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As Trump readies to take office, reports of transition delays

President-elect Donald Trump arrived in Washington a day before he will take the oath of office. But there were reports that the national security transition had been slow because of delays by the Trump Team. Meanwhile, incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer criticized Senate Democrats for slowing Cabinet confirmations. John Yang reports.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The tumultuous campaign and stunning election victory have all been prelude to tomorrow for Donald Trump. He made ready today for his formal inauguration as president.

    John Yang has our report.

  • JOHN YANG:

    President-elect Trump arrived at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington almost exactly 24 hours before he takes the oath of office. Vice president-elect Mike Pence was already in Washington, talking up the transition.

  • VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

    I'm pleased to have a chance to report, to the American people and to all of you, the progress that we have made at the president-elect's direction preparing a team that will be ready to serve the American people and making America great again on day one.

  • JOHN YANG:

    But a series of reports, including in The New York Times and Politico, quoted Obama national security officials saying that the Trump team's delay in filling some jobs had slowed the transition.

    Today, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer key Obama officials would stay until successors were picked.

  • SEAN SPICER, Incoming White House Press Secretary:

    We have appointed 50 people to maintain critical positions to maintain their office. We have looked through the entire government and found areas where there is a critical need to maintain someone.

  • JOHN YANG:

    They include Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, and Brett McGurk, the envoy to the International Coalition Combating ISIS. At the same time, Spicer slammed Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for slowing the confirmation of Mr. Trump's Cabinet.

  • SEAN SPICER:

    Why are they delaying Elaine Chao? Why are they not moving on Dr. Ben Carson? Why are they not moving on Governor Nikki Haley?

  • JOHN YANG:

    Schumer said the delays were over ethics concerns.

  • SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, Minority Leader:

    If there were ever a group of Cabinet nominees that cry out for rigorous scrutiny, it's this one. Every day, there's another report of a major ethical lapse among the nominees for the Cabinet, the swamp Cabinet.

  • JOHN YANG:

    Spicer said it's all politics.

  • SEAN SPICER:

    These people have had their paperwork in. Their quality and caliber and integrity is unquestionable. And I think to see some of these attacks and the focus not be on issues like schools and teachers and homeland security is a problem.

  • JOHN YANG:

    This morning, Mr. Trump made his final Cabinet pick, naming former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue as his choice to be agriculture secretary. Perdue was the state's first Republican governor since Reconstruction and started businesses that deal in fertilizers and grain trading.

    With the Perdue pick, Mr. Trump had rounded out a proposed Cabinet slate that, for the first time in nearly 30 years, includes no Hispanic nominees. Spokesman Spicer insisted today that, in time, there will be diversity, when the Trump administration is considered in its totality.

  • SEAN SPICER:

    He continues to put together an amazingly diverse Cabinet. And I think, so if you're looking specifically at Hispanics, I think, as we move forward, we have got 5,000 jobs to fill. There is going to be a tremendous number of Hispanic-Americans that fill those posts.

  • JOHN YANG:

    Later, at a luncheon at his Trump Hotel in Washington, he indicated that Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets NFL team, would be nominated as ambassador to Great Britain.

    This afternoon, Mr. Trump took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown, a tradition for incoming presidents on the eve of taking office. He ended his day making an entrance at a sunset concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I'm John Yang.

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