Donald Trump names loyalists children to lead White House transition
President-elect Donald Trump put vice-presidential running mate Mike Pence in charge of a White House transition team that also includes three of his grown children as he begins the work of filling top administration jobs.
The announcement came after Mr Trump aides convened at the real-estate mogul’s Trump Tower in New York City to begin weighing candidates for some of the 4,000 jobs he will have to fill shortly after he takes office on January 20, 2017.
Mr Trump relied on a small circle of loyalists and family members during an insurgent presidential bid that frequently took on Republican party insiders. Those people will continue to play a prominent role in the transition, according to the announcement.
Mr Trump said three of his five children — Donald Trump Jr, Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump — and his son-in-law Jared Kushner would help oversee the transition.
The Trump Organisation said in a statement on Friday it was planning to transfer control of the portfolio of businesses to the three children and other executives, but said the arrangement would not violate conflict-of-interest laws.
Mr Pence replaces Chris Christie, Mr Trump’s campaign said, marking a disappointment for the New Jersey Governor who endorsed Mr Trump relatively early in his campaign.
Mr Christie was once viewed as a top candidate for attorney-general, but now former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani is the leading contender for that job, according to two sources familiar with the discussions.
Mr Giuliani said he was happy to advise Mr Trump but declined to say whether he would serve in his administration.
“I can see already how he is going to be a great president, and I’m glad I could play a small role in it,” he said.
Mr Trump also moved to extricate himself from his sprawling business empire, which will be overseen by his three grown children.
His company said it was vetting new business structures for the transfer of control to the three and the arrangement would not violate conflict-of-interest laws.
But government ethics experts said the move would fall short of blind trust standards and was unlikely to prevent potential conflicts of interest.
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Mr Trump’s campaign spent relatively little time on transition planning during the campaign, and even his Republican supporters had been bracing for a loss to Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
“I was on Romney’s transition team, and it was a well-oiled machine months before the election. Now there’s a scramble,” one Republican source said, referring to the party’s 2012 presidential nominee, Mitt Romney.
Since the election win, dozens of possible appointees have been floated, from grassroots conservative heroes like Sarah Palin to seasoned Washington hands like David Malpass.
Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus is a strong candidate for White House chief of staff, according to sources close to the campaign.
Trump campaign chief executive Steve Bannon, a conservative provocateur and former Breitbart chairman, is also being considered for the job.
Mr Trump has a relatively small pool of candidates to work with, as many Republicans condemned his racially inflammatory rhetoric over the course of the campaign and some of his positions, such as his attacks on free trade, run against party orthodoxy.
With a Republican-controlled House and Senate, Mr Trump has the ability to follow through on his campaign promises to cut taxes, tighten immigration, scale back climate change rules and repeal President Barack Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare.
But in interviews with the Wall Street Journal and CBS’ 60 Minutes, he gave a glimpse of how he might compromise, most notably by saying he was open to keeping some provisions of Obamacare.
An Obama administration rule requiring retirement advisers to act in their clients’ interests could also be on the chopping block.
But House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan and other congressional Republicans may balk at his protectionist trade policies and expensive transportation spending plan.
Mr Trump’s most loyal supporters could play a prominent role in his administration. Campaign sources say Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions could serve as defence secretary, former house speaker Newt Gingrich might be named as secretary of state and retired General Michael Flynn could serve as national security adviser.
Those three, along with Mr Giuliani and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, were named as vice chairs of the transition team on Friday.
Mr Obama, who is set to meet with key allies from Europe and Asia next week during his final foreign trip, is giving up on a last-ditch attempt to seek congressional approval for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal before leaving office.