The New York Times warned Tuesday morning that “the pace of announcements from Trump Tower has slowed to a crawl.” But is it anything to be worried about?
According to a Daily Signal of the Heritage Foundation analysis of Cabinet nominations dating back 40 years, so far President-elect Donald Trump is outpacing all of his predecessors except George H.W. Bush.
Trump’s selection of Jeff Sessions as attorney general on Nov. 18 made him the second-fastest president-elect in recent history to pick a Cabinet nominee. He added another on Nov. 23 with Besty DeVos as education secretary.
The speed of Trump’s choices is even more surprising given that Bush was a sitting vice president at the time of his election. He enjoyed the continuity of Republican government, and two of Bush’s three nominations in November 1988 were holdovers from the Reagan administration.
Over the past week, Trump has met with leaders across the political spectrum to discuss roles in his administration. The meetings have drawn much media fanfare and raised questions about Trump’s next announcement.
Last week, in addition to the Sessions and DeVos picks, Trump announced the selection of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn to be his national security adviser and Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., to head the CIA. Those selections, as well as the choice of Reince Priebus and Stephen K. Bannon for White House roles, weren’t included in The Daily Signal’s analysis because they are not Cabinet-level positions.
Using historical information from the U.S. Senate (1976-2000 and 2008), The Daily Signal found that President Jimmy Carter made a total of 11 Cabinet announcements during his transition, starting in week five. The executive branch has grown to 15 Cabinet secretaries today.
Three presidents—Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush—didn’t make their first Cabinet selections until week six. The younger Bush’s election wasn’t decided until Dec. 12.
For Clinton, six of his Cabinet members were announced on Christmas Eve in 1992, eight weeks after being elected president.
President Barack Obama announced his first nominee, Timothy Geithner, in the fourth week. Geithner’s choice to lead the Treasury Department came as the United States was facing an economic recession.
So while some have said that the Trump transition is unusually “chaotic,” the history of past presidential transitions appears to show otherwise.