President-elect Donald Trump began laying the groundwork on Friday to take office on Jan. 20, 2017, gathering the most loyal advisers from his insurgent campaign and three of his children to plot his transition strategy.
Aides huddled in the real-estate mogul’s Trump Tower in New York City to begin prioritizing policy changes and considering Cabinet picks and other candidates for the 4,000 positions he will need to fill shortly after he takes the reins of the White House.
A member of the Trump transition team told Reuters there were more than 100 people now involved in developing “white papers” on what regulations to roll back after Jan. 20. Some environmental measures and a rule requiring retirement advisers to act in their clients’ interests could be among the first on the chopping block, an industry lobbying source said.
James Woolsey, a former CIA director who has advised Trump on foreign policy, said several of Trump’s campaign promises were “advocacy of a general direction” that may require compromise — including his signature pledge to build a wall on the border with Mexico.
Woolsey told CNN that border security could be achieved with a combination of fence and wall. “I don’t think we ought to fall on our sword about the difference between a wall and fence. Maybe this will be cheaper because it’s mainly fence, but it’s a good fence. I wouldn’t have any problem with that myself,” he said.
Trump, a billionaire real estate magnate, also moved on Friday to extricate himself from his sprawling business empire, which will be overseen by his three grown children on the transition team.
His company said it was vetting new business structures for the transfer of control to the three and the arrangement would not violate conflict-of-interest laws. But government ethics experts said the move would fall short of blind trust standards and was unlikely to prevent potential conflicts of interest.
Trump’s campaign spent relatively little time on transition planning during the campaign, and even his Republican supporters had been bracing for a loss to Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in Tuesday’s election.
“I was on Romney’s transition team, and it was a well-oiled machine months before the election. Now there’s a scramble,” said one Republican source, referring to the party’s 2012 presidential nominee, Mitt Romney.
Since Tuesday, dozens of possible cabinet appointees have been floated, from grassroots conservative heroes like Sarah Palin to seasoned Washington hands like David Malpass.
During his campaign, many establishment Republicans condemned Trump’s racially inflammatory rhetoric as well as his attacks on trade deals and the NATO alliance, which could take many traditional names out of the running.
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