Gi­u­liani emerges as fa­vorite for Trump’s sec­re­tary of state

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Steve Peo­ples, Julie Pace and Jill Colvin

>> Former New York Mayor Rudy Gi­u­liani emerged as the fa­vorite to serve as sec­re­tary of state in Don­ald Trump’s in­com­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion, a se­nior Trump of­fi­cial said as the pres­i­dent-elect nar­rowed down his Cabi­net picks.

The of­fi­cial said there was no real com­pe­ti­tion for the job and that it was Gi­u­liani’s if he wanted it. The of­fi­cial was not au­tho­rized to speak on the record and re­quested anonymity.

Gi­u­liani, a top Trump ad­viser, said Mon­day night at a Wash­ing­ton event spon­sored by the Wall Street Jour­nal that he “won’t be at­tor­ney gen­eral” in Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion — a job for which the former fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor had been seen as a top con­tender even be­fore Trump’s elec­tion.

Gi­u­liani said he thought John Bolton, the former U.S. am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions, “would be a very good choice” for sec­re­tary of state. But asked if there was any­one bet­ter, he replied with a mis­chievous smile: “Maybe me, I don’t know.”

Trump was also con­sid­er­ing Mon­day whether to in­ject new di­ver­sity into the GOP by rec­om­mend­ing a woman to lead the Repub­li­can Party and an openly gay man to rep­re­sent the United States at the United Na­tions.

The moves, among dozens un­der con­sid­er­a­tion from his tran­si­tion team, fol­low an in­tense and ex­tended back­lash from Trump’s de­ci­sion on Sun­day to ap­point Steve Ban­non, a man cel­e­brated by the white na­tion­al­ist move­ment, to serve as his chief strate­gist and se­nior ad­viser.

“After win­ning the presidency but los­ing the pop­u­lar vote, Pres­i­dent-elect Trump must try to bring Amer­i­cans to­gether — not con­tinue to fan the flames of divi­sion and big­otry,” said House Demo­cratic leader Nancy Pelosi. She called Ban­non’s ap­point­ment “an alarm­ing sig­nal” that Trump “re­mains com­mit­ted to the hate­ful and di­vi­sive vi­sion that de­fined his cam­paign.”

His in­au­gu­ra­tion just 66 days away, how­ever, Trump fo­cused on build­ing his team and speak­ing to for­eign lead­ers. He re­mained se­questered in Trump Tower in New York.

In­ex­pe­ri­enced on the in­ter­na­tional stage, the Repub­li­can pres­i­dent-elect spoke to Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin on the phone. His tran­si­tion of­fice said in a read­out that “he is very much look­ing for­ward to hav­ing a strong and en­dur­ing re­la­tion­ship with Rus­sia and the peo­ple of Rus­sia.” Trump has spo­ken in re­cent days with the lead­ers of China, Mex­ico, South Korea and Canada.

At the same time, Trump was con­sid­er­ing tap­ping Richard Grenell as U.S. am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions. He would be the first openly gay per­son to fill a Cabi­net-level for­eign pol­icy post. Grenell, known in part for ag­gres­sive crit­i­cism of ri­vals on Twit­ter, pre­vi­ously served as U.S. spokesman at the U.N. un­der Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush.

Trump was also weigh­ing whether to select Michi­gan GOP chair­woman Ronna Rom­ney McDaniel, a niece of chief Trump critic and 2012 pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Mitt Rom­ney. She would be the sec­ond woman ever to lead the Repub­li­can National Com­mit­tee — and the first in four decades.

“I’ll be in­ter­ested in what­ever Mr. Trump wants,” McDaniel told The As­so­ci­ated Press on Mon­day, adding that she was plan­ning to seek the Michi­gan GOP chair­man­ship again.

Ap­point­ing McDaniel to run the GOP’s po­lit­i­cal arm could be an ef­fort to help the party heal the anger after a cam­paign in which Trump de­meaned women. The ap­point­ment of Grenell, who has openly sup­ported same­sex marriage, could be­gin to ease con­cerns by the gay com­mu­nity about Vice Pres­i­dent-elect Mike Pence’s op­po­si­tion to same-sex marriage dur­ing his time as In­di­ana gover­nor.

The per­son­nel moves un­der con­sid­er­a­tion were con­firmed by peo­ple with di­rect knowl­edge of Trump’s think­ing who were not au­tho­rized to pub­licly dis­close pri­vate dis­cus­sions. They stressed that the de­ci­sions were not fi­nal.

In­ter­nal de­lib­er­a­tions about staffing come a day after Trump made over­tures to war­ring Repub­li­can cir­cles by ap­point­ing Ban­non and RNC Chair­man Reince Priebus as his White House chief of staff.

The former me­dia ex­ec­u­tive led a web­site that ap­pealed to the so-called “alt-right” — a move­ment of­ten as­so­ci­ated with ef­forts on the far right to pre­serve “white iden­tity,” op­pose mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism and de­fend “Western val­ues.”

Priebus on Mon­day de­fended the me­dia mogul, say­ing the two made an ef­fec­tive pair as they steered Trump past Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton and to­ward the presidency. He sought to dis­tance Ban­non from the in­cen­di­ary head­lines on his web­site, say­ing they were writ­ten by un­spec­i­fied oth­ers.

“To­gether, we’ve been able to man­age a lot of the de­ci­sion mak­ing in re­gard to the cam­paign,” Priebus told NBC’s “To­day.” ‘’It’s worked very, very well.”

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama avoided any di­rect crit­i­cism of Trump’s per­son­nel moves dur­ing an af­ter­noon news con­fer­ence, sug­gest­ing that the new pres­i­dent de­serves “room to staff up.”

“It’s im­por­tant for us to let him make his de­ci­sions,” Obama said. “The Amer­i­can peo­ple will judge over the course of the next cou­ple of years whether they like what they see.”

The out­go­ing pres­i­dent en­cour­aged Trump, how­ever, to em­brace a uni­fy­ing tone.

“It’s re­ally im­por­tant to try to send some sig­nals of unity and to reach out to mi­nor­ity groups or women or oth­ers that were con­cerned about the tenor of the cam­paign,” Obama said. “And I think that’s some­thing he will — he will want to do.”

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Former New York Mayor Rudy Gi­u­liani, cen­ter, smiles as he leaves Trump Tower on Fri­day in New York.

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