The Trump administration on Thursday asked all of its political appointees to submit resignation letters by Inauguration Day, taking a step initially expected months ago that will clear the way for President-elect Joe Biden to start filling the government with his own staff as soon as he enters the White House.
In a memo addressed to presidential appointees and shared with POLITICO, White House deputy chief of staff Chris Liddell asked staffers to submit a letter of resignation no later than noon on Jan. 20.
“As we prepare for a transition of power, we must take appropriate measures to ensure this is done in an orderly manner,” wrote Liddell, who has been coordinating transition efforts for the White House. The memo, which was sent to Cabinet and executive agency heads who were asked to share it with presidential appointees in their organizations, included draft resignation templates for staffers to fill out and send.
The missive marks a step forward as the Trump administration prepares to exit the White House later this month. But it comes after several weeks of delays during which current career and political staffers, as well as Biden transition officials, repeatedly raised the issue with the Trump administration, one person familiar with the discussions said.
In prior administrations, White House chiefs of staff have asked for political appointees to begin preparing their resignation letters as early as October. Though it’s not a step required by law, it is standard practice.
Some White House staff had wanted to send the memo requesting resignation letters in December but had been blocked from doing so, a second person familiar with the effort said.
The delay marks another divergence from past presidential transitions, and it represented a roadblock for current political appointees looking to plan their path forward after Trump leaves office later this month.
A failure to ask for resignations would also have forced Biden and his Cabinet secretaries to fire appointees on their first days in office before they could bring in new employees.
“In classic Trump style,” one of the people said, “it’s a total disservice to the people that have served him.”