President-elect Donald Trump returned to his perch high above Manhattan on Monday, meeting with former rivals and longtime allies a day after he indicated he had worked out agreements to fill major posts in his administration.
Trump, after spending the weekend receiving a parade of visitors at his golf course in New Jersey, was set to do the same at Trump Tower. Among his scheduled visitors: former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who ran against him in the Republican primary, longtime ally Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House of Representatives, and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin.
“We’ve made a couple of deals,” Trump told reporters at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club on Sunday. He gave assurances that “incredible meetings” would be bringing “incredible people” into the government. “You’ll be hearing about them soon.”
The president-elect apparently is working to get important Cabinet jobs settled before heading to Florida for Thanksgiving. Aides said Monday he will spend the holiday at his Mar-a-Lago estate. He is expected to fly there either Tuesday or Wednesday, while Vice president-elect Mike Pence will spend Thanksgiving in Mississippi, where his Marine son is stationed.
Trump made a flurry of brief public appearances over the weekend, often with Pence at his side, to flash frequent thumbs-ups and provide quick updates on his progress in building a government. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, was “under active and serious consideration” for secretary of state, Pence said. Trump himself said retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis was an “impressive” prospect for defense secretary.
Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser for the transition, said Monday the president-elect wanted to hear viewpoints from across the political spectrum, including from “Never Trumpers” who she said “are looking forward to having a say in what happens next.” She also said that Trump would receive a visit from Hawaii Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who resigned her post in the Democratic National Committee after endorsing Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton.
“Not all of them (his visitors) 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,” Conway said.
The businessman who is now the president-elect also apparently is considering options to lead the Commerce Department, meeting with billionaire investor Wilbur Ross. “Time will tell,” Ross told reporters when asked if he wanted a post.
Between conversations Sunday, Trump revealed he was making transition plans for his family, too. He told reporters that his wife, Melania, and their 10-year-old son, Barron, would move to Washington when the school year ends.
Trump also turned to Twitter to share some of his thinking. In between criticism of “Saturday Night Live,” the hit musical “Hamilton,” and retiring Democratic leader Harry Reid, he wrote that, “General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, who is being considered for secretary of defense, was very impressive yesterday. A true General’s General!”
The comments indicated Trump is looking outside his immediate circle as he works toward rounding out his foreign policy and national security teams. On Friday, he named a loyalist, retired Gen. Michael Flynn, as his national security adviser.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, and Trump exchanged bitter insults during the campaign, and Mattis has not been considered a Trump confidant. The appointment of more establishment figures could offer some reassurance to lawmakers and others concerned about Trump’s hard-line positions on immigration and national security and his lack of foreign policy experience.
Trump told reporters Sunday that one of his most loyal and public allies, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, was also a prospect for secretary of state “and other things.” Giuliani at one point had been considered for attorney general, but Trump gave that job to Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama.
Even as Trump and his team discussed pressing issues facing the country and how to staff the incoming administration, the president-elect’s Twitter feed suggested other issues, too, were on his mind.
His targets Sunday included Nevada Sen. Reid. Trump tweeted that incoming Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, another media-savvy New Yorker, was “far smarter” than Reid and “has the ability to get things done.”
Trump also complained that “Saturday Night Live,” which thrives on making fun of politicians, is “biased” and not funny. The night before, actor Alec Baldwin portrayed Trump as Googling: “What is ISIS?”
Trump also insisted again that the cast and producers of “Hamilton” should apologize after the lead actor addressed Pence from the stage Friday night, telling the vice president-elect that “diverse America” was “alarmed and anxious.” Pence said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that he wasn’t offended.
The brouhaha over Hamilton dominated cable news over the weekend and was the latest example of Trump’s ability – whether intentional or not – to ignite one controversy to distract from another, in this case the announcement Friday that he had agreed to pay a $25 million settlement to end fraud cases against his now-defunct for-profit Trump University.
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.