President-elect Donald Trump is welcoming a parade of officials at the white-pillared clubhouse of his New Jersey golf club this weekend as he weighs who will be in line for roles in the new administration.
Trump’s Sunday schedule in Bedminster includes New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
Setting a rancorous year aside, the pugnacious billionaire put on a smiling show of goodwill Saturday with former rival Mitt Romney. But Trump did not reveal or indicate whether the 2012 Republican nominee could be in line for a cabinet post.
He also met with education activists Michelle Rhee and Betsy DeVos, as well as retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, considered a contender to lead the Pentagon.
Trump said he may announce some of his picks on Sunday.
“We’re seeing tremendous talent,” Trump said Saturday. “People that, like I say, we will ‘Make America Great Again.’”
Both Romney and Trump were positive about their sit-down, a marked shift in tone after a year in which Romney attacked Trump as a “con man” and Trump labeled him a “loser.” But the two have started to mend fences since Trump’s victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Before turning to his visitors, Trump took to Twitter, where he 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 @Mike_Pence for stopping to listen.”
Trump posted a similar Tweet Saturday evening, only to later delete it. Staffers did not immediately respond to an email asking why.
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!”
It was announced Friday 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.
Trump started filling key administration positions on Friday, picking 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.
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 hard line 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.