Vice President-elect Mike Pence is replacing Gov. Chris Christie as head of the team transitioning President-elect Donald Trump to the White House, Trump announced Friday.
The move comes one week after two former associates of the New Jersey governor were convicted on conspiracy charges in the so-called Bridgegate scandal. Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni, the associates, had been charged with conspiracy and wire fraud in plotting to shut down lanes on the George Washington Bridge in 2013 as an act of political retribution.
Sources told The New York Times, which first reported the shuffle, that Pence would be taking over the transition team to capitalise on his Washington connections.
In a statement, Trump announced that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, Dr. Ben Carson, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, US Sen. Jeff Sessions, and Christie would serve as vice chairs on the team. And several notable names, including tech mogul Peter Thiel, Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, and several of Trump’s children were listed on the transition team’s executive committee.
“Together this outstanding group of advisers, led by Vice President-elect Mike Pence, will build on the initial work done under the leadership of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to help prepare a transformative government ready to lead from day one,” Trump said in the statement.
He added: “The mission of our team will be clear: put together the most highly qualified group of successful leaders who will be able to implement our change agenda in Washington. Together, we will begin the urgent task of rebuilding this nation — specifically jobs, security and opportunity. This team is going to get to work immediately to Make America Great Again.”
The transition team will be helping Trump make Cabinet appointments, for which rumours are already flying.
Christie, who was briefly considered to appear on the ticket as Trump’s running mate, began leading the transition team in May. Christie, who hasn’t been charged with a crime related to the Bridgegate scandal, released a statement after last week’s verdict involving his former associates that said “no believable evidence” in the trial showed he played a role in the scandal.