Trump adds two names to his team while in Florida
Meet the newest members to join President-elect Donald Trump’s staff. USA TODAY NETWORK
President-elect Donald Trump is spending Black Friday in South Florida, mulling transition issues that include a new White House counsel, a new deputy national security adviser, a prospective Commerce secretary, a public battle over the secretary of State’s job, and talks with an Indiana air conditioning company that is planning to move jobs to Mexico.
Officially, Trump filled two staff slots on Friday, naming veteran Washington, D.C., campaign finance attorney Don McGahn as White House counsel and Kathleen Troia “K.T.” McFarland as deputy national security adviser.
In picking McGahn to be the presidential lawyer, Trump said in a statement that “Don has a brilliant legal mind, excellent character and a deep understanding of constitutional law. He will play a critical role in our administration, and I am grateful that he is willing to serve our country at such a high-level capacity.”
Citing Trump’s pledge to crack down on government corruption, McGahn said in a statement put out by Trump’s transition team that the president-elect “is a bold leader committed to draining the swamp in Washington and restoring economic prosperity and security.”
One of McGahn’s presumed duties: Helping Trump navigate possible conflicts between his duties as president and his business interests worldwide.
McFarland, a veteran national security analyst and Fox News commentator, will serve as deputy to National Security Adviser-designate Michael Flynn. “She has tremendous experience and innate talent that will complement the fantastic team we are assembling, which is crucial because nothing is more important than keeping our people safe,” Trump said of McFarland.
An official during the Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan administrations, McFarland has in more recent years echoed Trump’s and Flynn’s criticisms of President Obama’s foreign policy, particularly when it comes to combating terrorism. McFarland also ran unsuccessfully in 2006 for the U.S. Senate. a seat then held by future secretary of State and Trump election rival Hillary Clinton.
“So proud & honored to have KT McFarland as part of our National Security team,” Flynn himself tweeted.
In her statement, McFarland said that “nobody has called foreign policy right more than President-elect Trump, and he gets no credit for it.”
As for the Cabinet, Trump is expected to eventually nominate billionaire investor Wilbur Ross as secretary of Commerce, officials familiar with the transition said, a decision that reflects his campaign against existing free trade agreements. The officials would not be named because they were not authorized to speak on the record.
Ross has been an opponent of free trade deals he says have shipped jobs overseas, and the private investor also co-authored an infrastructure financing plan that Trump is studying. During the campaign, Ross told CNBC that he backed Trump because “middle class and lower middle class America has not really benefited by the last 10 to 15 years of economic activity and they’re sick and tired of it and they want something different.”
Critics describe Ross as the “king of bankruptcy,” saying his strategy has been to buy, re-structure, and sell off companies, from fading steel mills and coal mines to failed banks.
The nominee for deputy secretary of Commerce is likely to be Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts, a member of a prominent family of conservative donors.
Trump is expected to make two staffing decision on Friday, but no Cabinet picks, said transition spokesman Jason Miller,
The president-elect is scheduled to resume interviews of prospective appointees on Monday, aides said. That includes a meeting with Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who has been mentioned for a homeland security post.
In other Trump Cabinet developments, former Republican primary rival Ben Carson and aides say he is considering an offer to join Trump’s team. The New York businessman said earlier this week he was likely to offer Carson the post of housing and urban development.
The president-elect spent Thanksgiving at Mar-a-Lago, his estate in Palm Beach, Fla. He is expected to return to New York sometime this weekend.
Trump and aides are also overseeing a internal debate over who should be his secretary of State.
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One candidate, 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, is drawing opposition from prominent Trump surrogates like Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee. They and others cite Romney’s outspoken criticism of Trump during this year’s Republican primary battle, such as labeling the New York businessman a “fraud” and a “phony.”
Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway joined in the fray over the Thanksgiving holiday, tweeting: “Receiving deluge of social media & private comms re: Romney Some Trump loyalists warn against Romney as sec of state.”
Another secretary of State candidate, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, strongly backed Trump during the campaign, but his overseas business interests have made him a target of criticism. Trump is said to be considering other candidates for secretary of State. They include Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
While deciding who should head his diplomatic team, Trump has spent part of the holiday weekend taking calls from foreign leaders. The transition team put out a list Friday saying that in recent days Trump has spoken with the leaders of Greece, Hungary, Panama, Slovenia, and Sweden.
Trump himself has also stayed busy on social media over the holiday, saying in one missive that he is trying to prevent Carrier from moving jobs at an air conditioner manufacturing plan in Indiana to Mexico. “I am working hard, even on Thanksgiving, trying to get Carrier A.C. Company to stay in the U.S. (Indiana). MAKING PROGRESS – Will know soon!”
Carrier responded via the company Twitter account, saying that it “has had discussions with the incoming administration and we look forward to working together. Nothing to announce at this time.”
Trump’s involvement in talks with Carrier drew criticism from a Republican lawmaker, Rep. Justin Amish of Michigan. “Not the president(-elect)’s job,” Amish tweeted. “We live in a constitutional republic, not an autocracy. Business-specific meddling shouldn’t be normalized.”
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