Trump transition: "stalled...scrambling...on pause"

Last Updated Nov 15, 2016 4:19 PM EST

By Arden Farhi, Major Garrett and Steve Chaggaris

State of the transition

The state of the transition is “stalled...scrambling...and on pause,” according to several sources familiar with the transition. The team at this point is not “up and running fully” after “blowing up” the team, beginning with Chris Christie’s recent ouster as the chairman of the transition team. 

One sign -- personnel announcements that were supposed to be made this week have been put on hold.  Members of the transition staff are waiting for further instructions from Trump Tower. 

For all intents and purposes, Christie no longer has a role in the transition, although formally he was merely demoted to the level of vice chair, a title held by several members of the team. He’s “gone, not involved -- on the sideline,” according to one source, as is ally Mike Rogers.  

A Republican member of the national security establishment told CBS News’ David Martin that Rogers was forced off the transition team because of his closeness to Chris Christie, who had been in charge of the transition before he was demoted last week. Trump replaced Christie at the top of the transition team with Pence. The other strike against Rogers, according to Martin’s source, was that he had done his own investigation of Benghazi and found that Hillary Clinton had done nothing wrong.

Rick Dearborn, a top aide to Senator Sessions, has filled some of the void left by Team Christie’s departure. His is an operational role inside the transition, researching potential appointees. 

CBS News reports that Trump can be expected to name a national security team before other posts. The economic team is expected to be named second.

Ben Carson will retain his advisory role within the transition but he will not have a job in the administration.

Tom Barrack will be named chairman of the inaugural committee as soon as Tuesday. Lew Eisenberg is expected to be finance chair for the inaugural committee, and Ray Washburne will serve as one of the vice chairs.

The transition has begun staffing an advance unit that will work through the inauguration. One source told CBS that Mr. Trump is expected to hold rallies in January to build on the election result in an effort to create some resonance with the public and produce a pro-Trump atmosphere about his promises and early initiatives. These rallies -- planning for which is in disarray -- were initially conceived as a seven-state thank-you tour before the inauguration.  

Cabinet appointments

Secretary of State: Rudy Giuliani is pushing “hard, hard, hard” for secretary of state, according to a source. He wants it and is the leading contender at this point. However, one source called the speculation a potential ego boost to Giuliani and his appointment has not yet been finalized.

Attorney General: Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, is under consideration. 

Secretary of Defense: Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-New Hampshire, is among those being considered. She’s seen as qualified, available and Trump needs to include a woman in his cabinet. Ayotte rescinded her support of Trump during the campaign over the 2005 “Access Hollywood” video on which Trump could be heard using lewd language about women. Ayotte lost her re-election race against New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan.

Secretary of Commerce: Ray Washburne, a Texas-based businessman and Republican fundraiser, is under consideration. There is at least one other candidate. 

Trump and Pence in meetings at Trump Tower

Donald Trump has been in meetings with Vice President-elect Mike Pence, as he works on filling out his Cabinet, including top national security posts. Pence was seen entering Trump Tower armed with a thick briefing book.

According to the AP, the switch in roles between Christie and Pence has slowed Mr. Trump’s ability to coordinate with the White House. Pence has yet to sign a memorandum of understanding facilitating interactions between transition officials and Obama administration officials, effectively pausing those efforts. Christie had previously signed the document, but it’s no longer valid, given Pence’s promotion. And Pentagon and State Department officials say they have yet to hear from the transition team.

The New York billionaire also was considering tapping Richard Grenell as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, a move that would bring some experience and diversity to his nascent administration. Grenell, who served as U.S. spokesman at the U.N. under President George W. Bush, would be the first openly gay person to fill a Cabinet-level foreign policy post.

The transition planning comes amid an intense and extended backlash from Trump’s decision on Sunday to appoint Steve Bannon, a man celebrated by the white nationalist movement, to serve as his chief strategist and senior adviser.

Until joining Trump’s campaign this summer, Bannon led the Breitbart website that appealed to the so-called “alt-right” - a movement often associated with efforts on the far right to preserve “white identity,” oppose multiculturalism and defend “Western values.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan -- who was just unanimously re-has been a frequent Breitbart target. Asked about Bannon’s appointment, Ryan said, “I would just simply say the president will be judged on results.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.