A glimpse of the Oval Office seating chart shows who has President Trump's ear
Obama may weigh in on the Democratic National Committee chairman race
Prime real estate in the Trump White House, hiccups and help in filling important jobs, making sure agencies know who is boss – and a big question for the now former President Barack Obama. It’s all part of the Inside Politics forecast.
1) Location, location, location
President Trump understands a key metric in real estate value – location.
It is true in Manhattan – a corner condo on a high floor is going to cost more than a basement unit near the elevator. And it is certainly true in the White House. Even a tiny spot next to the Oval Office is more coveted than a larger space upstairs in the West Wing.
CNN’s Jeff Zeleny took us through the competition in the new Trump power structure, including presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner’s move into a tiny space that offers the closest proximity to the President.
“Reince Priebus, the chief of staff, I’m told will have the chief of staff’s office, which has a fireplace as we all know, long conference table, access to outside,” revealed Zeleny.
“I’m told that Jared Kushner will be sitting in a smaller office, but the one that is closest to the Oval Office.”
2) A frequent Trump critic comes to his aid in CIA fight
Gen. Michael Hayden has a long track record in public service, including a stint as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and has been a frequent critic of President Trump during his running battle with America’s spy agencies and his campaign season affinity for Vladimir Putin.
But he is a Trump ally in one important fight – the effort to get Kansas Republican Rep Mike Pompeo confirmed as the next CIA chief.
Mary Katharine Ham of The Federalist detailed General Hayden’s cases for swift confirmation.
“(Hayden) said (Pompeo) is going to follow the law and come to Congress if he thinks there should be a change,” says Ham.
“It’s interesting because there’s been so much fire between the CIA and Trump that on the other side, a respected veteran is coming out and saying, “Look, let’s get this moving. the national security operation is important.”
3) Trump team keeping an eye on agencies
The Trump White House did not appreciate it when the National Park Service Twitter account retweeted a New York Times comparison noting that President Obama has a bigger crowd for his 2009 Inaugural than President Trump had for his on Friday.
So word went put for the agency to stand down – and stop tweeting.
Not likely to be a significant moment when we look back in 100 days and assess the administration’s start. But Peter Baker of The New York Times called it an episode worth watching as we see how strong a hand the new White House will try to take over the minute-to-minute actions of far flung government agencies.
“My colleague from the New York Times tweeted out on Friday pictures we’ve all been looking at of the different inaugurations.
It was then retweeted by the National Park Service, which is normally in charge of that patch of ground and they got in trouble for that,” reports Baker.
“The Trump people didn’t like that and the National Park Service went offline. It’s a really interesting period; agencies in the government, which are probably pretty suspicious of this new president, to watch them deal with a new president who is pretty suspicious of them.”
4) Help wanted: Important vacancies remain unfilled
As prospective Trump Cabinet members get their hearings on Capitol Hill, there is a scramble to find key deputies across the sprawling federal bureaucracy.
There are worries in GOP circles that team Trump is running behind in making these choices – and stories across Washington that one issue is getting people to say yes.
Top Trump aides say not to worry, and promise a steady stream of announcements in the days ahead.
But the Treasury Department is one example. Steven Mnuchin is the Wall Street veteran tapped to lead the department. CNN is told he wants a veteran Washington hand as his top deputy, but was unsuccessful in his first foray. GOP sources say the Trump transition team identified Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling as a good fit. But word is Hensarling – who was considered but not chosen for the top Treasury job – said he wasn’t interested.
5) The party needs a leader – will Obama weigh in?
Barack Obama is now a former president and private citizen but promises to step into some political battles if he deems it right or necessary. A big question in Washington is whether his list includes the race to lead the Democratic National Committee.
We know Obama’s favorite in the race is Tom Perez, who was most recently Obama’s labor secretary.
But will the former president work the phones and twist arms to help Perez round up votes?
CNN’s Nia-Malika Henderson explored the dynamics.
“His guy, Tom Perez, the former labor secretary, is running as well as Michael Blake who is running as the vice chair; he is an Obama staffer. [Obama] has said very complimentary things about both,” explains Henderson.
“Michael Blake is actually using some of Obama’s former fundraisers in Chicago to fund his race. it will be interesting to see if he officially endorses and if it matters.”