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President-elect Trump set to announce new cabinet picks

world Updated: Nov 21, 2016 01:01 IST
Donald Trump

US President-elect Donald Trump and US Vice President-elect Mike Pence depart after a day of meetings at the clubhouse of Trump National Golf Club on Saturday in Bedminster.(AFP Photo)

US President-elect Donald Trump meets a slate of potential cabinet members at his golf club Sunday, including Chris Christie, indicating he remains supportive of the New Jersey governor after booting him from the transition team.

The 70-year-old Republican billionaire promised reporters they would “hear some things” Sunday after a second marathon day of meetings at his New Jersey golf retreat, a 90-minute drive from Manhattan.

“Numerous patriots will be coming to Bedminster today as I continue to fill out the various positions necessary to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Trump is building his new administration after his shock November 8 election win over Democrat Hillary Clinton, with an eye on his January 20 inauguration.

Asked if Christie had been disqualified from serving in cabinet over his involvement in ‘Bridgegate’, a traffic scandal widely seen as politically motivated, Trump retorted: “We like Chris a lot.”

Others meeting Trump on Sunday include secretary of state contender and ex-New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, immigration hardliner Kris Kobach, Wilbur Ross, under consideration for commerce secretary, global investor David McCormick and conservative writer John Gray.

Trump will also meet with Bob Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television who earlier this week penned an open letter urging African Americans to vote for their best interests rather than be wedded to any political party.

“Why shouldn’t we, as black voters, reject the notion that we are locked into one party which undoubtedly limits and dilutes our voting power?” Johnson wrote.

Exit polls showed some 88 percent of African American voters supported Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton versus just eight percent for Trump.

Read| Trump hosts potential cabinet contenders at New Jersey golf club

Romney silent after talks

Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence met with 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Saturday for a “substantive and in-depth conversation about world affairs, national security and the future of America,” a transition team statement read.

Romney is reportedly in the running to be secretary of state, even though he traded harsh barbs with Trump throughout the White House campaign, describing him as a “fraud” and rebuking him for proposals such as banning the entry of foreign Muslims.

If chosen, he would bring a more orthodox Republican worldview to foreign policy.

After the talks, Romney said nothing about whether he was offered the job or was interested in it.

Other high-level candidates who trekked out to Trump’s golf resort on Saturday included retired general James Mattis, a potential Pentagon chief, and Michelle Rhee, the controversial former head of schools in the US capital.

Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster is one of the president-elect’s favorite sanctuaries, where he likes to spend weekends and where he prepared for campaign debates against Clinton.

- Cabinet takes shape -

So far, Trump has announced a handful of government nominations, including ultra-conservative Senator Jeff Sessions as attorney general, hawkish congressman Mike Pompeo as CIA director and retired lieutenant general Michael Flynn as his national security advisor.

Flynn’s appointment does not require Senate approval.

But that of Sessions as attorney general does, and he has baggage: racially charged comments he made in the 1980s that cost him a chance for a job for life as a federal judge.

With some 15 senior positions in his cabinet still to fill, the property mogul will remain in Bedminster until late Sunday, far from the protesters besieging his New York building.