Trump au­di­tions Cab­i­net prospects high above Man­hat­tan

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - WEATHER - By Jonathan Lemire

NEWYORK>> Don­ald Trump held court from his perch high above Man­hat­tan on Mon­day, re­ceiv­ing a line of for­mer ri­vals, long­time al­lies and TV ex­ec­u­tives while over­see­ing a pres­i­den­tial tran­si­tion that at times re­sem­bles a re­al­ity show like the one he once hosted.

Trump met with nearly a dozen prospec­tive hires, all of whom were pa­raded in front of the cam­eras set up in the Trump Tower lobby as they en­tered an el­e­va­tor to see the pres­i­dent-elect. Out of pub­lic view him­self, he fell back on his TV star roots by film­ing a video that touted his leg­isla­tive goals once he takes of­fice.

Trump; did not im­me­di­ately an­nounce any ap­point­ments af­ter the meet­ings, which came on the heels of a two-day whirl­wind of in­ter­views at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jer­sey.

Un­like his pre­de­ces­sors, who of­ten spoke with Cab­i­net can­di­dates un­der a cloud of se­crecy, Trump has turned the search into a very pub­lic au­di­tion process. The ex­tra­or­di­nary ex­er­cise took on a rou­tine feel on Mon­day: First, for­mer Mas­sachusetts Se­na­tor Scott Brown stepped off the gold-plated el­e­va­tor into the mar­ble-coated lobby af­ter his meet­ing to de­clare to wait­ing re­porters that he was “the best per­son” to be­come Vet­er­ans Af­fairs sec­re­tary.

Next, Ok­la­homa Gov. Mary Fallin, a can­di­date for in­te­rior sec­re­tary, did much the same, strid­ing off the lift to say she had “a won­der­ful dis­cus­sion” with Trump. For­mer Texas Gov­er­nor Rick Perry de­clined to speak to re­porters, but he did take time for a photo with the Naked Cow­boy, the un­der­wear-sport­ing, guitar-strum­ming New York in­sti­tu­tion who is nor­mally a fix­ture at Times Square but has spent re­cent days camped out at Trump Tower singing about the pres­i­dent-elect.

Demo­cratic Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gab­bard, who re­signed her post on the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee af­ter en­dors­ing Bernie San­ders over Hil­lary Clin­ton, also met with Trump but en­tered and ex­ited out of sight. She later de­fended cross­ing party lines to meet with Trump about U.S. in­volve­ment in Syria, say­ing in a state­ment she would never “play pol­i­tics with Amer­i­can and Syr­ian lives.”

For­mer House Speaker Newt Gin­grich, a long­time Trump ally, also ar­rived with his wife, Cal­lista, and told re­porters that he in­di­cated to Trump that he was in­ter­ested in be­ing a “se­nior plan­ner” to co­or­di­nate long-term po­lit­i­cal ef­forts among the Re­pub­li­cans in con­trol of all three branches of gov­ern­ment.

Se­nior ad­viser Kellyanne Con­way said of the visi­tors, “Not all of them will be in his Cab­i­net and his fed­eral gov­ern­ment, but they are all in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant in of­fer­ing their points of views, their ex­pe­ri­ence and cer­tainly their vi­sion of the coun­try.”

No one was say­ing whether Trump would an­nounce more ap­point­ments be­fore head­ing to Florida for Thanks­giv­ing. He was plan­ning to leave Tues­day or Wed­nes­day to spend the hol­i­day at his Mar-a-Lago es­tate, while Vice Pres­i­dent-elect Mike Pence will spend Thanks­giv­ing in Mis­sis­sippi, where his Ma­rine son is sta­tioned.

Trump has largely re­mained out of sight since win­ning the elec­tion, save for a flurry of brief pub­lic ap­pear­ances over the week­end, of­ten with Pence at his side, to flash thumbs-ups and pro­vide quick up­dates on his progress in build­ing a gov­ern­ment. He re­mained in the up­per floors of his sky­scraper Mon­day, seek­ing coun­sel on the phone and interviewing can­di­dates all while keep­ing an eye on the cable news cov­er­age of the day’s events.

He ap­peared in a twoand-a-half minute video re­leased late Mon­day in which he pledged to the Amer­i­can peo­ple that he was ap­point­ing “pa­tri­ots” to his ad­min­is­tra­tion and re­it­er­ated a num­ber of his cam­paign prom­ises, in­clud­ing plans to rene­go­ti­ate trade deals, scrap ex­ces­sive reg­u­la­tions and in­sti­tute a fiveyear ban on ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cials be­com­ing lob­by­ists.

The video — which made no men­tion of key pledges to build a bor­der wall with Mex­ico or re­peal the Af­ford­able Care Act — con­tin­ues the pres­i­dent-elect’s prac­tice of try­ing to go over the heads of the me­dia and take his case di­rectly to the Amer­i­can pub­lic. Since Elec­tion Day, he has twice ditched the group of re­porters des­ig­nated to fol­low his move­ments and has so far es­chewed the tra­di­tional news con­fer­ence held by the pres­i­dent-elect in the days af­ter win­ning.

Trump has not held a full-fledged news con­fer­ence since July.

But the me­dia were clearly on his mind as he met with ex­ec­u­tives and on-air per­son­al­i­ties from TV net­works. He fre­quently sin­gled out the me­dia — declar­ing them “so dis­hon­est” — for crit­i­cism dur­ing the cam­paign, but it’s not un­usual for pres­i­dents to hold off-the-record meet­ings with jour­nal­ists when try­ing to pro­mote poli­cies or pro­grams.

Among the at­ten­dees were NBC an­chor Lester Holt and “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd, ABC’s “Good Morn­ing Amer­ica” host Ge­orge Stephanopou­los and an­chor David Muir, CBS’ “Face the Na­tion” host John Dick­er­son, CNN’s Wolf Bl­itzer and sev­eral ex­ec­u­tives at the net­works.

None of the at­ten­dees would dis­cuss the meet­ing with re­porters in the lobby, though Con­way said it was “very cor­dial, very pro­duc­tive, very con­ge­nial.”

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

For­mer House Speaker Newt Gin­grich and his wife, Cal­lista Gin­grich, walk to talk with me­dia at Trump Tower on Mon­day in New York af­ter meet­ing with Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump.

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