New Donald Trump tweetstorm denies talk of transition turmoil

Donald Trump received a standing ovation at the 21 Club restaurant.
Donald Trump received a standing ovation at the 21 Club restaurant.PHOTO: TWITTER / @RIGGSREPORT

WASHINGTON  (AFP) – Donald Trump’s latest tweetstorm pushed back Wednesday (Nov 16) against rumours his transition team is in disarray, and denied a news report that foreign leaders have struggled to reach him by phone.

The New York Times wrote that the president-elect’s inner circle were “improvising” as they went about the critical task of hiring top staff to replace the administration of outgoing President Barack Obama.

The daily also wrote that foreign leaders were “blindly dialling” Trump Tower, the billionaire’s opulent office, to try to speak to him – a charge Trump strongly denied.

“I have received and taken calls from many foreign leaders despite what the failing @nytimes said,” the Republican tweeted to his 15 million followers.

“Russia, UK, China, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and more. I am always available to them,” he said.
“@nytimes is just upset that they looked like fools in their coverage of me.”

One week after Trump’s shock election win, rumours have swirled of a messy presidential transition hampered by bickering and backstabbing as he prepares to take the reins of power in just nine weeks.

However, Trump’s frenzied flurry of tweets denied rumours of internal disorder among his team.

“Very organised process taking place as I decide on Cabinet and many other positions,” he wrote late Tuesday, scoffing at media speculation about the frontrunners for key administration posts.

“I am the only one who knows who the finalists are!” he tweeted.

Several US news outlets have reported that former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani is tipped for secretary of state.

Hawkish former UN ambassador John Bolton and retired general Michael Flynn reportedly are also among those shortlisted for top jobs.

Other sightings at the iconic Trump-branded skyscraper included Ted Cruz – the arch-conservative Texas senator who Trump belittled as “Lyin’ Ted” during the Republican primaries.

Trump also dismissed press reports that he was trying to get family members cleared to attend high-level briefings.

“I am not trying to get “top level security clearance” for my children. This was a typically false news story,” he tweeted on Wednesday.

Media said Trump has requested top-secret clearance for his son-in-law Jared Kushner – husband to his daughter Ivanka – so he can join the daily presidential briefings.

The Washington Post reported that Kushner purged several transition team members allegedly linked to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who was demoted Friday when Trump reshuffled his transition team and placed Pence in charge.

Kushner is a real estate developer with no political experience other than his role as a Trump confidant on the campaign trail.

Earlier on Tuesday, Trump avoided reporters as he left Trump Tower for the first time in days to go to dinner with his family.

A group of reporters is always present to cover the movements of the nation's leader, or in this case, the incoming leader. The information is "pooled," and shared with other media members that belong to the group.

Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks told reporters at Trump Towers, where the president-elect lives and has his company headquarters, around 6.15pm (2315 GMT) that there would be no more news for the evening.

More than an hour later a large motorcade, including an ambulance, left Trump Tower. Hicks did not immediately respond when asked if the president-elect had left the skyscraper.

Soon after Bloomberg News reporter Taylor Riggs, who was dining at the nearby 21 Club restaurant, saw Trump come in with members of his transition team and tweeted a photo.

The president-elect received a standing ovation at the restaurant, Riggs wrote in the caption of a picture posted on Twitter.

The Trump entourage included his wife Melania, daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, and sons Donald Jr and Eric Trump, NBC reported.

Hicks later confirmed that Trump was having dinner with his family at the restaurant.

"I wasn't aware of this movement," Hicks told reporters, insisting that she would never do anything to "leave the press in the dark."

Hicks said that once a pool of reporters is selected to travel with Trump, then they will have "all of the access that they have ever had under any president."

Trump credited his use of Twitter and other social media with helping him win the election, calling it a "great form of communication" in an interview Sunday on CBS's "60 Minutes." Trump has yet to hold a press conference since winning the Nov 8 election.