Trump Replaces Christie with Pence as Head of Transition Team
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was abruptly replaced on Friday by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, the vice president-elect, to lead President-elect Donald Trump’s transition to the White House.
The job is always crucial, but especially so for the first modern president elected without experience in either government or the military. In addition to recruiting thousands of people to staff the White House, Cabinet agencies, embassies and other key government posts, the transition team needs to make sure Trump is briefed and prepared to take responsibility for taking over the government and getting his policy initiatives in place as soon as he is inaugurated.
The effort is almost always well underway before a new president is elected, given the complexity and critical nature of the job.
Christie has been tarred by the recent convictions of two former top aides for creating a traffic jam leading to the George Washington Bridge to punish a mayor who would not endorse him.
Pence has proven a loyal second to Trump, backing him when other establishment Republicans were critical and finding ways to explain some of his more controversial statements in public. A former member of the House, Pence also has close ties to House Speaker Paul Ryan and other top Republicans on Capitol Hill.
The move was one of several announced on Friday by Trump’s transition office.
In a news release, Trump said Pence and the “outstanding group of advisors” will build on the initial work done by Christie.
“The mission of our team will be clear: Put together the most highly qualified group of successful leaders who will be able to implement our change agenda in Washington,” Trump said. Together, we will begin the urgent task of rebuilding this nation — specifically jobs, security and opportunity.”
Christie was made a vice chair of the team, along with several of Trump’s most visible campaign advisors: Dr. Ben Carson, the second of Trump’s former primary rivals to endorse him after Christie; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn; former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sen. Jeff Sessions.
Sessions, who may be the most hard-line member of the Senate when it comes to immigration, has long been among Trump’s most influential advisors. Stephen Miller, a former top aide to Sessions, has been Trump’s top policy advisor and will take a similar role in the transition team. Rick Dearborn, Sessions’ chief of staff, was named Friday as the executive director for the transition team.