How Trump's Transition Compares With Recent Presidents'

A look at how past presidents handled their transitions and how Trump compares.

November 17, 2016, 4:39 PM

— -- Naming Cabinet appointees and a White House staff in the transition period can be a stressful, messy and even tumultuous process.

Donald Trump has so far named a chief of staff, Reince Priebus, and chief strategist, former Breitbart chief Steve Bannon, but his team has been plagued by disarray and infighting, sources tell ABC News.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie initially headed the transition team but was replaced by Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who was, according to transition aides, looking to remove the lobbyists who were put on the team.

Also, there are conflicts among Pence, Trump’s family and a faction allied with Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, the sources say.

Trump has kept a relatively low profile since Election Day. He sat for an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday, but he has yet to hold a press conference. He has met with President Barack Obama and House Speaker Paul Ryan and has had conversations with many world leaders.

Trump and his aides deny that the transition team is in disarray.

Here’s a look at how past presidents have handled their transition periods:

President Barack Obama

Trump’s transition has most closely tracked with Obama’s. At this point in 2008, Obama had announced his chief of staff and transition team and held his first press conference, in Chicago. He also received his first intelligence briefing as president-elect during his first week, though he received his alone.

He announced Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff on Nov. 6, 2008, two days after Election Day.

A week later, Obama visited the White House to meet with George W. Bush.

Obama did not make his first Cabinet nomination — Tim Geithner for treasury secretary — until Nov. 24. Before that, Obama announced more White House staff appointments.

In a press conference on Dec. 1, 2008, Obama revealed his next big batch of Cabinet positions, including Hillary Clinton as secretary of state and Eric Holder as attorney general.

David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to Obama, defended Trump against criticism that the president-elect isn’t appointing Cabinet picks quickly enough.

Obama had three Cabinet nominees withdraw.

On Jan. 4, 2009, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson withdrew his nomination for secretary of commerce, plagued by a federal pay-to-play investigation into whether a state agency contracted with a company belonging to a prominent Richardson donor. There were no indictments in the case, but the New Mexico U.S. attorney at the time said investigators found “pressure from the governor’s office resulted in the corruption of the procurement process,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

On Feb. 3, 2009, South Dakota former Sen. Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination for secretary of health and human services because he was under scrutiny for his taxes. He admitted to failing to pay taxes on a car and driver and apologized.

New Hampshire Republican former Sen. Judd Gregg withdrew his name for consideration as secretary of commerce on Feb. 12 because of what he called “irresolvable conflicts” with Obama’s economic agenda.

Obama began his term with two vacant Cabinet positions: secretary of commerce and secretary of health and human services.

President George W. Bush

Bush had the least amount of time to pull together an administration, but he filled his cabinet positions rather quickly.

Election Day was Nov. 7, 2000, but Al Gore did not concede the race until Dec. 13, 2000, because of the Florida vote recount. Though the results had not been finalized yet, Bush appointed Andrew Card his chief of staff on Nov. 26, 2000. Vice President–elect Dick Cheney served as the head of Bush’s transition team.

For Bush’s first Cabinet pick, he announced retired Gen. Colin Powell as his secretary of state on Dec. 16, 2000, at a press conference outside a school in Crawford, Texas.

Bush met with Bill Clinton on Dec. 19, 2000.

The New York Times reported that Bush completed his Cabinet appointments by Jan. 3, 2001, filling the posts in 20 days after becoming president-elect. Bush’s last Cabinet appointees were secretary of energy, secretary of labor and secretary of transportation.

President Bill Clinton

Clinton’s transition into power did not go smoothly.

Shortly after capturing the Democratic nomination, he asked his campaign chairman, Mickey Kantor, to head his transition team. Kantor had conflicts with top campaign advisers, who pushed him out after Election Day, John P. Burke wrote in his book “Presidential Transitions: From Politics to Practice.”

“It’s a bloody, ugly mess,” said one staff member, according to The New York Times.

After the election, Clinton appointed two chairmen for his transition team: Vernon Jordan and Warren Christopher. Clinton announced his 48-person transition team on Nov. 12, nine days after the election.

With one month to go until his inauguration, Clinton announced his first Cabinet appointee — Sen. Lloyd Bentsen as secretary of the treasury — on Dec. 10. Thomas “Mack” McLarty was appointed chief of staff two days later.

Clinton had two candidates for attorney general step aside in the Nannygate scandal: Zoe Baird admitted to hiring undocumented immigrants to do housework, and Judge Kimba Wood also employed an undocumented immigrant, as a babysitter, before doing so became illegal, according to The New York Times.

ABC’s Ryan Struyk and Alexander Mallin contributed to this report.

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