Trump\’s Failed Presidential Transition in 2017


 The Fifth Risk is a brilliant expose on the overlooked importance of federal government agencies and the Trump administration\’s willful ignorance of them. Lewis picks two agencies, the Department of Commerce and the Department of Energy, and shows how critical their functioning is to our lives through the anecdotes of their leaders and others who have worked for them.I appreciate Lewis\’ approach because it does not concentrate on Trump\’s personality and idiosyncrasies. Over 95% of the writing is about what the government agencies and Trump and his administration quietly lurk in the background as antagonists undermining these important agencies\’ leadership and budgets.Lewis begins the book with an anecdote that acts as the first fallen domino in Trump\’s chaotic start to his presidency.The anecdote begins in April of 2016 with Chris Christie calling Trump\’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, asking to lead Trump\’s transition team, the people tasked with assigning leadership roles in the cabinet, ensuring a smooth entry into office, and planning the initial political strategy.Christie and his team planned the transition for months and vetted several strong candidates for the cabinet positions. But the day after Trump was elected, right when all of Christie\’s planning would be utilized, Steve Bannon, the CEO of Trump\’s campaign, fired him and threw away all of the work he and his team did.\"\"I read Christie\’s book, Let Me Finish, to corroborate Lewis\’ story and of course, they are not wholly compatible. While it\’s not that important, Lewis left out Christie\’s big involvement with Trump\’s campaign before April and Christie writes that Lewandowski called him to ask him to lead the transition team. Christie also specifically calls out Steve Bannon for giving false stories to Michael Lewis and other writers. But, Lewis and Christie definitely share the opinion that firing Christie was a mistake with enormous consequences. Christie writes,\”The abandoned transition process that I had headed was an extraordinary effort performed by more than 140 exceptional folks. It would have served the president, the vice-president, and the country so much better than the slipshod work of Rick Dearborn, Steve Bannon, and the others who parachuted into this process after Election Day…The president-elect had the plan he needed. The plan was ready to go into effect. Self-interested folks around him decided to throw it into the trash.  We are all still paying the price. \”Lewis and Christie write about poor leadership appointments and proposed budget cuts for government agencies but I wonder what the actual consequences of these appointments and if the proposed budget cuts dramatically affected the agencies\’ work in the last four years.

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