Donald Trump rejects reports of transition turmoil

2016-11-17 16:39
US president-elect Donald Trump pumps his fist after giving his acceptance speech. (John Locher, AP)

US president-elect Donald Trump pumps his fist after giving his acceptance speech. (John Locher, AP)

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New York - US President-elect 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 endeavour 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.

Reports of drama

READ: Trump says only he knows finalists for Cabinet

Eric Trump, one of the president-elect's sons, raised expectations of imminent progress on 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 spokesperson 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 president-elect'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 representative 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 chair.

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 January 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 Governor Chris Christie conducted during the campaign. After winning the election, Trump demoted Christie and put Pence in charge.

Roles

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 long-time loyalists, former rivals and even a Democrat.

Transition officials said Trump met on Wednesday with Eva Moskowitz, a former New York councillor and charter school founder who is being considered for education secretary.

Others who passed through the marble lobby of Trump Tower included Representative Tom Price, (Republican, Georgia), 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 and Trump officials said later that the president-elect also met with Representative Mike Pompeo (Republican- Kansas) and Wall Street financier and economic adviser Steve Feinberg.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who arrived on 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 US ambassador to the United Nations, for the top diplomatic job.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who tangled ferociously with Trump during the Republican primary but ultimately endorsed the businessman, could get a top job such as attorney general.

An official said, however, Cruz is not viewed as a top contender. The official, like others, wasn't authorised to speak publicly on the transition talks and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Others mentioned for Cabinet posts: Representative Tim Huelskamp, a Kansas Republican, said someone close to the transition contacted him about becoming agriculture secretary.

South Carolina Lieutenant Governor Henry McMaster, a former US attorney and state attorney general, said he was asked if he would be interested in being attorney general. McMaster also said he was told South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was being considered for secretary of state.

Read more on:    donald trump  |  us

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