Trump Clan Dumps Christie, Elevates Priebus And Bannon
It isn't hard to imagine why Trump dumped Christie. Just watch the video above, from a year ago, for starters and then put that into the context of the Bridgegate trial and the guilty verdicts this month. Clearly, Christie has some serious legal problems ahead of him and, whatever the outcome, it's also clear that he isn't exactly a man who should be in charge of hiring for a new presidential administration. He two top hires in New Jersey, Bill Baroni and Bridget Kelly, are both headed to prison, whether he is or isn't.
Yesterday's NY Post claimed that Trump is disgusted by Christie. He's definitely not being considered for the Secretary of Transportation job but a Post source they describe as someone "close to the transition team" told that that "Trump thought it was shameful that Christie didn’t take the fall for [convicted aide] Bridget Kelly. Trump is really angry that Christie is sending a soccer mom to jail. He believes 100 percent that Christie was behind it all... Trump really doesn’t like it when married women with kids get hurt in politics. Trump was pretty disgusted with Christie."
Christie’s failure to take responsibility for Bridgegate was the final straw in an already eroding relationship, said a second source, who is close to the Trump campaign.Yesterday Trump named Bannon Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor and Reince Priebus Chief of Staff. Both will be informally under Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner (Ivanka's husband) who hates Christie for once prosecuting his father-- and locking him up-- for campaign finance violations and tax evasion. In general, there's a bad relationship between the New York Trump team and the transition team Christie put together in DC.
“She was a factor in the decision because Trump didn’t like seeing her crying,” the source said.
When Christie again denied all responsibility for Bridgegate in an interview with Charlie Rose on Monday, Trump’s frustration grew, the source said.
Tensions had been building for weeks between the two men, with some Trump insiders questioning Christie’s loyalty in the last month of the campaign, when it looked like Trump would lose.
Christie canceled appearances on Sunday shows after the Access Hollywood video of Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women was leaked on Oct. 7, the source said. He also failed to attend the second debate, and canceled campaigning with Trump in the last weekend of the race, the source said.
Christie was formally pushed aside Friday as chair of Trump’s transition team and the job given to Vice President-elect Mike Pence.
Tech billionaire and loyal Trump supporter Peter Thiel, also added to the team Friday, will have a leadership role, the first source told The Post. Christie retains a token title of vice chair but no real role going forward, sources said.
Christie will now likely focus on what job he can get for himself in a new Trump administration. But a third source said the Trump team views him as virtually “unconfirmable” for a Cabinet-level post.
“They want to drain the swamp, and having Christie there is just plugging it up,” the source said. “He was tolerated in the past because he was viewed as a kind of nice Tony Soprano. But now that Trump is the president-elect those days are over.”
Some close to Trump regarded the New Jersey governor “a stupid thug who really needed to go,” the transition-team source told The Post.
But Christie said in a statement Friday: “I am proud to have run the pre-election phase of the transition team along with a thoroughly professional and dedicated team of people. I want to thank President-elect Trump for the opportunity to continue to help lead in this next phase.”
Some of the Washington staff grumble privately that their work was ignored by the New Yorkers who only turned their full attention to the transition after Trump’s shocking Election Day upset win over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
A handful of sources in and around the Trump transition team said there was no evidence that the president-elect had even reviewed any of the binders of policy and personnel proposals produced by the team. Trump’s only contact with the transition staff, the sources said, had come through Christie, the New Jersey governor and transition team chief who was demoted on Friday from transition team chairman to being one of several vice chairs.
Meanwhile, some campaign officials, fresh off months in the trenches, are dismissive of the transition team, viewing its members as paper-pushers with no buy-in from Trump.
And even within the Washington transition team, there are distinct factions that sometimes appeared to be at odds.
A group of social and fiscal conservatives on the team, including many from the Heritage Foundation and both administrations, regarded Christie and his allies as big-business-backing centrists who were insufficiently conservative on cultural issues.
The conservatives’ influence on the transition team figures to increase with the elevation of Vice President-elect Pence, whose tax-slashing, anti-abortion record as governor of Indiana made him a conservative favorite.
Some of the personnel moves proposed by Christie’s team drew the ire of both conservatives and early Trump loyalists, who viewed them as rewarding, instead of punishing, Republicans who were less than fully supportive of-- if not downright hostile to-- Trump during the primary.
A third faction on the transition team is aligned with Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, an early Trump backer whose allies on the transition team handle congressional outreach and immigration policy.
But perhaps the biggest power base is Trump’s own family. His adult children and especially his son-in-law Kushner have unrivaled clout with the president-elect, and have not shied away from using it to spur personnel changes.
Two people familiar with the transition said Christie’s top deputy, Rich Bagger, had run afoul of Kushner.
“That’s a fight you can’t win,” one of the people said. “The Christie people are from New Jersey, they act like they’re in charge, and Jared Kushner is like, ‘You're not really in charge.’”
...In addition to playing a role in Friday’s unceremonious replacement of Christie, Kushner also had a hand in Lewandowski’s firing as campaign manager in June.
Kushner, the son-in-law
Sources said Kushner-- as well as other close Trump confidants-- remain leery of Lewandowski, whose feud early this year with then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort was the source of much of the campaign’s infighting.
Nonetheless, Lewandowski continued advising Trump during the campaign, and several sources said he is quietly working behind the scenes to shape the transition effort and the RNC.
Lewandowski’s Friday afternoon announcement that he was resigning as a paid on-air analyst for CNN-- which came after he was spotted entering Trump Tower earlier in the day-- escalated talk that he was preparing for a significant role with either the RNC or the administration.
Lewandowski on Thursday night denied that he has discussed any formal role with Trump, and on Friday he denied that he has any problems with either Priebus or Kushner. "I have good relationships with both," he said.
Several close Lewandowski allies also are thought to be headed for plum gigs, though there is steep competition, said one veteran GOP operative working with the transition team.
"This is like the Oklahoma landgrab,” said the operative. “It's gonna get vicious the next 70 days as people try to place their people where they want them. And Christie's people ain't the same as [Trump campaign CEO Steve] Bannon's people ain't the same as Sessions' people."