As President-elect Donald Trump puts together his White House team and makes his Cabinet picks, he has tapped governors, business executives and retired military officers, but there’s one group largely absent from the his selections so far: longtime Trump loyalists.
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With the exception of Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who supported Trump early and was tapped for attorney general, Trump’s highest-profile political supporters during the campaign — Chris Christie, Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich — are all, at least for now, without any known role in the incoming Trump administration.
The same is true for those who ran Trump’s campaign during the first months of the Republican primaries.
Until Trump started winning state contests, his campaign was run by a small band of dedicated loyalists, including campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, spokeswoman Hope Hicks, social media guru Dan Scavino, political director Michael Glassner and Iowa director Chuck Laudner. So far, none of them have been publicly offered jobs in the administration.
Meanwhile, Trump’s administration choices have included people who opposed him during the primaries, including Gov. Nikki Haley, R-S.C., for U.N. ambassador and Betsy DeVos for secretary of education. His pick for deputy commerce secretary, Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts, even funded a super PAC that ran ads attacking Trump during the primaries.
The personnel moves so far may be a sign that political payback is not on high Trump’s list of priorities when it comes to making key appointments. But some Trump loyalists are concerned that the Republican establishment Trump defeated in the primaries has taken over his transition.
“As a candidate, Trump was a guy who rewarded party loyalty above all, but since the election, loyalty has been thrown to the wayside,” said a Republican operative with direct knowledge of the Trump transition.
“If [Jeb] Bush would have won,” the operative said, “all the Bush loyalists would be rewarded, and the Trump people would be gone forever.”
This operative puts the blame on incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus.
“Reince has told Trump that the team that helped him win the election is not the team to help him govern,” the operative said.