NEW YORK (AP) — 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, did the same at Trump Tower. Among his callers: former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who ran against him in the Republican primary, former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, 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.
Neither Brown, who said he is under consideration for Veterans Affairs secretary, and Fallin, who is being considered to head the Interior Department, said they were offered a post. Gabbard defended crossing party lines to meet with Trump about U.S. involvement in Syria, saying in a statement that “I never have and never will play politics with American and Syrian lives.”
The president-elect also met Monday at Trump Tower with several executives and on-air personalities from television networks. He frequently singled out the media — “so dishonest” — for criticism during the campaign, but it’s not unusual for presidents to hold off-the-record meetings with journalists when trying to promote policies or programs.
Among the attendees were NBC anchor Lester Holt and “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd, ABC “Good Morning America” host George Stephanopoulos and anchor David Muir, CBS “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and several executives at the networks.
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!”
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, and Trump exchanged bitter insults during the campaign, and Mattis has not been considered a Trump confidant.
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, he insisted again Sunday that the cast and producers of “Hamilton” should apologize after the lead actor told Pence from the stage Friday night 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.