Donald Trump’s Glacial Pace Toward a Full Cabinet – The Atlantic

He blames Democratic opposition, which has certainly been stiff. Only a handful of Democrats have supported a majority of his nominees, and several voted against nearly all of them. Democratic leaders have also fought against quick votes, requiring the full 30 hours of debate for most of Trump’s picks and slowing consideration to a relative crawl.

In response, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement on Tuesday, decrying Democratic delay: “We’ve seen unprecedented obstruction from our colleagues across the aisle. … It’s made the confirmation of this president’s nominees the slowest in modern history.”

But Trump’s haphazard transition also deserves a large share of the blame. Most presidents-elect announce their Cabinet picks within a week or two of Election Day, and only after careful vetting; it’s an open secret every election year that they’ve worked on their selections for months. Trump instead sprinkled his announcements over a period of two months, rushing some and delaying others, publicly summoning candidates to Trump Tower for meetings and staging handshakes outside his Bedminster, New Jersey, country club.

This showmanship hid a lack of preparation, as my colleague Russell Berman has reported. A charitable explanation would suggest he was building suspense and enthusiasm for his nominees. The more likely reason is that he was caught flat-footed by his victory and further set back by the controversial demotion of Chris Christie, who for a time was his chief transition aide. After Christie, Trump floundered; many of his nominees hadn’t filed the necessary ethics paperwork right up through Inauguration Day, leading to delays in their confirmation hearings. And earlier this week, The New York Times reported the Trump administration skimped on giving candidates the so-called “sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll” quiz, a battery of personal and financial questions meant to head off embarrassing revelations during public confirmation hearings.

It’s hard to only blame Democrats when the administration’s paperwork wasn’t filed on time. Trump, of course, will blame them anyway. The practical effect of this logjam is that agencies will go leaderless longer than is necessary, or even advisable.

But it signals something else, too. Trump has shown he can move quickly when he can act unilaterally—witness the steady march of executive orders signed in the Oval Office. Getting a Cabinet confirmed by the Senate, however, requires something beyond bold action; it requires cooperation and compromise. Those are things the former businessman hasn’t yet demonstrated he has embraced in the White House, at least publicly.


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