With his inauguration only a day away, President-elect Donald Trump has requested that roughly 50 senior members of outgoing President Barack Obama’s administration remain in their roles, particularly those tasked with counterterrorism.
On Jan. 19, incoming White House spokesman Sean Spicer announced that Trump has asked dozens of Obama staffers to continue to work in his new administration. It is not rare for incoming presidents to keep some of their predecessors’ officials in place after they assume office, The Hill reports.
Spicer told reporters that the Obama officials will be replaced when suitable replacements can be named and that they were asked to stay to “ensure the continuity of government.”
Several notable Obama officials who will keep working the Trump administration are instrumental in foreign policy and counterterrorism, such as Brett McGurk, the special envoy of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work, National Counterterrorism Center Director Nick Rasmussen and White House Military Office Director Dabney Kern.
Also remaining in place is Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Adam Szubin, who had never been officially confirmed by the Republican majority in the Senate.
Spicer concluded that keeping these Obama officials will ensure “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.”
The announcement arrives with the Trump transition team reportedly struggling to fill out his staff. The incoming administration has so far only put forward 29 appointees for the 690 administration roles that will have to face confirmation from the Senate.
On Nov. 10, when Trump met with Obama in the Oval Office, he was reportedly surprised to learn how many positions he would have to appoint. The president-elect had not realized that he was expected to staff the entirety of the White House, according to CNBC.
On Jan. 18, Obama revealed during his final press conference as president that he had advised Trump to focus on appointing qualified people who he could rely on.
“This is a job of such magnitude that you can’t do it by yourself,” Obama said, according to ABC News. “You are enormously reliant on a team ... And so how you put a team together to make sure that they are getting you the best information and they are teeing up the options is probably the most useful constructive advice I’ve been able to give him.”