White House officials are scrambling to finish up long-standing policy changes and implement parts of the latest pandemic relief package and new medical regulations, and follow through with parts of the new defense authorization bill that need to be put in place before Trump’s term ends. Officials from the transition team of President-Elect Joe Biden have been working in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the West Wing to prepare to take over in two weeks. But staff are finding it increasingly difficult to get Trump’s attention as he remains fixated on reversing his election loss and pressuring Vice President Mike Pence to overreach his power during Senate electoral college vote count Wednesday. “He is still consumed with all this kind of stuff, the election, and all that kind of thing,” the official says.
Trump is still signing off on urgent decisions, such as an order over the weekend to turn around the homebound aircraft carrier USS Nimitz and keep it in the Middle East in response to what the Pentagon said were Iranian threats against Trump. On Tuesday, Trump approved a ban on the use of several online payment applications run by Chinese companies over concerns the Chinese government was using the apps to collect valuable economic and national security data on American citizens. But Trump’s public comments and tweets have been focused on overturning the election results, not his final policy goals. “Whenever he speaks publicly it’s about the election,” the official says. “It’s a terrible moment right now.”
The President’s singular focus during his final weeks in office partly comes down to the fact there’s few left to tell him to stop. As Trump finishes out his term, he’s winnowed his circle of advisors down to people who won’t say no to him, says a former White House official. “I don’t know there’s many people being profiles in courage and standing up to him. That’s for damn sure. People are just out of there, they don’t want to have the fight any more,” the former official says.