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Trump taps fired Christie aide Bill Stepien as political adviser

 

Former Chris Christie campaign manager Bill Stepien will advise Donald Trump at the White House.

Former Chris Christie campaign manager Bill Stepien will advise Donald Trump at the White House.

(Bill Denver For NY Daily News)

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Updated: Wednesday, January 4, 2017, 5:02 PM

President-elect Donald Trump has tapped Bill Stepien — Chris Christie’s former campaign manager whom the New Jersey governor axed after becoming mired in the Bridgegate scandal — as his White House political director, his transition team said Wednesday.

Stepien, who ran both of Christie’s gubernatorial campaigns and who the oversized guv fired after his name came up in emails related to the scandal over the George Washington Bridge lane closures, had been working with the Trump transition team in recent months and had previously worked on the presidential bids of George W. Bush and John McCain.

While Stepien’s hire had been expected, it was nevertheless ironic, considering Christie — who had supported Trump quickly after he abandoned his own bid and who became a prominent surrogate for the mogul — will be awarded with no title or responsibilities in the incoming administration.

Christie had fallen out of favor within Trump’s circle after he refused to offer a full-throated defense of the mogul following the emergence of a tape showing him making lewd comments about women.

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He also was reportedly disliked by Trump’s son-in-law and close adviser, Jared Kushner — who’d put his own father behind bars as a U.S. attorney — and had been demoted from his post leading Trump’s transition team after the businessman won on Election Night.

Stepien, who court testimony showed was aware of the alleged plot to punish Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for refusing to endorse Christie's reelection in 2013, was not charged in connection to the lane closures and has denied having any knowledge of them.

His appointment Wednesday came amid a raft of other personnel announcements for Trump’s incoming administration, including Keith Schiller, a retired NYPD officer who had been running Trump's private security detail, as director of Oval Office operations.

Trump’s transition team said the President-elect will nominate Wall Street lawyer Jay Clayton as his Securities and Exchange Commission chairman.

Trump’s transition team said the President-elect will nominate Wall Street lawyer Jay Clayton as his Securities and Exchange Commission chairman.

(BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)

Schiller had led a private security team — which Trump had employed on top of his Secret Service detail — to help protect the President-elect.

If Schiller brings his entire team to the White House, it would mark a radical departure from the standard protocol of having the President rely solely on the Secret Service for protection.

Earlier Wednesday, Trump’s transition team announced he would nominate Wall Street lawyer Jay Clayton as his Securities and Exchange Commission chairman.

Chris Christie was left with no role in Trump's administration.

Chris Christie was left with no role in Trump's administration.

(Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Clayton is a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell who specializes in public and private mergers and offerings, an area that requires expertise on complex securities regulations and corporate governance.

Throughout his legal career, Clayton worked on high-profile initial public offerings, and during the peak of the 2008 financial crisis, he worked on major deals involving big banks, including Barclays Capital's acquisition of Lehman Brothers' assets, the sale of Bear Stearns to JPMorgan Chase, and the U.S. Treasury Department's capital investment in Goldman Sachs.

As SEC chairman, Clayton would be instrumental in helping to carry out Trump's vows to scale back on financial regulation.

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Stephen Miller (l.) senior policy adviser for the Trump campaign, and Keith Schiller, chief of security for the Trump campaign, check the podium before Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during an event at Trump SoHo Hotel.

(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

"Jay Clayton is a highly talented expert on many aspects of financial and regulatory law, and he will ensure our financial institutions can thrive and create jobs while playing by the rules at the same time," Trump said in a statement. "We need to undo many regulations which have stifled investment in American businesses, and restore oversight of the financial industry in a way that does not harm American workers."

Clayton will be the latest member of Trump's incoming cabinet and cabinet-level advisers whose career was on Wall Street, joining fellow investment honchos Steve Mnuchin, the former Goldman Sachs partner who is now the Treasury secretary designate; Stephen Bannon, a former Goldman banker who is Trump's chief White House strategist; Wilbur Ross, the Commerce secretary designate who enjoyed a decades-long career in private equity; and Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn, who will head Trump’s National Economic Council.

Trump still has vacancies for the secretary of agriculture and secretary of veterans affairs posts.

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