Monday, January 9, 2017
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Trump transition team clashing with Mattis: report
President-elect Donald Trump's pick to lead the Pentagon is battling transition officials over appointments to the Defense Department, according to a new report.
Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis has been rejecting large numbers of candidates offered by the transition team for several top posts, reports The Washington Post.
It described an "increasingly acrimonious dispute" over top appointments at the Pentagon between Mattis and the Trump transition team.
The fighting began, according to the report, when Mattis learned through the news media that Trump had selected Vincent Viola, a billionaire Army veteran, to become Army secretary.
“Mattis was furious,” a source told the Post. “It made him suspicious of the transition team, and things devolved from there.”
Mattis has swatted down the transition team's picks for undersecretary of Defense for intelligence and is unlikely to accept a leader of Trump's transition team, Mira Ricardel, a former Bush Pentagon appointee, for a top job.
The Trump transition team in a statement to the Post said the transition is ahead of schedule.
“We are ahead of schedule with assembling the most qualified cabinet and administration in history. Any implication contrary to that is completely false and from sources who do not have any knowledge of our transition efforts,” the statement reads.
President Obama's National Security Council (NSC) was known within the Pentagon to be notoriously micromanaging over policy and operations, and defense watchers are closely observing what relationship Trump will arrange with his Defense Department.
Michael Flynn, another retired general, is Trump's incoming national security adviser. The fighting over appointments could be a sign of tensions between the two generals.
Flynn has been filling his staff with loyalists, the Post said, including Matthew Pottinger, a former Marine and former Wall Street Journal reporter who Flynn worked closely with in Afghanistan. He will be the senior director for Asia on the NSC staff, the Post reported.