Trump prepares to face Dorian surrounded by acting officials


Trump has chosen Jeffrey Byard, former Alabama manager, to head the federal emergency agency earlier this year after former Chief Brock Long was ousted from the aftermath of the war. A controversy over his personal use of government vehicles and clashes with former Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen. But three months after the start of the hurricane season, Byard has yet to be confirmed by the Senate.

Instead, Pete Gaynor continued to occupy the position of interim administrator of FEMA in an administration increasingly populated with titles. Gaynor joined the agency in late October 2018 after being confirmed by the Senate as an Assistant Administrator. Dorian is his first hurricane at the agency.

Trump pointed out that he liked the secretaries of cabinet and other advisers with the word "acting" in front of their titles because it gave him more "flexibility", but experts warned that this could be harmful in the long run because permanent employees give stability to the administrations.

Since the reactions of a commander-in-chief following a natural disaster have made it possible to judge entire presidencies, a potentially disastrous hurricane requires further investigation. Trump is still struggling with criticism regarding his treatment of Hurricane Maria, who devastated Puerto Rico in 2017.

Trump warned that the storm "would look like an absolute monster". Oddly, he also said that he was going to touch "the dead center" – but we do not know exactly what he was talking about. He owns several properties in Florida, including his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, directly on the projected path of the storm.

The White House released Friday photos of Trump informed by a team of advisers.

Trump chose Byard as a permanent director in February, but it was not until several months before the White House officially sent his appointment to the Senate. Since then, Byard's candidacy has languished on Capitol Hill for reasons that remain unclear. It was approved by the Homeland Security Committee in June, but is still waiting for a vote in the Senate.

The White House declined to comment on the status of FEMA's appointment.

Gaynor's resume includes more than a decade in emergency management, mostly in Rhode Island, where he headed the state's emergency management agency in the context of blizzards and tropical storms, according to his biography.

At a recent hearing, Gaynor told lawmakers that full-time agency staffing is complete, but noted that temporary employees – who help in the event of a disaster – are outnumbered by more than 2,000 people.

"FEMA has struggled to make sure we have enough rescuers in reserve," Gaynor said, adding that FEMA had "trained a thousand reservists to be ready for the hurricane season" at the last spring.

This hearing took place 11 days after the start of the hurricane season.

The secretary of the Department of Homeland Security is another leader who usually helps the president to overcome a hurricane. In the Trump administration, it is also an acting position.

Trump chose Kevin McAleenan to lead the department after Nielsen resigned in April. McAleenan – who was ready to resign at some point this summer under Trump's threat of expelling "millions" of undocumented immigrants – went to El Salvador this week but returned to Washington Friday to assist the president while he watches the hurricane.

McAleenan plans to be at FEMA this weekend, according to a DHS official.

"DHS is using all of its resources to prepare for Hurricane Dorian – an approach that will be implemented locally, managed by the state and supported by the federal government," McAleenan said in a statement on Friday. "If you're on the way, now is the time to get ready – find out your evacuation and shelter plan, discuss your plan with family and friends, gather necessary supplies – including medicines, and include a plan for your pets. "

The internal security advisor, who plays a major role in informing the president and overseeing national disaster recovery efforts, also plays a less important role. Rear-Admiral Peter Brown, who holds this position, is not in an acting position, but in a very limited position, CNN officials said.

He was once occupied by Tom Bossert, a former lawyer who served as Deputy Counselor for Homeland Security under the administration of George W. Bush. As Trump's advisor on homeland security, Bossert interacted and reported directly to the president. He regularly briefed reporters and made several appearances on television as hurricanes approached the United States. But Bossert was driven out of the seat of newly installed national security advisor, John Bolton, last April – one of Bolton's first decisions.

He then downgraded the position not once, but twice – a detail that had not yet been publicly disclosed.

A homeland security adviser, he has already weighed heavily, but he now ranks behind the deputy national security adviser. Brown – the current adviser – is Bolton's, not Trump's.

On Friday, Trump approved an emergency statement for the state of Florida.

While the east coast of Florida was preparing for the arrival of Dorian on Friday, state governor Ron DeSantis presented on television a televised presentation on the state's preparations to sides of national and local authorities. The new governor – who beat Andrew Gillum in the race last fall – has also not been tested; Dorian will be the first major storm that he will face as a state leader.

DeSantis assured the Floridians that he was prepared and in touch with Trump.

"I spoke to the president on Wednesday night," said DeSantis. "The administration was great, and they assured that they would provide all the resources we needed.The president had to leave the country and canceled this trip because I think the administration recognizes that it's a really serious problem – an event. "

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct the location of President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago complex.

Rene Marsh, CNN's Geneva Sands and Greg Wallace contributed to this report.

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