Trump taps Christie early for 'transition'

The political bromance between Trump and Chris Christie grew more prominent Monday with the presumptive Republican presidential nominee naming the New Jersey governor head of his "White House transition team."

Never mind that Trump has to become the GOP nominee and then actually win the presidency before the spoils can be cut up. But perhaps it will have paid for him to plan.

The New Jersey governor's communication director was for some reason provided as the contact  for news media rather than the campaign itself, raising an eyebrow or two. 

Trump, who has yet to name a vice presidential running mate, kept up the promition by calling  Christie “an extremely knowledgeable and loyal person, with the tools and resources to put together an unparalleled transition team.”

Christie, a fixture at Trump campaign events -- whose job approval ratings have dipped to an all-time low following his own failed White House bid, said he was “honored by the confidence being placed in me by Mr. Trump.”

Trump faces a more immediate transition, though, in finding his way to the establishment GOP fundraisers he mocked during the primaries.

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A low-stakes, two-state Tuesday

Bernie Sanders could notch a primary victory Tuesday in West Virginia against front-running Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton, where a pledge she made two months ago to cut coal miners’ jobs in favor of renewable energy continues to haunt her, reports Newsday’s Emily Ngo.

West Virginia will hold primaries for both major parties, while Nebraska will host its GOP primary, even as the nomination is all but guaranteed to real estate mogul Donald Trump.

Sanders leads Clinton in the latest West Virginia polls, but the state’s 37 delegates up for grabs will likely do little to narrow the more than 700-delegate lead the former secretary of state has over the Vermont senator.

Busted out in Atlantic City

Sanders mocked Trump’s business record Monday at an Atlantic City campaign rally held steps away from the shuttered Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino and a short distance from the beleaguered Trump Taj Mahal.

“Oh, I get it — you don’t think he is a brilliant, successful businessman who can bring the kind of prosperity to America that he has brought here to Atlantic City,” Sanders said sarcastically to a crowd of some 2,000 supporters, many of whom lost their blue-collar jobs following a string of casino closures in 2014.

Trump once owned three casinos in the city, but turned over ownership of the properties in four rounds of bankruptcy proceedings.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee contends he was financially successful in his casino ventures, and pulled out at the right time, but Sanders had a different take about Trump’s success rate at Monday’s campaign appearance, held before the state’s June 7 primary.

“He is not going to be elected president of the United States,” Sanders said of Trump.

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Sanders also took a shot at billionaire Carl Icahn, who bought the Taj. Oddly, while Icahn said the Vermont senator is wrong about him, he said he's right politically.

The Take-away: Post-primary NY scandals

Could recent federal probes of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo affect Clinton's run in her adopted home state come November?

Republican nominee-in-wating Trump is pushing to make it competitive. Bad publicity surrounding two of Clinton’s big supporters could become campaign fodder.

“If tradition holds, New York won’t really be in play in November and it won’t matter what her allies in New York do or don’t do,” a longtime Democratic operative tells Newsday’s Dan Janison.

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Ryan-Trump rift remains

The nation's highest-ranking Republican, House Speaker Paul Ryan, said he will step aside as chairman of the party's Cleveland covention if that's what the nominee wants.

But he also saw no need for "fake" unity.

What else is going on:

  • Trump moves left of Clinton as a tactic to prod Sanders voters against her, the Washington Post reports....
  • Movement conservative guru Richard Viguerie says it's not enough for Trump to say he's not Clinton.....
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren is viewed by some Democrats as a 'dream team' VP pick for Clinton, The Hill reports.
  • A new Q poll shows Clinton and Trump neck-and-neck in three key battleground states...
  • Crowing about sex back in the day doesn't help Trump's image today, analysts say. 
  • Sarah Palin is a “free agent” in her choice to back House Speaker Ryan’s primary opponent, Trump told CNN...
  • Marco Rubio is uninterested in being considered as a running mate for Trump...
  • Women are giving more money than ever to political campaigns, The New York Times finds ...