social media director, released the following statement on behalf of President Trump:
“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th. I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again!”
Here are some of the other recent headlines you might have missed.
Stephanie Grisham, chief-of-staff for the first lady; Anna Cristina “Rickie” Niceta, White House social secretary; Matt Pottinger, deputy national security adviser; Mick Mulvaney, special U.S. envoy to Northern Ireland who was previously Trump’s chief-of-staff; and Sarah Matthews, deputy White House press secretary, resigned after the riots, Politico, CNBC and Al Jazeera reported. There are less than two weeks left of the Trump administration.
National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, Deputy Chief of Staff Chris Liddell and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao are also considering resigning, according to Politico and NBC News.
In a statement on Thursday, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said what happened was “tragic and sickening” and he will not resign. “While I have consistently condemned political violence on both sides of the aisle, specifically violence directed at law enforcement, we now see some supporters of the president using violence as a means to achieve political ends. This is unacceptable,” he said. “DHS takes the safety and security of all Americans very seriously—it’s at the core of our mission to defend our homeland...I will remain in my position until the end of the administration to ensure the department’s focus remains on the serious threats facing our country and an orderly transition to President-elect Biden’s DHS team.”
CBS’s Margaret Brennan said on Wednesday night that members of Trump’s Cabinet are discussing using the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to remove Trump from office. Nothing has been formally presented to Vice President Mike Pence yet, she said.
Nineteen House Democrats sent a letter to Pence on Wednesday night urging him to invoke the 25th amendment. “Even before the election, President Trump refused to commit to the peaceful transition of power,” they wrote. “We have seen the fruit of the President’s remarks in the violence and chaos unleashed today.”
At least 80 Democratic lawmakers have either called for using the 25th amendment or impeachment, according to NBC News.
The FBI is seeking help in identifying those who incited violence at the Capitol. There is a form on its website for information, photos, social media posts or anything else.
Tony Reardon, national president of the National Treasury Employees Union, released a statement on Wednesday night condemning the violence. “Our union stands with everyone at the Capitol—faithful public servants who have chosen to serve their country. They are our brothers and sisters in government service and they were threatened for simply being at work and trying to do their jobs,” he said. “Today was a dark day for our country but I remain hopeful because of each of you: NTEU members who will continue to drive our democracy.”
The Professional Services Council, a trade association that represents over 400 companies that contract with the federal government, also published a statement. “At PSC, we believe in productive political discourse and in a bipartisan approach to governing,” said PSC President and CEO David Berteau. “We reject any resort to violence, threatened or real. We believe it is time for all Americans to support the transition to the next administration, starting now.”
Amid the chaos at the Capitol on Wednesday, the news broke that the Democrats have officially taken back the Senate as Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock won the runoff elections in Georgia. Biden will have fewer roadblocks in pursuing his legislative agenda, revoking last minute regulations and confirming nominees with the Democratic party controlling both chambers of Congress.
Biden announced his Justice Department nominees on Thursday morning. He nominated Judge Merrick Garland, who is currently serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, to be Attorney General; Lisa Monaco, veteran prosecutor and former top Obama administration official to be deputy attorney general; Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, to be associate attorney general; and Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, to be assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division.
Biden plans to phase out Moncef Slaoui, the co-leader of “Operation Warp Speed” for coronavirus vaccine development, Politico reported on Wednesday. “Slaoui will take on a reduced role as a consultant for four to six weeks before departing, according to a Biden transition official,” said the report. “Gen. Gustave Perna, Operation Warp Speed’s chief operating officer, will continue to control the logistics of vaccine distribution...Slaoui previously told Politico he planned to step down by early this year, but Biden's team asked for his help.”
Upcoming: Biden will introduce his Justice Department nominees at 1:30 p.m.
Today’s GovExec Daily podcast episode looks at Trump’s impact on the federal bureaucracy during his four years in office.
Help us understand the situation better. Are you a federal employee, contractor or military member with information, concerns, etc. about how your agency is handling the transition? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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