“From our perspective, everything is progressing very well and the teams that are assembled are fantastic and ready to be introduced to these agencies,” the official said. “We want to push back on any notion that there is no progress being made here.”
The official attributed the list not reaching the White House yet to the transition team not wanting any lobbyists on the team. Vice President-elect Mike Pence replaced Gov. Chris Christie as head of the transition team Friday, and the team has since purged several national security officials, including ex-congressman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
The lack of contact thus far has bucked traditional protocol and raised concerns in the Defense Department, State Department and National Security Council, all of which are typically collaborating with an incoming administration for an orderly transition within days.
“We are fully prepared and ready and willing to receive them when they are ready,” said State Department spokesman John Kirby. “And, even before that, if they require briefing materials or context for any discussions that they may be having, internally or externally, we’re certainly ready to assist in any way we can.”
Gordon Trowbridge, a Pentagon spokesman, said early Wednesday evening that the Defense Department is “ready and willing to help.” Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said Tuesday while traveling in California that he is committed to performing an orderly transition “with the excellence with which our department does everything else.”
The transition-team official declined to comment on how quickly Trump may name nominees for senior Cabinet positions.
One Republican official speaking regularly to Trump’s staff said that Trump, Pence and retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, a senior adviser, were to meet Wednesday in Trump Tower in New York to discuss national security issues. The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear that he would lose access to information, acknowledged that the transition team has not followed a traditional playbook but said that some senior Cabinet nominees could be announced as soon as Friday.
“Once they do that, things will get rolling from there,” the official said.
Naming nominees this week would put the Trump transition team ahead of Barack Obama eight years ago in one regard. He announced his national security team Dec. 1, 2008, with Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, Robert Gates as secretary of defense, Eric Holder as attorney general and retired Marine Gen. James Jones as national security adviser. But the lack of contact and coordination between Trump’s camp and the administration means the transition team will have to catch up in other regards.
The transition team announced Wednesday that Trump and Pence have taken phone calls from world leaders from more than 20 countries, including China, Russia, Australia, Japan and Britain. Traditionally, a president-elect names a few senior officials who can speak to world leaders before the inauguration. In Obama’s case, he chose former secretary of state Madeleine Albright and former congressman Jim Leach (R-Iowa), said one official who was involved in the process.
Carol Morello and Ann Gearan contributed to this report.