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Collins emerges as key Trump-Ryan liaison

Rep. Chris Collins suddenly finds himself in one of Washington's most enviable positions -- trusted ally of both President-elect Donald J. Trump and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan.

And the story of his Tuesday underscores it all.

Early in the day he was named congressional liaison to Trump's transition team. And in the afternoon he emerged as one of two congressmen seconding Ryan's nomination for a second term as speaker. He said he was heartened throughout Tuesday by congressional colleagues who recognized his status as the first member to support Trump back on Feb. 24.

"I'm just thrilled to be in such a good place with both President-elect Trump and Speaker Ryan," he said late Tuesday. "I'm probably the only one like that with both."

Indeed, while Trump and Ryan maintained a tenuous relationship during the campaign that included little participation by the speaker, the realities of governing now appear to be taking over. Part of that includes Ryan's appointment of Collins -- requested by Trump -- to a post that will involve recommending candidates for administration positions as well as paving the way for White House priorities in the Congress.

It all stemmed from a post-election conversation on Nov. 9 in which Collins told the president-elect that while he would not be interested in moving permanently to Washington for an administration post, he would serve in any way he was asked. He suggested some type of congressional liaison.

"He responded that he liked that a lot and thought there might be something there," Collins said. "He trusts me implicitly."

Now the Clarence Republican expects a role that includes recommending Western New Yorkers and others for administration posts as well as setting a Capitol agenda for Trump's first 100 days.

"The members have a million ideas of how to make America great again and be part of it," Collins said. "Any member with any request or idea is to bring it to Collins. With these right connections, we can let people know your resume has has been given consideration and let you know when a decision has been made.

"This is right up my alley as an engineer and data driven guy," he added.

The congressman said he will also act as a contact for Western New Yorkers looking to join the administration.

"Clearly, we will have input on filling positions, from boards to judges to a lot of federal jobs," he said. "We will be at the forefront of making recommendations."

Collins said he hopes to assume a similar role after Inauguration Day on Jan. 20.

"I would like to think that with my relationship with the president and speaker, I can play this behind-the-scenes role," he said.

[Related: Chris Collins explains his support for Trump’s candidacy]

After first supporting former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for the Republican presidential nomination, Collins emerged as one of Trump's most ardent congressional supporters. He served as a Trump surrogate in dozens of television appearances throughout the campaign, and seconded the candidate's nomination at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

[Related: Collins defends Trump’s attacks on slain soldier’s family]



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