TRUMP TEAM REVOLT:
Romney, Giuliani vie for State Dept.; Price pick at HHS
President-elect Donald Trump is so far unswayed by dissension among top advisers over the possible appointment of Mitt Romney as secretary of state. Meanwhile, Trump has reportedly picked Obamacare critic Rep. Tom Price to head HHS.
WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump is for now unswayed by the extraordinarily public revolt by some of his top advisers and allies over the possible choice of Mitt Romney as secretary of state and continues to see his foe as a serious contender for the diplomatic post, several people briefed on the deliberations said Monday
Romney plans to have a private dinner today with Trump, who is said to be intrigued by the notion of reconciling with one of his fiercest Republican antagonists — even as he also weighs rewarding the loyalty of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani with one of the administration’s most prized jobs or selecting a decorated military officer in David Petraeus.
Meanwhile, Trump has chosen Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., an orthopedic surgeon who has been one of Capitol Hill’s fiercest critics of President Obama’s health care law, to be secretary of health and human services, a person briefed on the decision confirmed Monday night.
The public announcement of Trump’s selection of Price, a six- t erm congressman who chairs the House Budget Committee and is regarded as a policy wonk, is expected to be made as early as today.
As HHS secretary, Price would become the Trump administration’s point person on dismantling and replacing the Affordable Care Act, one of Trump’s major campaign promises.
For secretary of state, Trump is looking for assur- ances that Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee who has championed a muscular and at times interventionist foreign policy, could be trusted to defend and promote Trump’s markedly different worldview in capitals around the globe, the people familiar with the president-elect’s deliberations said.
Giuliani has openly campaigned for the job and has told friends that he is likely to get it. But Trump’s team has determined that it may be challenging and even unlikely for Giuliani to win Senate confirmation: His web of international business interests and the millions of dollars he has earned in paid speeches and consulting work for foreign entities would come under scrutiny, while Sen. Rand Paul, one of 10 Republicans on the Foreign Relations Committee, has threatened to block Giuliani’s nomination.
Romney and Giuliani have been seen as co-favorites to lead the State Department, but Trump this week is expanding his search to include other candidates, chief among them Petraeus, a retired Army general and former CIA director.
Transition officials said Trump has long admired Petraeus and described his candidacy as formidable, despite the baggage he would carry into any confirmation battle because of his 2015 conviction for mishandling classified information. Petraeus’ public service career came to an end amid revelations that he had an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, and shared classified information with her.
Petraeus and Trump met Monday afternoon in New York for about an hour, with Vice President-elect Mike Pence joining them for part of the session. As the general exited Trump Tower following their session, he praised Trump, telling reporters that he “showed a great grasp of a variety of the challenges that are out there and some of the opportunities as well. Very good conversation.”
Trump later tweeted, “Just met with General Petraeus — was very impressed!”
Trump will meet today with Sen. Bob Corker, RTenn., who officials said could emerge as a candidate, although the senator has said that he is unlikely to end up in serious contention. As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Corker would oversee the confirmation process of Trump’s nominee.
The nascent Trump transition has been riven by infighting over the possible nomination of Romney, who is seen as the quintessential establishment figure and who spoke out against Trump’s candidacy in harsh and personal terms.
Pence and some Trump advisers are said to have argued that Romney would be a steady hand prepared to help shape relationships around the world. Trump is said to have buried the hatchet with Romney at their Nov. 19 meeting and sees a political benefit to bringing him into the administration: silencing a rival Republican who has a big microphone and a network of wealthy donors.
But other Trump intimates have advocated forcefully for Giuliani, a trusted loyalist and Trump defender who developed a close bond with the candi- date and is more ideologically in sync with him.
The feud spilled into the open over Thanksgiving weekend as Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s former campaign manager and now a senior adviser, attacked Romney’s credentials and trustworthiness in a trio of Sunday television appearances.
David Petraeus met with Donald Trump on Monday as the president-elect expands his search for secretary of state.