Christie Out, Pence In To Lead Transition Team

The New York Times is reporting that President-elect Donald Trump has appointed his running mate, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, to chair his transition team. He takes the reigns from Chris Christie, who previously headed up the effort, when things were far from rosy for Team Trump. I think it was a good move.

The president-elect told advisers he wanted to tap Mr. Pence’s Washington experience and contacts to help move the process along, according to people familiar with the discussions. An executive committee, which will include members of Congress, will advise Mr. Pence as the process moves forward.

Mr. Christie, along with Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, and Michael T. Flynn, a retired lieutenant general who has been a top campaign supporter, will serve as vice chairs of the transition, the sources said.

The full transition team will now include a dozen new members: Rebekah Mercer; Stephen  Bannon, Reince Priebus, Peter Thiel, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Trump’s three adult children and his son-in-law Jared Kushner.

All kinds of speculation surround Trump’s cabinet and staff picks. Bannon has been thrown around for chief of staff, although Kushner accompanied Trump to the White House on Thursday to meet with President Obama and his staff. CNBC has speculated about Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, for the Treasury slot.

The NYT reported that Trump Tower has now become Fortress Trump (or Barad-dûr, if you’re a “not my president” street protester).

The building has now been ringed by Jersey barriers and concrete blocks marked with “NYPD.” The Secret Service has set up checkpoints on each end of 56th Street near the tower, and pedestrian access has been restricted around the building.

What was a kind of side-show–the transition team of a losing campaign–has now gone into overdrive after Trump’s win. Now the business of creating an actual team that will run the White House and the leviathan national government will have to be hammered out in a very short number of weeks.

I am hoping Trump chooses well, and doesn’t pander to his Twitter fans and cult followers. Pence is a good choice to lead the team, with his knowledge of Washington, D.C., his good relations with conservatives, and the fact that he has Trump’s trust and ear.

When Trump Apologists Lie For Him, It Does Matter

It was a wonderful weekend for the magical mystery Trump apology tour. Circle the wagons! Let’s redefine “amnesty.” Poor Ann Coulter wishes she were a character in Farenheit 451 so she could properly burn her new book.

Jonah Goldberg mused:

Perhaps the only silver lining in any of this is watching Ann Coulter grapple with this calamity. If Tom Wolfe had written a novel where the Coulter character was defenestrated like this on the night of her book party at Breitbart HQ, the editor would have said, “C’mon, Tom.”

And yet Ann is sticking with her guy. I spent much of the last year writing how Trump was corrupting conservatism by forcing so many Republicans and conservatives to jettison their principles in order to get on the right side of a popular demagogue who would ultimately lead the GOP to catastrophic defeat at the hands of a corrupt and untalented Democratic candidate. There is a kind of pyrrhic schadenfreude, a tragic fremschämen, to watching the demagogues get corrupted too as their idol morphs into Jeb Bush before our eyes.

But the winner of the Pretzel Award for Incoherence in a News Program is Chris Christie speaking to Martha Raddatz on This Week:

RADDATZ: I’m joined now by Governor Chris Christie, a former presidential candidate and one-time Trump opponent, now the chair of Trump’s transition team.

And, Governor, let me start with this simple question: Will Donald Trump try to deport all undocumented workers or just those he refers to as the bad ones?

CHRISTIE: Listen, I think that he has been very clear on this. We’re not going to have amnesty . What we’re going to do is to get those who are breaking the law out of the country as quickly as possible to make sure then that you deal with people in a humane way. I think that’s what he’s been saying. He’s been saying that I think for as long as I’ve been listening to him of late, and that’s what he’s going to do.

RADDATZ: Well, dealing with them in a humane way, does that mean taking all of those 11 million undocumented workers, pushing them out of the country?

CHRISTIE: Well, I think what he has said is that people are not going to be eligible for legalization or citizenship unless they leave the country and get back in line. Now there’s going to be, you know, some decisions he’s going to have to make as president regarding those folks, and I think what he’s said let’s first get all of the bad actors out of the country. And I think that’s what’s really important.

And then he wants to look at this situation and deal with it in a humane way, and quite frankly, you know, I think this is the kind of thing people expect from a president of the United States, that they will approach these things thoughtfully and smartly and I’m confident that that’s exactly what a President Trump will do.

RADDATZ: Would you acknowledge then that that does sound like a softening from his original statements about getting everyone, 11 million undocumented workers, out of the country with a deportation force?

CHRISTIE: Listen, I think that the key to this, Martha, and the way to look at it, is that this is a guy who has been very consistent on no amnesty, no legalization, for folks who have been coming to the country illegally. And that has always been the underpinning of his policy along with the building of the wall on the United States-Mexican border. And those things have remained completely consistent.

I think what you expect of every candidate and ultimately of a president is to listen to the facts and to deal with things in a way that’s smart and direct. I’m confident that’s exactly what President Trump will do.

“Those who are breaking the law” are people who are here illegally. A former federal prosecutor should be able to discern that you can’t say you’re not deporting illegal aliens (“those who are breaking the law”) and claim it’s not amnesty at the same time.

Apparently, now Christie is relying on Donald Trump, who treats lawyers like a trip to Baskin Robbins for his 31 flavors, to determine which laws are “hard” and which ones are “soft.”

But the worst part is that Trump’s new immigration spin sounds a lot like what we’ve seen for the last 27 years. A lot of talk and then a lot of doing nothing at all.

You might think that none of this will matter come November 9 because there won’t be a President Trump. But it will matter, because the GOP will have Christie, Jeff Sessions, and all the rest of the crowd who backed Trump and lied for him with soiled laundry hanging out for all to see. They want to blame those of us who have consistently told the truth to cover their own lies.

We in the #NeverTrump camp are not the ones having to pretzel ourselves into complete incoherent nonsense.

Having Gimped Himself For Trump, Christie Cries Out

Ever since endorsing Trump, Chris Christie has been the trained monkey that Trump trots out on stage and commands to dance. He’s been the gimp in Trump’s basement waiting to be let out of the cage for meals and human contact. And he did it all in order to be Vice President of the United States, or at least the nominee.

But Trump, treating Christie like a one night stand, chose someone else to take to the altar in Cleveland. Now it appears Chris Christie is very angry about it.

And he should be.

He dolled himself up, put on a full leather suit and ball gag, climbed willingly into the cage, and Trump abandoned him. Poor Chris.

Trump Would Fail His Own VP Vetting Process

Anyone telling you they know who Donald Trump is going to pick as his running mate is lying to you. That’s because Trump himself has no idea who he’s going to pick as his VP. He’s just as lost as everyone else.

What we do know is that he’d fail his own vetting process, but more on that later. First, let’s look at the con game Trump is using to keep himself in the headlines.

His short list is Gov. Chris Christie, Gov. Mike Pence, Newt Gingrich, Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, likely in that order. But Trump is playing a shell game, using misdirection, “crazy Ivans” and other ruses to point us all over the map. Maybe he is just throwing spaghetti at the wall, seeing what sticks–how the press and the GOP react.

It could be like the daughter who calls home from college to tell dad she’s pregnant by a biker named Crush, and needs money to bail him out of jail, then to move in with him in the single-wide he shares with his other baby-mama. Then she says that no, she just failed biology and probably has to take summer classes–and by the way can she have $100?

Trump presents Flynn for shock value, so the party will sigh with relief when the real VP pick is Christie or Pence. I personally prefer Gingrich, who’s the only one I’ve seen actually display testicular fortitude in standing up to the Boss. But that in itself probably disqualifies Gingrich, for obvious reasons.

Uber-GOP lawyer A.B. Culvahouse, Jr. is doing the final vetting for Trump. This is the same lawyer who vetted Sarah Palin for John McCain. We saw how well that worked out, although Culvahouse claimed that Palin disclosed everything, and McCain went with the “high risk, high reward” option.

Like everything else the dilettante does, Trump will play his VP pick like three-card-monty, except even he doesn’t know where the money card is until he makes his final choice. But in the biggest irony of this race so far, Trump’s VP hopefuls will have to submit to everything the candidate himself avoids.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal in 2012, [Culvahouse] described how deep the vetting dive goes, demanding the potential picks hand over their “tax returns, medical histories, financial statements, court records” while answering very personal questions about “infidelity, sexual harassment, discrimination, plagiarism, alcohol or drug addiction, delinquent taxes, credit history, and use of government positions or resources for personal benefit.”

Trump would fail his own vetting for VP. Perhaps the delegates in Cleveland should hold Trump to the same standards to which his lawyer holds his VP pick?

Occupied Territory

A definitive deep dive into the GOP’s surrender to the short-fingered vulgarian.

Governor Chris Christie, of New Jersey, another of Trump’s opponents early in the campaign, has transformed himself into a sort of manservant, who is constantly with Trump at events. (One Republican told me that a friend of his on the Trump campaign used Snapchat to send him a video of Christie fetching Trump’s McDonald’s order.)

I can’t wait for that video to surface. I mean Snapchat never really deletes anything, right?

Ryan Lizza did his homework. Your must read.

Christie Beclowned: What A Sucker!

“There’s a sucker born every minute,” and at least one of them used to be a high profile federal prosecutor. N.J. Gov. Chris Christie’s reward for endorsing the Apfelstrudelfuhrer is a public mocking in Ohio.

Trump was trying to make a point (such as it was) about having a job and campaigning, and how Gov. John Kasich camped out in New Hampshire for essentially two months.

As an example, he hauled out Christie and mocked him. “Where’s Chris? Is Chris around? Even more than Chris Christie he was there, right?” Trump said.

Then he added insult to injury. “I hated to do it but I had to make my point.”

What a sucker. He should do as six newspapers in his home state have called for: Resign.

And once he resigns, he should be blacklisted for betraying any shred of integrity and helping the hand the race over to Hillary Clinton, while leaving the blame with conservatives.

Faust

Chris Christie should value his soul more than thirty pieces of silver.

Just a month ago, there he was in New Hampshire warning of the evils of Donald Trump.

At a town hall meeting in Portsmouth, N.H., Mr. Christie expressed disbelief at Mr. Trump’s comment Saturday that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and lose no support in the 2016 campaign.

“It’s pretty amazing to say it, isn’t it?” Mr. Christie asked.

Briefly slipping into an impression of Mr. Trump — “We’re stupid,” he deadpanned in a throaty baritone — Mr. Christie said he empathized with voters who want to “burn Washington down.”

“But who’s going to rebuild it once it gets burned down?” Mr. Christie said. “That’s what you’ve got to think about.”

By nominating the wrong candidate, he continued, “We could wind up turning over the White House to Hillary Clinton for four more years.”

That prospect, he said, would be “like the eight years we’ve just had, except worse.”

And now Christie’s Faustian bargain includes shilling for Trump (as long as he doesn’t take the spotlight from The Donald).

Either New York values-types tend to cluster together, or maybe Trump has something on Christie that the N.J. governor would not like to be made public. It’s not like Trump hasn’t resorted to a form of plata o plomo (the kind of deals El Chapo favors) leverage before.

If you remember, just before the Iowa caucuses, Trump tried to strong-arm evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats into endorsing him, and when Vander Plaats didn’t make the deal, Trump threw mud.

No mud for Pastor Robert Jeffress of Dallas First Baptist or Jerry Falwell Jr. of Liberty University. I am not claiming there is mud there, but a man like Trump has resources.

And with someone like Christie, who’s just across the river and was a Manhattanite for many years (“when I was a Federal prosecutor”), I’m certain there’s plenty to smear on the Jersey governor beyond the normal bridges and favors.

When Trump is through with Christie, don’t look for any quid pro quo like a VP slot. Two northerners, two easterners, two New Yorkers won’t fly on Trump’s dream ticket (who knows who he’ll choose but it won’t be Christie). And Kasich, as an active candidate can offer more than Christie as a vassal.

Just add Christie’s name to the list of Trump’s fallen who have knelt before Zod and sacrificed their self-respect to the short-fingered god of vulgarians.

Credit: Trump FB page

New Jersey Liberal Endorses New York Liberal

Saying “this was an endorsement that really meant a lot” and “this is the one endorsement I felt very strongly about,” Donald J. Trump, a pro-Planned Parenthood New York liberal running in the GOP presidential primary today accepted the endorsement of liberal New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R). Christie endorsed Trump at a rally in Texas, which joins other states in holding its presidential primary on March 1, next Tuesday.

That a New Jersey liberal Republican would endorse a New York liberal Republican isn’t terribly unforeseen except for the fact that both Trump and Christie threw hard punches at each other before Christie left the GOP nomination fight after the New Hampshire primary.

“We are not electing an entertainer-in-chief. Showmanship is fun, but it’s not the type of leadership that will truly change America,” Christie declared in New Hampshire in early January. Time reported that Christie suggested Trump was not a “grown up” who should be president.

“Donald’s a great guy and a good person. But I just don’t think that he’s suited to be president of the United States,” Christie told Fox News in 2015. “I don’t think his temperament is suited for that and I don’t think his experience is.”

An another interview Christie complained of Trump: “He sits in his jammies in Trump Tower and phones in” regarding his appearance on various news shows.

Meanwhile, Trump hasn’t been shy about criticizing Christie.

Calling Christie “a little child,” Trump said that Christie’s embrace of President Barack Obama made him think Christie was going to endorse the Democratic presidential candidate. “When I saw it, I said I think he’s going to vote for Obama,” he said in December.

On February 1, Trump blasted Christie for being an unsuccessful governor of New Jersey. Politico reported that Trump said in a news appearance, “Chris took himself down when he did the George Washington Bridge, and he took himself down when he’s rated number 50 out of 50 in New Jersey. I mean, it’s the 50th worst state, meaning it’s last.”

The kiss-and-make-up session in Texas comes as Trump appears to want a dedicated attack dog to focus on Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who, along with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, savaged Trump in the final GOP debate before next Tuesday’s spate of primaries. In the last debate before the New Hampshire primary Christie managed to knock Rubio off message leading to a performance widely seen as Rubio’s worst debate on the presidential trail.

It is also worth noting that Trump and Christie are and were the two GOP candidates this year who evolved the most away from previous positions to embrace newfound conservative principles. In the mid-1990s Christie was ardently pro-choice, but by the time he reached Iowa last year he had completed his conversion to the pro-life cause. As late as 1999, Trump was telling the media that he was pro-choice, something that Evangelicals who now support him continually overlook.

There should be no doubt about it, both Trump and Christie are East Coast liberals at heart and their mutual affection should come as no surprise. The endorsement also had the added affect of shifting media coverage away from Trump’s poor performance in Thursday night’s debate.