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From Lobbyists To Loyalists, See Who's On Donald Trump's Transition Team

A fair number are Washington insiders, according to an organization chart of the team obtained by NPR. That’s surprising for a candidate who pledges to “drain the swamp.”

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L: Michael Conroy/AP, Carolyn Kaster/AP, Mario Tama/Getty Images, Michael Stewart/WireImage

The Trump transition team is a work in progress, but there are certain things we know. It’s being led by Vice President-elect Mike Pence, and it includes an executive committee that includes several members of President-elect Donald Trump’s family.

NPR has obtained an organizational chart, which lists the names of those who are heading “teams” with responsibility for many of the federal agencies and departments. Several of them, especially in the national security realm, played advisory roles in the Trump campaign. Most are white men. And, somewhat surprisingly for an administration that pledges to reduce the impact of lobbyists in Washington to “drain the swamp,” a fair number of them are lobbyists.

Keep in mind that the transition is a fluid process. For instance, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was the original transition chairman until he was replaced by Pence, and Mike Rogers was originally the national security lead, until he unexpectedly withdrew. The New York Times reported that lobbyist Matthew Freedman, also on the national security team, was fired. (Trump denied the Times report that his transition team is in flux, tweeting that it’s going “so smoothly.”)

Here are some of the people who are on Trump’s transition team.

Agency Action Team
Ron Nicol, Director, Agency Action

A former officer in the Navy, Ron Nicol has worked as a senior adviser to The Boston Consulting Group (the same company where Mitt Romney got his start) since January of 2016. According to his bio on BCG’s website, Nicol’s focus is on telecommunications and airlines. Prior to his work at BCG, he worked at Babcock and Wilcox, an energy and environmental technology company.

Nicol will oversee the following six groups, each with its own lead.


Keith Kellogg is a retired Army lieutenant general who endorsed Trump last summer. He served two tours in Vietnam and was chief of staff for the 82nd Airborne Division in Operation Desert Storm. Since retiring from the military, Kellogg has worked for a number of defense and homeland security contractors.

  • Michael Meese is working under Kellogg on Veterans Affairs. He is a retired Army brigadier general who served as a senior adviser to Gen. David Petraeus in Iraq and Afghanistan. He taught at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and currently teaches at Georgetown University. He also serves as chief operating officer of the American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association, which helps military families deal with financial matters. He happens to be the son of another transition team member, former Attorney General Edwin Meese.
National Security

Former Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers was originally slated to lead the National Security transition team. However, in a statement released Tuesday, he said he was “pleased to hand off our work” to a new team led by Mike Pence.

There are several people working underneath the head of the National Security team. They include:

  1. DHS: Cindy Hayden, lobbyist for Altria, a giant tobacco company.
  2. State: Jim Carafano, vice president at the conservative Heritage Foundation and, according to its website, “a leading expert in national security and foreign policy challenges.”
  3. Intelligence: Ronald Burgess, a retired Army lieutenant general who served as deputy director of national intelligence from 2005 to 2007 during the George W. Bush administration, and for a month in 2009. He has been at Auburn University, working on national security and cyber programs, since December 2012.
Economic Issues

David Malpass is the president of Encima Global, a consulting and economic research firm. Previous positions include work at Bear Stearns as a chief economist, controller at Consolidated Supply Co. and a variety of appointments during the Reagan and Bush administrations, including deputy assistant treasury secretary for developing nations, deputy assistant secretary of state and senior analyst for taxes and trade at the Senate Budget Committee. Malpass ran unsuccessfully for a New York Senate seat in 2010 and was an adviser to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani during his 2008 bid for the White House. In an interview with Marketplace, Malpass expressed his belief that Trump is capable of changing government, saying, "[The federal government] is this giant entity that’s constantly affecting people’s lives. And I think they haven’t been making good decisions in the current administration and we need a better one.”

Bill Walton is the chairman of Rappahannock Ventures (a private equity firm) and Rush River Entertainment (film production company). He is a senior fellow for the Discovery Institute’s Center on Wealth, Poverty and Morality and is the chairman of the board and CEO of Allied Capital Corp.

Domestic Issues

Ken Blackwell is the senior fellow for human rights and constitutional governance at the conservative Family Research Council. The author of several books, including Resurgent: How Constitutional Conservatism Can Save America, Blackwell is a former mayor of Cincinnati and former Ohio secretary of state and treasurer. He was the first black major party nominee for Ohio governor in 2006 (he lost to Ted Strickland) and ran unsuccessfully for chairman of the Republican National Committee in 2009. Blackwell has previously spoken out against Trump, saying, “Donald Trump is an existential threat to conservatism. He is arguably one of the most divisive figures in modern political history and his candidacy represents not only a threat to the Republican Party, Donald Trump is dragging the nation into the political gutter. It’s time for conservative voters to open their eyes and understand the nation deserves better than this political huckster.” Blackwell’s appointment drew criticism from the left for anti-gay comments he has made.

There are several people working underneath Blackwell, heading up various teams. They include:

  1. EPA: Myron Ebell directs environmental and energy policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and is a leading climate change skeptic. He opposes the Clean Power Plan, which is aimed at reducing carbon emissions, calling it illegal. He heads a group called the “Cooler Heads Coalition” that questions “global warming alarmism.”
  2. DOE/NRC: Mike McKenna, president of MWR Strategies, a lobbying firm. His clients have included Koch Companies and Dow Chemical. He worked for the Department of Energy during the George H.W. Bush administration.
  3. Labor: Steve Hart, chairman of Williams & Jensen, a Washington lobbying firm. According to his bio on the company’s website, he has been named “one of Washington’s top lobbyists.” He worked at the Justice Department during the Reagan administration and at OMB and the Labor Department.

Edwin Meese is a fellow emeritus at the conservative Heritage Foundation. He served President Reagan in a variety of positions, including attorney general, and as a member of Reagan’s National Security Council. He also headed the transition team after Reagan won the 1980 election.

Kay Coles James is the former director of the Office of Personnel Management. She served as Virginia’s secretary of health and human resources and is the former senior vice president of the Family Research Council.

Agency Transformation and Innovation

Beth Kaufman

Policy Implementation Team

The policy implementation team is led by Ado Machida. Machida served as a deputy assistant and acting director for domestic policy to former Vice President Dick Cheney and was previously a lobbyist at Akin Gump Straus Hauer & Feld LLP and BAE Systems. He was a senior economic policy adviser on Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign.

Machida oversees a team of 14 people, including the executive legal action lead and executive authority adviser.

Executive Legal Action Lead

Andrew Bremberg has long been an adviser to top Republicans. He served as a policy adviser to Gov. Scott Walker during his presidential campaign and to Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. He is the former chief of staff in the Office of Public Health and Science at the Department of Health and Human Services and was brought in to help on health policy as part of the transition team for Mitt Romney during his bid for the presidency.

Executive Authority Adviser

Carlos Diaz Rosillo is a lecturer at Harvard University. He recently taught a popular class called “The Road to the White House,” examining Trump’s campaign.

Other members of this team include:

  1. Immigration Reform and Building the Wall: Danielle Cutrona is Sen. Jeff Sessions’ counsel on the Judiciary Committee.
  2. Health Care Reform: Paula Stannard is a lawyer at Alston & Bird who was formerly the deputy general counsel and acting general counsel at the Department of Health and Human Services.
  3. Defense and National Security: Bert Mizusawa is a major general in the Army Reserve. He was awarded a Silver Star for his service in South Korea. He waged an unsuccessful campaign for a congressional seat in Virginia in 2010.
  4. Trade Reform: Jim Carter is a lobbyist for Emerson, a manufacturing company.
  5. VA Reform: Bill Chatfield is a lobbyist who served as a director of Selective Service after being nominated by George W. Bush.
  6. Regulatory Reform: Rob Gordon
  7. Energy Independence: Michael Catanzaro is a former energy staffer for John Boehner. He has a history of climate change denial and currently works as a partner at the lobbying firm CGCN, where his clients include Koch Industries.
  8. Financial Services: Brian Johnson is a lawyer for the House Financial Services Committee.
  9. Education: Gerard Robinson is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. His expertise is in education policy studies.
  10. Transport and Infrastructure: Martin Whitmer is chairman of the lobbying firm Whitmer and Worrall. He served as the deputy chief of staff at the Department of Transportation after his appointment by President George W. Bush.
  11. Protecting Constitutional Rights: Per Politico, Ken Klukoski is the director of strategic affairs for the First Liberty Institute, which is in charge of “protecting constitutional rights.”

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

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