The transition team for the incoming Donald Trump administration has begun daily briefings for the media on their progress. Their first formal briefing, after a launch last night, took place this morning and will continue each weekday at a regular time for those invited to participate. Sean Spicer and Jason Miller conducted today’s briefing.
For the most part, there isn’t much news for them to report. The transition has begun launching “buckets” (their term) of “landing teams” for three broad areas of executive-branch transition: national security, economy, and domestic policy teams. Earlier reports that the transition had not yet been in contact with the Department of Defense appear to be accurate, but the nat-sec landing team has that as part of its purview. The names of those in that “bucket” of landing teams will be released tomorrow at the transition web site; the names on the other landing teams will get released on Monday and Wednesday.
Trump will be meeting with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe today, which will make thirty-two contacts between Trump and foreign leaders, according to the briefing. The transition team plans to issue a readout of the meeting afterward, but does not want to comment on it ahead of time. The topic prompted questions from ABC and Yahoo about preparation for these foreign contacts. Rumors have swirled that the Trump transition had allowed these calls to take place on open lines, and that no one was briefing the president-elect beforehand. According to Miller and Spicer, “appropriate precautions” have been taken for the security of these calls, and Trump is being prepped by a team of policy and protocol experts before speaking with these leaders.
After the Secret Steak Dinner, the AP wanted to know whether Trump will get a “protective pool” for media access on an upcoming trip to Bedminster, New Jersey. Those arrangements will get announced later today, so it appears that the protective pool will be back in service. Other travel plans for next week will be coming tomorrow.
Otherwise, the only other news was that the transition team will make no commitment to a specific timetable for announcing Cabinet and other key appointments. Their focus is on building the best team possible rather than an arbitrary time table.
Addendum: Bear in mind that this covers what was said at the briefing, and nothing more. Weigh this in light of other reports and developments.
Update: Fox News provides a little context for the rollout of Cabinet nominations:
Since 1968, George HW Bush is the only president-elect to announce cabinet nominations within the first week after Election Day. pic.twitter.com/AYQCkWkFjg
— Fox News Research (@FoxNewsResearch) November 16, 2016
Bush 41 was a sitting Vice President at that time, which made the transition process almost automatic. Bill Clinton hadn’t named anyone until around Christmastime, although Obama did get his Cabinet in order more quickly.