Executive actions ready to go as Trump prepares to take office

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By Ayesha Rascoe and Julia Edwards Ainsley | WASHINGTON

WASHINGTON Donald Trump is preparing to sign
executive actions on his first day in the White House on Friday
to take the opening steps to crack down on immigration, build a
wall on the U.S.-Mexican border and roll back outgoing President
Barack Obama’s policies.

Trump, a Republican elected on Nov. 8 to succeed Democrat
Obama, arrived in Washington on a military plane with his family
a day before he will be sworn in during a ceremony at the U.S.
Capitol.

Aides said Trump will not wait to wield one of the most
powerful tools of his office, the presidential pen, to sign
several executive actions that can be implemented without the
input of Congress.

“He is committed to not just Day 1, but Day 2, Day 3 of
enacting an agenda of real change, and I think that you’re going
to see that in the days and weeks to come,” Trump spokesman Sean
Spicer said on Thursday, telling reporters to expect activity on
Friday, during the weekend and early next week.

Trump on Saturday plans to visit the headquarters of the CIA
in Langley, Virginia. He has harshly criticized the agency and
its outgoing chief, first questioning the CIA’s conclusion that
Russia was involved in cyber hacking during the U.S. election
campaign before later accepting the verdict. Trump also likened
U.S. intelligence agencies to Nazi Germany.

Trump’s advisers vetted more than 200 potential executive
orders for him to consider signing on healthcare, climate policy, immigration, energy and numerous other issues, but it
was not clear how many orders he will initially approve,
according to a member of the Trump transition team who was not
authorized to talk to the press.

Signing off on orders puts Trump, who has presided over a
sprawling business empire but has never before held public
office, in a familiar place similar to the CEO role that made
him famous, and will give him some victories with his supporters
before he has to turn to the lumbering process of getting
Congress to pass bills.

The strategy has been used by other presidents, including
Obama, in their first few weeks in office.

“It sends two messages. The first is that he wants to show
he will take action and not be stifled by Washington gridlock.
The second is that he will move forward on reversing policies
that he believes to be broken and bad,” said Princeton
University presidential historian Julian Zelizer.

Trump also is expected to impose a federal hiring freeze and
take steps to delay implementation of a Labor Department rule
due to take effect in April that would require brokers who give
retirement advice to put their clients’ best interests first.

Obama, ending eight years as president, made frequent use of
his executive powers during his second term in office, when the
Republican-controlled Congress stymied his efforts to overhaul
immigration and environmental laws. Many of those actions are
now ripe targets for Trump to reverse.

BORDER WALL

Trump is expected to sign an executive order in his first
few days to direct the building of a wall on the southern border
with Mexico, and actions to limit the entry of asylum seekers
from Latin America, among several immigration-related steps his
advisers have recommended.

That includes rescinding Obama’s order that allowed more
than 700,000 people brought into the United States illegally as
children to stay in the country on a two-year authorization to
work and attend college, according to several people close to
the presidential transition team.

It is unlikely Trump’s order will result in an immediate
round-up of these immigrants, sources told Reuters. Rather, he
is expected to let the authorizations expire.

The issue could set up a confrontation with Obama, who told
reporters on Wednesday he would weigh in if he felt the new
administration was unfairly targeting these immigrants.

Advisors to Trump expect him to put restrictions on people
entering the United States from certain countries until a system
for “extreme vetting” for Islamic extremists can be set up.

During his presidential campaign, Trump proposed banning
non-American Muslims from entering the United States but his
executive order regarding immigration is expected to be based on
nationality rather than religion.

Another proposed executive order would require all cabinet
departments to disclose and pause current work being done in
connection with Obama’s initiatives to curb carbon emissions to
combat climate change.

Trump also is expected to extend prohibitions on future
lobbying imposed on members of his transition team.

‘THE HIGHEST IQ’

Washington was turned into a virtual fortress ahead of the
inauguration, with police ready to step in to separate
protesters from Trump supporters at any sign of unrest.

As Obama packed up to leave the White House, Trump and his
family arrived in Washington for the pomp of inauguration
weekend. They laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
in Arlington National Cemetery and attended a concert at the
Lincoln Memorial.

Trump earlier spoke to lawmakers and incoming cabinet
nominees at a luncheon in a ballroom at his hotel, down the
street from the White House, announcing during brief remarks
that he would pick Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets of
the National Football League, as U.S. ambassador to Britain.

“We have a lot of smart people. I tell you what, one thing
we’ve learned, we have by far the highest IQ of any cabinet ever
assembled,” Trump said.

Trump has selected all 21 members of his cabinet, along with
six other key positions requiring Senate confirmation. The
Senate is expected on Friday to vote to confirm retired General
James Mattis, Trump’s pick to lead the Pentagon, and retired
General John Kelly, his Homeland Security choice.

Senate Republicans had hoped to confirm as many as seven
cabinet members on Friday, but Democrats balked at the pace.
Trump spokesman Spicer accused Senate Democrats of “stalling
tactics.”

Also in place for Monday: 536 “beachhead team members” at
government agencies, Pence said, a small portion of the
thousands of positions Obama’s appointees will vacate.

Trump has asked 50 Obama staffers in critical posts to stay
on until replacements can be found, including Deputy Defense
Secretary Robert Work and Brett McGurk, envoy to the U.S.-led
coalition fighting Islamic State.

The list includes Adam Szubin, who has long served in an “acting” capacity in the Treasury Department’s top
anti-terrorism job because his nomination has been held up by
congressional Republicans since Obama named him to the job in
April 2015.

The Supreme Court said Chief Justice John Roberts, who will
administer the oath of office on Friday, met with Trump on
Thursday to discuss inauguration arrangements.

(Additional reporting by Steve Holland, David Shepardson, Susan
Heavey, David Alexander, Doina Chiacu, Ayesha Rascoe, Ginger
Gibson, Mike Stone, Emily Stephenson and Lawrence Hurley)



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