Bitter infighting could cripple Trump’s administration before it ever gets off the ground

Politico reports: The bitter infighting that plagued Donald Trump’s campaign during the Republican presidential primary is starting to spill over into his team’s efforts to establish an administration and political operation, according to more than half a dozen sources familiar with the planning efforts.

The tensions played a role in a Friday shakeup in which the president-elect replaced his transition team chief Chris Christie with his running mate Mike Pence. Sources familiar with the move say it was precipitated partly by clashes between Christie’s allies and rival factions on the transition team, as well as Trump’s influential son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Those rifts and others are complicating what was an already a herculean task for Trump’s team: building a massive new government for a man who has never held public office.

“It’s the same situation as in the primary – everyone has the knives out for each other,” said a Republican operative who worked with the campaign and is now advising people on the transition team.

Asked about the tensions, and about Kushner’s role in the leadership change at the transition team, Trump spokesman Jason Miller said, “Anybody seeing today’s news about the appointment of Vice President-elect Mike Pence to run the Presidential Transition Team realizes that President-elect Donald J. Trump is serious about changing Washington whether the town likes it or not. This might ruffle the delicate sensitivities of the well-heeled two-martini lunch set, but President-elect Trump isn’t fighting for them, he’s fighting for the hard-working men and women outside the Beltway who don’t care for insider bickering.”

It’s not uncommon for rivalries to emerge inside campaigns and administrations as advisers jockey to place allies in key roles and advance their policy priorities. But the level of internecine conflict during Trump’s drive toward the GOP nomination was so extreme that it sometimes resulted in conflicting directives for even simple hiring and spending decisions.

People who witnessed that infighting up close see signs of similar patterns emerging, with some of the same players involved. And they fear that the dynamic could cripple Trump’s operation before it ever gets off the ground, since launching an administration requires hiring thousands of employees and setting up far more intricate chains of command than those in place during Trump’s bare-bones presidential campaign. [Continue reading…]

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