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Trump staff shake-up slows transition to near halt

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Vice President-elect Mike Pence waves as he arrives at Trump Tower today in New York.

WASHINGTON >> President-elect Donald Trump’s transition operation plunged into disarray Tuesday with the abrupt departure of Mike Rogers, who had handled national security matters, the second shake-up in less than a week on a team that has not yet begun to execute the daunting task of taking over the government.

In a statement Tuesday, Rogers, a former congressman from Michigan who led the House Intelligence Committee, said he was “proud of the team that we assembled at Trump for America to produce meaningful policy, personnel and agency action guidance on the complex national security challenges facing our great country.” And he said he was “pleased to hand off our work” to a new transition team led by Vice President-elect Mike Pence.

In another sign of disarray, a transition official said Tuesday that Trump had removed a second senior defense and foreign policy official from his transition team, Matthew Freedman, who runs a Washington consulting firm that advises foreign governments and companies seeking to do business with the U.S. government.

Freedman, who had been in charge of coordinating Trump’s calls to world leaders after his election, is a former business associate of Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, who once worked on the re-election bid of Ferdinand E. Marcos, the Filipino dictator ousted in the 1980s.

Pence took the helm of the transition Friday after Trump unceremoniously removed Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who had been preparing with Obama administration officials for months to put the complex transition process into motion. That effort is now frozen, senior White House officials say, because Pence has yet to sign legally required paperwork to allow his team to begin collaborating with President Barack Obama’s aides on the handover.

An aide to Trump’s transition team who insisted on anonymity to discuss internal matters said that the delay was taking place because the wording of the document was being altered and updated, and that it was likely to be signed later Tuesday.

Still, the slow and uncertain start to what is normally a rapid and meticulously planned transfer of power could have profound implications for Trump’s nascent administration. It challenges the president-elect’s efforts to gain control of the federal bureaucracy and to begin building a staff fully briefed on what he will face in the Oval Office on Day 1.

Even as the president-elect worked to fill pivotal roles in his administration, the disarray caught the attention of some senior Republicans who criticized Trump during his campaign but said after he won that they would not necessarily rule out joining his administration or advising him.

Eliot A. Cohen, a former State Department official, said on Twitter that after having spoken to Trump’s team, he had “changed my recommendation: stay away. They’re angry, arrogant, screaming ‘you LOST!’ Will be ugly.”

Obama has repeatedly said that his priority is to ensure a smooth and professional transition, a process for which his team and aides to Trump, as well Hillary Clinton’s staff members, had been quietly preparing for several months. Christie, who until Friday served as Trump’s transition chief, signed a memorandum of understanding on Election Day to put the process into motion as soon as the outcome was determined.

But in response to a series of questions about whether the Obama administration had begun to brief Trump’s team, White House officials said late Monday that the president-elect’s decision to abruptly replace Christie on Friday with Pence had, for the time being, halted the process.

By law, the document must be signed by the chairman of the transition operation or his designee, and neither Pence nor anyone on his staff has done so.

Among other things, the paperwork serves as a mutual nondisclosure agreement for both sides, ensuring that members of the president-elect’s team do not divulge information about the inner workings of the government that they learn during the transition period, and that the president’s aides do not reveal anything they may discover about the incoming administration’s plans.

Brandi Hoffine, a White House spokeswoman, said Obama’s team was working with Pence to sign the document, a standard agreement whose wording is largely governed by statute.

“We look forward to completing that work so that we can provide the necessary access to personnel and resources to get the president-elect’s team up to speed and deliver on President Obama’s directive for a smooth transition,” Hoffine said.

The turmoil at the highest levels of Trump’s staff upended months of planning and preparation for a process that many describe as drinking from a fire hose even in the most orderly of circumstances — a period of about 70 days between the election and the inauguration on Jan. 20. During that time, the president-elect must assemble a team to take the reins of the vast federal bureaucracy and recruit, vet and hire 4,000 political appointees to help him run it.

Teams throughout the federal government and at the White House that have prepared briefing materials and status reports for the incoming president’s team are on standby, waiting to begin passing the information to their counterparts on Trump’s staff.

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  • I told you! I said 100 times before the election, the Donald cannot run an organization. It’s not ideological, it’s not a liberal or conservative bias thing. We could see all the signs during the campaign with his team. You cannot put a salesman in charge of the company. So why would anyone put a reality show star in charge of the country?

    • Just three examples of recent reality stars that did very well: Ronald Reagan as president, Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor of California and Jesse Ventura famous wrestler and governor of Minnesota all did very well. Let’s give him a chance to get things going. I seriously doubt he would destroy this country like HitLIARy would with insane additional healthcare propositions, more welfare for illegals and more amnesty programs to criminals while we barely have enough to assist the many homeless vets in our state alone!

      • These people were governors. No POTUS has never not served in a elected office before winning the presidency. He is facing overwhelming odds. I have sat on job interview boards for many years and the most important thing that I looked for was experience that was related to the job that the candidate had applied for. My job field was construction related in goverment which is very dangerous because workers are in and around heavy equipment. You don’t want inexperienced people in construction areas because they need to be constantly aware of what is going on around them. That being said the president elect will be serving in the highest office of our land. How he is going to perform will depend a lot on the people who he surrounds himself with and it looks like he’s having major problems doing that.

        • So you haven’t even given President Elect Trump…who WON…a chance.
          What has O accomplished in his 8 years that benefited America?
          What has Corrupt hiLIARy accomplished in her 30 years that benefited America?
          Get my point?

        • I was stressing experience and familiarity with a job that you applied for. To make it more simple for you. In order to be a lifeguard you have to know how to swim. To be an accountant you have to know your mathematics. To be a chauffeur you need a drivers license. To be an effective POTUS you should have basic goverment experience. The Chump and his two top advisors have zero and it is starting to show.

        • Dragon I oversaw operations so I had my own office and coordinated field assignments. I am familiar with both office and field work. Also I was a heavy equipment operator and truck tractor driver before being promoted to supervisor.

    • If you believe every negative nuance you read about Trump, you must also believe that it was impossible for Hillary to lose and therefore you are wrong. Do yourself a favor, go soak your head in a bucket of cold water.

      • Read the article over and over again. The experienced people are leaving his camp and fast. People who were loyal to him through out his campaign and trusted insiders who were preparing for the transition.That is a telltale sign that the train is out of control and in danger of derailing.

      • With all the squawking about “fake” news and getting rid of the Alt-Right you have to ask why the New York Times still thinks it’s fine to crank out totally false information like this. The media needs to be cleaned out…it’a ALL fake news.

  • As reported by the LA Times:
    “Trump’s children and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who guided him throughout the campaign, appear to have retained their influence in an official capacity. Kushner’s presence at the White House on Thursday drew notice from Obama’s staff when he asked, as they toured the West Wing, how many of the individuals there would remain into the next administration.” The answer, of course, is that none of them will; the President’s staff leaves when the President leaves.

    So a key advisor and a leader of the Trump transition team didn’t know that he has to staff the West Wing? Amazing ignorance.

    Kushner, however, was successful in executing the removal of Chris Christie as head of the transition team. There was no way that Kushner was going to tolerate working under the man who prosecuted his father. Kushner senior pleaded guilty in federal court to 18 felonies, including making illegal campaign contributions and evading taxes, and served two years in Federal prison.

  • OMG what a mess. Sarge and company you have no idea of the magnitude of potential disasters that are sure to occur if the Chump and his advisors don’t get their sh-t together and fast. This guy has zero, nada experience working in goverment. At this point even the lowest level goverment clerk knows more than him.

    • That Trump has not been a government worker or career politician is not news to anyone. Hillary pointed that out also. Expecting Trump to act just like all the rest is crazy and you’re just drinking more of your own koolaid.
      Change means change — unless you are Obama in which case “change” meant more of the same same same.

        • As of 11/17, Clinton is ahead by 1,341,642. With more than 4 million votes still left to be counted, Clinton’s margin of victory could soon be much higher. Based on votes from California alone, Clinton’s lead could reach more than 2 million votes. Votes are also still being counted in Michigan, Utah and Washington, according to Tracy Lewis, elections operations manager for the Associated Press.

          Trump has 47.6% of the vote. No majority, no mandate.

    • When the Chump won we all lost including all of you keo. Transitions are supposed to be done as smoothly and quickly as possible. This will be very difficult especially now with the experienced people jumping off the Chump train or some being thrown off. This leaves the train with both a conductor and engineer who have never operated a train before. What scares me is we are all its passengers whether we like it or not.

  • Here we go again, the ultra-liberal AP Jonesing for any tidbit they can spin into an anti-Trump bash to create unrest among the populace and destroy any chance of him succeeding before pre he even starts. Like 100 percent of their other Trump spins, worthless dribble. Much ado about nothing.

  • Everything coming from the NY Times is brull sheet and not worth reading. All one has to do instead is check out youtube for what is really happening with President Trump. The NY Times has disgraced it self in this election and has no credibility at all.

  • So on the day that Trump announces that he and Putin will have a great relationship 1) two top transition aides who are experts in foreign relations and national security quit, 2) one of the resigning national security experts warns other experts to stay away from Trump, 3) John McCain (BTW, he is a hero) blasts Trump’s cozying up to Moscow, 4) Russia, our new friend, bombs 3 hospitals in Syria, 5) Syrian dictator Assad says that he thinks that he and Trump have common interests, 6) the rumor that Giuliani is in line to be Secretary of Defense causes major concern across party lines after Politico reveals a list of foreign countries (not always our allies) that he has earned millions of dollars from, and 7) the Defense Department and the NSA reveal that they haven’t heard from the Trump transition team yet. And Trump thinks that his children should have Top Secret security clearances while his daughter is hawking jewelry as if the White House is an outlet store!

  • Once again the biased media spreads another lie. When are you gonna own up to the fact that Trump won the election and the media needs to stop your meltdown.

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