Not January 7, eh? Donald Trump publicly insists that he won the election and will be vindicated, but his White House isn’t waiting around for Congress to formalize the inevitable. Staffers received memos last night ordering them to begin the process of vacating the executive offices starting on January 4, two days before Congress completes the Electoral College vote:
Staffers in the Executive Office of the President were informed Tuesday that they “will start departing” on the week of Jan. 4, according to an email from the White House Management Office.
The memo, which was obtained by POLITICO, also included information pertaining to outgoing employees’ payroll, benefits, sick leave, work records, ethics debriefing and security clearance.
The internal White House communication contradicts the ongoing public effort by President Donald Trump and his top aides to reverse the outcome of the 2020 election.
That’s not the only contradictory sign, either. Yesterday’s tranche of pardons suggested that Trump had gotten past any concerns over political damage or congressional probes into his decisions. For that matter, Trump’s decision to start appointing his advisers and allies to commissions also signals a recognition that the end is nigh, Axios noted:
President Trump on Tuesday included some of his most loyal defenders in more than three dozen appointments to federal board seats, including former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi, former acting director of national intelligence Richard Grenell and former National Security Council staffer Ezra Cohen-Watnick.
Why it matters: The president is still refusing to publicly acknowledge his election loss but such appointments are a typical means for outgoing presidents to extend their legacy. The positions are usually unpaid, have little political power and do not require Senate confirmations.
Hope Hicks, perhaps Trump’s most loyal aide, got an appointment to the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. She could do both at the same time — these are largely ceremonial positions anyway — but it might be awkward for the board to have Hicks join while still working in the White House. The same goes for Stephanie Grisham, who got an appointment to the National Board for Education Sciences.
The fact that all of these decisions emerged at nearly the same time strongly indicates that a corner might have been turned in the Oval Office. Add in the report that Sidney Powell suddenly finds herself persona non grata in the West Wing, and it looks like Trump has grudgingly concluded that he’s not going to win another term in office after all.
This also doesn’t appear to just be a conditional alert, either. The order instructs employees to begin boxing up supplies by next Monday, and to start taking home personal effects more or less immediately. The memo is detailed enough to include warnings about cleaning out the fridges and the microwaves:
A snippet: pic.twitter.com/qA0UZOvEUY
— Weijia Jiang (@weijia) December 23, 2020
Looks like a transition has begun, even if it doesn’t involve Joe Biden quite yet. If Trump thought he’d be sticking around, this trifecta over the last sixteen hours wouldn’t have taken place. His Twitter feed has been pretty quiet other than his blast at the COVID-19 relief bill about 15 hours ago, but that will be a pretty good temperature gauge for just how much Trump’s convinced of his departure.
Update: Or this might be a good gauge too:
Staff just received a new email this morning from the White House management office atop the below email. "Please disregard the below message. Updated information will be shared in the coming days." https://t.co/FNtiCeawVm
— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) December 23, 2020