Trump shakes up team for tran­si­tion

Pence re­places Christie in lead role

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE -

Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump shook up his tran­si­tion team Fri­day as he plunged into the work of set­ting up his ad­min­is­tra­tion, el­e­vat­ing Vice Pres­i­dent-elect Mike Pence to head the op­er­a­tions.

The move, one of the first key de­ci­sions by Trump as he piv­ots from cam­paign­ing to gov­ern­ing, amounted to a de­mo­tion for New Jer­sey Gov. Chris Christie, who had been run­ning the plan­ning for months.

Pence would be the first vice pres­i­dent-elect in at least 40 years to take on the hefty tran­si­tion job, and it’s a sign of Trump’s con­fi­dence in him. Dur­ing the cam­paign, Trump sug­gested his vice pres­i­dent would run “do­mes­tic and for­eign pol­icy.”

On the heels of Trump’s vic­tory over Hil­lary Clin­ton this week, his team has be­gun to em­bark upon build­ing a gov­ern­ment, an enor­mous

un­der­tak­ing that prob­a­bly will re­quire Trump to al­ter his hands-on man­age­ment style and con­sider go­ing out­side his in­su­lar group of loy­al­ists. He has been scram­bling to iden­tify peo­ple for top White House jobs and Cabi­net posts, a her­culean task that must be well in hand by the time Trump is in­au­gu­rated on Jan. 20.

In a state­ment Fri­day, Trump said Pence would “build on the ini­tial work” Christie started.

“To­gether, we will be­gin the ur­gent task of re­build­ing this na­tion — specif­i­cally jobs, se­cu­rity and op­por­tu­nity,” Trump said.

Christie was a loyal ad­viser to Trump for much of the cam­paign. He of­fered a key early en­dorse­ment and came close to be­ing the busi­ness­man’s pick for run­ning mate. But Trump ul­ti­mately went with In­di­ana Gov. Pence, a for­mer con­gress­man with Wash­ing­ton ex­pe­ri­ence and deep ties to con­ser­va­tives.

Christie has been em­broiled in the po­lit­i­cal re­venge scan­dal in­volv­ing Septem­ber 2013 lane clo­sures on the New Jer­sey side of the Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Bridge, and two of his for­mer aides were con­victed ear­lier this month in a crim­i­nal case re­lated to the mat­ter. Christie has not been charged with a crime.

Christie still will be in­volved in the Trump tran­si­tion, join­ing a clus­ter of other stead­fast Trump sup­port­ers serv­ing as vice chairs: for­mer House Speaker Newt Gin­grich, re­tired neu­ro­sur­geon Ben Car­son, re­tired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, for­mer New York City Mayor Rudy Gi­u­liani and U.S Sen. Jeff Ses­sions, R-Ala.

In ad­di­tion, three of Trump’s adult chil­dren — Don­ald. Jr., Eric and Ivanka — are on the tran­si­tion ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee, along with Jared Kush­ner, Ivanka’s hus­band. Kush­ner played a sig­nif­i­cant role in Trump’s cam­paign and was spot­ted at the White House on Thurs­day, meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s chief of staff, De­nis McDonough.

The chil­dren’s in­clu­sion raises ques­tions about the role the Trump fam­ily will play in the White House — as well as Trump’s abil­ity to sep­a­rate the ad­min­is­tra­tion from his sprawl­ing fam­ily business. The celebrity busi­ness­man re­peat­edly said dur­ing the cam­paign that his grown chil­dren would not fol­low him to Wash­ing­ton and would in­stead run the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

While Trump has long led a large business, the scope of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment ex­ceeds any of his pre­vi­ous en­deav­ors. Those around him say he’ll likely have to make ad­just­ments in his leadership style, in­clud­ing more del­e­gat­ing.

Trump has chafed at that a bit, sig­nal­ing will­ing­ness to re­lin­quish some, but not all, per­sonal con­trol.

For Trump, who ran on a pledge to “drain the swamp” of Wash­ing­ton in­sid­ers, the team is strik­ingly heavy on those with long po­lit­i­cal re­sumes.

And an­other ap­par­ent con­tra­dic­tion emerged Fri­day as Trump, who re­peat­edly vowed to re­peal the Af­ford­able Care Act “on Day One” of his ad­min­is­tra­tion, said he would be amenable to keep­ing por­tions of Obama’s sig­na­ture leg­isla­tive achieve­ment.

Trump told The Wall Street Jour­nal in an in­ter­view pub­lished Fri­day that af­ter speak­ing with Obama at the White House the day be­fore, he was con­sid­er­ing keep­ing the pro­hi­bi­tion against deny­ing coverage be­cause of a pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tion as well as a clause that al­lows chil­dren to stay on their par­ents’ in­sur­ance poli­cies un­til age 26.

He also said he wants “a coun­try that loves each other” but said he did not re­gret his in­cen­di­ary rhetoric dur­ing the cam­paign.

“No. I won,” Trump told the news­pa­per.


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