Trump mulls top diplo­mat pick, plans vic­tory tour

The Myanmar Times - - World -

DON­ALD Trump stepped up his con­tentious search for a sec­re­tary of state be­fore he ditches cabi­net in­ter­views later this week to lead a vic­tory tour kick­ing off in the swing state of Ohio.

The billionaire’s nom­i­nee for the job will be Amer­ica’s pub­lic face to the rest of the world, the per­son who will suc­ceed John Kerry, head up a depart­ment of 70,000 staff and lead the largest diplo­matic op­er­a­tion in the world.

The prospec­tive can­di­dates touted most fre­quently have been erst­while Mr Trump critic and for­mer Mas­sachusetts gover­nor Mitt Rom­ney, cel­e­brated gen­eral yet scan­dal-clad for­mer CIA di­rec­tor David Pe­traeus, Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee chair­man Bob Corker and for­mer New York mayor Rudy Gi­u­liani.

Aides say Mr Trump is ahead of sched­ule in un­veil­ing picks, mostly re­cently fierce Oba­macare critic Con­gress­man and for­mer surgeon Tom Price as health sec­re­tary and Elaine Chao as trans­porta­tion sec­re­tary.

But all eyes are on a trio of key posts that re­main to be de­cided: the sec­re­taries of de­fence, state and trea­sury, for which US me­dia re­ported that Mr Trump was ex­pected to name for­mer Gold­man Sachs in­vest­ment banker Steven Munchin.

The Wall Street Jour­nal also re­ported, cit­ing a tran­si­tion of­fi­cial, that Wil­bur Ross, a billionaire in­vestor known for tak­ing over ail­ing in­dus­trial firms and sell­ing them for a big profit, would be named as com­merce sec­re­tary.

For the top diplo­mat brief, Mr Trump held talks with Sen­a­tor Corker, con­sid­ered a safe pick with­out the bag­gage of Mr Pe­traeus and un­fet­tered by Mr Rom­ney’s his­tory of dis­loy­alty to the billionaire.

Mr Corker, 64, said af­ter the meet­ing that he thought Mr Trump had nar­rowed the choice “to a very small group of peo­ple” and it was im­por­tant that the pres­i­dent-elect se­lects some­body on the same wave length. He said Mr Trump did not dis­cuss a timeline for an­nounc­ing his pick.

Mr Rom­ney, 69, a favourite among es­tab­lish­ment Repub­li­cans, dined with Mr Trump on Novem­ber 29 for a sec­ond face-to-face meet­ing in 10 days but some among the in­ner cir­cle are hor­ri­fied at the prospect of re­ward­ing with such a plum job an out­spo­ken critic who cas­ti­gated the real es­tate ty­coon dur­ing the cam­paign as a “fraud” and a “con­man”.

His dis­trust of Rus­sia – at odds with a pres­i­dent-elect who has spo­ken ad­mir­ingly of Vladimir Putin – would also re­as­sure es­tab­lish­ment Amer­i­cans.

Mr Pe­traeus, who met the pres­i­dent-elect at Trump Tower in New York, has by far the most for­eign pol­icy ex­pe­ri­ence of the lot.

“Very im­pressed!” tweeted Mr Trump just min­utes af­ter the meet­ing. The 64-year-old scholar-war­rior com­manded troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, was cred­ited with mas­ter­mind­ing the Iraq surge and be­came head of the CIA in 2011.

Mr Gi­u­liani, who cam­paigned tire­lessly for Mr Trump, has been another con­tender, but scru­tiny over busi­ness deal­ings has raised ques­tions that could dis­qual­ify him and his pen­chant for rhetoric may sit un­easily with be­com­ing chief diplo­mat.

With se­nior cabi­net nom­i­na­tions still pend­ing, Mr Trump and vice pres­i­dent-elect Mike Pence are sched­uled to lead a post-elec­tion rally in Cincin­nati, Ohio, to­mor­row.

Mr Trump was the first Re­pub­li­can nom­i­nee to win the state since 2004.

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