Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has been asked to join President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team.
The team will advise Trump on policy issues leading up to his swearing-in in January, preparing him to begin his first 100 days in office. It’s an unpaid position for Kobach.
Kobach called the transition from Obama’s presidency to Trump’s “one of the sharpest transitions we’ve seen,” a 180-degree turn for the country.
Kobach, who advised Trump on immigration policy during the campaign, would not talk about whether he would be offered a role in Trump’s administration. He said he had no expectation of such an offer.
He served as counsel to Attorney General John Ashcroft during the George W. Bush administration. He would not say whether he would have any interest in serving as U.S. attorney general or overseeing immigration policy in Trump’s administration.
Kobach successfully added Trump’s proposal to construct a wall along the southern border – a proposal that has been estimated to cost about $25 billion – to the Republican Party’s official platform.
“I’m very confident it’s going to happen,” he said.
He contended that Trump has the authority to order the construction of the wall without congressional approval but acknowledged that Congress would need to approve the funds for construction.
He said the issue of immigration was immensely important in Trump’s upset victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
“There was no issue that defined him more than illegal immigration and the wall. … That was what carried him to victory in many parts of the country,” Kobach said.
Kobach said he could not remember an election “where so many pollsters and so many talking heads were so grossly mistaken” and said he felt vindicated by Trump’s victory.
Kobach is not the only Kansas official who could be considered for a position in Trump’s administration.
Gov. Sam Brownback originally backed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in the presidential race but endorsed Trump after he won the nomination. Brownback went on to serve on Trump’s Catholic and agricultural advisory committees.
“Maybe Brownback is polishing his resume,” Russell Fox, a political scientist at Friends University, said Wednesday morning. “I could imagine Brownback making a play for secretary of agriculture.”
Politico, the Washington-based news site, reported Tuesday night that Brownback would be in the running to serve as Trump’s agriculture secretary, along with several other current and former GOP governors. Brownback was Kansas’ secretary of agriculture before being elected to Congress in 1994.
Brownback’s spokeswoman, Eileen Hawley, said the governor “is focused on governing Kansas.”