Trump of­fers Thanks­giv­ing prayer for na­tion

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Steve Peo­ples

His Cab­i­net be­gin­ning to take shape, Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump is of­fer­ing a Thanks­giv­ing prayer for unity af­ter “a long and bruis­ing” cam­paign sea­son.

“Emo­tions are raw and ten­sions just don’t heal overnight,” the in­com­ing pres­i­dent said in a video mes­sage re­leased on the eve of the national hol­i­day. He con­tin­ued, “It’s my prayer that on this Thanks­giv­ing we be­gin to heal our di­vi­sions and move for­ward as one coun­try strength­ened by

shared pur­pose and very, very com­mon re­solve.”

Trump, who was gath­ered with fam­ily on Thurs­day at his Palm Beach es­tate, was ex­pected to pause for a day af­ter a two-week scram­ble to shape his nascent ad­min­is­tra­tion from scratch.

He in­jected the first signs of di­ver­sity into his Cab­i­net-to-be the day be­fore, tap­ping South Carolina Gov. Nikki Ha­ley to serve as U.S. am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions and char­ter school advocate Betsy DeVos to lead the De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion. They are the first women se­lected for top-level ad­min­is­tra­tion posts. Ha­ley is the daugh­ter of In­dian im­mi­grants, so she also would be his

first mi­nor­ity se­lec­tion af­ter a string of an­nounce­ments of white men.

The South Carolina gover­nor has lit­tle for­eign pol­icy ex­pe­ri­ence, yet Trump praised her as “a proven deal­maker.” DeVos, like Trump, is new to gov­ern­ment but has spent decades work­ing to change Amer­ica’s sys­tem of pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion.

Retired neu­ro­sur­geon Ben Carson on Wed­nes­day said “an an­nounce­ment is forth­com­ing” on his role, which would make him the first black choice — pos­si­bly as sec­re­tary of Hous­ing and Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment — but he also sug­gested he’d be think­ing about it over the Thanks­giv­ing hol­i­day.

“I feel that I can make a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion par­tic­u­larly to mak­ing our in­ner cities great for ev­ery­one,” Carson wrote on his Face­book page.

Trump is also ex­pected to select bil­lion­aire in­vestor Wil­bur Ross Jr. to lead the Com­merce De­part­ment, a se­nior Trump ad­viser said Wed­nes­day, speak­ing only on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause the ad­viser was not au­tho­rized to dis­close in­ter­nal de­lib­er­a­tions. The 78-year-old Ross, who is white, is chair­man and chief strat­egy of­fi­cer of pri­vate-eq­uity firm W.L. Ross & Co., which has spe­cial­ized in buy­ing fail­ing com­pa­nies.

Wed­nes­day’s picks came as Trump worked to dis­tance him­self from the “al­tright,” a move­ment of white su­prem­a­cists who con­tinue to cheer his elec­tion. His first ap­point­ments in­cluded chief coun­selor Steve Ban­non, who pre­vi­ously led a web­site pop­u­lar among the alt-right.

Trump on Thurs­day was with his fam­ily be­hind

closed doors at Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach es­tate. He’s spend­ing the Thanks­giv­ing hol­i­day there af­ter a week of in­ter­view­ing po­ten­tial ap­pointees in New York, punc­tu­ated by an­nounce­ments of mem­bers of his national se­cu­rity team.

“It’s time to re­store the bonds of trust be­tween cit­i­zens, be­cause when Amer­ica is uni­fied there is noth­ing be­yond our reach,” the pres­i­dent-elect said in his Thanks­giv­ing mes­sage, which was posted on so­cial me­dia.

The nasty cam­paign sea­son in­cluded clashes be­tween Trump and his new Cab­i­net se­lec­tions.

“The peo­ple of South Carolina are em­bar­rassed by Nikki Ha­ley!” Trump wrote in March. Ha­ley de­nounced sev­eral of his cam­paign com­ments and urged vot­ers to “re­ject the siren call of the an­gri­est voices.”

DeVos, who is from Michi­gan, told The As­so­ci­ated Press in July, “A lot of the things he has said are very off-putting and con­cern­ing.”

On Wed­nes­day, how­ever, Trump and his col­leagues had noth­ing but kind words for each other. And while other Repub­li­cans largely praised the Ha­ley pick, DeVos faced im­me­di­ate crit­i­cism from left and right.

The pres­i­dent of the National Ed­u­ca­tion As­so­ci­a­tion, Lily Eskelsen Gar­cia, said in a state­ment that for years DeVos “has lob­bied for failed schemes, like vouch­ers — which take away fund­ing and lo­cal con­trol from our pub­lic schools — to fund pri­vate schools at tax­pay­ers’ ex­pense.”

And Randi Wein­garten, pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­can Fed­er­a­tion of Teach­ers, tweeted, “Trump has cho­sen the most ide­o­log­i­cal,

anti-pub­lic ed nom­i­nee since the cre­ation of the Dept of Ed­u­ca­tion.”

At the same time, some con­ser­va­tives warned that the long­time Repub­li­can donor, who along with her hus­band has spent mil­lions of dol­lars to pro­mote can­di­dates who fa­vor char­ter schools and school vouch­ers, also sup­ports the Com­mon Core ed­u­ca­tion stan­dards that Trump railed against dur­ing the cam­paign.

DeVos ad­dressed crit­i­cism head-on, post­ing a “Q&A” state­ment that said di­rectly about Com­mon Core: “I am not a sup­porter — pe­riod.”

Trump will be sworn into of­fice in less than 60 days. Be­yond his Cab­i­net, he must fill hun­dreds of high­level ad­min­is­tra­tion posts.

He is ex­pected to stay in Florida through the week­end.

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