Trump sum­mons Rom­ney for 2nd look as staffers squab­ble

The hunt for a sec­re­tary of state

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Don­ald Trump’s hunt for a sec­re­tary of state is veer­ing into dra­matic ter­rain, with the pres­i­dent-elect sum­mon­ing Mitt Rom­ney back for a se­cond look as a top aide leads a pub­lic pres­sure cam­paign against the pick.

Trump has a fol­low-up meet­ing yes­ter­day with the 2012 GOP pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee, who has be­come a sym­bol of the in­ter­nal di­vi­sions ag­i­tat­ing the tran­si­tion team. He also plans to sit with Ten­nessee Sen. Bob Corker, the chair­man of the Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee. On Mon­day, Trump spent an hour with re­tired Gen. David Pe­traeus, a new con­tender.

Aides were di­vided over Trump’s choices, par­tic­u­larly the prospect that Trump could tap Rom­ney for the top-tier diplo­matic post. In an unusual pub­lic air­ing of in­ter­nal machi­na­tions, Trump se­nior ad­viser Kellyanne Con­way on Sun­day warned that the pres­i­dent-elect’s sup­port­ers would feel “be­trayed” if he tapped Rom­ney as sec­re­tary of state.

Very im­por­tant an­nounce­ments soon

Ex­it­ing Trump Tower on Mon­day night, Vice Pres­i­dent-elect Mike Pence sim­ply teased “a num­ber of very im­por­tant an­nounce­ments to­mor­row.” On Tues­day morn­ing, the Trump tran­si­tion team an­nounced the se­lec­tion of Ge­or­gia Rep. Tom Price to lead the De­part­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices. It also an­nounced that Seema Verma has been cho­sen to be ad­min­is­tra­tor of the Cen­ters for Medi­care and Med­i­caid Ser­vices.

While other staffing de­ci­sions were be­ing made, the search for sec­re­tary of state was still un­der­way. Pe­traeus said he spent about an hour with the pres­i­dent-elect and praised him for show­ing a “great grasp of a va­ri­ety of the chal­lenges that are out there.”

The for­mer CIA chief pleaded guilty last year to a mis­de­meanor charge of mis­han­dling classified in­for­ma­tion re­lat­ing to doc­u­ments he had pro­vided to his bi­og­ra­pher, with whom he was hav­ing an af­fair. Pence, who is head­ing the tran­si­tion ef­fort, is said to be among those back­ing Rom­ney for sec­re­tary of state. Rom­ney was fiercely crit­i­cal of Trump through­out the cam­paign but is in­ter­ested in the Cabi­net po­si­tion, and they dis­cussed it dur­ing a lengthy meet­ing ear­lier this month.

Other top Trump al­lies, no­tably Con­way, have launched a highly unusual pub­lic cam­paign against a Rom­ney nom­i­na­tion. Con­way’s com­ments stirred spec­u­la­tion that she is seek­ing ei­ther to force Trump’s hand or give him cover for ul­ti­mately pass­ing over Rom­ney.

Three peo­ple close to the tran­si­tion team said Trump had been aware that Con­way planned to voice her opin­ion, both on Twit­ter and in tele­vi­sion in­ter­views. They dis­puted re­ports that Trump was furious at her and sug­gested his de­ci­sion to con­sider ad­di­tional can­di­dates in­stead high­lighted her in­flu­ence.

Trump is said to have of­fered Con­way a choice of White House jobs - ei­ther press sec­re­tary or com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor. But peo­ple with knowl­edge of Con­way’s plans say she is more in­ter­ested in serv­ing as an out­side po­lit­i­cal ad­viser, akin to the role Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s cam­paign man­ager David Plouffe played fol­low­ing the 2008 elec­tion.

Trump was con­sid­er­ing for­mer New York City Mayor Rudy Gi­u­liani to head the Home­land Se­cu­rity De­part­ment, ac­cord­ing to those close to the tran­si­tion process. Gi­u­liani was ini­tially the front-run­ner for sec­re­tary of state and is still in the mix. But ques­tions about his over­seas busi­ness deal­ings, as well as his pub­lic cam­paign­ing for the job, have given Trump pause.

Those close to the tran­si­tion in­sisted on anonymity in com­ment­ing be­cause they were not au­tho­rized to pub­licly dis­cuss the pri­vate process. In ad­di­tion to the pub­lic staffing spat, the cam­paign was forced Mon­day to de­fend Trump’s base­less as­ser­tions of il­le­gal vot­ing, made in an­gry re­sponse to a re­count ef­fort. — AP

NEW YORK: Vice Pres­i­dent-elect Mike Pence talks with re­porters as he leaves Trump Tower, Mon­day, Nov 28, 2016.—AP

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