What Actually Happens during the U.S. Presidential Transition?

November 25, 2020

What Actually Happens during the U.S. Presidential Transition?

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Now that the people have voted, the country has entered the transition phase – the two months after election day and before the new Congress is sworn in (Jan. 3) and presidential inauguration day (Jan. 20).  Four years after a norm-defying Trump transition, the 2020 transition is also shaping up to be unusual: pandemic disease and the economic crisis demand urgent action, while meanwhile control of the U.S. Senate will be decided by two run-off elections, and the incumbent President refuses to concede.

On Monday, November 16, the Mershon Center Security and Governance Research Cluster cosponsored a panel discussion that hosted top national experts and current practitioners on the just-started hand-off of power at the federal level and what to expect with this year's many uncertainties.   

The panel and what they addressed:

  • Prof. Dakota Rudesill, Moritz College of Law, and former member of the  Obama-Biden Transition Team – moderator
  • Prof. Ned Foley, Moritz College of Law, and Director of Election Law at Ohio State – status of the presidential election and key legal process steps ahead
  • Martha Joynt Kumar, Director, White House Transition Project – how presidential transitions work 
  • Megan CassellaPolitico reporter- how current transition is going
  • David Priess, former CIA officer – intelligence briefings for new spymasters
  • Petra Smeltzer, member of the Biden-Harris Transition Team, and former Obama White House Associate Counsel – ethics and avoiding conflicts of interest
  • Bill Dauster, former Counsel to the Senate Majority Leader – the transition in Congress, and resolving election disputes