Trump denies transition in disarray NEW YORK: Donald Trump denied on Wednesday that his White House transition is in disarray amid reports of a backstabbing purge of mainstream Republican aspirants as he puts together his new administration.
In a burst of tweets, Trump also rejected as “false” a New York Times report that foreign leaders were having trouble getting through to the billionaire president-elect.
“Very organized process taking place as I decide on Cabinet and many other positions. I am the only one who knows who the finalists are,” he wrote late Tuesday.
Following up on Wednesday, he rejected reports of disarray and infighting for plum posts, as “so totally wrong.” “It is going so smoothly,” he said.
“Also, I have spoken to many foreign leaders,” he said, adding in another tweet that he had taken calls from Russia, Britain, China, Saudi Arabia and Japan.
The Times said Trump was improvising in his conversations with foreign leaders, who in turn were scrambling to figure out how and when to contact the president-elect.
British Prime Minister Theresa May reached Trump 24 hours after Egypt and Israel, in what The Times called “a striking break from diplomatic practice” . One leader who got through was Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, who asked Trump on Tuesday for support against “Russian aggression” during a congratulatory call, the Ukrainian presidency said.
Separately, in an interview that aired on Tuesday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Trump would be a “natural ally” if he fulfills his pledge to fight “terrorists”.
Despite Trump’s denial, there were mounting signs of turmoil in the process of selecting a cabinet and filling an estimated 4,000 positions in the new administration. Two members of th e transition team quit, reportedly pushed out by Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner in what was described as a purge of associates of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Christie was bumped on Friday as chairman of the transition team. The two were Mike Rogers, a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and Matthew Freedman, a lobbyist. As a US attorney, Christie prosecuted Kushner’s real estate developer father in 2004, sending him to jail for two years.
The shakeup came amid jockeying for key posts, including secretary of state, the treasury, attorney general, defence and national security.
Vice-president-elect and transition leader Mike Pence spent much of Tuesday at Trump Tower — the real estate mogul’s headquarters — but his only comment to media as he left was “Great day”. Other sightings at the opulent Manhattan skyscraper included Ted Cruz — the arch-conservative Texas senator who Trump belittled as “Lyin’ Ted” during the Republican primaries.
Media said Trump has requested top-secret clearance for Kushner — a real estate developer who is married to Ivanka Trump — so that he can join the daily presidential briefings.
‘‘I am not trying to get ‘top level security clearance’ for my children. This was a typically false news story,” Trump wrote on Wednesday.
Ensconced in his Trump Tower headquarters since his shock election victory a week ago, Trump finally left the building late Tuesday to have dinner with his family at Manhattan’s 21 Club.
But he left without his press pool, prompting The White House Correspondent’s Association to complain that it was “unacceptable for the next president of the United States to travel without a regular pool to record his movements and inform the public about his whereabouts”.