In 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump refused to finance his presidential transition team, hurling insults at members of the campaign, urging them to ignore federal laws, The Guardian reveals.
Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball and The Big Short, penned the damning report which “reveals how Trump’s bungled presidential transition set the template for his time in the White House.”
According to Lewis, the following took place.
In April 2016, meetings between representatives of the remaining presidential candidates still in the race – Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, John Kasich, Ted Cruz – and the Obama White House started taking place. All of them were preparing to run the federal government, coordinating their respective presidential transition teams.
Former Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie – having dropped out of the presidential race and throwing his support behind Donald Trump – volunteered to head Trump’s presidential transition team. Subsequently, Christie went to see Trump and briefed him on the matter. Then-candidate Trump opposed taking money out of campaign funds to finance the transition team but eventually agreed that Christie should go ahead and raise a separate fund.
By August 2016, a team of 130 individuals was formed. Working part-time at Trump transition headquarters, on the corner of 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, Christie’s team made lists of likely candidates for 500 government jobs. The team gathered the names for the list then interviewed and investigated a slew of potential candidates.
Donald Trump first learned of the transition team’s efforts in the newspaper. The story, which revealed that Trump’s team had raised millions of dollars to pay for the staff, reportedly angered Trump, who urged chief executive of the campaign Steve Bannon to come to his residence.
Bannon arrived, finding Chris Christie seated on a sofa, while Trump hurled abuse at him.
“You’re stealing my money! You’re stealing my f*cking money! What the f*ck is this?”
“Why are you letting him steal my f*cking money?” Trump asked Bannon.
Chris Christie and Steve Bannon then proceeded to explain to candidate Trump that nominees of the two major parties were all required by federal law to create transition teams and prepare to take control of the government.
Unfazed, Trump shouted insults and profanities at Christie and Bannon.
“F*ck the law. I don’t give a f*ck about the law. I want my f*cking money.”
When Christie and Bannon explained to candidate Trump that he couldn’t have both – his money and his transition team – and when the pair explained to Trump that the government partially financed transition teams by providing office space and logistics, Trump insisted that they shut down the transition.
“Shut it down. Shut down the transition,” Trump said.
Naturally, neither Bannon nor Christie thought shutting down the transition would be a good idea. In an effort to persuade Trump into giving in, Bannon tapped into Trump’s fear of media backlash.
‘This guy doesn’t know anything’: the inside story of Trump’s shambolic transition team https://t.co/xaXer7QSL3
— The Guardian (@guardian) September 27, 2018
“What do you think Morning Joe will say if you shut down your transition?” Bannon asked, arguing that Trump’s refusal to finance the transition team would be interpreted as him thinking he had no chance at winning. For the first time, Trump listened.
“That makes sense,” he said, and Chris Christie went back to preparing the transition team.
From time to time, Trump would read about Christie’s fundraising and become upset again. He thought the money that people donate to the campaign belonged to him.
According to The Guardian, these happenings set the tone for Trump’s chaotic presidency.
Bob Woodward, journalist and author of Fear: Trump in the White House, – paraphrased excerpts of which have been published by the Washington Post – described in his best-selling book what came after the campaign and after the transition: A “nervous breakdown” of Trump’s presidency.
Similarly, the anonymously-penned New York Times op-ed details efforts of Trump administration officials to “thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.”