08:40 GMT +321 January 2020
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    A Trump campaign insider told Sputnik that Donald Trump wants to hit the ground running upon taking his oath of office in January, with key appointees ready to assume their new jobs well-prepared and briefed.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — US President-elect Donald Trump wants to hit the ground running upon taking his oath of office in January, with key appointees ready to assume their new jobs well-prepared and briefed, a Trump campaign insider told Sputnik.

    “Newt Gingrich is front-runner for secretary of state,” the source said. “Senator Bob Corker may yet get it if there is some kind of health or screening problem with Newt, but he is the second choice.”

    Gingrich, 73, was speaker of the House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999 and was a strong advocate for the North American Free Trade Agreement, the controversial US-Canada-Mexico deal that Trump campaigned hard against.

    However, Gingrich emerged as one of Trump’s earliest and most effective and loyal allies among elders in the Republican Party. Corker is a US senator from Tennessee and chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee.

    Former US ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, a foreign-policy hawk and a favorite of neoconservatives, has been identified by CNN and the New York Times as another leading prospect for secretary of state under Trump.

    Senator Jeff Sessions, who was the first sitting member of the Senate to endorse Trump’s presidential run and campaign with him, is considered the leading pick for secretary of defense, the source said.

    Other reports have named Sessions as a contender for secretary of state or attorney general.

    Also under consideration for defense secretary is Senator Kelly Ayotte, a New Hampshire Republican who lost her re-election bid last week. According to other Republican sources who talked to Sputnik, Ayotte’s potential role in the new administration is being pushed by the head of the transition team, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, and the party’s national committee chairman and designated White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus.

    Ayotte was outspoken in criticizing Trump during the campaign, but she has been a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and is seen by some party insiders as a figure of continuity with the Republican establishment, the sources explained.

    Retired US Army lieutenant general Michael Flynn, a former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), is regarded as Trump's personal choice to become national security adviser, the campaign source stated.

    Flynn was close to Trump throughout the campaign and is believed to have been pivotal in arranging Trump’s endorsement by more than 200 US generals and admirals. As head of the DIA, he reportedly clashed with President Barack Obama.

    Flynn has called for the United States to support Syria against the Islamic State terror group and has urged Washington to seek closer relations with Russia.

    Former New York City mayor and federal prosecutor Rudolph Giuliani is slated for appointment as either attorney general or secretary of homeland security, according to the source.

    “Either is his for the picking,” the source said of Giuliani, a stalwart of the Trump campaign who was the candidate’s introductory speaker at many rallies.

    Despite two terms as mayor, Giuliani failed to gain traction when he ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000. However, he was praised for his leadership after New York was attacked by terrorists on September 11, 2001.

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