Trump sees cabi­net hope­fuls but no new picks yet

The Myanmar Times - - World -

US Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump said he saw “tremen­dous tal­ent” in the stream of cabi­net hope­fuls – in­clud­ing for­mer critic Mitt Rom­ney – in­vited to his golf club for talks, but did not re­veal any new nom­i­na­tions.

“You’ll hear some­thing to­mor­row,” the 70-year-old Repub­li­can bil­lion­aire told re­porters af­ter a marathon day of meet­ings at his golf re­treat in New Jersey on Novem­ber 19.

Mr Trump is build­ing his new ad­min­is­tra­tion af­ter his shock Novem­ber 8 elec­tion win over Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton, with an eye on his in­au­gu­ra­tion on Jan­uary 20.

Mr Rom­ney, the failed Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date in 2012, is re­port­edly in the run­ning to be Mr Trump’s sec­re­tary of state, even though the two men traded harsh barbs through­out the White House cam­paign.

Other high-level can­di­dates who trekked out to Mr Trump’s golf re­sort in­cluded re­tired gen­eral James Mat­tis, a po­ten­tial Pen­tagon chief, and Michelle Rhee, the con­tro­ver­sial for­mer head of schools in the US cap­i­tal.

Mr Trump – with Vice Pres­i­den­t­elect Mike Pence at his side – said his meet­ings had gone “re­ally ef­fi­ciently. Tremen­dous tal­ent. We’re see­ing tremen­dous tal­ent.”

This in­cluded talks with Mr Rom­ney, who emerged from the ses­sion say­ing noth­ing about whether he was of­fered the job or was in­ter­ested in it.

“We had a far-reach­ing con­ver­sa­tion with re­gards to the var­i­ous theatres in the world where there are in­ter­ests of the United States of real sig­nif­i­cance,” Mr Rom­ney said.

“We dis­cussed those ar­eas and ex­changed our views on those top­ics.”

Ear­lier, as Mr Rom­ney walked to­wards re­porters, Mr Trump cupped his hands around his mouth and said, “It went great.”

The huge, ex­clu­sive Trump Na­tional Golf Club Bedminster is one of the pres­i­dent-elect’s favourite sanc­tu­ar­ies, where he likes to spend week­ends and where he pre­pared for cam­paign de­bates against Ms Clin­ton.

In ad­di­tion to Mr Rom­ney, Mr Mat­tis and Ms Rhee, Mr Trump saw sev­eral busi­ness lead­ers in­clud­ing Lew Eisen­berg, An­drew Puzder, Betsy DeVos and Todd Rick­etts, owner of the Chicago Cubs base­ball team.

When asked if the cabi­net was be­ing formed, he replied, “Yes. Par­tially. We’re do­ing this again to­mor­row.”

Mr Rom­ney ap­pears to be on the short­list for the State Depart­ment, along with for­mer New York mayor Rudy Gi­u­liani.

Mr Rom­ney would bring a more ortho­dox Repub­li­can world­view to for­eign pol­icy.

He has de­scribed Rus­sia as the main Amer­i­can geopo­lit­i­cal threat – a sharp con­trast to Mr Trump, who has ex­changed com­pli­ments with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.

Dur­ing Mr Trump’s cam­paign, Mr Rom­ney de­scribed him as a “fraud”, re­buk­ing the ty­coon for pro­pos­als such as ban­ning the en­try of all for­eign Mus­lims.

So far, Mr Trump has an­nounced a hand­ful of gov­ern­ment nom­i­na­tions in­clud­ing ul­tra-con­ser­va­tive Sen­a­tor Jeff Ses­sions as at­tor­ney gen­eral, hawk­ish con­gress­man Mike Pom­peo as CIA direc­tor and re­tired lieu­tenant gen­eral Michael Flynn as his na­tional se­cu­rity ad­vi­sor.

A con­tro­ver­sial re­tired in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer, Mr Flynn, 57, has de­scribed Is­lam as a “cancer” and a “po­lit­i­cal ide­ol­ogy”, and in Fe­bru­ary tweeted that “fear of Mus­lims is ra­tio­nal”.

He has also courted con­tro­versy for re­fus­ing to rule out “en­hanced” in­ter­ro­ga­tion tech­niques such as wa­ter­board­ing that have been de­scribed as tor­ture and that Mr Trump has re­peat­edly con­doned.

Demo­cratic Sen­a­tor El­iz­a­beth War­ren, a leader of the party’s left wing, is spear­head­ing calls for Mr Trump to with­draw his nom­i­na­tion.

“Trump isn’t ‘drain­ing the swamp’,” she tweeted about his prom­ise to side­line lob­by­ists and other in­sid­ers in Washington. “He’s invit­ing the big­gest, ugli­est swamp mon­sters in the front door.”

Mr Flynn’s ap­point­ment does not re­quire Se­nate ap­proval. But that of Mr Ses­sions as at­tor­ney gen­eral does, and he has bag­gage: racially charged com­ments he made in the 1980s that cost him a chance for a job for life as a fed­eral judge.

With some 15 se­nior po­si­tions in his cabi­net still to fill, the prop­erty mogul was to re­main in Bedminster un­til last night, far from the pro­test­ers be­sieg­ing his New York build­ing.

More than 1000 demon­stra­tors marched from Queens – the New York bor­ough where Mr Trump was born – to Trump Tower in mid­town Man­hat­tan on Novem­ber 19, de­cry­ing what they see as a threat to demo­cratic values un­der a far-right Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Demon­stra­tors, many wav­ing rain­bow flags in sup­port of the gay com­mu­nity, car­ried signs that read “Queens will re­sist ha­tred”, “No to fas­cism” and “Stop racism”. –

Photo: AFP

(Left to right) Vice Pres­i­dent-elect Mike Pence, Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump and Mitt Rom­ney leave the club­house af­ter their meet­ing at Trump In­ter­na­tional Golf Club, in Bedminster Town­ship, New Jersey, on Novem­ber 19.

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