Emboldened by the polls, GOP policy wonks finish plans to dismantle Barack Obama’s legacy.
Donald Trump’s presidential transition team has kicked into higher gear as the race for the White House tightens, with a team of conservative Washington policy wonks fleshing out plans to dismantle President Barack Obama’s legacy.
What once seemed like a futile exercise in preparing for a government that might never be is suddenly becoming very real for the 100-plus Republicans on Trump’s transition team. The group — made up of an unlikely hodgepodge of conservative think tank fellows, former Mitt Romney advisers and die-hard Trump supporters — has been working at a frenzied pace to put the finishing touches on a road map for the nominee’s first 100 days.
“You draw your energy from how the campaign is going,” said a source close to both the Trump campaign and transition, who like others quoted in this story requested anonymity to speak freely. “People had been feeling down about the campaign and that tends to sap energy from the transition. But in the last several days … they’ve seen this uptick in optimism and momentum because you know what you are doing could mean something real.”
Several sources said the team has focused heavily on how a President Trump might use executive authority, both as a way to quickly put his stamp on the federal government, as well as to undo hundreds of Obama’s regulations on energy, taxes and health care.
“That’s been a big focus of their effort, so they’re in a position on Day One to repeal things and replace things with the stroke of a pen,” said one person close to the transition.
Those close to the transition said they expect a President Trump to concentrate on immigration and repealing Obamacare as key issues to tackle early. The group has also prepared detailed agency-by-agency guides for a potential Trump administration that include recommendations on personnel, new regulations and executive orders.
Now, they’re waiting for Trump and his top campaign aides to have their say.
“There are certain things that are going to require the president to weigh in on. That just hasn’t happened,” a person on the transition team said.
The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment on this story.
Hillary Clinton’s transition team, though much smaller than Trump’s, has similarly become more active in recent weeks.
A top priority for the Trump transition team has been finding executives in the private sector to fill Cabinet posts, reflecting the billionaire’s preference for seasoned business people rather than government bureaucrats.
As Trump inches up in the polls, the transition team is also getting an influx of interest from Republicans eager to join his administration, said one official close to the transition.
Sources inside the Trump transition, as well as several close to it, said transition staff have insulated themselves from the billionaire’s roller coaster campaign, after a rough patch early last month. Several said they set aside initial alarm over the 2005 video released in early October that featured Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women, as well as the subsequent accusations of sexual assault from a number of women.
The initial shock led some team members to contemplate quitting, but sources said there have been no defections. Several transition staffers said that while they have privately held reservations about their nominee, they felt a duty to help prepare for the possibility that he could be elected.
“We may not like what he said — we may think it was childish or juvenile,” one transition official said. “But then we say, ‘Look, you know, he’s kind of our boss.’ In this town, if you were to bail on every politician who had a scandal, you would not have a long-term relationship with very many people.”
“People have mostly kept their heads down and continued working,” another transition official added.
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