BEDMINSTER (New Jersey), Nov 20 — 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 today 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 per cent of African American voters supported Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton versus just eight per cent for Trump.
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.
Trump, who was spending his first weekend outside Manhattan since his election, had not appeared in public since he gave reporters the slip to take his family to dinner in New York on Tuesday.
He has, however, been active on Twitter, a forum where he has won fans — and detractors — with his off-the-cuff message style.
In an outburst of temper, he lashed out at the cast of the award-winning Broadway musical “Hamilton” after Pence was booed at a performance on Friday and the lead actor read out a statement urging the new administration to “work on behalf of all of us.”
“The cast and producers of Hamilton, which I hear is highly overrated, should immediately apologize to Mike Pence for their terrible behavior,” Trump wrote early Sunday, in his third tweet on the subject.
Also on Twitter, he said he had settled three class action lawsuits over his now-defunct Trump University for US$25 million so that all his energy could be focused on his new job, dismissing any hint of guilt.
“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!” he tweeted.
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. — AFP