President Donald Trump promised to slash the size of the federal government during his 2016 campaign. But an Insider review shows that hasn't happened over the last three-and-a-half years. The federal workforce and spending have expanded on his watch. Trump insiders recognize the president fell short. "If the goal was to get rid of the administrative state, that didn't happen," said Mike McKenna, who worked in the White House legislative affairs office until March. Experts say it would be relatively uncomplicated for a Biden administration to engage the alphabet soup of agencies across the federal government to unravel Trump's policies and implement new Democratic priorities. "If there's anybody who knows how government runs, it's Joe Biden and his people," said Chris Lu, the former Obama White House liaison to the federal agencies. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Donald Trump promised on the 2016 campaign trail to cut government "so much, your head will spin." A month after his presidential inauguration, chief White House strategist Steve Bannon doubled down by vowing to pursue the "deconstruction of the administrative state." None of that has happened. The federal government is now bigger than it was when Trump took office. The size of its workforce has increased since 2017. Its budget and deficit have ballooned due in large part to unprecedented spending to combat the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. And when Trump has tried to follow through via his budget proposals to make sharp spending cuts to domestic agencies Congress has repeatedly rejected him. With the 2020 White House race now in full gear, both Trump's enemies and allies alike are taking notice that such a big campaign pledge has been left unfulfilled. "The government's reach into the economy is greater" than it was "at the beginning of his administration, and probably greater than any time since World War II," said John Podesta, the former chairman for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign and one of the top White House aides during both the Obama and Clinton administrations. Those early Trump vows to shrink the size of the federal footprint should have always been taken with a grain of salt, people who have worked for the president now say. Transforming the US system, whether it be taking apart government agencies or "draining the swamp" as the president once promised, isn't the kind of thing that can happen in one or even two White House terms. "If the goal was to get rid of the administrative state, that didn't happen," said Mike McKenna, who worked in the Trump White House legislative affairs office until March. "It's not a huge surprise that here we are three and a half years on and we're asking what's changed and the answer is not much." The reasons for Trump's failures are many, according to the dozen sources across the ideological spectrum Insider interviewed for this story. On Capitol Hill, there are powerful lawmakers who have grown increasingly reluctant to slash budgets like Trump wanted. In Trump's government, many of the people he brought on board lacked the requisite experience to really fulfill one of the president's first-term campaign promises. Trump also hasn't been helped by the steady turnover within his own administration. One other factor has also been problematic for Trump's team: It's pretty darn hard to budge the federal bureaucracy. Trump is "hardly the first president to say we've got to downsize," said Paul Light, a professor of public service at New York University. "Every president dating back to Jimmy Carter has had some significant promise on making government work better." But Light said that "when you look at the inventory of action on government reform, this administration has produced next to nothing." Trump's inability to dismantle the government could be especially welcome news for Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee who on Thursday proposed a major expansion of the federal footprint with a $700 billion economic stimulus spending plan that would be a central tenet of his administration should he win in November. Experts say it would be relatively uncomplicated for a Biden administration to also engage the alphabet soup of agencies across the federal government to unravel Trump's policies and implement its own new Democratic priorities — much in the same way Trump obliterated President Barack Obama's legacy when he took office. Biden's team would also have an advantage coming in given the new president's own resume as Obama's No. 2 for eight years, as well as another 36 years before that serving in the Senate. "If there's anybody who knows how government runs, it's Joe Biden and his people," said Chris Lu, the former Obama White House liaison to the federal agencies.
Federal workforce and spending are up under Trump From June 2017 to June 2019, the full-time federal workforce increased by about 5,200 federal employees to about 1.9 million workers, according to the most recent data compiled by the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit that advocates for effective government. Federal spending and the federal deficit have also increased every year since Trump took office, according to White House budget documents. The Congressional Budget Office, for example, projects the US deficit will hit $3.7 trillion at the end of the current fiscal year, an exponential jump compared to the country's $585 billion deficit from Obama's last full year in office in 2016. That represents a stark contrast with what Trump promised on the campaign trail in 2016 when he said he would eliminate the national debt within eight years. "The amount of structural reform is pretty minimal," said Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Ebell led Trump's EPA transition team in 2016. "The president and his team did not fight for the kinds of budget cuts that are necessary to rein in the bureaucrats," he added. At EPA, for example, Trump said a few days after winning the 2016 election that he would "leave a little bit" of the agency that has long been a favorite target of conservatives who blame it for excessive regulations that hurt businesses. But several years later, EPA's fiscal 2020 budget ended up higher than it had been in any year since fiscal 2010 — the first budget adopted under the Obama administration. The increase comes despite deep cuts proposed every year by the Trump administration when Democrats and Republicans in Congress joined forces to rebuff requests to cut funding for domestic spending programs that are popular in their districts. Some Trump supporters say he has made significant progress on reining in federal regulations, even if the president hasn't downsized the bureaucracy. "I think that they've done extremely well," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform who famously said he wants to reduce government "to the size where I could drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." "They have taken this seriously in a way that neither Bush did," Norquist added. "Reagan did, but he didn't have the House or Senate. Trump has been able to do things Reagan couldn't do, because he had the House and Senate." But many of the Trump regulatory rollbacks have faced trouble in the courts. An analysis by the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University shows the Trump administration has been unsuccessful in about 88% of the lawsuits challenging its deregulatory efforts, meaning a court ruled against the government or the at-issue agency withdrew the action after being sued. "If Trump were to get reelected, then more of these policies might end up possibly sticking," said Richard Revesz, director of the Institute for Policy Integrity, a nonpartisan think tank. "If he's a one-term president, the effort will have failed miserably mostly because of the Trump administration's lack of interest in doing things in an analytically sound way."
Democrats see 'pattern of enormous open disdain' Trump's critics say the president's rhetoric and his successful deregulatory actions will still have profound implications for years to come — regardless of who wins the White House this fall. Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Virginia Democrat who leads a House subcommittee that oversees the federal government, said the Trump team has been "consequential in rolling back regulatory protections and weakening" federal agencies. He referenced Trump's first slate of high-level political appointees, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos — who long worked to shift money away from traditional public schools — and Scott Pruitt, the first Trump EPA administrator who joined the federal government after spending years suing the agency as Oklahoma's Republican attorney general. "There's a pattern here of enormous open disdain and contempt for the very functions of the agencies" they were selected to lead, Connolly said. "That has a toxic and enormously demoralizing impact on the men and women of those respective agencies to carry out their mission." Morale among federal employees dropped in 2018 and again in 2019, according to federal data compiled by the Partnership for Public Service. Some scientists and other agency veterans have left the government under Trump, citing disagreement with the administration's management and policies. "He's driven a bunch of the most experienced scientists and experts out of the agencies who had just had enough and have quit, so there's been something of a brain drain that's resulted," Podesta said. Democrats eyeing a return to the White House in 2021 say the coronavirus pandemic has heightened the desire for strengthening — not slashing — government programs, which they think could hurt the Trump campaign this year. "America is paying an unimaginable price right now for the years Donald Trump spent weakening the federal government's ability to do its job and undermining our capacity to respond to crises like COVID-19," said Biden campaign spokesman Michael Gwin. "As President, Joe Biden will restore respect and dignity to the public servants in the federal government and will make sure they have the resources and support they need to effectively serve the American people." The White House and the Trump campaign did not respond to requests for comment. Bannon, who pushed for the "deconstruction of the administrative state" during a February 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference, declined to comment for this story. The former Trump campaign CEO left the White House after just seven months on the job. Headed into the closing months of the 2020 race, Podesta said he doesn't expect Trump's campaign trail rhetoric surrounding slashing government to be the same this time around. There's a desire for a "functional federal government in the middle of this pandemic," Podesta said. "So the fact that he kind of broke the government, I don't think is a promise he wants to remind people of."Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: How waste is dealt with on the world's largest cruise ship
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Top Pence aides who tested positive for coronavirus are some of the 18 most important Pence-world power players. Find out who's guiding the potential 2024 nominee.
Summary List Placement Vice President Mike Pence has a powerful and loyal circle of advisors and family...Summary List Placement Vice President Mike Pence has a powerful and loyal circle of advisors and family members who behind the scenes have helped him rise to one of the most important jobs in American politics and policy. They're also positioned to help him go even further. What's perhaps most critical to know about Pence is that he's an all-important bridge between Trump's political base and the conservative religious and establishment stalwarts that make up the boundaries of the Republican Party. He keeps a relatively low profile through it all, but he has installed many of his longtime advisors in key administration and political roles, allowing him to shape the policy and personnel that govern the country. Many of Pence's top aides, including Marty Obst and Marc Lotter, play significant roles in Trump's campaign and administration. This list illustrates how much of Trumpworld is secretly Penceworld — and what that will mean come 2024 as Pence enters the Republican nominating contest, no matter who wins this November, as the undisputed front-runner. On October 24, Bloomberg Newsreported that Obst and Pence's chief of staff, Marc Short, had both tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the potentially deadly disease right into the vice president's inner orbit days before the election. Over the weekend, Bloomberg and the New York Times have reported that a handful of other individuals have also tested positive. Pence and his wife have tested negative, the White House said. Kellyanne Conway, a key Pence ally who worked for Trump in the White House, previously tested positive herself. Insider will update the Pence rankings periodically to reflect any important changes.SEE ALSO: Meet the most important 67 Democrats trying to make Donald Trump a one-term president, and elect Joe Biden DON'T MISS: The definitive list of the 50 most important Trump-world power players working to win the president four more years Second lady Karen Pence Pence may surround himself with a tight-knit group of loyalists, but his inner circle consists of just one person: second lady Karen Pence. When Pence served in the House, he had a faux-antique phone installed on his desk, and only his wife and their children had the number. As he ascended to the Indiana governor's mansion and the White House, she has served as a quiet but powerful advisor and gatekeeper for her husband. The deeply religious couple have drawn fascination and criticism from political watchers, and Karen Pence plays a key role in influencing her husband's conservative policy stances. In 2002, Pence told The Hill that he didn't eat alone with a woman who isn't his wife — known generally as the "Billy Graham rule," for the late Christian evangelist. Pence didn't adopt that stance until he moved to Washington in 2001 as a new member of the House of Representatives. He later drew heat for that position from critics who said he was being sexist. Like her predecessor Jill Biden, Karen Pence returned to her teaching job while holding the office of second lady. But the Virginia school where she accepted a part-time art-teaching position requires employees to disavow same-sex marriage, prohibits premarital sex for employees, and effectively bars LGBTQ employees, The Washington Post reported. As Pence seeks a second term as vice president and likely has his eye on the top job four years from now, be sure to keep an eye on the woman at his side. Marty Obst, chief political advisor Obst is the most important political advisor to the vice president outside Karen Pence. He works for the Trump-Pence campaign as a bridge between the two running mates, but he's been with Pence for years. Obst began as a fundraiser before evolving into Pence's chief political advisor and helped get him on the 2016 ticket. He's been helping Pence with the campaign's swing-state strategy. On October 24, Bloomberg News reported that Obst had tested positive for coronavirus, raising questions about the vice president's safety and his decision to continue campaigning in the final days of the race. Marc Short, chief of staff Short is one of the vice president's most trusted aides, back to when he joined Pence's team at the end of 2008. He is viewed among Pence's advisors and friends as a critical connection to the conservative donor class and one of the people who first helped plug in Pence with national conservative leaders more than a decade ago. He became a key aide for Pence in the House, and in 2017 he played on that experience as Trump's top legislative liaison on Capitol Hill, charged with turning the president's agenda into law. In March 2019, Pence named Short his chief of staff. Early in the pandemic, he exerted "significant influence" over the vice president's coronavirus task force that oversees the nation's pandemic response, The Washington Post reported. He reportedly voiced skepticism of the severity of the pandemic, questioned data provided to the president, and pushed for an early reopening of the economy. The US's coronavirus response has been patchwork and contradictory. During it, there have been about 224,000 deaths from COVID-19. On October 24, Bloomberg News reported that Short had tested positive for coronavirus. "While Vice President Pence is considered a close contact with Mr. Short, in consultation with the White House Medical Unit, the vice president will maintain his schedule in accordance with the C.D.C. guidelines for essential personnel," Pence spokesman Devin O'Malley told the Times in a statement. Kellyanne Conway, former senior White House advisor and counselor to the president Conway started polling for Pence more than a decade ago at about the same time that Short joined Pence's team. Since then she has served as a critical bridge between Pence and the social conservatives who helped fuel his rise on the national stage. She has also served as an important connection to the New York donors who help fuel Republican campaigns. She even set up the very first meeting between Trump and Pence in 2011, though the meeting was considered a dud at the time. Conway started the 2016 campaign as an anti-Trump Republican supporting Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's bid, but like many others, she joined Trump after it was clear he would be the party's nominee. She is one of the rare advisors in Trump's orbit who was never forced out of the White House or his political operation — something other Trump advisors attribute to her not trying to take credit for Trump's efforts. She left the White House in August to spend more time with her pseudo-celebrity family, which includes a husband lawyer who is among Trump's most outspoken critics and a teenage daughter who frequently airs criticism of the president on TikTok. On October 2, Conway announced she tested positive for COVID-19 amid a White House outbreak that has infected top advisors and even the president and first lady Melania Trump. Corey Lewandowski, PAC advisor Lewandowski serves as an important bridge between Trump loyalists and Pence's insular operation. Team Pence threw the former Trump 2016 campaign manager a lifeline in 2018, hiring him for their super PAC at a time when Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and others were trying to keep him away from the president. Lewandowski and Trump's children later buried the hatchet, just before the 2020 reelection kicked off in earnest. Lewandowski has deep ties in New Hampshire and flew with Pence there last year when the vice president formally filed paperwork for Trump's reelection bid (the surest sign that Pence wasn't getting dumped from Trump's ticket). Since 2018, he has advised Pence's fundraising entity, Great America Committee PAC. It's unusual for vice presidents to launch their own PACs while in office, but the move could signal Pence's higher ambitions for the future — and Lewandowski's potential role in it. Marc Lotter, former spokesman Lotter almost stumbled into Pence's operation in 2015 as the then-Indiana governor was fighting with a former Democratic schools superintendent for control of the state school system. He got pulled in as the education spokesman for Pence and later stuck with him even as other Republicans largely wrote Pence off in the wake of 2015's "religious-freedom" battle. Lotter used to book Pence for TV hits in the mid-'90s when he was a producer. He followed Pence onto the 2016 campaign trail and then to Washington. He now works as the Trump campaign's director of strategic communications. A longtime player in Indiana politics, Lotter worked for Pence's 2016 gubernatorial campaign, which the candidate suspended when Trump chose him as a running mate. Lotter was a spokesman for Trump's campaign in 2016 but went over to the White House to work as Pence's press secretary in October 2017. He's now back handling communications for the campaign and frequently appears on TV to promote the Republican ticket as Election Day approaches. Josh Pitcock, former chief of staff and longtime aide Pitcock, a native Hoosier, is another top aide from Pence's days on Capitol Hill who followed him to the White House. When Pence was Indiana's governor, Pitcock stayed in Washington and worked as the state's top lobbyist. Pitcock also advised Pence during the presidential transition. He was Pence's chief of staff in the White House for seven months, from January 2017 to July 2017. He left to join the cloud-computing and database company Oracle as its vice president of public affairs. Mark Paoletta, chief counsel for the Office of Management and Budget The longtime Washington lawyer and close vice-presidential confidant is the chief counsel for the Office of Management and Budget, working under another Penceworld stalwart, Russell Vought. Before that role, he spent a year as Pence's first counsel, beginning on the first day of the Trump administration and serving in the role until January 2018. Paoletta is close with both Pences and an influential advisor in their world. Paoletta gained extensive experience dealing with Congress from both sides. He was a counsel for the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee and has also represented witnesses before congressional panels. President George H.W. Bush tapped him to help push through Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' confirmation in 1991, and Paoletta later reprised the role in 2017 when he assisted Pence and Trump with the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch. Nick Ayers, former chief of staff The longtime Republican strategist and party operative first worked for Pence as a consultant on his 2016 gubernatorial campaign, which Pence abandoned to join Trump's ticket. At the time, Ayers had worked for GOP candidates like former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and had close ties to then-RNC Chair Reince Priebus. Ayers played point in negotiations as Trump's campaign vetted Pence and then became a key advisor to the vice-presidential nominee. After the 2016 election, Ayers took a job as senior advisor on the transition team. He had a cameo in the White House as Pence's second chief of staff replacing Pitcock in 2017 and serving until early 2019. Russell and Mary Vought This Penceworld power couple have played key advisory roles to Pence over the years. Russell Vought serves as the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, but he previously worked as the policy director for the House Republican Conference during Pence's time in Congress. He also served as vice president of Heritage Action, the political grassroots arm of the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation. Mary Vought, now a political strategist and executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund, also worked for Pence in Congress. In 2017, she wrote an op-ed defending Pence's policy of not dining alone with women and said she had never faced discrimination because of her gender. Matthew Morgan, Trump campaign general counsel In 2016, Morgan carried the papers to the Indiana secretary of state's office to officially remove Pence from the ballot for governor and place him on the ballot as Trump's running mate (it is illegal to run for two offices at the same time in Indiana). He followed Pence to Washington, where he served as a lawyer in the vice president's office. He now works as the general counsel on the Trump campaign. Retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, national security advisor Pence chose Kellogg as his national security advisor in 2018. The decorated US Army veteran who began his long military career during the Vietnam War had previously advised Trump's campaign and transition. He became the acting national security advisor in January 2017 after Michael Flynn's resignation, and Pence appointed him a year later. Kara Brooks, spokesperson for Karen Pence Brooks served as the press secretary for Pence when he was Indiana's governor before pivoting to become Karen Pence's spokesperson once the couple arrived at the White House. Brooks is considered a close and trusted advisor to Karen Pence, encouraging her to step up her public appearances and tweak her image in what some Pence observers see as a prelude for a 2024 presidential campaign. Gregory Jacobs, legal counsel Jacobs joined Pence's vice-presidential staff in March, just as the pandemic started spreading rapidly in the US and shutting down large sectors of the economy. He also held positions during the George W. Bush administration in both the Department of Labor and the Department of Justice. Jana Toner, chief of staff for the second lady Toner joined Karen Pence's staff in January 2018 from the White House Office of Presidential Personnel. As chief of staff, she helps control access to the second lady and makes her policy priorities a reality. Toner worked for several key agencies during the George W. Bush administration, including the Department of Education and the Department of Energy. John Pence, Trump campaign senior advisor Mike Pence's nephew and the son of Indiana Rep. Greg Pence carved out a niche for himself in Trump's political operation. He has been a top Trump campaign advisor throughout the 2020 battle. In September 2019, John Pence married Conway's cousin Giovanna Coia, also a Trump staffer. Katie Miller, communications director Miller has played a key role during the coronavirus pandemic as Pence leads the administration's coronavirus task force. She's been shaping the vice president's messaging and image during a chaotic time, while the White House has come under scrutiny for its failed approach to containing the virus. In September, Miller tested positive for COVID-19, which raised fears that the virus had infiltrated the White House itself. A few weeks later, it did. A large outbreak struck the White House in early October, infecting top staff including her husband, Stephen Miller.
Summary List Placement Last weekend, President Donald Trump was still beaming from a White House event...Summary List Placement Last weekend, President Donald Trump was still beaming from a White House event where he formally announced Amy Coney Barrett as his latest nominee to the Supreme Court. But by the following day, his week started to take very unexpected turns. On Sunday, the president's financial records were released in a blockbuster report by The New York Times, revealing Trump had only paid $750 in taxes over two years. That same day, his former campaign manager Brad Parscale was hospitalized after a domestic altercation at his home. By Tuesday, the highly anticipated Trump-Biden debate turned into a barely comprehensible shouting match, with moderator Chris Wallace losing control of the debate early on. Late on Thursday, a source revealed to Bloomberg that White House counselor Hope Hicks had been diagnosed with the coronavirus. And then on Friday, Trump announced that he and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus, with Trump later being flown from the White House to Walter Reed Hospital. Here's a timeline of Trump's tumultuous week. Sunday, Sept. 27: The New York Times releases Trump's tax returns For years, Trump has refused to release details surrounding his financial records. On Sunday, The New York Times published a lengthy report on his taxes, which revealed a number of shocking details. According to The Times, Trump didn't pay any income taxes to the federal government for 11 of the 18 years where they examined records. He only paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016, the year he was elected to the presidency, and in 2017, his first year in office, according to The Times report. Trump is also hemorrhaging money. Since 2000, he has lost over $315 million at the golf courses that he owns and promotes; from 2016 through 2018, he also showed losses of $55.5 million at the Trump International Hotel Washington, DC. Late Sunday, Sept. 27: Brad Parscale is admitted to the hospital On Sunday evening, it was reported that Brad Parscale, President Trump's former campaign manager, was taken from his home by police in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and hospitalized earlier that day after his wife said that he was armed and threatening to harm himself. Parscale was taken to the hospital under the Baker Act, which allows for temporary involuntary commitment. Parscale, a prominent part of Trumpworld since the Trump's 2016 campaign, was replaced by Bill Stepien as campaign manager this past July. Tuesday, Sept. 29: A presidential debate goes off the rails The first presidential debate in Cleveland quickly devolved into partisan sniping, with Trump spending the bulk of his time on stage interrupting and attacking Biden, even lobbing an insult at his son, the former vice president's son Hunter. However, Biden did not back down, at one point calling Trump a "clown" while trying to articulate his vision of America to viewers at home despite the two often speaking over one another. "Will you shut up, man...Keep yapping, man," Biden said to Trump. Throughout the debate, moderator Chris Wallace was unsuccessful in getting Trump to adhere to the rules, later saying the debate went "off the tracks." In the end, Trump did not win many converts and Biden was widely seen as mostly staying above the political fray. Thursday, Oct. 1: A top Trump counselor gets the coronavirus On Thursday, White House counselor Hope Hicks tested positive for COVID-19, according to Bloomberg. It was reported that Hicks had traveled with Trump aboard Air Force One to and from the first debate in Cleveland on Tuesday, with the White House finding out about the diagnosis the next day. According to the report, she was also experiencing several symptoms of the disease. Friday, Oct. 2: The President receives a positive COVID-19 diagnosis Early Friday morning, Trump announced that he had contracted the coronavirus, along with First Lady Melania Trump. Later that day, after developing a fever and cough, Trump was transported to Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. "Out of an abundance of caution, and at the recommendation of his physician and medical experts, the President will be working from the presidential offices at Walter Reed for the next few days," the White House said in a statement. That evening, it was revealed that former adviser Kellyanne Conway had tested positive for the coronavirus. She had attended the Barrett nomination event at the White House Rose Garden the week before and was shown without a face mask. Others who came into contact with the president this week would later announce their coronavirus infections, including the former governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, who helped Trump debate prep and several people who attended the Rose Garden event. Saturday, Oct. 3: Concerns and conflicting reports about Trump's health Trump is being treated for the coronavirus with remdesivir. At a Saturday press conference, White House physician Sean Conley wouldn't say if Trump needed supplemental oxygen since his diagnosis. The AP later reported that Trump was given oxygen before he departed the White House on Friday. Trump tweeted from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Saturday, saying "I am feeling well!" while his chief of staff Mark Meadows said he had experienced a "very concerning" period on Friday, according to The Associated Press. "We're still not on a clear path yet to a full recovery," Meadows said, noting that the next 48 hours "will be critical" in the president's battle against coronavirus. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: July 15 is Tax Day — here's what it's like to do your own taxes for the very first time
A Biden victory in 2020 would disrupt the race for a coronavirus vaccine. Insiders reveal the future of Operation Warp Speed minus Trump.
Summary List Placement Think a coronavirus vaccine is right around the corner if Joe Biden wins...Summary List Placement Think a coronavirus vaccine is right around the corner if Joe Biden wins the White House? Think again. The Trump administration is pushing for the fastest vaccine turnaround in history, and it's all happening under the cloud of a crucial election. The White House wants to start shipping out the first round of coronavirus shots just 24 hours after it gets the green light. President Donald Trump is hoping it will all get going before Election Day. If the timeline is as fast as Trump officials want it to be, a vaccine campaign would already be underway should Biden become president in January. So far, the Democratic nominee isn't making any promises to preserve the work Trump officials have started under their fast-track vaccine plan, or even whether he'll stick to the name Operation Warp Speed. Biden would inherit public distrust over Trump's vaccine process viewed by Democrats and outside scientists as highly politicized and rushed in a bid to help the Republican win reelection. Recent polling showed voters were increasingly concerned about the safety of a coronavirus vaccine after Trump repeatedly contradicted his own scientists and his political appointees have tried to interfere in the work of the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Campaign staff, advisers, lawmakers, and other experts Insider interviewed all agreed the road ahead is tricky and disruptions in the vaccine approval or distribution are almost certain. One Democratic operative warned that Biden's team shouldn't rely on Trump's transition officials, who he said could continue to undermine public trust in a vaccine. Should Biden win, the Trump administration would have to start briefing him and his team on the status of the vaccine and other coronavirus operations right after the election, former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt said. Leavitt was Health and Human Services Secretary under President George W. Bush and tapped to help with Mitt Romney's transition ahead of the 2012 election he ultimately lost to President Barack Obama. Acting on any disagreements or desire to halt specific programs would have to wait until Inauguration Day, January 20, when Biden would be sworn in, Leavitt added. "The basic rule is, there's one president at a time," he said. Scientists at the forefront Biden has vowed that, if elected, he'd put scientists at the forefront of public-health messaging and in charge of deciding whether a vaccine is safe and effective. Biden otherwise hasn't elaborated on what he'd do differently than Trump, but his campaign staff said he and running mate Sen. Kamala Harris receive regular coronavirus briefings from medical and security experts that include planning for a vaccine. Still, a transition would add disruption to a vaccine rollout, already expected to be a colossal undertaking regardless of who's president. "Clearly it's going to be a challenge," said Nicole Lurie, a physician and senior lecturer at Harvard Medical School who is on the outside task force advising the Biden campaign on the pandemic. "A really helpful thing is that there are a lot of people advising the candidates who have had a lot of experience and a lot of experience collectively, and so it's not as though they're starting from scratch." But Democratic leaders are worried that Trump's inconsistent messaging and reports of his interference with health agencies will get in the way of defeating the virus. Biden's advisers have already identified hurdles he'd face to get shots to every American, including overhauling messaging and leadership. Biden's team also will need to make sure the information he'd inherit from the Trump administration is complete and reliable, and his team would need to deal with the logistical challenges of shipping the shot and tracking who has taken it. 'I trust scientists. But I don't trust Donald Trump.' Biden, Harris, and a growing number of congressional Democrats have raised concerns that the Trump administration would pressure regulators to approve a vaccine too quickly as a way to boost his chances of winning the election. And Biden allies insist they can't promise to blindly support a coronavirus vaccine given that Trump has contradicted his own top scientific advisers about when it would be available to most people. The Biden campaign said that the Democrat, in contrast to Trump, "understands, respects, and listens" to scientists. "I trust vaccines, I trust scientists, but I don't trust Donald Trump," Biden said last week after a two-hour video meeting with his coronavirus advisers. Republicans in return accused Democrats of igniting anti-vaccine sentiments, and Trump, during a rally on Tuesday, accused Biden of wanting to "delay the vaccine." Ezekiel Emanuel, vice provost of global initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania who is on Biden's coronavirus team, said that no one should trust any vaccine until experts have reviewed testing data. "What we're seeing here is this president bullying the FDA instead of saying 'the process is there, just let it work,'" said Emanuel, a medical doctor who coauthored a Center for American Progress report on vaccine strategy. He's the older brother of Rahm Emanuel, the former Obama White House chief of staff and Biden's close friend. Concerns about vaccinations are spilling over to the public as voters grow more worried about the safety or effectiveness of a coronavirus shot. In May, 42% of adults surveyed said they'd "definitely" get the vaccine if it were available then, according to the Pew Research Center. By September that number had dropped to 21%. Most people will need to be vaccinated for a shot to be effective. To tamp down concerns, nine drugmakers have promised that their vaccines would meet rigorous standards. Coronavirus vaccine makers Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson are openly sharing details about how their tests are going. The FDA also may impose additional safety requirements on drugmakers that would slow the vaccine's development, The Washington Post reported Tuesday. Fauci would stay, Biden says Biden has already pledged that if he wins he'll keep Anthony Fauci, who's often found himself in Trump's crosshairs, in his role as the nation's top infectious-disease experts. Fauci has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for 36 years and advised six presidents on HIV/AIDS and other public-health issues. The Democratic nominee hasn't said whether he'd keep other health officials who have been involved in the Trump administration's pandemic response. During a September 17 CNN town-hall-style meeting, Biden said it was "premature" to decide whether he would keep Robert Redfield in charge of the CDC and Stephen Hahn overseeing the FDA. Both were picked for the jobs by Trump and have faced backlash following reports that their agencies were pressured by political appointees on the coronavirus response. "The rank-and-file people, the scientists are solid and they're serious," Biden said. "But you've seen how the president has tried to push things through and put a lot of pressure on them." Biden and Harris understand that part of their job would be to help restore respect for the CDC and the FDA, said Irwin Redlener, a pediatrician who's a former Biden coronavirus task-force member and founding director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness. "They're going to have to fix that bridge between the scientists and the politicians," he said. "It's doable." But, he added, it will all depend on who gets appointed to fill those positions. The people Biden's campaign has tapped as advisers offer clues into whom he'd pick to lead his COVID-19 and other programs. Vivek Murthy, surgeon general under President Barack Obama, and David Kessler, a former FDA commissioner, are leading Biden's coronavirus briefings. Both could clinch jobs in a new Democratic administration. 'They'll continue to undermine trust' Whenever White House control switches hands, political appointees from one administration have to pass on large amounts of material and data. New officials under Biden will need to be confident in the information handed down from Trump's team, Lurie said. The Trump campaign didn't respond to questions about how it thought a Biden administration would handle Operation Warp Speed. Asked on an August 28 press call about what would happen to the ambitious program under a transition, Paul Mango, HHS deputy chief of staff for policy, said that most people working on it weren't political appointees as he is. "My role is tangential to the core scientist and the logisticians and the public-health professionals who are deeply involved with this," Mango, a former healthcare consultant, said. Leavitt similarly said the career officials working on the vaccine plan and the private-sector partners involved would help mitigate disruptions from one administration to the next. He added that he had no reason to believe Trump officials wouldn't cooperate in a transition. "Anytime that there's a change in power there's a potential disruption, but that's the reason transitions need to be planned and why they need to be done cooperatively," Leavitt said. But Biden allies remain concerned. Leslie Dach, who'd been tapped to lead the HHS transition if Hillary Clinton had won the 2016 presidential election, said "there would be a lot to overcome" during a transition but that he thought the Biden team was prepared to shift leadership smoothly through working with career staff. Dach is the founder and chairman of the healthcare advocacy group Protect Our Care, which works closely with Democrats on their healthcare messaging. "I don't think the Biden transition should plan on any help from the Trump political appointments," he said. "They'll continue to undermine trust." Redlener agreed, saying the handoff problem was "definitely a worry." "I don't know how much that's being articulated or discussed in the Biden campaign, but I would bet anything that is being actively discussed," he said. The Biden campaign declined to comment when asked whether it was concerned about a transition, pointing only to the Democratic nominee's public remarks about his trust in scientists rather than Trump. Both Biden's advisers and Trump administration officials acknowledge that every step of storing and transporting the vaccines will need to be well planned and executed. A couple of the leading shot contenders have to be kept ultracold. Experts also expect people will need two shots, spaced roughly a month apart. All of that will need to be tracked for the nearly 330 million people living in the US. "What I think would characterize the new administration," Lurie, of Harvard Medical School, said, "would be a national plan and national strategy, really consistent messaging, a lot of transparency, both in the process and in information sharing."Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: How waste is dealt with on the world's largest cruise ship