Three University affiliates have been associated with President-elect Donald Trump’s White House transition team.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, an ex-officio trustee of the University, served as the head of the transition team until Nov. 11, when he was replaced by Vice President-elect Mike Pence. Christie will now serve as a vice-chair of the team.
Richard Bagger ’82, a senior aide in Christie’s administration, ran the day-to-day operations of the transition office and was the head of the planning group. Bagger was a former New Jersey State Assemblyman and State Senator, and currently serves as a commissioner on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Bagger was replaced last week by Rick Dearborn, an aide to Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, after Christie was removed as head of the transition team.
Bagger did not respond to a request for comment.
Michael Meese GS ’01 joined the transition team last week in order to advise the Trump on veterans and defense issues. Meese is a retired Army Brigadier General and was a senior adviser to General David Petraeus GS ’85 GS ’87.
He spent nine years teaching at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and deployed in 2007 to Iraq to guide the surge and withdrawal of American troops. In 2010, Meese deployed to Afghanistan to serve as Petraeus’ Chief of Staff. Meese retired in 2013 and currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer of the American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association. He also teaches part-time at the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University. Meese’s father, former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese, is also on the transition team.
Meese deferred comment to the Presidential Transition Team organization.
The PTT did not respond to a request for comment.
Wilson School Professor Jacob Shapiro said that it is still too early to predict the Trump administration’s defense policy, but he noted that there are a few key issues that Trump has advocated over the course of the campaign.
Shapiro said that not pursuing the Trans-Pacific Partnership and trying to improve U.S.-Russia relations are two major issues, but he added that these views are not very popular among Republicans who will be part of the foreign policy team. According to Shapiro, one of the challenges Trump has faced has been finding people with experience who are willing to advance Trump’s foreign policy, since his views have been inconsistent with traditional Republican views.
“The challenge that [the new administration] is going to face is that they’re going to have to balance the commitments that the President made during his campaign with the kind of policies that have long been advocated by the Republican foreign-policy establishment,” Shapiro said.