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

November 25, 2020

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

transition photo

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