Trump meets with Mitt Rom­ney

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Julie Pace and Jonathan Lemire

BEDMINSTER, N.J>> — Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump is fill­ing his Twit­ter feed like the cam­paigner of old even while rac­ing to fill se­nior po­si­tions in his ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Trump was meet­ing Satur­day with one of his sharpest Repub­li­can crit­ics of the cam­paign, 2012 pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Mitt Rom­ney, at Trump’s golf club in New Jersey, and on Sun­day with two lead­ing sup­port­ers, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and for­mer New York mayor Rudy Gi­u­liani. Dur­ing the cam­paign, Rom­ney called Trump a “con man” and a “fraud,” while Trump re­peat­edly called Rom­ney a “loser.”

But first came a tweet­storm. The pres­i­dent-elect rushed to the de­fense of Mike Pence on Satur­day af­ter “Hamil­ton” ac­tor Bran­don Vic­tor Dixon chal­lenged the in­com­ing vice pres­i­dent from the Broad­way stage af­ter the show Fri­day night. “Apol­o­gize!” Trump tweeted to the ac­tor. “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!”

Dixon tweeted back: “Con­ver­sa­tion is not ha­rass­ment sir. And I ap­pre­ci­ate @MikePence for stop­ping to lis­ten.”

Trump also bragged on Twit­ter about agree­ing to set­tle a trio of law­suits against Trump Univer­sity, claim­ing: “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!”

On Fri­day, Trump picked Alabama Sen. Jeff Ses­sions for at­tor­ney gen­eral and Kansas Rep. Mike Pom­peo to head the CIA, sig­nal­ing a sharp right­ward shift in U.S. se­cu­rity pol­icy as he be­gins to form his Cabi­net.

Trump also named re­tired Lt. Gen Michael Flynn as his na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser. A for­mer mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence chief, Flynn has ac­cused the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of be­ing too soft on ter­ror­ism and has cast Is­lam as a “po­lit­i­cal ide­ol­ogy” and driver of ex­trem­ism.

The se­lec­tions form the first out­lines of Trump’s Cabi­net and na­tional se­cu­rity teams. Given his lack of gov­ern­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and vague pol­icy pro­pos­als dur­ing the cam­paign, his se­lec­tion of ad­vis­ers is be­ing scru­ti­nized both in the U.S. and abroad.

Trump’s ini­tial de­ci­sions sug­gest a more ag­gres­sive mil­i­tary in­volve­ment in coun­tert­er­ror strat­egy and a greater em­pha­sis on Is­lam’s role in stok­ing ex­trem­ism. Ses­sions, who is best known for his hard­line im­mi­gra­tion views, has ques­tioned whether ter­ror­ist sus­pects should ben­e­fit from the rights avail­able in U.S. courts. Pom­peo has said Mus­lim lead­ers are “po­ten­tially com­plicit” in at­tacks if they do not de­nounce vi­o­lence car­ried out in the name of Is­lam.

Pom­peo’s nom­i­na­tion to lead the CIA also opens the prospect of the U.S. re­sum­ing tor­ture of de­tainees. Trump has backed harsh in­ter­ro­ga­tion tech­niques that Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and Congress have banned, say­ing the U.S. “should go tougher than wa­ter­board­ing,” which sim­u­lates drown­ing. In 2014, Pom­peo crit­i­cized Obama for “end­ing our in­ter­ro­ga­tion pro­gram” and said in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials “are not tor­tur­ers, they are pa­tri­ots.”

Ses­sions and Pom­peo would both re­quire Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion; Flynn would not.

In a sep­a­rate mat­ter Fri­day, it was an­nounced that Trump had agreed to a $25 mil­lion set­tle­ment to re­solve three law­suits over Trump Univer­sity, his for­mer school for real es­tate in­vestors. The law­suits al­leged the school mis­led stu­dents and failed to de­liver on its prom­ises in pro­grams that cost up to $35,000.

Trump has de­nied the al­le­ga­tions and had said re­peat­edly he would not set­tle. New York At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric Sch­nei­der­man, who an­nounced the set­tle­ment, called it “a stun­ning re­ver­sal by Don­ald Trump and a ma­jor vic­tory for the over 6,000 vic­tims of his fraud­u­lent univer­sity.”

Trump tweeted to his 15 mil­lion fol­low­ers Satur­day that he only set­tled to bet­ter fo­cus on lead­ing the U.S.

On Fri­day night, Pence be­came the lat­est celebrity to at­tend the Broad­way hit show “Hamil­ton” — but he was the first to get a di­rect mes­sage from a cast mem­ber from the stage.

Dixon, who plays Aaron Burr, the na­tion’s third vice pres­i­dent, re­cited a mes­sage 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.” He went on: “We truly hope this show has in­spired you to up­hold our Amer­i­can val­ues, and work on be­half of all of us.”

Pence’s ap­pear­ance at the show was tense from the out­set, draw­ing cheers and boos as he ar­rived. Pence ducked out be­fore Dixon fin­ished but heard the rest of the re­marks in the hall­way.

Trump is still weigh­ing a range of can­di­dates for other lead­ing na­tional se­cu­rity posts. Pos­si­bil­i­ties for sec­re­tary of state are said to Gi­u­liani, for­mer U.N. Am­bas­sador John Bolton, Ten­nessee Sen. Bob Corker and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Ha­ley, who met with Trump on Thurs­day.

CAROLYN KESTLER — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump and Vice Pres­i­dent-elect Mike Pence pause for pho­to­graphs as they ar­rive at the Trump Na­tional Golf Club Bedminster club­house in Bedminster, N.J., Satur­day.

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