Donald Trump’s transition team, led by Governor Chris Christie, has been quietly working under the radar for months, assembling a list of people to fill key jobs in his administration and cobbling together an agenda for his first months in office, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. High on Trump’s agenda is “cleaning up corruption” (draining the swamp) and “restoring security and constitutional rule of law.”
It should come as no surprise that Christie is one of the top contenders for attorney general, according to campaign sources. So is Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has reportedly indicated that he’s not interested in AG, but he is being considered for head of Homeland Security or secretary of State. According to the WSJ, Giuliani and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich “may form the core of a Trump administration.”
Names discussed for Health and Human Services secretary include Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Ben Carson, one of Mr. Trump’s former primary rivals, one member of the transition team said.
A chief of staff should be named within two weeks, and there will be a rush to have his cabinet nominated and approved within two weeks of inauguration, said Mike Leavitt, a former Utah governor advising the transition team.
According to Leavitt, Trump’s actions will be aimed at cleaning up corruption and “special interest collusion.” Trump’s agenda also includes protecting American workers and “restoring security and constitutional rule of law.”
The plan included a hiring freeze on new federal workers, with exceptions for positions in the military, public safety and public health. He promised to eliminate two regulations for every new rule created. He wants a five-year ban on lobbying for officials who leave the executive and legislative branches of government.
In his first days office, Mr. Trump plans to announce he will reopen the North American Free Trade Agreement, and will withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He plans to order his commerce secretary to identify, and then remedy, all foreign trade “abuses that unfairly impact American workers.” He plans to lift restrictions on tapping energy reserves, approve the Keystone Pipeline, and cancel billions in payments to United Nations climate-change programs.
The New York businessman has vowed to cancel President Barack Obama’s promise to protect from deportation undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children, and start deporting as many as 2 million undocumented immigrants with criminal records.
“It will focus on three to five structural reforms from Day One, including controlling the southern border,” Mr. Gingrich said about the first 100 days of the Trump administration. “It will almost
certainly include very dramatic civil service reform to allow us to fire people who are incompetent or corrupt or breaking the law.”
Trump’s immigration team is made up of staffers with ties to immigration hawk Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), which is a very good sign. Sessions himself is on the short list to lead Trump’s Pentagon as sec. of Defense, according to the Washington Post.
Since March, he has led Trump’s national-security committee, relying on both his experience as an Army officer in the 1970s and his time on the Senate Armed Services Committee more recently.
“Sessions is a guy who is going to be able to have his pick of what he wants to do,” said Joe Kasper, a Trump supporter and chief of staff for Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R.-Calif.), who also endorsed the next president. “Look, it’s a short bench. If you’re looking at early endorsers who also understand the complexities of national defense, there aren’t many, and that’s okay.”
The situation has prompted some officials to question whether some national-security experts who have expressed strong opposition to Trump may soften their view and offer to serve in his administration. Others who have been supportive are seen as likely contenders for a job.
Kasper said Hunter and his father, former congressman Duncan L. Hunter (R.-Calif.), also would consider potential defense spots in a Trump administration. The elder Hunter served as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee during the administration of George W. Bush before stepping aside. The younger Hunter served in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Marine Corps officer and succeeded his father in Congress in 2009.
Other candidates discussed include retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a strong supporter of Trump’s with a background in intelligence, and Stephen J. Hadley, who served as national-security adviser to George W. Bush. Hadley did not endorse Trump, but he refrained from signing a letter in which 90 prominent Republicans with foreign-policy experience rebuked him in March. Federal law states that any nominee for secretary of defense must be out of uniform for at least seven years, eliminating Flynn from contention for that job.
On Neil Cavuto’s show, Fox Business’ Charlie Gasparino broke down the top contenders for appointments in the Trump administration. Hedge-funder Steve Mnuchen has been tapped to be Trump’s finance chairman, according to Gasparino. Reince Priebus, who did an admirable job holding the party together throughout this tumultuous election, is being mentioned as possibly Trump’s chief of staff.