More shakeups in Trump transition team, administration

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Former congressman Mike Rogers announced in a statement Tuesday he parted ways with President-elect Donald Trump's transition team, removing an establishment national security voice from the planning process of the next president's Cabinet.

According to a source familiar with the transition, Rogers was told Monday on the phone that he was out. The source said this was part of an effort to replace the transition team members associated with Chris Christie, who previously headed up the transition team's efforts until being replaced by Vice President-elect Mike Pence.

Rogers, who had been working on the transition team for months under Christie, was sidelined as the campaign and transitions merged into one presidential team, with members of Trump's inner circle that were with him through the campaign taking more prominent roles in the transition, according to one source familiar with the transition activity.

But another source, a longtime Christie associate, cautioned that there was no "purge" of Christie staff, the team that began the transition months ago, and that such a characterization is "overblown." While some Christie staff have left, others are continuing on with the transition team.

The Christie associate said it makes sense that Pence would want some of his own people involved now that he is running the effort.

Rogers positively described his time period working with the transition team as a "privilege," in a statement to reporters, and said he was handing off his responsibilities as a national security adviser to the transition organization to Pence and "the stellar new leadership team."

"I look forward to continuing to provide advice and counsel as needed to the incoming Trump administration as they work to make America great again," Rogers said in the statement.

Speaking to CNN's Jim Sciutto on "The Lead," Rogers said later Tuesday that he felt the transition team was "going in a different direction," though he noted some confusion on the team.

"Is there a little confusion in New York? I think there is, but I think this is just growing pains," Rogers said.

The news of Rogers' departure was first reported by Bloomberg.

Rogers' participation in the transition team was seen as a heartening sign for traditional GOP national security advisers.

Sources tied to the transition team talking to CNN described the organization's internal disagreements -- mainly divided along the lines of establishment Republican operatives against more non-traditional influences on national security issues -- as a "knife fight" on Monday.

Rogers chaired the House Intelligence Committee while he was in Congress and is an Army veteran and former FBI agent with an expertise in national security

He has also been critical of Russia's role in recent hacking episodes, including the hacks of Democratic political groups during the election which the US government attributed to high levels of Russian government. Trump repeatedly declined to acknowledge Russia's role, saying the evidence was inconclusive.

Meanwhile,  Rudy Giuliani has been mentioned for several potential Cabinet positions in Trump's administration, but it was clear Monday night that he really wants to be secretary of state.

The former New York City mayor spoke Monday about his foreign policy vision at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council and, according to the Wall Street Journal's description, Giuliani "suggested several times that he would be interested in the (Secretary of State) post." He also laid out some potential foreign policy priorities.

He discussed the fight against ISIS and Mideast peace in addition to US relations with Russia, which he said is not a military threat, and China, which he said Trump will seek to engage on trade. He seemed to waver on how highly a Trump administration would prioritize renegotiating the Iran nuclear deal. Terrorism was at the top of Giuliani's potential international agenda.

Giuliani said that ISIS "short-term, I believe, is the greatest danger, and not because ISIS in Iraq and in Syria, but because ISIS did something al Qaeda never did -- ISIS was able to spread itself around the world." He pointed to attacks in Orlando, Florida, and Nice, France, as examples of the unique threat posed by a global terror network like ISIS.

Regarding the Middle East, Giuliani warned against regional tensions being stoked by Iran. But Giuliani -- a strident critic of the nuclear deal with Iran negotiated by the Obama administration -- seemed to back off of a total withdrawal from that agreement, suggesting that reworking the deal would be a lower priority than combating terrorism.

"You have to set priorities. So if the priority is, let's eliminate ISIS, maybe you put that off a little bit. And you get rid of ISIS first. And then you get back to that," Giuliani said, when asked if he would potentially spend his first two years as secretary of state locked in a diplomatic fight over the Iran deal.

Business ties a problem

Trump's transition team, however, is also looking into whether his business ties would complicate his confirmation and his role as the top diplomat, according to a source familiar with transition talks.

Some of those ties, previously reported, including lobbying for Citgo, a US-based subsidiary of the Venezuelan oil conglomerate, at his old law firm. His current firm has also done business with Qatar.

The source said some of another financial issue regarding Giuliani, like the money he took from the Iranian exile group MEK, may not be as much as a concern, as the group who had many of the GOP establishment lobbying on their behalf and paid for speaking engagements.

Russia and China

Giuliani also issued a cavalier dismissal of the threat posed by Russia, calling for a more cooperative relationship while also suggesting that military force be more readily threatened.

"Russia thinks it's a military competitor, it really isn't," Giuliani said. "It's our unwillingness under (President Barack) Obama to even threaten the use of our military that makes Russia so powerful."

And the former New York City mayor said a Trump administration would "prefer to engage with (China) on economic issues such as trade," even as diplomatic tensions between the two nations grow as a result of the standoff over territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Giuliani is among those rumored to be under consideration by the Trump transition team for secretary of state. Other names include John Bolton, a veteran diplomat and former US ambassador to the UN under President George W. Bush, President of the Council on Foreign Relations Richard Haass and Sens. Bob Corker and Jeff Sessions.