Republican President-elect Donald Trump has reportedly removed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as head of his transition team, handing the reins over to his running mate Mike Pence.
The New York Times, citing several sources close to the transition team, said that Trump told advisers that he wanted to use Pence’s contacts to move the transition process along. Having served some 12 years in the House of Representatives, Pence has the deepest roots of any of Trump’s close circle inside Washington.
Mr. Christie has been in charge of the transition for the last several months, assembling the largest part of the Trump Campaign under him. However, according to the Times, the surprise nature of Trump’s victory made it critical to move more quickly to assemble a team.
Christie’s standing has been in question for months. In fact, the New Jersey Governor was Trump’s initial pick for Vice President before he was convinced by his then campaign manager Paul Manafort to go with Mike Pence. Manafort reportedly had significant hesitation due to Christie’s embroilment in the Bridgegate scandal, for which two of his top aides were facing a criminal trial prior to the election. The Bridgegate matter involved the closing of the George Washington Bridge in 2013 as political retribution.
Mr. Christie will still be involved with the campaign and the transition. He, along with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and retired lieutenant general Michael Flynn will serve as vice chairs of the transition.
The transition team is adding 12 members, including Republican donor Rebekah Mercer, Stephen Bannon, Reince Priebus, Peter Thiel, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, and Mr. Trump’s three adult children, along with his son in law Jared Kushner.