NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — President-elect Donald Trump rejected claims of chaos and infighting straining his transition, declaring that he is running a “very organized process.”
Trump has kept a low-profile since his stunning upset victory a week ago, letting advisers and allies to set the tone. He has wielded his Twitter account as his main tool for disputing talk of his transition as unwieldly and unprepared.
“It is going so smoothly,” Trump wrote Wednesday.
The president-elect tweeted Tuesday night that a “very organized process” was taking place, adding “I am the only one who knows who the finalists are!”
His son Eric Trump said new appointments were likely to be announced Wednesday.
Despite Trump’s assurances, people close to the transition process described advisers “fighting for power” as the Republican plunges into the enormous task of setting up his administration.
Eliot Cohen, former state department official under George W. Bush, blasted Trump’s team on Twitter, calling them “angry, arrogant.”
Cohen opposed Trump during the campaign, but in recent days, he said those who feel duty-bound to work in a Trump administration should do so. He said Tuesday that after an exchange with Trump’s team, he had “changed my recommendation” and urged others to “stay away.”
Trump Tuesday met with the head of his transition team, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, but another day passed without a Cabinet announcement.
Pence has now ordered that any registered lobbyists be removed from the team, stalling the transfer of power, CBS2’s Janelle Burrell reported.
Former Rep. Mike Rogers, a respected Republican voice on national security issues, quit the transition effort. And an apparent clerical oversight effectively halted the Trump team’s ability to coordinate with President Barack Obama’s White House.
As for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, once chair and now one of the vice chairs of the group, it still remains to be seen whether he’ll have any role in the new administration.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani seemed to be angling for secretary of state. But Trump’s transition team was reviewing Giuliani’s paid consulting work for foreign governments, which could delay a nomination or bump Giuliani to a different position, according to a person briefed on the matter but not authorized to speak publicly about it.
A Trump official said John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, remained in contention for secretary of state. Bolton has years of foreign policy experience, but he has raised eyebrows with some of his hawkish stances, including a 2015 New York Times op-ed in which he advocated bombing Iran to halt the country’s nuclear program.
Businessman Carl Icahn disclosed on Twitter, based on conversations with the president-elect, that Trump was considering Steve Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs banker, and Wilbur Ross, a billionaire investor, to lead the Treasury and Commerce departments.
Not until Tuesday evening had Pence signed a memorandum of understanding facilitating interactions between his team and Obama administration officials. Christie had signed the document, but Pence’s promotion made it invalid.
White House spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine said the administration was waiting on more documents required by law before agencies could begin sharing information with the transition team.
A person familiar with the transition efforts said different factions in Trump’s team “are fighting for power.”
Indeed, Trump effectively created two power centers in his White House even before taking office. He named Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus as his chief of staff and flame-throwing media mogul Steve Bannon as his chief strategist, but called them “equal partners.” Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is also deeply involved in the transition, creating another layer of uncertainty about who is making decisions.
Meanwhile, Trump broke with protocol Tuesday night and left his press contingent behind when he went for dinner at the 21 Club.
He made the trip after the Trump campaign had already told journalists he wouldn’t be venturing out for the rest of the day.
Every president and president-elect in recent memory has traveled with a pool of journalists when leaving the White House grounds.
On Wednesday, the White House Correspondents’ Association called it “unacceptable.”
Trump also denied Wednesday that he sought top security clearance for his three grown children.
“I am not trying to get top security clearances for my children,” he said on Twitter. “This was a typically false news story.”
There had been rampant speculation in recent days that such an effort was being attempted. Asked about it earlier this week, Kellyanne Conway, who was Trump’s campaign manager, said in a broadcast interview she wasn’t “intimately’ familiar with the issue and indicated she couldn’t confirm it.
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