With reports of internal clashes among his team and widespread speculation about who will be a part of his Cabinet, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump said on Twitter late Tuesday that the week-old process of transferring power from President Barack Obama’s administration to his is going fine.
“Very organized process taking place as I decide on Cabinet and many other positions,” Trump wrote. “I am the only one who knows who the finalists are!”
Twenty minutes earlier, the Washington Post published on its website a sharply critical op-ed by former Republican national security official Eliot Cohen who wrote that he would not recommend that conservatives serve under Trump.
Cohen said there is always a level of disorder during the post-election transition that eventually works itself out, but that he believes this is not a normal transition and Trump’s will not be a normal presidential administration.
“Nemesis pursues and punishes all administrations, but this one will get a double dose,” he wrote. “Until it can acquire some measure of humility about what it knows, and a degree of magnanimity to those who have opposed it, it will smash into crises and failures. With the disarray of its transition team, in a way, it already has.”
Pence replaces Christie as team lead
Before the election, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was leading the transition team, a role he took on after months of supporting Trump when his own bid for the Republican Party nomination failed. He was replaced Friday by Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday went on to order the removal of all lobbyists from the transition staff. Trump has promised to “drain the swamp” with a series of governmental reforms that include restricting government officials from becoming lobbyists after they leave office. But those efforts may complicate his ability to fill the many positions that will be vacated when Obama’s term ends in January.
Pence and Trump met Tuesday in New York, but there were no announcements about who will be named to posts such as secretary of state and secretary of defense. On Wednesday, Pence is due in Washington for lunch with Vice President Joe Biden.
Tuesday did bring the exit of Mike Rogers, a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who had been advising top Trump officials on possible national security appointments.
Rogers has ties to Christie, and also authored a 2014 committee report on the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya that left four Americans dead. That report drew the ire of many critics of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Trump’s opponent in the November election, by dismissing many conspiracy theories about the event.
The New York Times cited a transition official saying Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who has been a key adviser throughout the president-elect’s campaign, was influential in pushing out those linked to Christie. In 2004, Kushner’s father was sentenced to two years in prison for tax evasion, making illegal campaign donations and witness intimidation. Christie was the federal prosecutor in that case.
In Washington, Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told VOA other nations did not fear Obama and that Trump would have a different effect on governments.
“The uncertainties people have relative to Mr. Trump, the fact that he does have a very strong personality, could lead to us resolving our differences with China and other places more readily,” Corker said. He added that he expects NATO allies to do more to pull their full weight.
Corker has been a sharp critic of the international nuclear agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program, and expressed hope that under the new administration more will be done to limit Iran’s military development.
“That’s an area where there will be a lot of bipartisanship — pushing back against missile testing, the buying of conventional weapons they are not supposed to be purchasing,” Corker said. “What the next secretary of state will realize is, look, what we want to do is build consensus with our partners, and Iran if we continue to push back as we should be doing, which we are not now doing, Iran will create, just because of their nature, the opportunity for a renegotiation.”
Capitol Hill correspondent Mike Bowman contributed to this story.