President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday fought back against reports that his transition team was in disarray — writing in a string of social media posts that the process to appoint his cabinet and fill thousands of federal agency posts was “going so smoothly.”
Trump on Twitter Wednesday morning said a New York Times article describing infighting among his transition team was “so totally wrong . . . It is going so smoothly.” The paper issued a statement standing by its reporting.
Trump’s online missive came hours before he met with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and followed a shake-up of his transition staff on Tuesday.
Former Rep. Mike Rogers, who led the team’s national security efforts, and Matthew Freedman, a foreign policy adviser, stepped down Tuesday — their departures followed those of other aides that were hired by former transition team chairman Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, before he was replaced last week by Vice President-elect Mike Pence.
“I think there is some confusion going on about a chain of command coming out of New York,” Rogers said in a Tuesday evening interview with CNN. “Hopefully they’ll get that settled pretty soon.”
Trump has not announced any cabinet appointments since Sunday, when he tapped Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus as his chief of staff, and Brietbart News editor Steven K. Bannon as his chief strategist.
Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyann Conway, told reporters Wednesday in Trump Tower the announcements would come “soon.”
“It’s a lot to digest in putting together a federal government,” she said.
On Wednesday evening, Trump’s campaign spokesman Jason Miller and RNC spokesman Sean Spicer held the transition team’s first conference call with reporters to provide updates. Miller said starting Thursday, they will announce a series of “landing teams” that will serve as liaisons with the different federal agencies that need to be staffed.
Spicer said all new hires will be required to sign an agreement banning them from serving as lobbyists for 5-years after leaving their posts.
On Twitter, Trump also denied media reports that he was seeking top-level security clearance for his children, who have served as key advisers to his campaign and transition team.
“I am not trying to get ‘top-level security clearance’ for my children. This was a typically false news story,” Trump wrote.
Trump also met for an hour in Trump Tower with de Blasio, with whom Trump had traded barbs during the presidential campaign.
Speaking to reporters on Fifth Avenue, de Blasio, a Democrat, called the meeting “candid” and said he was “open-minded” about working with the Republican president-elect.
“I tried to express to him how much fear there is . . . in communities all over this city, a whole range of people in the biggest city in the country who are fearful,” de Blasio said.
De Blasio said he raised concerns to Trump about a number of the Republican’s campaign pledges, including the call for surveillance of U.S. mosques and the mass deportation of people living in the country illegally.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, and New York Jets owner Woody Johnson were among the Trump advisers spotted leaving Trump’s Manhattan headquarters Wednesday.
Giuliani, who has been said to be on the short list for secretary of state, did not answer reporter questions.
Trump also met Wednesday with Leonard Leo, executive vice president the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group that advocates for “limited” government.
Leo told reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower that he and Trump discussed prospective nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court, to fill the seat vacated by the late Justice Antonin Scalia. He said that Trump “wants to move forward as swiftly as he can to make sure that the court’s full nine-member bench is restored.”