Kamis, 26 November 2020

Donald Trump has started the transition process. What's left for him to do before Joe Biden's inauguration? - ABC News

After a delay, the presidential transition process has officially begun.

President-elect Joe Biden and vice-president-elect Kamala Harris will have 57 days to prepare to govern a nation of 330 million people.

At the same time, US President Donald Trump has 57 days to carry out the final duties of his term in office.

There aren't official rules that outline what exactly should occupy both their schedules between now and inauguration day.

But we can get a good gist by looking at the final schedule of the last person to leave the Oval Office — Barack Obama.

Here's what might happen.

A meeting between Trump and Biden

President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump.
Donald Trump and Barack Obama met just days after the 2016 US eleciton.(AP: Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Yesterday Biden said that he remained open to meeting the outgoing President.

This meeting normally happens a lot closer to election day.

Just two days after the election was called, Barack Obama hosted Donald Trump in the White House for a meeting.

Likewise, then vice-president-elect Mike Pence and the outgoing vice-president Joe Biden shared a meeting as well.


The Obama-Trump meeting lasted about 90 minutes before the pair fronted the media together.

"I very much look forward to dealing with the president in the future, including counsel. He explained some of the difficulties, some of the high-flying assets, and some of the really great things that have been achieved," Trump said at the time.

At the moment, there is no indication that Trump will invite Biden to the White House for a meeting (even as their aides do just that).

The President has said on Twitter that his legal challenges to the election are still proceeding and he will "never concede to fake ballots". There is no evidence of widespread fraud or fake ballots at the election.

Pardons, executive orders, medals

There are a lot of things a US president can do with the stroke of a pen.

One of them is the power to pardon people who have been convicted of a federal crime (remove the conviction) or to commute their sentence (ending a sentence without removing the conviction).

And compared to his predecessor, who used this power more frequently than any president had in decades, Trump has used it less often than any president in modern history, according to Pew Research.

But that looks like it will change in his final days in office.

Yesterday Trump pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn. US media reports that it could be the first of many before Trump hands over to Biden.


Obama himself shortened the sentences of 330 prison inmates convicted of drug crimes just one day before leaving the White House.

The executive order is another area where the US president has a lot of power without a lot of oversight. And the president can keep signing them right up until the moment they leave office.

Again, Obama signed seven executive orders between January 12-17 in his final days in office.

Those orders can be challenged in the courts, and a new president can revoke or change those orders if they want (something Biden is already planning to do).

And finally, the president can recognise any American he likes with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honour.

Obama did that when he awarded it to Biden in their final week in office.


Some light-hearted stuff

The final weeks of a president's term in office line up with the holiday season in the United States.

That means taking part in the annual pardoning of a turkey for Thanksgiving.

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Donald Trump "pardons" the White House Thanksgiving turkey.

Soon after, it also means flicking the official switch at the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.


The president often takes some phone calls from American children on Christmas Eve.


A farewell address … of sorts

Presidents normally say their farewell to the American people in some form or another. Barack Obama gave his in Chicago in early January of 2017.

But by its very nature, it involves an acknowledgement that you'll be moving out of the Oval Office, which Trump has refused to do so far.

That doesn't mean he won't go out with a flurry of public appearances of his own.

President Donald Trump stands at a podium in front of a big crowd at a US election rally in Pennsylvania.
Donald Trump held a flurry of rallies at the end of the campaign. It's expected he'll return soon.(AP: Alex Brandon)

US media has reported that Trump plans to hold campaign-style rallies not only in the coming weeks, but also well after inauguration day has come and gone.

A pair of hotly contested runoffs in Georgia that will determine who controls the Senate in 2021 and beyond could draw both the President and the president-elect back onto the campaign trail.

Biden's staff said we should "expect" to see the president-elect in the state before election day. We're yet to hear of similar plans from the President.

When is Inauguration Day?

January 21, 2021 AEDT, for anyone wanting to save the date.

We don't have any idea of what Biden's inauguration will look like yet, given that the US is in the grip of its worst-ever wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Donald Trump's participation in the event is not required.

But it is a longstanding tradition that the outgoing president attends the inauguration, as a very public showing of the peaceful transfer of power and a symbolic showing of national unity after a tough election campaign.

Michelle Obama looks stern while standing with Melania Trump, Donald Trump and Barack Obama
The Obamas participated in the inauguration of Donald Trump in 2017.(Reuters: Rob Carr)

Despite White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany claiming the President was "never given an orderly transition of power", he said otherwise in his inaugural address.

Only five US presidents have chosen not to attend the inauguration of the president-elect, the most recent being Richard Nixon in 1974 after his resignation.

This is the last chance Trump will have to appear as President in any official capacity (unless of course, he runs and wins in 2024).

At noon, Joe Biden will take the oath of office and become the 46th president of the United States.

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2020-11-27 05:25:00Z

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