Trump asks 50 Obama appointees to continue

Washington, Jan 20 (IANS) US President-elect Donald Trump has asked roughly 50 senior Obama administration officials to remain in their roles in order to “ensure the continuity of government”, his incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said.

Among the Obama holdovers were key national security officials, including Brett McGurk, special envoy to the global coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Hill newspaper reported.

The decision came as Trump is reportedly struggling to fill important posts in his new administration.

Spicer told reporters during a briefing in Washingtonon Thursday that McGurk will remain at the State Department “until a replacement can be named”.

“What we’ve ensured is that, for the time being, we’ve got a team in place that will continue to advise him and make sure that the country remains safe and that our priorities will be carried out,” he said.

Another top Obama administration official staying on was Adam Szubin, who oversees international sanctions at the Treasury Department.

Outgoing President Barack Obama nominated Szubin as undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence in 2015, but he was never confirmed by the GOP-controlled Senate.

Szubin, who has served under Obama and Bush, has been serving in his role in an acting capacity.

A Treasury Department spokesperson said Szubin would “serve as acting secretary of the Treasury until a new secretary is confirmed and in place”.

“At that point, Szubin will leave government service to pursue other endeavours,” the spokesperson said.

Others remaining in government include Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Tom Shannon, National Counterterrorism Center head Nick Rasmussen and Dabney Kern, the director of the White House Military Office.

Chuck Rosenberg, acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Treasury assistant secretary Kody Kinsley will also remain on board.

Prior to joining the DEA, Rosenberg served as chief of staff to FBI Director James Comey.

Trump started slowly in appointing officials to key government posts, including on his national security team.

The President-elect has filled out his entire Cabinet and many senior White House and National Security Council (NSC) roles. But of the 690 administration posts that require Senate confirmation, only 29 have been named.

That includes key staff roles at the NSC and Pentagon, raising concerns about the incoming administration’s ability to handle national emergencies, such as potential terrorist attacks or catastrophic weather events, said the newspaper report.

Spicer blamed Democrats in the Senate, saying they have been slow-walking Cabinet nominees tasked with filling out many of those posts.

“Make no mistake, we are ready to go on day one,” the spokesman said.

–IANS

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