Tag Archives: transition team

Will Priebus be Trump’s chief of staff?

Donald Trump’s transition to the White House has a very distinct Wisconsin feel. And his first Cabinet and administration may as well.

Wisconsin native and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is on Trump’s transition team and could be in line for a top position in his administration. Trump was meeting Thursday with House Speaker Paul Ryan, of Janesville, and other Wisconsin Republicans are being mentioned for possible high-level jobs.

“You have a definite bias in favor of Wisconsin,” former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson told The Associated Press.

Thompson knows what it’s like to get a phone call from an incoming president. He left midway through his fourth term in 2001 to serve as health and human services secretary under President George W. Bush.

Thompson said he expects Priebus to become Trump’s chief of staff and fill the administration with people from Wisconsin.

“When I became secretary I took just about the whole governor’s staff out with me,” Thompson said.

Gov. Scott Walker has insisted he’s not interested in a Trump Cabinet position, even though he was closely aligned with Trump after running against him in the GOP presidential primary. Walker said during the campaign that he intends to serve out the remaining two years on his second term and reiterated it Wednesday.

“I take him at his word. He put that out there pretty fast,” Thompson said of Walker. “But anytime the president asks you to serve, it’s hard to turn down. The president has thousands of people to choose from and he has selected you, he’s chosen you. It’s hard to turn down.”

Walker told WTMJ-AM on Wednesday that the best way he could help Trump would be to remain as governor and serve in his new role as head of the Republican Governors Association. Walker also put in a plug for Ryan remaining as speaker, saying he can work to implement Trump’s agenda.

Ryan has had a tense relationship with Trump. He publicly criticized some of Trump’s more outlandish comments and did not campaign with him. Trump blasted Ryan as disloyal, “weak” and “ineffective” during the campaign.

Thompson said the fact that the two were meeting just two days after the election shows they’ve already moved on.

Ryan has his own political future to consider. He sometimes appears to have a tenuous grip on the fractious House GOP conference and there’s grumbling among tea party conservatives that he doesn’t fight hard enough for conservative wins. There’s also talk that the hard-right Freedom Caucus might try to topple Ryan.

But Ryan has an ally close to Trump in Priebus. The Kenosha native, who ran the state Republican Party before leaving to head the Republican National Committee in 2011, was a forceful Trump defender during the campaign. His closeness to the future president was evident when Trump called him to the podium early Wednesday to say a few words during his victory celebration.

Priebus, Walker and Ryan aren’t the only Wisconsin Republicans who could play a significant role in Trump’s administration.

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, the cowboy hat-wearing, conservative talk radio fill-in host, is not quashing rumors that he’d be interested in working for Trump.

“Let me make this clear — I am the Sheriff of Milwaukee County,” Clarke said in a statement Wednesday. “I will continue to be the Sheriff of Milwaukee County until I am no longer the Sheriff of Milwaukee County, at which time I won’t be the Sheriff of Milwaukee County. Anything other than that is pure speculation.”


Trump/Pence considering anti-LGBT extremists for transition team

Leaked documents indicate Donald Trump is considering for his transition team candidates with histories of anti-LGBTQ animus, including Ken Blackwell of the Family Research Council, a hate group.

“Ken Blackwell is a man who has spent his entire career going after LGBTQ Americans. Blackwell’s leadership role in President-elect Trump’s transition team should be a major wake up call for anybody who ever had any doubt that LGBTQ people are at risk,” said JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president for policy and political affairs  at the Human Rights Campaign. HRC is the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group.

Winterhof continued, “Ed Meese and Kay Cole James, who are also reported to have key roles, have been vocal opponents of equality and other issues we care deeply about. The people President-elect Trump picks to serve in his administration will have a huge impact on the policies he pursues. We should all be alarmed at who he’s appointing to key posts on his transition team.”

Blackwell is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, which was named a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. He also serves on the board of directors of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

In addition to supporting measures to ban marriage equality, Blackwell believes being LGBTQ is a choice, saying, “The reality is, again…that I think we make choices all the time. And I think you make good choices and bad choices in terms of lifestyle. Our expectation is that one’s genetic makeup might make one more inclined to be an arsonist or might make one more inclined to be a kleptomaniac. Do I think that they can be changed? Yes.”

Meese, a former attorney general, is a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, an organization that asserts that laws protecting LGBTQ people are not “necessary” and “weaken the marriage culture and the freedom of citizens and their associations to affirm their religious or moral convictions…”

According to NBC, the conservative Heritage Foundation is helping vet candidates for Trump’s cabinet.

Meese supported Indiana’s religious refusal law enacted under Vice President-elect Mike Pence, saying it “has nothing to do with refusing to serve gay people.” Meese has also said that marriage equality “shows how the culture has deteriorated over two centuries.”

Kay Cole James, president and founder of the Gloucester Institute, is a former senior vice president of the Family Research Council and a former director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

She worked in the administrations of George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush.

The Advocate reported that in her book Transforming America from the Inside Out, James compared LGBTQ people to drug addicts, alcoholics, adulterers or “anything else sinful.”