Leaked Trump transition vetting documents show numerous officials with 'red flags': Axios

Some of the Trump administration's top officials had "red flags" appear during the transition team's vetting process, which was outsourced to the Republican National Committee (RNC), according to internal documents leaked to Axios.

The documents show that many of the controversies Trump's Cabinet members were eventually ousted for were already known to the transition team. 

The vetting documents for former Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittEPA moving ahead with science transparency rule by 'early next year' Overnight Energy: Trump administration to repeal waterway protections| House votes to block drilling in Arctic refuge| Administration takes key step to open Alaskan refuge to drilling by end of year Trump administration to repeal waterway protections MORE, who resigned following numerous controversies regarding his spending, ethics and management style, had a section titled "allegations of coziness with big energy companies," according to documents released by Axios

Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PriceTom Price: The fiscal crisis at hand The Hill's Morning Report — Hurricane headed for Florida changes Trump's travel plans The Hill's Morning Report - Gillibrand drops out as number of debaters shrinks MORE resigned after facing backlash for using his private jet for official business. Vetting documents for Price flagged "criticisms of management ability," Axios reported.


Former Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonTillerson: Netanyahu 'played' Trump with misinformation Pompeo sees status grow with Bolton exit Trump blasts 'Mr. Tough Guy' Bolton: 'He made some very big mistakes' MORE raised a red flag for his "deep" ties to Russia, according to Axios. 

The Trump transition team fired former Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) days after President Trump's surprise victory. It was then headed by Vice President Pence, who outsourced political vetting to the RNC, Axios reported. 

Axios reported that sources on the RNC vetting team said Trump officials asked them to do an initial "scrub" of candidates' records before meeting with Trump. In many cases, it was the only vetting available to Trump when he announced his picks, Axios reported. 

An RNC official pointed The Hill to a statement RNC spokesman Mike Reed shared with Axios, defending the team's work. 

"It is not abnormal for a presidential transition team to utilize the national party committee as a resource in putting together background briefings on potential nominees and executive branch staff," he said. "These over 2-year-old documents were initial pre-interview briefings put together to inform the transition team of top-line issues of note in the candidates' background. Individuals selected for high-level administration jobs would have gone through more thorough background checks by lawyers, law enforcement agencies, and ethics officials before formally assuming their role."

The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment. 


The vetting team often put a candidate's harsh criticism of Trump near the top of the file, which didn't stop the president from meeting with or sometimes hiring an official, Axios reported. 

In a statement to Axios, White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said, "President Trump has done more to improve the lives of the American people in two years — than past presidents have done in eight — and no disgruntled, establishment, D.C. swamp creature's cowardly leaks can change that."

Christie looked over the team's vetting dossier for him in an interview with Axios reporter Jonathan Swan.

"It's fascinating," Christie said. "And by the way, the interesting part of this, which shows you how disorganized they were, was they had an entire vice presidential vetting file on me."

"That's what makes this even funnier that they would go through this," he added.

Christie said that before he was fired from the transition team, he turned over a 30-volume set of transition planning with four Cabinet recommendations for each position. 

"The longer-term consequences for the president and for the country was that he didn't have the very best people in front of him to be able to make a full and fair decision about, and then he paid the price for that later on with people like Scott Pruitt, with people like Mike Flynn," Christie said.