Former Bush WH chief of staff: Top companies concerned about delayed transition

Business Roundtable CEO Joshua Bolten, who served as chief of staff under President George W. Bush, said top U.S. companies are concerned about what impact the delayed transition will have on the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Business Roundtable is made up of CEOs from top U.S. companies, including General Motors, Apple, JPMorgan Chase and Johnson & Johnson. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon serves as the association’s chairman.

“It is time for the transition to proceed, and where our members are concerned about the full transition not having been implemented yet, the biggest concerns are with the national security elements and above all, with addressing the pandemic,” Bolten said.

He added, “The members of the Business Roundtable are looking for the transition to proceed as rapidly and quickly as possible with critical focus on national security and the pandemic.”

Still, Bolten said that roundtable members aren’t worried about the transition ultimately taking place.

“The Trump campaign hasn’t acknowledged the result of the election, which is their right to do, via legal measures, via pursuing litigation, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good thing to do,” he said. “The Biden administration will be inheriting a major crisis that they need to be as prepared as possible to handle on day one.” 

Bolten worked on the 2000 transition as Bush’s incoming deputy chief of staff and on the 2008 transition before President Obama took office.

In 2000, he said there was a “legitimate dispute” over the Florida ballots, which caused the transition to not start until December.

“We managed. It was less than ideal but we managed. But one important difference between then and now … the country did not appear to be in the midst of any crisis,” he said. 

Another Bush chief of staff, Andrew Card, authored an op-ed recently with Clinton chief of staff John Podesta on the risks of a delayed transition.

The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks occurred in Bush’s first year in office and Card said in a recent CBSN interview, “When they reviewed everything that had happened up and to that attack and what contributed to it, they actually cited that the transition should have been allowed to have more time and more information shared with the incoming president so that he could be prepared.” 

In 2008, Bolten said Bush directed him “long before the election” to plan for the “most effective and robust transition in the history of the United States” due to ongoing terrorist concerns. And, at the end of 2008, the country was in a financial crisis.

“Whatever bitterness there is about the election, whatever policy differences there may be, there cannot be legitimate differences about wanting the new president to be in as good a position as possible to manage these crises for the benefit of the whole country,” Bolten said.

Tags 2020 election biden administration Biden transition George W. Bush Joshua Bolten

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