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Trump Tower besieged as president-elect continues planning his administration

Published 12/11/2016

Demonstrators at a protest in Omaha, Nebraska, against the election of Donald Trump as President (AP)
Demonstrators at a protest in Omaha, Nebraska, against the election of Donald Trump as President (AP)

President-elect Donald Trump is embarking on the massive undertaking of creating a new administration as a circus-like atmosphere unfolds around his building in Manhattan.

While he has announced one decision - putting Vice President-elect Mike Pence in charge of the transition instead of Chris Christie - Mr Trump must identify other people for top White House jobs and Cabinet posts.

He was apparently trying to sort through names as he holed himself up in Trump Tower and protesters swarmed outside behind barricades protecting the building and ritzy stores along Fifth Avenue.

At one point, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, a liberal critic of Trump who nevertheless had predicted his victory, entered the tower lobby with a camera crew in tow and asked to see Mr Trump.

"I just thought I'd see if I could get into Trump Tower and ride the famous escalator," said Moore, who did just that until he reached the fourth floor and the Secret Service told him he could go no higher.

Moments later, Nigel Farage, the head of the Leave movement that won Britain's vote to exit European Union, also arrived and was allowed up.

Mr Trump frequently links his campaign to the Brexit movement. Mr Farage would not say if he was playing a role in Mr Trump's transition.

For Mr Trump, who ran on a pledge to "drain the swamp" of Washington insiders, the transition team is strikingly heavy on those with long political resumes.

Another apparent contradiction emerged Friday as Mr Trump, who repeatedly vowed to achieve the repeal of President Barack Obama's health care law, said he would be open to maintaining portions of it.

Mr Christie was a loyal adviser to Mr Trump for much of the campaign, offered a key early endorsement and came close to being the businessman's pick for running mate. But Mr Trump ultimately went with Mr Pence, Indiana's governor and a former congressman with Washington experience and deep ties to conservatives, to take the transition forward.

Mr Christie will still be involved in the transition, joining a cluster of other steadfast Trump supporters serving as vice chairmen: former house speaker Newt Gingrich, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and Alabama senator Jeff Sessions.

In addition, three of Mr Trump's adult children - Don Jr, Eric and Ivanka - are on the transition executive committee, along with Jared Kushner, Ivanka's husband. Mr Kushner was an influential adviser in Mr Trump's campaign.

The children's inclusion raised questions Mr Trump's ability to sever ties between the administration and the sprawling family business - after the billionaire repeatedly said during the campaign that his grown children would not follow him to Washington and instead run the Trump Organisation.

Mr Trump told The Wall Street Journal that after speaking with Mr Obama at the White House, he was considering keeping the provision of the health law that allows children to stay on their parents' insurance policies until they turn 26. He said previously he may also keep the prohibition against insurers denying coverage because of patients' existing conditions.

Presidents-elect don't often appoint their running mates to lead their transition team. Mr Trump and Mr Christie grew apart through the last stretch of the campaign.

Among the first decisions facing the president-elect is whom to choose as chief of staff, a key post that will set the tone for Mr Trump's White House and be a main conduit to Capitol Hill and Cabinet agencies.

Mr Trump is said to be considering Steve Bannon, his campaign chairman and a conservative media executive, and Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus for the job. Neither has significant policy experience, though Mr Priebus is well-liked in Washington and has ties with politicians.

Kellyanne Conway, Mr Trump's campaign manager, is also said to be in the mix for a senior job. Ms Conway is a veteran Republican pollster who formed a strong rapport with the candidate after taking the helm of his campaign in the general election.

Mr Giuliani, who emerged as Trump's frequent travel partner and close aide, is on the short list for several positions, including attorney general.

AP

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