Three days after his stunning victory, President-elect Donald Trump has announced major changes at the helm of the transition team that will help build out his administration and early agenda.
Notably, Vice President-elect Mike Pence will assume the role of chairman of the team, replacing Gov. Chris Christie. And in what appears to be the first step toward making good on a key campaign promise surrounding illegal immigration, Trump’s team reorganization elevates the influence of Sen. Jeff Sessions.
As The Wall Street Journal reports:
President-elect Donald Trump shuffled his transition team three days after his surprising victory, increasing the influence of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, one of Washington’s most vocal critics of illegal immigration, while diluting the role of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie .
Mr. Christie was removed as transition chairman on Friday, a position that will now be filled by Vice President-elect Mike Pence, the transition team confirmed. Mr. Christie will remain on the transition team’s executive committee as a vice chairman, along with Ben Carson, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Mr. Sessions.
The most drastic change on staff was the elevation of Rick Dearborn, the staff chief of Mr. Sessions’s Washington office, into the role of transition director. The move sidelined Rich Bagger, a top ally of Mr. Christie’s who held that role for the last several months. Mr. Bagger couldn’t be reached for comment.
The changes come a week after two of Mr. Christie’s allies were convicted of public-corruption related to the closing of lanes at the George Washington Bridge. A New Jersey jury on Nov. 4 convicted Bridget Kelly, a former aide to the Republican governor, and Bill Baroni, a former executive at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, for their roles in what prosecutors said was a plot to create traffic jams to punish a Democratic mayor who wouldn’t endorse Mr. Christie for re-election.
Top transition staff and advisers were told about Mr. Dearborn’s promotion early Friday. The move comes as the Trump campaign turns its attention to the transition into office with just 71 days until the Jan. 20 inauguration.
In that time, Mr. Trump must fill or identify candidates for 15 cabinet positions, about 1,000 top posts that must be confirmed by the Senate, and prepare for his inauguration ceremonies.
“The mission of our team will be clear: put together the most highly qualified group of successful leaders who will be able to implement our change agenda in Washington,” Mr. Trump said. “Together, we will begin the urgent task of rebuilding this nation—specifically jobs, security and opportunity.”
Mr. Dearborn’s staff includes Kellyanne Conway, the campaign manager who is now senior adviser to the transition; David Bossie as deputy executive director; Stephen Miller as national policy director; Jason Miller as communications director; Hope Hicks as national press secretary; Dan Scavino as director of social media; Don McGahn will serve as general counsel; and Katie Walsh as a senior adviser.
Mr. Pence’s transition staff includes of his three senior advisers. Nick Ayers, Josh Pitcock and Marc Short are assigned to work alongside him in this process.
Mr. Trump’s transition team executive committee also now includes his son-in-law, Jared Kushner; his adult children; Stephen Bannon, the chief executive officer of the presidential campaign; Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus; Steven Mnuchin, the campaign’s finance chairman; U.S. Reps. Lou Barletta, Chris Collins, Devin Nunes, Tom Marino and Marsha Blackburn; Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi; and Republican donors Robert Mercer, Anthony Scaramucci and Peter Thiel.
Don’t know about y’all, but certainly sounds like some solid choices to help President-elect Trump build out the best team possible to take America forward — and, yes, make it great again.
[This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]