After taking some heat from both sides for the makeup of his presidential transition team, Donald Trump defended himself on 60 Minutes. Confronted over the degree of “swampiness” in his own team, Trump shrugged and said it was virtually impossible for him to conduct the transition without the help of D.C. lobbyists.
On Tuesday, however, Trump apparently demanded some changes. His Vice President-elect, Mike Pence, has taken over for Chris Christie, and immediately began pruning the advisory panel. The first to go: Washington lobbyists, most of whom were brought onto the team by the New Jersey governor. Whether the purge was focused on clearing out the old D.C. guard or just Christie loyalists is unclear. It may amount to the same thing, either way.
While the overhaul is music to the ears of Trump voters who want to see the billionaire make good on his promise to “drain the swamp,” critics have begun to question the pace of the transition operation. With the clock ticking rapidly, many veteran political observers have noted that the Trump team is well behind where they need to be at this point in the transition. There’s plenty of time, true, but it isn’t something that can be ignored indefinitely.
On Tuesday, for instance, White House spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine said the Obama administration is still waiting for the transition team to sign the required documents allowing U.S. officials to begin sharing sensitive information with Trump’s people. Organizations like the Pentagon and the CIA have reportedly not yet been in contact with the president-elect or his team.
Trump has denied reports that his transition is in “disarray,” taking a shot Wednesday at the New York Times.
“The failing @nytimes story is so totally wrong on transition. It is going so smoothly,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
As for specific appointments, Trump’s son, Eric Trump, told reporters Wednesday that we could “likely” see several cabinet appointments announced by the end of the day. A few concrete nominations would go a long way towards diffusing stories of chaos.