Trump: No transition turmoil, efforts going ‘so smoothly’
NEW YORK >> Presidentelect Donald Trump and his team on Wednesday vigorously rejected charges of turmoil and infighting roiling efforts to set up his White House, national security and economic teams. A week after his upset victory, Trump said the enormous endeavor was proceeding “so smoothly.”
Trump dished out his rebuttal on Twitter, spending yet another day ensconced in his New York skyscraper, beyond the public eye. Aides and allies vouched for the transition efforts on his behalf, suggesting some commotion was to be expected.
“The beginning of any transition like this has turmoil because it’s just the nature of the process,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said as he left Trump’s transition headquarters in Washington. He said the picture of Trump’s administration would become clearer over the next two or three weeks.
Others close to the transition process described advisers “fighting for power.” Trump has long stoked internal rivalries among his staff — both in his businesses and his campaign — and has created ambiguity in his transition about who has authority to make key decisions.
Eric Trump, one of the president-elect’s sons, raised expectations of imminent progress Wednesday, telling reporters in the morning that appointments were “likely” to come during the day. Then, other Trump aides suggested a slower pace.
“We’re not going to rush to put names forward until we’re absolutely sure,” Trump spokesman Jason Miller said hours later. “We’re going to make sure that they’re people we’re confident will pass confirmation and we think can implement the presidentelect’s vision.”
Trump’s team noted that President Barack Obama waited until a few weeks after the 2008 election to announce many of his Cabinet appointments.
And former Michigan Rep. Pete Hoekstra, who has informally advised members of Trump’s national security team, blamed Trump’s detractors for the reports of drama.
“When you’re doing a transition that is trying to push the kind of change that Mr. Trump wants to be doing, it’s going to be even harder,” said Hoekstra, a former House Intelligence Committee chairman.
The incoming Republican administration also got a boost of support from outgoing Vice President Joe Biden, who met with his successor, Mike Pence, continuing the Obama administration’s show of public support for the transition.
“No administration is ready on Day One,” Biden said following the meeting at the Naval Observatory, which serves as the vice presidential residence. He expressed confidence that by Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration, “everything will be in good hands.”
Trump’s team was essentially starting from scratch, scrapping much of the preliminary transition work New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie conducted during the campaign. After winning the election, Trump demoted Christie and put Pence in charge.
The result has been a series of new additions to the transition team and several departures, mainly among those aligned with Christie. Kevin O’Connor, a former senior Justice Department official, joined that group.
Trump appeared to be weighing an eclectic mix of individuals for top Cabinet posts, including longtime loyalists, former rivals and even a Democrat. A senior transition official said Trump’s team met Wednesday with Eva Moskowitz, a former New York councilwoman and charter school founder who is being considered for education secretary.
Others who passed through the marble lobby of Trump Tower included Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., a potential pick for Health and Human Services, and Ray Washburne, a Dallas businessman and top GOP fundraiser in the mix for Commerce secretary. New England Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft also entered the gilded elevators for meetings.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who arrived Wednesday afternoon, has been angling for secretary of state, though his consulting work for foreign governments has emerged as a potential roadblock. Trump is also said to be seriously considering John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, for the top diplomatic job.