Trump shakes up transition team, elevates Pence’s role

Republican presidential Candidate Donald Trump gives his running mate, Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana a kiss as they shake hands after Pence's acceptance speech during the third day session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Wednesday, July 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Republican presidential Candidate Donald Trump gives his running mate, Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana a kiss as they shake hands after Pence's acceptance speech during the third day session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Wednesday, July 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Donald Trump is shaking up his transition team as he plunges into the work of setting up his administration, elevating Vice President-elect Mike Pence to head the operations. It amounts to a demotion for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who had been running Trump’s transition planning for months.

On the heels of Trump’s upset victory this week, the Republican’s team has been scrambling to identify people for top White House jobs and Cabinet posts. It’s an enormous undertaking that must be well in hand by the time Trump is inaugurated on Jan. 20.

In a statement Friday, Trump said Pence would “build on the initial work” done by Christie.

“Together, we will begin the urgent task of rebuilding this nation — specifically jobs, security and opportunity,” Trump said.

Christie was a loyal adviser to Trump for much of the campaign and came close to being the businessman’s pick for running mate. But Trump ultimately went with Indiana Gov. Pence, a former congressman with Washington experience and deep ties to conservatives.

Christie will still be involved in the transition, joining a cluster of other steadfast Trump supporters serving as vice chairs: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions.

Three of Trump’s adult children — Don. Jr., Eric and Ivanka — are all on the transition executive committee, along with Jared Kushner, Ivanka’s husband. Kushner played a significant role in Trump’s campaign and was spotted at the White House Thursday meeting with President Barack Obama’s chief of staff.

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