Trump transition shake-up part of 'Stalinesque purge' of Christie loyalists

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President-elect Donald Trump is shaking up his transition effort just a week after his upset win, ousting former Rep. Mike Rogers from the team in what one source called a "Stalinesque purge of people close" to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Rogers confirmed his exit in a statement that said that, despite his departure, he planned to continue to "provide advice and counsel as needed to the incoming Trump administration."

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"It was a privilege to prepare and advise the policy, personnel and agency action teams on all aspects of the national security portfolio during the initial pre-election planning phase. Our work will provide a strong foundation for the new transition team leadership as they move into the post-election phase, which naturally is incorporating the campaign team in New York who drove President-elect Trump to an incredible victory last Tuesday," Rogers said in the statement.

Rogers was initially seen as a leading candidate for CIA director, but now is likely off the list, a source tells NBC News. Rep. Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is now a top contender.

Figures that Politico has named as possible picks for Trump's cabinet

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Donald Trump's rumored picks for his administration
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Donald Trump's rumored picks for his administration
Sarah Palin is rumored to be among Trump's picks for Interior Secretary. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Trump named Jeff Sessions his pick for U.S. attorney general. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Trump named Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn his pick for National Security Adviser. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Trump named Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., as his preferred pick for CIA director. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Newt Gingrich is rumored to be among Trump's top picks for secretary of state. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Mitt Romney has reportedly been in discussions for secretary of state. 

(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

Ted Cruz was believed to be under consideration for Trump's attorney general

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Steven Mnuchin is rumored to be Trump's top pick for Treasury Secretary. (KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
 

Bob Corker is also rumored to be among Trump's picks for secretary of state. REUTERS/Mike Theiler

Stephen Hadley is rumored to be in the running for secretary of defense. REUTERS/Larry Downing

Jim Talent is rumored to also be in the running for secretary of defense. REUTERS/Tim Parker 

Rudy Giuliani was also rumored to be among Trump's top picks for attorney general. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Forrest Lucas is rumored to be Trump's top pick for Interior Secretary. ( Amanda Edwards/WireImage)

Robert Grady is also being eyed for the Interior Secretary position.  REUTERS/Fred Prouser 

Donald Trump Jr. is also said to have interest in the Interior Secretary position. (REUTERS/Mike Segar)

Controversial pick Sid Miller is one of the many being considered for Agriculture Secretary. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

Sam Brownback is also one of the several names being considered for Agriculture Secretary. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Billionaire Wilbur Ross is a rumored choice for Commerce Secretary. FINANCE-WLROSS/ REUTERS/Tim Chong 

Daniel Dimicco, a Trump Trade Advisor is also on the possible list for Commerce Secretary.  REUTERS/Chris Keane 

Victoria Lipnic (left) is being considered for Labor Secretary.(AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Rick Scott is considered to be a top contender for Health and Human Services Secretary.  REUTERS/Joe Skipper/File Photo

Ben Carson was also rumored to be in the running for Health and Human Services Secretary -- but said he doesn't want the job. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Harold Hamm is considered to be the top contender for Energy Secretary.  (AP PhotoKevin Cederstrom)

Jeff Miller's name has been bounced around many times for the Veterans Affairs Secretary position. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

David Clarke is rumored to be among Trump's top picks for Homeland Security Secretary. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Myron Bell who has been a part of Trump's transition team is rumored to be the top pick for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator position. 

Photo Credit: Twitter/oliverwasow

Representative Tom Price of Georgia is being considered for the position of secretary of health and human services.

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Ivana Trump, the president-elect's ex-wife, has said she wants Trump to name her as ambassador to the Czech Republic.

(Photo by Michael Zorn/Invision/AP)

John Bolton is yet another rumored pick for secretary of state. 

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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His departure follows Christie's demotion from head of the team to a vice-chair, with Vice President-elect Mike Pence taking over for him last week.

The purge indicates the emphasis on loyalty — and significant influence of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, husband of Ivanka — that characterized Trump's campaign will carry over into his White House.

Multiple sources indicated that Christie was demoted because he wasn't seen as sufficiently loyal to Trump, failing to vocally defend him at key moments on the campaign trail.

But he has long been in a precarious position with Trump, due in part, multiple sources say, to a longstanding grudge sparked when Christie prosecuted Kushner's father in 2004. Due to Christie's investigation, Charles Kushner eventually pleaded guilty to 18 felony counts, including tax fraud and witness tampering, and was sentenced to two years in federal prison.

Rogers' exit and Christie's demotion are the latest wrinkles in a transition process that's gotten off to a rocky start following Trump's unexpected blowout win last week.

Trump over the weekend named RNC Chair Reince Priebus his chief of staff and Breitbart Founder Steve Bannon chief strategist, earning plaudits with the first but backlash over the former, because of Bannon's controversial comments on minorities and Breitbart's often incendiary reporting, among other issues.

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RNC Chair Reince Priebus
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RNC Chair Reince Priebus
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Chairman of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus (R) address supporters during his election night rally in Manhattan, New York, U.S. on November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo
U.S. President elect Donald Trump shakes hands with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus (C) as Vice President-elect Mike Pence (R) looks onat election night rally in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee stands at the main podium as he previews the stage at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. on July 17, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., July 21 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) (R) talks to RNC Chair Reince Priebus at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus gavels the convention to order at the start of the first session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 18, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus hold his hand over his heart for the U.S. Naitonal Anthem at the start of the first session of the at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 18, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young
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In a separate development, Eliot Cohen, a senior State Department official under George W. Bush who blasted Trump during the campaign, ripped into the president-elect's transition effort Tuesday.

Cohen, one of 122 Republican national security figures who signed an open letter last spring opposing Trump's candidacy, had written an essay last week in which he suggested that military and intelligence officials "continue to do their jobs."

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