Trump spends final days issuing last-minute 'orders' Biden will have to undo

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Donald Trump continues to ignore the norms of an 'orderly transition.'

Donald Trump has spent his final days in office issuing a series of orders intended to take effect after the swearing-in of President-elect Joe Biden.

While Trump's decrees are unlikely to have any real effect, they are yet another move that gives the lie to his promise of a smooth transition.

After months of denying Biden's victory in the 2020 presidential election and after a deadly attempted coup by his supporters at the U.S. Capitol, Trump issued a statement on Jan. 7 grudgingly accepting that he would have to leave office: "Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th."

But rather than take the steps virtually every one of his predecessors has to help the new administration hit the ground running, Trump has continued to make things more difficult for his successors.

Over the past several days, he has issued a series of executive orders and proclamations for things he wants to see happen after he leaves office.

On Monday, he ordered the building of a "National Garden of American Heroes" to "reflect the awesome splendor of our country's timeless exceptionalism." He instructed that the interior secretary "identify a site suitable for the establishment of the National Garden. The Secretary shall proceed with construction of the National Garden at that site, to the extent consistent with the Secretary’s existing authorities or authority later provided by the Congress."

Trump insisted the garden include dozens of statues of his favorite dead Americans — and a few dead foreigners. While the order does not specify any date for completion, it seems unlikely the project will be done by Wednesday at noon, when Biden takes the oath of office.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic is worse than ever — and likely to get worse still — Trump issued a proclamation on Monday ending some of his restrictions on travel to the United States from overseas. Restrictions on travel from Brazil, Ireland, United Kingdom, and dozens of European Union countries would be lifted, starting next Tuesday, though a Biden spokesperson has already said the new administration has no plans to follow Trump's order.

Several other orders call for specific action on dates that will fall after Biden takes office.

Expanding concealed carry rights

Trump issued an order Monday demanding the attorney general make it easier for current and former law enforcement offers and the families of federal prosecutors to carry concealed weapons. He ordered action within 30 days.

Limiting drones

Trump issued another order Monday that would restrict foreign-made unmanned aircraft systems. He ordered a 60-day review of any government use of such systems that "are manufactured by foreign adversaries or have significant components that are manufactured by foreign adversaries" and a 180-day review of risks posed by such systems.

Making the Postal Service buy American

A Jan. 14 order would direct the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service to prioritize buying American-made materials. He ordered the postmaster general to act within 90 days after the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council finalizes new "Buy American" procurement rules.

Deregulation

Trump issued two executive orders on Monday limiting federal regulation. One takes aim at rule-making by career officials, ordering the review of existing rules and the transfer of rule-making authority to political appointees. The other limits rules that include criminal enforcement provisions, ordering agencies to devise plans to change their procedures within 45 days.

Promoting school vouchers

Trump proclaimed that Jan. 24 through 30 would be "National School Choice Week." He used the proclamation to reiterate his call for public funds to be used for private and religious education. "By embracing my Administration's school choice policy, we will make sure that every American student is able to fulfill their God‑given potential," he said.

Undermining abortion rights

Trump also proclaimed that Jan. 22 would be "National Sanctity of Human Life Day." He reiterated his calls for more restrictions on abortion rights and, just days after rushing multiple federal executions, said that "restoring a culture of respect for the sacredness of life is fundamental to solving our country's most pressing problems."

As soon as he is sworn in, Biden can immediately reverse all of Trump's orders and proclamations. But they are nuisance tasks for the new president as he begins work.

Unlike generations of predecessors, Trump has eschewed the norms of presidential transitions. His administration delayed giving Biden's team authority to begin its transition process; he refused to call, congratulate, acknowledge, or meet with Biden; and he announced he would boycott the inauguration ceremony.

Trump has even made a logistical issue of the handoff of the "nuclear football" satchel, containing the devices needed for the authorization of a nuclear weapons strike by the United States: He plans to leave Washington, D.C., for Florida with a set of them and require a military aide to fly back with them after Biden takes the oath of office. A second set will reportedly remain in the capital for Biden.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.