Trump holds se­ries of meet­ings with po­ten­tial Cabi­net picks

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By DEL QUENTIN WIL­BER

Tribune Washington Bureau

— Pres­i­den­t­elect Don­ald Trump on Satur­day met with an eclec­tic mix of po­ten­tial Cabi­net picks, in­clud­ing a high-pro­file Repub­li­can foe, even as he launched a Twit­ter storm boast­ing about set­tling a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar law­suit and crit­i­ciz­ing the cast of a hit Broad­way mu­si­cal for lec­tur­ing his vice pres­i­den­t­elect about “Amer­i­can val­ues.”

When not tak­ing to Twit­ter, Trump spent the af­ter­noon en­sconced in his posh golf club in Bed­min­ster, N.J., where he met with Mitt Rom­ney, a for­mer GOP pres­i­den­tial can­di­date be­ing con­sid­ered for sec­re­tary of State, and oth­ers be­ing weighed for top ad­min­is­tra­tion posts. Among the eight job can­di­dates get­ting face time with Trump was Michelle Rhee, the fire­brand Cal­i­for­nia ed­u­ca­tion ac­tivist and neme­sis of teach­ers unions, who is among those be­ing con­sid­ered for Ed­u­ca­tion sec­re­tary. The meet­ings are sched­uled to con­tinue Sunday.

The most an­tic­i­pated sit­down in­volved Rom­ney, who dur­ing the cam­paign was sharply crit­i­cal of Trump’s char­ac­ter and pol­icy po­si­tions. The for­mer gover­nor shook hands with Trump when he ar­rived at Trump National Golf Club and told re­porters 90 min­utes later that the pair spoke about U.S. in­ter­ests around the globe.

“We dis­cussed those ar­eas, and ex­changed our views on those top­ics _ a very thor­ough and in-depth dis­cus­sion in the time we had,” Rom­ney told re­porters upon leav­ing the golf club, which is about 50 miles west of Trump Tower in down­town New York City. “And I ap­pre­ci­ate the chance to speak with the pres­i­den­t­elect and I look for­ward to the com­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion and the things that it’s go­ing to be do­ing.”

Trump also met with Rhee, pre­sum­ably to dis­cuss ed­u­ca­tion is­sues. Rhee was the con­tro­ver­sial chan­cel­lor of the pub­lic schools in Washington, D.C., and now

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lives in Sacra­mento where her hus­band, for­mer bas­ket­ball star Kevin John­son, is the city’s mayor. Rhee de­clined to speak to re­porters as she left the club.

Among oth­ers on Trump’s dance card for the day was re­tired Gen. James Mat­tis, a for­mer war com­man­der who has been crit­i­cal of some Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion poli­cies and has the nick­name of “Mad Dog Mat­tis” and is be­ing con­sid­ered to lead the Pen­tagon.

Pa­trick Soon-Shiong, who made his for­tune de­vel­op­ing an anti-can­cer drug, also met with Trump. SoonShiong, a vice chair­man of the Los An­ge­les Times’ par­ent com­pany Tronc, has been closely in­volved with Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den’s can­cer moon­shot ini­tia­tive, which is de­signed to ac­cel­er­ate sci­en­tific ef­forts to find cures for can­cers.

The meet­ings were de­signed to high­light the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ef­forts “to pull in di­verse ideas and dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives as we form this ad­min­is­tra­tion,” said Trump spokesman Ja­son Miller.

Trump, how­ever, started the day off on a dif­fer­ent note _ by spark­ing a feud on so­cial me­dia over what hap­pened when his vice pres­i­dent-elect at­tended the crit­i­cally ac­claimed Broad­way mu­si­cal “Hamil­ton.” When Pence ar­rived at the Richard Rodgers The­atre on Broad­way for the night’s performance of “Hamil­ton,” he was cheered and loudly jeered by the au­di­ence.

Af­ter the show, ac­tor Bran­don Vic­tor Dixon spoke to Pence from the stage: “We, sir, are the di­verse Amer­ica who are alarmed and anx­ious that your new ad­min­is­tra­tion will not pro­tect us, our planet, our chil­dren, our par­ents, or de­fend us and up­hold our in­alien­able rights. We truly hope this show has in­spired you to up­hold our Amer­i­can val­ues and work on be­half of all of us. All of us.”

Pence had left the au­di­to­rium be­fore Dixon fin­ished, but re­port­edly heard all the re­marks over speak­ers in the hall­way. Trump didn’t ap­pre­ci­ate the lec­ture.

“Our won­der­ful fu­ture V.P. Mike Pence was ha­rassed last night at the theater by the cast of ‘Hamil­ton,’ cam­eras blaz­ing. This should not hap­pen!” Trump tweeted. “The Theater must al­ways be a safe and spe­cial place. The cast of ‘Hamil­ton’ was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apol­o­gize!”

Dixon re­sponded on the so­cial me­dia plat­form: “con­ver­sa­tion is not ha­rass­ment sir,” adding that he ap­preci- ated Pence for show­ing up.

Trump also took to Twit­ter in the morn­ing to brag about set­tling fraud claims aimed at his de­funct univer­sity. A day ear­lier, Trump had set­tled two class-ac­tion law­suits filed in San Diego and a third suit brought by the New York state at­tor­ney gen­eral for $25 mil­lion, some­thing he had re­peat­edly said he would never do.

The law­suits al­leged that Trump had de­frauded cus­tomers into think­ing they would learn real es­tate se­crets from pro­fes­sors he had “hand­picked” at his for-profit Trump Univer­sity. The stu­dents said they learned lit­tle and in­stead were sub­jected to hard-sell tac­tics urg­ing them to spend thou­sands of dol­lars on classes.

“I set­tled the Trump Univer­sity law­suit for a small frac­tion of the po­ten­tial award be­cause as Pres­i­dent I have to fo­cus on our coun­try,” Trump tweeted. “The ONLY bad thing about win­ning the Pres­i­dency is that I did not have the time to go through a long but win­ning trial on Trump U. Too bad!”

JMP/ABACA PRESS/MCT

Gov. Mitt Rom­ney, the 2012 Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee, is now be­ing con­sid­ered for a role in Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump’s cabi­net.

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