Nov. 10 - Trump meets with Obama at White House in symbolic start to transition of power
Nov. 10 – Trump meets with Obama at White House in symbolic start to transition of power

At exactly 12 noon on January 20, 2017, President Barack Obama, commander-in-chief of the world’s most powerful nation, will voluntarily relinquish control to a new leader and a new administration in what has been one of the most bizarre, hateful, divisive, vile, incendiary, frustrating years in US presidential election history. And that Obama is handing power over to the man who led the racist movement to discredit the legitimacy of his very person and his presidency, and who will likely rip what’s left of his legacy to shreds once he takes office, is something of a tragedy that maybe only Shakespeare could’ve written.

Donald J. Trump will become the 45th U.S. President in an instant on January 20, 2017; but what many people do not realize is that for months, hundreds of people have been hard at work to make the transition from one president to the next as seamless as possible; a transition in this case that Obama initially promised would be smooth, but has been fraught with various tensions on all sides. Although the show must go on…

The peaceful, orderly transition of executive power from one leader to another is an American practice. When President George Washington first transferred power to his successor, John Adams, in 1796, it was a radical idea, unprecedented in world history. Over the next two centuries, the practice has continued unbroken by the shadow of war, the stain of scandal, or the wake of sudden tragedy, and remains a signature achievement of our constitution.

HISTORY channel has announced an original two-hour special, “Transition of Power: The Presidency”, which will provide an inside look at the presidential hand-over process from election to inauguration and beyond.

Airing Sunday, January 8 at 9pm ET/PT, “Transition of Power: The Presidency” features rare, archival material and footage, interviews with presidential historians and first-hand accounts from high-level executive staff who share insights into the legacy and process of former presidential transitions. Focusing on the period between election and inauguration day, this two-hour special reveals details surrounding key milestones of the modern transition process including security briefings, cabinet selection and the transfer of the nuclear football.

The special reveals the challenges and complications that accompany the vital and celebrated transfer of power through a look at the most notable presidential transitions in U.S. history, including: the aftermath of the 2000 Gore/Bush recount and its impact on the transition mere months before 9/11; recently declassified White House tapes revealing then-candidate Richard Nixon’s interference with the Vietnam peace process; the sudden death of FDR during the crisis of WWII; and rarely seen footage of Jimmy Carter’s eleventh hour efforts to secure the release of American hostages in Iran.

“Transition of Power: The Presidency” is produced for HISTORY by Anvil 1893 Entertainment. Eric Schotz and Ruth Rivin are executive producers for Anvil 1893 Entertainment.