Uncertainty reigns in Trump transition team
News stories that Vice President-elect Mike Pence has ordered the removal of lobbyists from the presidential transition team has created uncertainty surrounding the transition at the Agriculture Department.
NBC News reported Wednesday that it had learned Pence had ordered the removal of all lobbyists, but that appeared in the context of a shakeup on the Trump foreign policy team and it is unclear whether it would apply to all transition officials.
Washington lobbyist Michael Torrey is in charge of the Agriculture Department transition. Torrey has been considered close to the Trump team through his employee, Brad McKinney, the son of Ted McKinney, the Indiana agriculture director appointed by Pence as governor.
Torrey did not return an email today asking if he is still heading the USDA transition and earlier did not respond to a request asking for confirmation that he is in charge.
Meanwhile, Politico reported that the Trump team appeared to have violated its own ethics rules with the appointments of lobbyists.
Trump and campaign officials disputed accounts that the transition is in disarray.
An Agriculture Department spokesman said the Trump team has not yet contacted USDA officials.
The Associated Press reported that Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., who introduced the initial bill on genetically modified food labeling, had met with Trump about a Cabinet post and that Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., who lost his Kansas House seat in a primary, said that he had been contacted about becoming Agriculture secretary.
Unnamed Trump transition officials canceled a meeting with House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, Politico reported.
–The Hagstrom Report
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In response to the severe drought conditions in the West and Great Plains, the Agriculture Department this week announced that plans to help cover the cost of transporting feed for livestock that rely on grazing.