A flurry of big decisions out of the Obama administration just weeks before President-elect Donald Trump takes office has rekindled Republican concerns about President Obama’s plans for jamming through so-called “midnight regulations” and other leftover items from his wish-list on his way out the door.
In the last week alone, the Obama administration blocked future oil and gas leases in swaths of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans; granted a record number of pardons and commutations for a single day; and scrapped a dormant registry for male immigrants from a list of largely Muslim countries.
Defense officials told Fox News there is an effort underway to transfer up to 22 additional detainees out of Guantanamo Bay. And Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations stunned Israel on Friday by abstaining on a Security Council measure condemning settlement activity, allowing it to pass. And Obama still has a month left in office. The most recent announcements were made while the first family was on vacation in Hawaii – leaving unclear what Obama has in store for when he gets back to Washington.
Hanging over any final actions is the likelihood that Trump, once in office, will roll back many of them. “The things he’s done this week will be turned around,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said of Obama. “He’s in this desperate frenzy.” The White House has expressed reluctance to take some of these steps.
White House spokesman Eric Schultz said “there is a process at the Department of Justice to review pardon applications” and “the president has said he is not going to do anything to circumvent that process.” As for Carter’s appeal, Schultz said, “I don’t think [Carter’s] views are new today, so I don’t have any new positions or views from us on that.” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest also said recently that any executive actions the president takes at this stage likely were in the works before the November election.