New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the first of President-elect Donald Trump’s primary rivals to endorse him and once vetted as a vice presidential pick, has been shut out the new administration. But an ex-aide who played a role in the Bridgegate scandal that tarnished Christie will be in it.
Bill Stepien, who joined the Trump campaign in August as national field director, snagged a senior role as White House political director, Trump’s transition team announced Wednesday.
Christie fired Stepien in January 2014 amid the Bridgegate scandal in which Christie aides directed the closure of lanes on the George Washington Bridge as political retribution.
Stepien was not charged in the federal investigation into the lane closures, but court documents revealed that a Christie aide texted a colleague amid Christie’s news conference on the bubbling scandal in December 2013 that Christie “just flat out lied about senior staff and Stepien not being involved.”
With scandal, Christie loses his top enforcer
The transition team announced the names of more than a dozen members of White House staff, formalizing West Wing roles for several of his longtime campaign aides and Republican National Committee staffers. The announcement comes weeks after several longtime campaign staffers began to gripe publicly that White House roles were taking too long to take shape and that Republican National Committee staffers had an edge in earning White House jobs.
“These individuals will be key leaders in helping to implement the President-elect’s agenda and bring real change to Washington,” White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said in a statement, calling the staffers “instrumental” in helping Trump.
George Gigicos, who has served as the Trump campaign’s director of advance from the outset, will take on that role at the White House.
Keith Schiller, Trump’s longtime head of security at the Trump Organization who almost never left Trump’s side during the campaign and helped coordinate Trump’s security with the Secret Service, will take on a role as Director of Oval Office Operations. Omarosa Manigault, the former “Apprentice” contestant who has remained a close business associate of Trump’s and helped him with diversity outreach during the campaign, was officially named communications director for the Office of Public Liaison.
Trump will also retain his campaign body man John McEntee as personal aide to the President.
Many other longtime campaign staffers have not yet officially snagged White House jobs, but the campaign called the announcement a “first wave” of staff announcements. The announcement of a dozen staffers came after the Trump transition formally tapped three deputy chiefs of staff, whose roles had been reported in recent days.
RNC senior adviser Katie Walsh will, as expected, become incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus’s right hand as White House deputy chief of staff. Rick Dearborn, the chief of staff to Sen. Jeff Sessions who headed up congressional relations for the Trump campaign, will work to implement Trump’s agenda on Capitol Hill as deputy chief of staff for legislative and intergovernmental affairs. And Joe Hagin will reprise his role in George W. Bush’s administration as deputy chief of staff for operations.
Trump also formalized Marc Short, the longtime aide to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, as director of legislative affairs.
Other individuals named Wednesday to West Wing posts included John DeStefano, who will serve as director of presidential personnel; Jessica Ditto, the Trump campaign’s deputy communications director, who will take on the same role at the White House; and Raj Shah, who will apply his job as RNC research director to the White House and also take on a deputy communications director title.
Longtime Pence aide Josh Pitcock will become the vice president’s chief of staff and Jen Pavlik will serve as Pence’s deputy chief of staff.