Deputy U.S. State Department spokesperson Mark C. Toner told gathered press on Wednesday that “space” was already set aside to accommodate President-elect Donald J. Trump’s transition team and highlighted the statement of current President Barack Obama that “a peaceful transition of power” was one of the “hallmarks of our democracy.”
Gathered media also heard Toner’s remarks about the outcome of the general election and the Trump transition.
“And I think the world saw that and hopefully was reassured by it in full display last night in President-elect Trump’s remarks, this morning in Secretary Clinton’s very gracious concession speech, and also in President Obama’s remarks, as I said, a short time ago.”
Toner also added two priorities.
“Our focus at the State Department is to work, I think, to ensure two things: one, that we continue to work to make progress on our foreign policy priorities in the time remaining for this administration; and then secondly, that we work as closely and effectively with the incoming administration to ensure a smooth transition with respect to this nation’s national security and its foreign policy priorities.”
When asked by media whether or not there actually had been “any work on transition,” Toner replied it was his understanding there had not been any contact at that point on Wednesday from President-elect Trump’s transition team “with respect to the State Department.”
But Toner added other information, especially the point that “space” had been prepared for the Trump transition team members.
“Of course, there is a space, as you probably noticed, already set aside for them, as it has been for past incoming administrations. But certainly we’re ready with respect to when they do arrive here, and that could come as soon as tomorrow, to greet them and to make them as comfortable and meet their needs as best we can.”
When pressed about which party had the responsibility “to get in touch” with the State Department about the transition, Toner replied, “I think it’s their responsibility.”
And then media had policy-related questions about the Trump transition and the change of leadership.
“The President-elect has, during the campaign, spoke about his ideas for foreign policy, many of which are dramatically opposed to or not in line with this current administration’s. So in the – over the course of the – until January, the end of January, do you expect that the Administration will maintain its strong stance in favor of the Iran deal, for example, in favor of TPP, in favor of climate – the Paris climate agreement?”
Deputy spokesperson Toner replied that up until January the Obama State Department was “… not in any way, shape, or form going to relent from that effort” on the Iran agreement.
“Yeah. Well, they are a priority. The very – of course, the Iran agreement’s already been implemented and being implemented. Of course, we’re not in any way, shape, or form going to relent from that effort.”
Regarding other priorities, Toner answered this.
“… with respect to TPP – the Trans-Pacific Partnership – other agreements out there and also pursuing a political resolution to the conflict in Syria. I mean, there’s any number of priorities, as you noted, that we’re going to remain focused on making as much progress on as we can in the remaining two months.”
When asked about the Obama commitments to Iran in light of “the IAEA report” which came out Wednesday, Toner addressed the points made by media on the discovery that Iran was, for the second time, “in violation of the heavy water stockpile provision of it.”
“So I have to caveat my response by saying we normally don’t discuss the details of these reports before they’re made public by the Board of Governors. But as you note, the report’s already been in the media…”
The Deputy State spokesperson conceded that the IAEA has observed that Iran has “slightly exceeded its 130 metric ton heavy water stockpile limit under the JCPOA by 100 kilograms.” He added this to his press remarks on the matter.
“It’s important to note that Iran made no effort to hide this – hide what it was doing from the IAEA. During the course of its ongoing heavy water production, Iran produced a little more heavy water than permitted but is now taking steps to address the issue by shipping a – the excess quantity out of the country, we expect in the coming days. So the IAEA flagged us.”
Only time will tell about the success of the Trump transition team, but citizens may find comfort that the current Obama Administration members intend to help the changeover run smoothly.
[Featured Image by Evan Vucci/AP Images]