Donald J. Trump arrived in Washington the day before his inauguration as the nation’s 45th president in a swirl of cinematic pageantry but facing serious questions about whether his chaotic transition has left critical parts of the government dangerously short-handed.
Mr. Trump will be sworn in at noon Eastern time on Friday, but his team was still scrambling to fill key administration posts when he got here on Thursday, announcing last-minute plans to retain 50 essential State Department and national security officials currently working in the Obama administration to ensure “continuity of government,” according to Sean Spicer, the incoming White House press secretary.
The furious final staff preparations included designating Thomas A. Shannon Jr., an Obama appointee, as the acting secretary of state, pending the expected confirmation of Rex W. Tillerson.
As of Thursday, only two of Mr. Trump’s 15 cabinet nominees — John F. Kelly, to head the Department of Homeland Security, and his nominee for defense secretary, Gen. James N. Mattis — had been approved by congressional committees and were close to assuming their posts.
In all, Mr. Trump has named only 29 of his 660 executive department appointments, according to the Partnership for Public Service, which has been tracking the process. That is a pace far slower than recent predecessors, falling far short of the schedule originally outlined by Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who was Mr. Trump’s transition director before Mr. Trump ousted him 10 weeks ago.