Vice President-elect Mike Pence has reportedly ordered a ban on lobbyists from President-elect Donald Trump's transition team. Pence, who is leading the transition team following Chris Christie's demotion, has also allegedly gutted the transition's "landing teams".
The order to remove all lobbyists from Trump's transition team is closer to the president-elect's campaign promise to "drain the swamp" of special interests and career politicians in Washington DC, according to NBC News. It was reportedly the explanation given to top foreign policy official, Matthew Freedman, when he was sacked.
If Pence's order is fully implemented, it could lead to at least nine current aides being removed. Freedman's firing is the latest shakeup to hit the controversy-filled transition team. It began when Trump choose Pence to lead the team instead of Christie. On Tuesday (15 November), former Congressman Mike Rogers was also ousted for his alleged closeness to Christie.
Meanwhile, Pence has also streamlined the transition's "landing teams," or the people responsible for visiting federal agencies and working to reshape them under Trump's administration, Politico reported. A recent Trump transition organisation chart showed 25 landing teams consisting of around 200 team members. It remains unclear how many Pence has gotten rid of.
The transition team has been slow moving and the latest reshuffling could mean further waits for several agencies to receive their directives from the new administration. "It certainly does slow down the transition's progress," said one source inside the transition team.
The move will also create further complications for Pence to deliver on an aide's promise that the landing teams would arrive at federal agencies "immediately". On Wednesday (16 November), Pence met with several key people and groups in Washington and received his first Presidential Daily Briefing. The vice President-elect plans to meet with House Republicans and House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi the following day.
Trump, on the other hand, remains in his New York City penthouse as he vets cabinet positions. On Wednesday, he took to Twitter to blast The New York Times for reporting on the difficulties facing his transition team. "The failing @nytimes story is so totally wrong on transition," he tweeted. "It is going so smoothly. Also, I have spoken to many foreign leaders," he added.