Discord and Firings Put Transition Team for Trump in Disarray
On Tuesday, the transition team for President-elect Donald Trump was in a state of disarray following infighting, firings and revelations that allies of the U.S. were dialing blindly into Trump Tower in an attempt to reach Trump.
Just a week after the upset victory by Trump in the U.S. national election, his team working the basic traditions of the transition of power included not having official briefing material from the State Department in first conversations they have with foreign leaders.
Two people who handled national security on the transition team, former U.S. Rep Mike Rogers from Michigan and lobbyist Matthew Freedman who consults with foreign governments and corporations were both fired.
The two were part of what was described by an official as a purge that Jared Kushner orchestrated. Kushner is the son in law of Trump and one of his close advisers.
The two dismissals followed Friday’s abrupt firing of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who held the transition team’s top job, but was replaced by Trump with Vice President-elect Mike Pence.
Kushner, said one official, was dismissing people systematically like Rogers, who had ties to Christie. Christie, while a federal prosecutor, sent Kushner’s father to prison.
Prominent U.S. allies were scrambling trying to figure out when and how to talk to Trump. Occasionally, they reached him at his luxury office tower without warning, said one Western diplomat.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was the first foreign leader to reach Trump last Wednesday followed by Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
However, that was 24 hours prior to Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May being patched through, which is a striking break from protocol given the close alliance between Britain and the U.S.
Despite Trump’s early conversations being of a haphazard nature with world leaders, his close advisers said the team was not going through any unusual setbacks.
Trump lashed out at his critics with a message on Twitter that said he was the only person who knows who his final Cabinet members are.
Former mayor of New York Rudolph Giuliani said the process was normal. He has emerged as the leading candidate to be named as secretary of state in Trump’s Cabinet.
Giuliani, who spoke to reporters by telephone, said the transition is very hard and glitches always take place due to its complexity.