Former Defense Intelligence Agency Director Michael T. Flynn is the leading contender to be President-elect Donald Trump’s national security adviser, two people familiar with the matter said Thursday.
Billionaire Wilbur Ross is under very serious consideration for Commerce secretary, with others in the mix, said the people, who requested anonymity because the selections haven’t been finalized. Ross is chairman of WL Ross & Co., the New York investment firm, and has been an economic adviser to the Trump campaign, calling for stronger trade enforcement.
The news about key contenders for Cabinet positions in the future Trump administration came after the transition team gave its first detailed update on Wednesday night amid reports of infighting and disorganization.
In a conference call with reporters, aides named more than a dozen people who are either candidates for jobs in the Trump administration or were meeting with Trump to provide advice. The list includes South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who once said Trump represented “everything a governor doesn’t want in a president” but more recently has said she looks forward to working with a Republican president and Congress. Haley met with Trump Thursday morning at Trump Tower.
Also on Trump’s schedule for Thursday are: Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling, whose name has been floated for Treasury secretary; FedEx Chief Executive Officer Fred Smith; Oracle co-CEO Safra Catz; former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger; Florida Gov. Rick Scott; retired Gen. Jack Keane; Navy Adm. Mike Rogers; and former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.
Trump spokesmen Sean Spicer and Jason Miller didn’t specify who among those meeting with Trump are under consideration for administration posts. The transition team plans to give daily updates on the president-elect’s schedule as well as progress on the transition. Miller said there is no set schedule for announcing selections for a Cabinet or key staff positions.
“There is no arbitrary timetable; it’s about getting it right,” Miller said.
Trump also has a meeting scheduled Thursday afternoon with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He’ll be the first world leader to meet with the president-elect in person and represents a cornerstone U.S. ally in Asia. Miller said that will bring to 32 leaders Trump has spoken with since the election. He’s being briefed by policy and protocol advisers before each exchange, Miller said.
The transition team has undergone shakeups that have slowed the progress of building the new administration. Trump last week replaced the head of his transition team, New Jersey Gov.Chris Christie, with Vice President-elect Mike Pence and ousted several other transition members. There was said to be friction between Christie and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, whose father Christie prosecuted as a U.S. attorney more than a decade ago.
Trump and top aides and allies have said publicly that the process is going smoothly, considering the steep task of filling thousands of administration jobs when Trump takes office in January.
Miller said Trump’s schedule on Wednesday included meetings with Georgia Rep. Tom Price, who is in the mix for secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, a possible defense secretary or attorney general pick; Flynn; Eva Moskowitz, chief executive officer of New York’s largest charter school network; Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo; and hedge-fund manager Steve Feinberg.
Spicer said appointees will be required to sign paperwork banning them from lobbying for five years after they leave government. Trump is seeking to prevent people from using service in government to “enrich themselves,” Spicer said. Trump also intends to impose on administration officials a lifetime ban on representing any foreign government.
Miller said the first wave of transition landing team representatives will be announced Thursday to meet with the State Department, Justice Department, Department of Defense and National Security Council. Teams for economic policy, domestic policy and independent agencies will be announced next week.
Another person in the mix: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, formerly a bitter Trump rival, who was said to be under consideration for attorney general. Cruz said Thursday on Fox News that he’s “eager to work with the new president in whatever capacity I can have the greatest impact defending the principles that I was elected to defend.”
(c) 2016, Bloomberg · Jennifer Jacobs