Trump shapes his cabinet as Stein presses for recounts
PALM BEACH, FLA. >> Presidentelect Donald Trump connected with foreign leaders and considered new Cabinet-prospects Friday as he gathered with family for a long Thanksgiving weekend at his Mar-a-Lago estate.
As the incoming president looks ahead, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein made progress on her push to force recounts in three Midwestern battleground states that fueled Trump’s stunning victory. Stein announced on her website that she has raised enough money to fund recounts in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and was pursuing additional funding to do the same in Michigan.
While the recounts are unlikely to change the election result, they could complicate Trump’s calls for national unity as he tries to move past what may have been the nastiest presidential contest in the modern era.
Yet there were signs of discord even within the president-elect’s small inner circle as Trump weighed his choices for secretary of state. The options for the nation’s chief diplomat include former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who lacks foreign policy experience, but was intensely loyal to Trump, and 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who aggressively opposed Trump’s candidacy but is largely regarded as more qualified.
Trump spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway publicly highlighted the controversy, tweeting on Thursday that she had been “receiving a deluge of social media & private concerns re: Romney Some Trump loyalists warn against Romney as sec of state.”
In a second Twitter post from her verified account, Conway referred to former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Schultz, both Cabinet officers in previous Republican administrations, as men who “flew around the world less, counseled POTUS (president of the United States) close to home more. And were loyal. Good checklist.”
Trump was expected to make two staffing announcements on Friday, spokesman Jason Miller said, although neither is expected to be a Cabinet-level position. The presidentelect has meetings scheduled with eight prospective administration hires scheduled for Monday, a group that includes a handful of business leaders along with David Clarke, the Wisconsin sheriff who is an aggressive opponent of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence also have meetings scheduled on Monday in New York with Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., former Security and Exchange Commission commissioner Paul Atkins, World Wide Technology chairman David Steward and General Growth Properties CEO Sandeep Mathrani.
Beyond secretary of state, two possible appointments loom: retired neurosurgeon and former presidential candidate Ben Carson as secretary of housing and urban development and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross Jr. as commerce secretary.
The most recent Trump Cabinet-level picks to be announced were South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and charter school advocate Betsy DeVos to lead the Education Department.
Trump is also continuing to connect with foreign dignitaries, according to spokesman Sean Spicer. Since arriving at his Palm Beach estate on Wednesday, the president-elect has spoken to the prime ministers of Greece, Hungary and Sweden, along with the presidents of Panama and Slovenia.