President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House on Thursday, a traditional post-election meeting that informally begins the transition process from one administration to the next. Trump's campaign on Friday announced a reshuffling of the transition team, which will now be led by Vice President-elect Mike Pence. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- President-elect Donald Trump reshuffled his transition team Friday, replacing two key posts led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie with his running mate and a prominent one-two GOP punch from Alabama.
Christie, one of Trump's most ardent supporters, was replaced by Vice President-elect Mike Pence as chairman of the White House transition process.
Trump's camp announced the switch Friday, which elevates Pence and downgrades Christie to executive committee vice chairman -- still a leadership post but with far less influence.
Trump also replaced Christie aide and transition director Rich Bagger, who served in the role for months, with Rick Dearborn, chief of staff for Sen. Jeff Session, R-Ala. -- who was also named to the executive committee Friday.
"I am proud to have run the pre-election phase of the transition team along with a thoroughly professional and dedicated team of people," Christie said in a statement. "I look forward to working with Vice President-elect Pence and the rest of the leadership team."
Along with Sessions, others on Trump's executive panel include former GOP candidate Ben Carson, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
President-elect of the United States Donald Trump shakes hands with Vice President-elect Mike Pence before his acceptance speech at the New York Hilton Midtown on Tuesday night, following the duo's surprising election victory. Trump's campaign said Friday Pence will replace New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as his transition team's chairman. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Trump's transition team is responsible for game-planning the logistical, political and fundamental aspects of changing the White House from one administration to another.
It wasn't immediately clear why Christie and Bagger were effectively demoted, but some have speculated it may be related to corruption convictions of two Christie aides last week over the "Bridgegate" scandal. Sessions is a four-term Republican senator and a famously outspoken critic of illegal immigration.
Trump is in the midst of the always-whirlwind process of a new president filling out his cabinet. Twelve new people have also added to the transition team -- GOP donor Rebekah Mercer; campaign chair Stephen Bannon, RNC chair Reince Priebus, investor Peter Thiel, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Trump's three adult children and his son-in-law, possible White House chief of staff-in-waiting, Jared Kushner.
Cabinet positions have not yet been formalized, but Trump indicated Friday that those appointments will be announced soon.
"Busy day planned in New York. Will soon be making some very important decisions on the people who will be running our government!" the president-elect tweeted Friday, continuing to sound a far more diplomatic tone than he did during most of his campaign.
"Love the fact that the small groups of protesters last night have passion for our great country. We will all come together and be proud!" he tweeted, for example, Friday afternoon.