Donald Trump stunned Washington Tuesday night with his victory, but behind the scenes a smaller-than usual transition team has been preparing for this eventuality.
The transition team–the entity tasked with hiring staff, assembling Trump’s cabinet and laying out the blue print for Trump’s first 100 days– is like Trump’s campaign itself: leaner than past operations and far more unconventional with an estimated 100 individuals working on it full time, according to CNN.
By comparison, the Associated Press reported that Romney’s team–Romney Readiness Project–had more than 460 individuals working on it leading up to the 2012 campaign. President Barack Obama, for example, had 600 individuals charting the path forward in 2008.
Leading the team is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a former competitor. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a loyal foot soldier for Trump whose vision of border wall brand of immigration reform became a central theme in Trump’s campaign, is also closely involved.
Here’s what we know so far:
Trump’s Transition includes an assortment of faces –new and old– from Romney’s transition team to the Reagan administration.
Kris Kobach- the Kansas secretary of state who has made tough immigration policies and voter restrictions a major component of his tenure has joined the Trump transition team. Most recently, Kobach championed a proof-of-citizenship voter registration requirement that was knocked down by multiple courts. Kobach advised Trump on immigration during the primary.
Ed Meese: A former attorney general and close confidant to former President Ronald Regan, Meese was a vocal critic of Trump’s, writing in the National Review in January that Trump’s “broadsides can almost be predicted by the other candidates’ standing in the polls. The result has been to divide and discourage potential Republican-party supporters.”
William Hagerty, director of presidential appointments: A wealthy businessman, Hagerty served as an economic adviser to George H.W. Bush and was a member of Mitt Romney’s transition team in 2012. He also served as top confidant to Tennessee’s Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican.
John Rader, deputy director for presidential appointments: Rader worked for Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) as counsel on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The fact that he and Hagerty are on the team has raised speculation that Corker could be well positioned to be tapped for either Secretary of State or Treasury Secretary.
Richard Bagger, a manager for the transition team: A former top aide to Christie in New Jersey, Bagger is a former state senator who, according to Politico, is seen as more of a moderate than a Trump loyalist.
“If there is any silver lining for Republicans seeking to support the nominee, Rich Bagger is that silver lining,” a GOP operative told Politico in August.
Bill Palatucci, general counsel: Palatucci has been another close friend and aide to Gov. Christie. He worked on his campaign in 2013 and served as an adviser to Christie. In 2012 he stepped down from his leadership role at Community Education Centers, a company that the New York Times revealed ran “halfway houses, which are as large as prisons” and “were dangerous and poorly supervised.”
Ed Feulner: It’s unclear what his position is exactly, but Feulner was the former president of the Heritage Foundation and is widely regarded as one of the most prominent policy gurus on the transition team. When he was added in August it was seen as a boost for Trump’s effort to convince conservatives he was serious about their policies.
In the Arena of Foreign Policy, Trump Is Expected To Reward Loyalty
During the campaign, former Republican national security experts, delivered some of the strongest rebukes of Trump. At one point 50 GOP national security experts penned an open letter that Trump would be “the most reckless president in American history.”
Trump attacked a Gold Star family on the campaign trail and distanced himself from the NATO Alliance. Trump’s relationship with Russia was deeply confounding for cold-war-era hawks who saw Trump as potentially reshaping U.S. -Soviet relations.
According to CNN, “Sources familiar with the Trump campaign’s plans for the Defense Department and national security posts, said that they are loyal to supporters that “took a lot of crap” when they were seen to be part of his team and still they stayed.”
Sessions has been widely circulated as a potential Secretary of Defense.
Here Are A Few Policies The Transition Team Is Looking At
On Wednesday, the team went into full overdrive, according to the Wall Street Journal, laying out its own rules and strategy for the next two months and conducting a thorough review of what Trump’s first 100 days could look like. The Wall Street Journal reported that the transition team is looking at ways Trump could roll back Obama regulations. The paper also reported that the transition team was looking at how Trump could deliver on his promise to build a wall.
The WSJ also noted that on Trump’s transition website, Trump’s team highlighted it was looking at ways to dismantle Dodd-Frank.
“They produce mostly two-page and 20-page memos on specific items about the function of certain agencies and what issues will be a priority on the first day, the first 100 days, and the first 200 days, according to three transition team members,” the Wall Street Journal reported on the transition.