Tran­si­tion off to a slow start

Key Trump ad­viser out as team re­mains mum ahead of hand­off

Baltimore Sun - - TRUMP TRANSITION - By Noah Bier­man and Lisa Mas­caro

WASH­ING­TON — The shoot-from-the hip style that helped Don­ald Trump win the pres­i­dency is now play­ing out in his tran­si­tion to gov­ern­ing.

An in­su­lar group of loy­al­ists and fam­ily mem­bers are at the helm giv­ing the public lit­tle in­for­ma­tion. A top es­tab­lish­ment fig­ure abruptly de­parted the tran­si­tion team. And of­fi­cials from across the fed­eral gov­ern­ment say they have heard noth­ing from the peo­ple who are sup­posed to take their place two months from now.

By Tues­day, a week af­ter his elec­tion, Trump’s team had yet to dis­cuss even ba­sic el­e­ments of the gov­ern­ment hand­off with key play­ers at the Pen­tagon, the State De­part­ment and other agen­cies, in large part be­cause of a de­lay in sign­ing the pa­per­work dic­tat­ing the nuts and bolts of the process.

“We are stand­ing by ready to as­sist,” said Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pen­tagon spokesman.

“We stand ready,” said State De­part­ment spokes­woman El­iz­a­beth Trudeau.

The Trump cam­paign kept mum through­out the day as con­fi­dants and fam­ily mem­bers streamed in and out of Trump Tower in New York City.

Leaks about in­ter­nal squab­bles and per­son­nel moves, many in­volv­ing cam­paign al­lies com­pet­ing for top posts, were left to fill the in­for­ma­tion void.

“No. No,” Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, a Trump ad­viser, said when asked about ru­mors of in­fight­ing on the team. “It’s all been good.”

But one of Trump’s most re­spected links to the Repub­li­can for­eign pol­icy com­mu­nity, Mike Rogers, an­nounced he was leav­ing the tran­si­tion team. Rogers, a for­mer chair­man of the House in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee, had been a bridge be­tween Trump and skep­tics in his party.

Rogers had been a holdover from the tran­si­tion team as­sem­bled by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was replaced last week by In­di­ana Gov. Mike Pence, the vice pres­i­dent-elect.

A per­son close to Rogers called his de­par­ture part of an ef­fort to dis­tance the team from Christie.

“Any­one close to Chris Christie got dumped,” said the Rogers ally. “All the level-headed peo­ple are step­ping aside.”

An­other po­ten­tial bridge was also cut off when Eliot Cohen, a con­ser­va­tive critic of Trump, por­trayed him­self as walk­ing away from an at­tempt at rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. Cohen, a sup­porter of the war in Iraq who served in for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush’s State De­part­ment, had or­ga­nized a let­ter signed by dozens of for­mer of­fi­cials de­nounc­ing Trump dur­ing the cam­paign.

“Af­ter ex­change (with) Trump tran­si­tion team, changed my rec­om­men­da­tion,” Cohen tweeted. “Stay away. They’re angry, ar­ro­gant, scream­ing ‘you LOST!’ Will be ugly.” Vice Pres­i­dent-elect Mike Pence signed an agree­ment late Tues­day with the White House to get meet­ings go­ing.

Trump had in­sisted dur­ing the cam­paign, con­trary to ev­i­dence, that he had al­ways op­posed the Iraq War.

An­other po­ten­tial player in the ad­min­is­tra­tion, re­tired neu­ro­sur­geon Ben Carson, also took him­self out of the run­ning for an ad­min­is­tra­tion job, ac­cord­ing to Terry Giles, a for­mer fi­nance chair­man dur­ing Carson’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

Christie’s de­par­ture was also re­spon­si­ble for the de­lay in set­ting up meet­ings be­tween Trump’s team and the lead­ers of fed­eral gov­ern­ment agen­cies. Christie had signed an agree­ment with the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion prior to Elec­tion Day that set pa­ram­e­ters for in­ter­ac­tions be­tween White House of­fi­cials and des­ig­nated rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the pres­i­dent-elect’s team.

That agree­ment, which is re­quired by fed­eral law and sets the con­di­tions for ac­cess to doc­u­ments, staff and fa­cil­i­ties of fed­eral agen­cies, no longer ap­plied once Christie was re­moved from his po­si­tion. The White House said it re­ceived a new Mike Rogers, top, a holdover from the tran­si­tion team as­sem­bled by Gov. Chris Christie, left the team Tues­day.




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