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FILE PHOTO - Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump poses for a photo after an interview with Reuters in his office in Trump Tower, in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., May 17, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo


By Steve Holland and Jonathan Landay

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has asked 50 government employees with important senior jobs to stay on for the moment in his administration, including Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work and Brett McGurk, the U.S. envoy for countering Islamic State, a spokesman said on Thursday.

Keeping on critical staff from the Obama administration is key to maintaining the continuity of government and ensuring the country is prepared to handle any potential incidents, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer told a news briefing.

"There are limitations to what some of theses individuals can do to in terms of enacting the agenda, but in terms of being ready to go and being able to respond to an incident, we're ready to go at 12:01 (p.m. ET) tomorrow," he said.

Trump, a Republican, takes the reins from Democratic President Barack Obama at noon ET (1700 GMT) on Friday.

The 50 federal workers will remain on a case-by-case basis until the Trump administration finds successors, Spicer said.

Among those remaining are Drug Enforcement Administration Administrator Chuck Rosenberg, National Counterterrorism Center Director Nick Rasmussen, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Tom Shannon and Adam Szubin, acting under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence for the Treasury Department.

Dabney Kern, policy director at the White House Military Office; Susan Coppedge, the ambassador-at-large to monitor and combat trafficking in persons and senior advisor to the secretary of state; and Kody Kinsley, assistant secretary for management at the Treasury Department, are also among those staying on, according to Spicer.

Separately, a U.S. intelligence official speaking on condition of anonymity said the nation’s top intelligence agency, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, will be run temporarily by its number three official, Michael Dempsey, pending Senate confirmation of former Senator Daniel Coats as director of national intelligence.

Dempsey, a career CIA officer, serves as deputy director of national intelligence for intelligence integration, a position that coordinates between intelligence agencies and senior administration officials.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, headed until Friday by James Clapper, oversees the country's 16 intelligence agencies as well as the National Counter-Terrorism Center and other joint bureaus.

As for the top level of government, Trump has picked senior White House aides who do not need Senate confirmation. He has also named his picks for the Cabinet, but Senate confirmation for the roles is still pending.

(Additional reporting by David Alexander, Doina Chiacu and Susan Heavey; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Frances Kerry)

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