TOPICS > Politics

What we can learn from the Trump transition so far

November 15, 2016 at 6:45 PM EST
How is President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team tackling the takeover of executive power? There’s already been some staff shakeups, including the demotion of Gov. Chris Christie and the resignation of an advisor on national security. Hari Sreenivasan gets an update from Politico’s Alex Isenstadt.
LISTENSEE PODCASTS

HARI SREENIVASAN: Now we turn to president-elect Trump’s transition to the White House and how his team is tackling the handover of executive reins.

For that, we are joined by Alex Isenstadt of Politico.

So, Alex, you’re reporting on this every today. Where do things stand right now?

ALEX ISENSTADT, Politico: Well, look, it’s a transition that’s very much in flux.

And you’re starting to see a pattern here of a Donald Trump sort of overseeing a process that very much was sort of like his campaign. There was a little bit of chaos involved. You’re sort of starting to see some of that chaos seep into the transition a little bit.

And perhaps this is a little — perhaps this provides an indication of what Donald Trump’s management and leadership style is going to be like once he gets to the White House.

HARI SREENIVASAN: And Chris Christie was demoted last week. Mike Pence replaced him. And he’s overarching the kind of lead on this.

But there’s been some internal strife. We hear Mike Rogers stepped down. What was behind that?

ALEX ISENSTADT: Well, look, Mike Rogers, former congressman from Michigan, used to head the Intel Committee in Congress, he was very close to Chris Christie, who last week was pushed aside in a leadership shuffle, where they put vice president-elect Mike Pence in charge.

And so this is something that you also saw during the campaign where Donald Trump went through several different campaign managers. He’s now going through a few different transition heads. Again, you’re starting to see sort of a pattern emerge here.

HARI SREENIVASAN: In the grand scheme of things, does it matter? I probably couldn’t tell you who managed the transition for the last three, four, ever presidents?

ALEX ISENSTADT: Well, it’s a great question.

And, to some extent, this is inside baseball. It’s parlor game stuff. But to some degree, it does indicate perhaps something about Donald Trump’s leadership style, how he oversees things, and exactly how he’s going to make some decisions.

This comes at a time when a lot of Americans are looking for more information on how Donald Trump is going to lead and how he makes key decisions.

HARI SREENIVASAN: And there also seems to be this tension.

What he wanted on the campaign was — he ran as an outsider. He wanted people from outside Washington. Yet, right now, when you actually have lots and lots of jobs to fill, he’s calling on some insiders.

ALEX ISENSTADT: Absolutely.

Look at the names that you’re hearing talked of for top jobs, people like Rudy Giuliani, people like Jeff Sessions, the Alabama senator. These people are — to some degree, they’re insiders, but they also share a similar trait, which is that they were all loyal to him during the campaign, at a time, during a campaign, when a lot of Republicans sought to distance themselves from Donald Trump.

He’s priding loyalty and he’s looking to those who were loyal to him during the campaign, who stood behind him.

HARI SREENIVASAN: He’s also now getting the intelligence briefings on a daily basis that President Obama gets. How is that influencing some of the decisions that he has in front of him now?

ALEX ISENSTADT: It’s unclear.

And it’s also unclear exactly how this is shaping who is going to be getting some of these top posts. There was some reporting over the last day or so that Trump wanted clearance for his children and for his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to also be getting these security clearances.

The campaign — or the transition committee, rather, pushed back a little bit on that reporting. But, look, it’s clear that this is a guy who is new to government. He’s new to this kind of thing, and he’s now for the first time getting this information.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Are transition teams the place where you start to reward your friends who have been loyal to you for so long and eventually maybe in government positions as well?

ALEX ISENSTADT: Well, look, you look back at George W. Bush’s administration, he selected people who were very close to his family, to his father, and so you do see some of that

But it’s interesting. You look at the people who Donald Trump is looking at, even people who he has already selected, Reince Priebus, Stephen Bannon. Those are people who really played key roles in his campaign and now are going to be overseeing his White House.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Alex Isenstadt of Politico, thanks so much.

ALEX ISENSTADT: Thank you.

SHARE VIA TEXT