Sen. Mitt Romney says he’s “sickened” by the dishonesty the Russia investigation found in the Trump White House, but the president fires back that Romney should have put the same energy into running for president in 2012 that the Utah Republican has tapped in criticizing him.
Romney also tweeted Friday that in reading the special counsel’s report he was “appalled” Americans working on the Trump campaign had welcomed help from Russia.
On Saturday, Trump responded via Twitter, saying if Romney “spent the same energy fighting Barack Obama as he does fighting Donald Trump, he could have won the race (maybe)!”
In 2012 Romney won a slightly greater percentage of the popular vote than Trump in 2016. He’s one of the few prominent Republicans to criticize Trump since Trump’s election.
Mitt Romney didn’t join the other 11 Republican senators who voted with the Democrats to vote to sanction the companies of Russian oligarch and Putin pal Oleg Deripaska. His vote wouldn’t have made a difference but it would have signalled that he might be his own man, not a self-interested typical Senate Republican who is tethered to Mitch McConnell.
Explaining why he voted with the Democrats Marco Rubio of Florida said of the bill “I don’t like the way it’s structured.” The other Republican senators who voted with Democrats in both the procedural vote to advance the measure to the entire Senate and then the vote in the Senate were John Boozman of Arkansas, Susan Collins of Maine, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Steve Daines of Montana, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Josh Hawley of Missouri, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Martha McSally of Arizona, Jerry Moran of Kansas and Ben Sasse of Nebraska.
Of course the Republicans won the day for Putin and Trump with the measure passing 57 to 42. It is off-putting to know that Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York missed the vote apparently because she thought it was more important to go to New York to appear on Stephen Colbert to announced her first step to start a campaign the Democratic 2020 presidential nomination.
Perhaps McConnell called in some chits for giving putting Romney of most of the committees he asked for. Freshman senators usually have to jockey to get on even one or two of the major committees which would give him national exposure.
According to a home state newspaper, The Desert News, Romney had “planned to submit requests for the Foreign Relations, Finance and Commerce. In a November interview, Romney expressed an interest in finance as well as foreign relations, education, health care, agriculture, small business and natural resources. He acknowledged that as a freshman he would not necessarily get his first choice.”
Romney ended up on Foreign Relations, apparently his first choice, and Homeland Security, choice assignments. However profile committee assignments he’s on are Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Governmental Affairs; and Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
As I wrote about before, Romney could be eyeing either a primary challenge against Trump or if Trump doesn’t run in 2020 he almost certainly would enter the race and could very well be the favorite.
Unless something drastic changes and he gets religion or resets his ethical compass we can expect that Romney will be just another McConnell rubber stamp.
Could Romney redeem himself? It is possible, especially considering the breaking news from Buzzfeed, President Trump Directed His Attorney To Lie To Congress About The Moscow Tower Project, which reveals high crimes and misdemeanors which Barbara McQuade (a former US Attorney) said on The 11th Hour on MSNBC could be grounds for impeachment. Romney could do what Sen. Barry Goldwater, R-Ariz., and U.S. House Minority Leader John Rhodes, R-Ariz., and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Hugh Scott, R-Pa., did when they made it clear to Nixon that he faced nearly certain impeachment, conviction and removal from office due to the Watergate scandal.
Romney could help lead a group of rebellious Republicans to vote to convict Trump. Some might join because they are facing tough 2020 reelection battles and others, perhaps just a few, may have some sense of nobility and want to save our democracy and not be a part of its destruction. They would join an impeachment insurrection so that if and when the House impeached Trump, there would be enough Senate votes to remove him from office.
If they went to McConnell together he’d have little choice but to go to Trump with the news the way Goldwater did with Nixon.
I wasn’t going to write this until Trump went down in ignominious flames. While I’m not superstitious, I still thought doing so might jinx the chance of him being impeached, resigning, or deciding not to run in 2020. If the polls showed he didn’t stand a chance of winning not just in the general election, but even in a primary if heavyweight anti-Trumpers like Romney and Flake decided to challenge him finding a self-aggrandizing way not to run. I could see him saying he had achieved more in four years than any other president accomplished in eight and announcing he could serve the nation better as the Emperor of the Galaxy or some-such proof he had finally succumbed to a delusional psychosis.
By March of 2018 the previous lists were winnowed down and included only Kasich and flake in an article by Chris Cillizza on CNN. Significantly the Mitt Romney was the third on the new list. Romney currently is not only the prime threat to pro-Trumpers in the Senate because he could lead a rebellion of Republicans supporting conviction if the House impeached him, but because he could be the GOP’s last best hope of winning in 2020.
If, sans Trump, the 2020 race had an open primary, I think it would be a hard-fought race which certainly could include the five mentioned in these article and more.
If a vindicated Trump who is surging in the polls is running I still think it’s possible Jeff Flake and Mitt Romney might still challenge him. A grinning Trump would be bragging and ranting about how the fake news was humiliated, how Mueller’s investigation ended up being a nothing burger, how the Democrats caved in and funded his big beautiful wall, and how he saved your grandmother from vicious immigrant criminals. Flake and Romney would have to convince the Republicans who would probably be backing Trump close to 100% that he was still unfit to represent their party.
If, knock on wood, Trump has retired in shame and moved to live permanently at Mar-a-Lago with Trump Tower occupied by wife and Barron and rumor swirling that there’s a secret divorce in progress, the question we will all be asking is whether the Democratic Party front-runner can beat Mitt Romney or Jeff Flake.
Either would be a formidable presidential opponent against any Democrat, but consider how daunting a task it would be to run against what I am sure would be the dream ticket for old school Republicans like Michael Steele (who during the William Barr hearing Tuesday Lindsay Graham mistook for Chistopher Steele), Jennifer Rubin, George Will, and Nicolle Wallace: Romney/Flake.
Romney would run as the elder statesman, as a smart and stable Republican who looks and talks like a president and would return dignity to the Oval Office and eschew tweeting. He would be 72 or 73. Flake, who would be 57 or 58, would run as the new blood of the party.
Both are Mormons who received their bachelors degrees from Brigham Young University. You can be sure there are no Stormy Daniels waiting to emerge during the campaign.
While the Democrats are positioning themselves to run against a wounded Trump and both inside the party and outside there are debates as to who is best suiting to take him on they should be considering who can handily beat a Romney/Flake ticket.
Biden/Beto not only has a ring to it, but this could be the winning ticket pitting another elder statesman candidate and a new blood candidate against a similar GOP ticket.
Update: 6:00 PM EST: “Romney broadside stokes Trump camp’s suspicions about 2020, Those close to the incoming Utah senator told POLITICO he agonized over whether to publish the rebuke…. At a time when talk of a 2020 GOP primary has simmered, Trump aides said Romney, on the eve of his swearing in to the Senate, was seeking to define himself as the new leader of the Never Trump movement. They noted that Romney had taken steps in recent weeks to reactivate the national fundraising network he’d established in his 2012 presidential bid: This fall, long before being sworn in, the new senator hosted a fundraiser for his political action committee.” Politico
Update: 4:00 PM EST: “Sen. Mitt Romney on Wednesday said he won’t run for president again, though he warned that President Donald Trump doesn’t necessarily have his support for his 2020 reelection campaign.” “I think it’s early to make that decision and I want to see what the alternatives are,” Romney told CNN’s Jake Tapper about whether he will endorse Trump in 2020. Politico
Mitt Romney says “the president shapes the public character of the nation and Trump’s character falls short” in an OpEd and Trump is up at 4:53 AM Tweeting a blast against him. Perhaps he was up all night persevering over the New Years day evening Washington Post OpEd which was posted online at 8 PM. I can see him Tweeting in frustrated fulminating over the fact that even though he lost a Flake he has gain a higher profile nationally known Republican taking on the mantle of ethical Republicanism worn previously by McCain and Flake.
Romney: “To a great degree, a presidency shapes the public character of the nation. A president should unite us and inspire us to follow “our better angels.” A president should demonstrate the essential qualities of honesty and integrity, and elevate the national discourse with comity and mutual respect. As a nation, we have been blessed with presidents who have called on the greatness of the American spirit. With the nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable. And it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring.”
Trump at 4:53 AM on Twitter: “Here we go with Mitt Romney, but so fast! Question will be, is he a Flake? I hope not. Would much prefer that Mitt focus on Border Security and so many other things where he can be helpful. I won big, and he didn’t. He should be happy for all Republicans. Be a TEAM player & WIN!”
Trump knows that there are only two other Republicans who at present are a credible threat to his renomination.
Both will be busy over the next year should they have their eyes on the prize.
If Jeff Flake launches an exploratory committee in short order it will rattle the chandeliers in the Mar-a-Lago ballroom. Flake, with nothing else to fill his time, will be able to put together a team, raise money, and travel around the country to build momentum among those crucial Trump voters with buyer’s remorse, with those who want a mentally stable president, and among those who voted for both Bushes and who thought Trump would shutter the clown act once he was elected and learn to become president.
The newly minted senator, Mitt Romney has to be considering a run against Trump. He knows he has to appeal to the same voters Flake will need to win the nomination. However he is constrained in that he has to run as a freshman senator not a former senator with time on his hands to criss-cross the nation in a painted bus holding town halls which will be televised on all the local stations.
Watch for the relationship between Mitch McConnell and Romney. See if the relationship is good and McConnell wants to foster the chances for a successful Romney run. This may be evidenced by committee assignments Romney gets. If he’s assigned to low-profile committees this means McConnell doesn’t want to help Romney gain national exposure.
On the other hand, if he lands on some of the committees which will be looking into Trump McConnell will have assured he’ll be in the limelight.
If Romney doesn’t get national attention handed to him by virtue of his positions on committees which have their hearing televised he can also sign on to bills co-sponsored by Democrat and bring up bill of his own.
Not to be underestimated is the power of the OpEd. Romney is unlikely to communicate by Tweets. He knows the power of the OpEd. He knows how to write a powerful grammatical sentence and string them together into a paragraph. He knows the power of words which will be republished across the Internet, for example in HUFFPOST today:
Romney argued in his op-ed that the Trump administration has caused “dismay around the world” and that the president “has not risen to the mantle of the office.”
“It is well-known that Donald Trump was not my choice for the Republican presidential nomination,” Romney wrote. “After he became the nominee, I hoped his campaign would refrain from resentment and name-calling. It did not.”
Being criticized from two fronts to will have the effect of distracting Trump from his usual rage-Tweets against Democrats.
He once described Romney as choking in his run against Obama, and also walking “like a penguin onto the stage” and then moved his fingers back and forth in a walking motion said again “like a penguin!.” During the 2012 presidential campaign Trump said Mitt Romney had not paid any taxes over the past decade. Then Romney released tax returns proving that he did.
I expect we will see more self-satisfied juvenile language about Jeff Flake and Mitt Romney coming from Trump in 2019.
Days away from joining the Senate’s Republican majority, Sen.-elect Mitt Romney broadly criticized President Donald Trump’s policies and character and argued that the president “has not risen to the mantle of the office.”
“With the nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable,” the Utah Republican and 2012 presidential nominee wrote in a Washington Post op-ed posted online Tuesday night. “And it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring.”
Romney’s biting public assessment came as Trump and Senate Republicans faced a new governing dynamic. Republicans on Thursday will cede control of the House to Democrats, who were prepared to oppose Trump on a number of policies and promised a slew of investigations into his actions and those of his aides and campaign officials, particularly with regard to Russia’s election meddling.
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, had criticized Trump before — notably, in a March 2016 speech he called Trump a “fraud” and opposed his bid for the GOP nomination — but later he made peace with the president-elect and even expressed interest in joining his administration.
Romney’s rebuke of Trump drew a cutting reply from Brad Parscale, Trump’s campaign manager. In a tweet Tuesday night, Parscale said Romney “lacked the ability to save this nation” and contended that Trump “has saved it.”
“Jealously is a drink best served warm and Romney just proved it,” Parscale wrote. “So sad, I wish everyone had the courage
In the column, Romney offered approval of Trump’s corporate tax policies and efforts to cut regulations, appoint conservative judges and other “policies mainstream Republicans have promoted for years. But policies and appointments are only a part of a presidency.”
“To a great degree, a presidency shapes the public character of the nation,” Romney said. He later added: “With the nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable. And it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring.”
While saying Trump’s early administration appointments had been encouraging, Romney added that, “on balance, his conduct over the past two years, particularly his actions this month, is evidence that the president has not risen to the mantle of the office.”
In describing a “deep descent” by the Trump presidency in December, Romney cited the departures of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and White House chief of staff John Kelly and what he called the appointment of people of lesser experience, the abandonment of allies, and Trump’s “thoughtless claim that America has long been a ‘sucker’ in world affairs.”
Looking ahead, Romney wrote that he would act as he would with any president from either party in the White House, supporting policies he believes are in the best interest of the country and his state and opposing those that are not. And he said he didn’t intend to comment on every tweet or fault.
“But I will speak out against significant statements or actions that are divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions,” he said.
President Donald Trump’s most prominent GOP critics on Capitol Hill are close to completing their Senate careers, raising the question of who — if anyone — will take their place as willing to publicly criticize a president who remains popular with nearly 9 in 10 Republican voters.
Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee engaged in a war of words with the president on myriad issues over the past 18 months, generating headlines and fiery tweets from a president who generally insists on getting the last word. Those battles put them on the outs with many in their own party, and they paid a price. Both decided to retire rather than take on a difficult re-election campaign.
Flake was far and away Trump’s most consistent critic among Senate Republicans. Corker weighed in less often, but his description of the White House as an “adult day care center” rankled the president, who dubbed him “Liddle’ Bob Corker.” The feud continued as Corker headed for the exits, with Trump asserting that Corker’s promise to serve only two terms was not the real reason he retired. Rather, Corker “wanted to run but poll numbers TANKED when I wouldn’t endorse him,” Trump tweeted.
Corker replied: “Yes, just like Mexico is paying for the wall… #AlertTheDaycareStaff.”
One possible voice of dissent could come from Utah Sen.-elect Mitt Romney. In a Washington Post op-ed Tuesday, Romney wrote that Trump’s “conduct over the past two years … is evidence that the president has not risen to the mantle of the office.”
Romney praised some of Trump’s policy decisions, but added: “With the nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable. And it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring.”
Romney has had his public run-ins with the president.
Throughout his Senate campaign, Romney insisted that he would agree with Trump on some issues and not be shy about disagreeing on others. Romney appears to have more room with GOP voters in Utah to take on the president. Most voters in Utah — 64 percent — would like to see the senator confront the president, according to data from AP VoteCast, a survey of midterm voters.
Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska has frequently criticized Trump for what he considers the president’s uncivil rhetoric. Sasse has also said he “regularly” considers leaving his party and becoming an independent. He is up for re-election in 2020 and has said he’ll decide by the summer whether to seek a second term. It would be tricky terrain for Sasse to publicly battle with Trump, who won the state in 2016 by 25 percentage points.
Rory Cooper, a GOP strategist who helped lead the “Never Trump PAC” during the 2016 Republican primary, said publicly criticizing the president makes Republican votes back home unhappy and earns the ire of the president. Meanwhile, Democratic voters and the media give them too little credit, he said.
“There is not an incentive structure for senators who disagree with or oppose the president to speak out right now, but that could change if the (Robert) Mueller investigation continues to move in the direction it has been or the economy churns negative,” Cooper said.
Senate Republicans chafe at the notion they are unwilling to take on a president whose statements and policy positions often run counter to traditional conservative positions.
Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., said he raised his concerns about trade policy privately with the president.
“I want results,” Rounds said, “instead of hardening positions.”
Rounds said he rode with Trump after meeting him at the airport when the president visited South Dakota during the midterm election season, telling him the state’s soybean farmers were facing losses of some $500 million because of retaliatory tariffs. He said Trump told him: “We’re going to have a better deal for them. If they hang with me, we’re going to make this better.”
Rounds said his job is to make things better and “that doesn’t mean I have to be out there in front fighting with someone.”
Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., said “there’s all sorts of active disagreements that go on” with the White House behind the scenes.
“I support the president as well as anybody. Behind closed doors, there are things on tariffs and things like that where we’ve offered a differing opinion. But I support this president in terms of what he’s trying to do. This agenda is working,” Perdue said, citing strong economic growth and low unemployment.
Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said he suspects the 2020 elections will prompt more Republican senators to confront Trump when they disagree with him, and that may already be happening, citing recent actions on Saudi Arabia.
The Senate passed a measure that blamed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and called on Riyadh to “ensure appropriate accountability.” Senators also passed a separate measure calling for the end of U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. The resolutions showed senators seeking to assert oversight of Trump administration foreign policy and the relationship with Saudi Arabia.
“Almost half of their caucus is up for re-election. They just saw what happened in 2018,” Durbin said of Republicans, who lost the House majority to Democrats. “I think, once they do polling back home, not all of them, but many of them will find that independence is being rewarded.”
President Donald Trump is endorsing Mitt Romney in Utah’s Senate race, another sign that the two Republicans are burying the hatchet after a fraught relationship.
The GOP’s presidential nominee in 2012, Romney announced last week he would seek the nomination to replace retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch. In a tweet Monday night, Trump wrote, “He will make a great Senator and worthy successor to @OrrinHatch, and has my full support and endorsement!” Romney quickly accepted the endorsement via Twitter.
Trump has not always been so positive about Romney the political candidate. In 2016 Trump said the former Massachusetts governor had “choked like a dog” during his failed 2012 bid against President Barack Obama.
For his part, Romney gave a scathing critique of then-candidate Trump during the GOP primary that year, calling him a “phony” who was unfit for office. More recently, Romney criticized Trump’s response to last year’s deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and last month called Trump’s use of an obscenity to describe African countries as inconsistent with American history and values.
Members of both political parties have suggested that Romney, if elected to the Senate, would continue to call out Trump if he believed the president warranted criticism. However, Romney did not mention Trump or his scandal-plagued administration in his campaign announcement on Friday, focusing instead on how his adopted state of Utah could be a model for better government in Washington.
Asked Friday if he would seek or accept Trump’s endorsement, Romney demurred but said they had talked on the phone two or three times in recent months and had a cordial and respectful relationship.
Within minutes of Trump’s tweet Monday night, Romney sent one of his own: “Thank you Mr. President for the support. I hope that over the course of the campaign I also earn the support and endorsement of the people of Utah.”
Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah said Tuesday he will not seek re-election after serving more than 40 years in the Senate, opening the door for 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to run for his seat.
The 83-year-old Hatch, the longest-serving Republican in the Senate, opted for retirement despite a full-court press from President Donald Trump to stay in Washington, particularly as Romney’s ambition for the seat became apparent.
Romney was a vocal critic of Trump’s during the 2016 election and could be a potential thorn in the president’s side in the Senate. He also has drawn the ire of Trump’s former White House adviser, Steve Bannon, who recently derided Romney as a draft dodger who “hid behind” his Mormon religion to avoid serving in the Vietnam War.
Hatch said he decided to retire at the end of his seventh term after “much prayer and discussion with family and friends” over the holiday break. He said he’s always been a fighter, “but every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves.”
“Only in a nation like ours could someone like me — the scrappy son of a simple carpenter — grow up to become a United States Senator,” he added.
Trump had been open in recent months about pressuring Hatch to stay in the Senate, and his private lobbying campaign was bolstered by a public love fest, with Trump inviting Hatch with him on Air Force One in December when he shrunk the boundaries of two Utah monuments.
“Congratulations to Senator Orrin Hatch on an absolutely incredible career. He has been a tremendous supporter, and I will never forget the (beyond kind) statements he has made about me as President,” Trump tweeted Tuesday. “He is my friend and he will be greatly missed in the U.S. Senate!”
Hatch chairs the powerful Senate Finance Committee and was a major force in getting a tax overhaul through Congress and signed into law in December. He also played a key role in persuading Trump to sign proclamations scaling back the two Utah monuments that Hatch and other conservatives considered examples of government overreach.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who now lives in Utah, thanked Hatch in a statement on Facebook and said Hatch “has represented the interests of Utah with distinction and honor.”
Romney’s statement did not mention his own plans.
If he ran, Romney would enter the Senate race as the heavy favorite, having carried Utah in 2012 by a margin of nearly 3-to-1 over Democrat Barack Obama. Romney would likely be among a small number of influential Republicans willing to take on Trump.
He was an early critic of the billionaire businessman, labeling Trump “a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University,” Romney warned in 2016 in a speech in Utah.
After the election, Romney submitted himself as a candidate to be secretary of state in an excruciatingly public interview process. But since Trump has moved into the White House, Romney has been a frequent detractor, particularly after Trump equivocated on condemning white supremacists in Charlottesville last summer.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday she had not discussed Romney’s potential candidacy with Trump and could not say whether the president would support him.
Amid earlier speculation about Hatch’s plans, the Utah senator stepped up to defend Romney, a fellow Mormon, against criticism from Bannon.
At a rally for Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, Bannon called Romney a draft dodger who “hid behind” his religion. Romney received a draft deferment for missionary work in France during Vietnam.
Hatch called Bannon’s attack “disappointing and unjustified” and said Romney “has sought every opportunity” to serve the country.
Late last year, Hatch also found himself in a heated debate with Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio. The dispute occurred as Republicans pushed a near $1.5 trillion, 10-year tax cut for businesses and individuals through the Senate Finance Committee over Democrats’ objections.
Brown, a liberal firebrand, said people know Republicans want to help the rich because it’s “in their DNA.”
Hatch told Brown he’d heard enough, adding that he’s helped disadvantaged people “my whole stinking career.” As the two senators talked over each other, Hatch said he was tired of Democrats’ “bull crap.”
In the statement announcing his decision to retire, Hatch cited work helping create the Americans with Disabilities Act, expanding children’s health insurance and expanding use of generic drugs.
Hatch also served as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and was at the center of many of the biggest confirmation battles. During his time on the committee, the Senate has confirmed nearly 1,900 federal judges.
In 2000, Hatch sought the Republican nomination for president, saying he had more experience in Washington than his opponents and insisting he could work with Democrats. He withdrew after only winning 1 percent of the vote in the Iowa caucuses.
Hatch frequently wrote religious songs and recorded music in his spare time as a way to relax. One of his songs, “Unspoken,” went platinum after appearing on “WOW Hits 2005,” a compilation of Christian pop music.
Associated Press writers Zeke Miller, Steve Peoples, Thomas Beaumont and Michelle Price contributed to this report.
Donald Trump’s hunt for a secretary of state is veering into dramatic terrain, with the president-elect summoning Mitt Romney back for a second look as a top aide leads a public pressure campaign against the pick.
Trump has a follow-up meeting Tuesday with the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, who has become a symbol of the internal divisions agitating the transition team. He also plans to sit with Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. On Monday, Trump spent an hour with retired Gen. David Petraeus, a new contender.
Aides were divided over Trump’s choices, particularly the prospect that Trump could tap Romney for the top-tier diplomatic post. In an unusual public airing of internal machinations, Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway on Sunday warned that the president-elect’s supporters would feel “betrayed” if he tapped Romney as secretary of state.
Exiting Trump Tower on Monday night, Vice President-elect Mike Pence simply teased “a number of very important announcements tomorrow.”
One announcement expected Tuesday was Georgia Rep. Tom Price to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. Trump has selected Price for the role, according to a person familiar with the decision. The person was not authorized to discuss the nomination publicly ahead of the announcement and so insisted on anonymity.
While other staffing decisions were being made, the search for secretary of state was still underway. Petraeus said he spent about an hour with the president-elect and praised him for showing a “great grasp of a variety of the challenges that are out there.”
The former CIA chief pleaded guilty last year to a misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information relating to documents he had provided to his biographer, with whom he was having an affair.
Pence, who is heading the transition effort, is said to be among those backing Romney for secretary of state. Romney was fiercely critical of Trump throughout the campaign but is interested in the Cabinet position, and they discussed it during a lengthy meeting earlier this month.
Other top Trump allies, notably Conway, have launched a highly unusual public campaign against a Romney nomination. Conway’s comments stirred speculation that she is seeking either to force Trump’s hand or give him cover for ultimately passing over Romney.
Three people close to the transition team said Trump had been aware that Conway planned to voice her opinion, both on Twitter and in television interviews. They disputed reports that Trump was furious at her and suggested his decision to consider additional candidates instead highlighted her influence.
Trump is said to have offered Conway a choice of White House jobs — either press secretary or communications director. But people with knowledge of Conway’s plans say she is more interested in serving as an outside political adviser, akin to the role President Barack Obama’s campaign manager David Plouffe played following the 2008 election.
Trump was considering former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani to head the Homeland Security Department, according to those close to the transition process. Giuliani was initially the front-runner for secretary of state and is still in the mix. But questions about his overseas business dealings, as well as his public campaigning for the job, have given Trump pause.
Those close to the transition insisted on anonymity in commenting because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the private process.
In addition to the public staffing spat, the campaign was forced Monday to defend Trump’s baseless assertions of illegal voting, made in angry response to a recount effort.
That effort, led by Green Party candidate Jill Stein and joined by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, marched on in three states, based partly on the Stein campaign’s unsubstantiated assertion that cyber-hacking could have interfered with electronic voting machines. Wisconsin officials approved plans to begin a recount as early as Thursday. Stein also asked for a recount in Pennsylvania and was expected to do the same in Michigan, where officials certified Trump’s victory Monday.
Trump has denounced the recounts and now claims without evidence that he, not Clinton, would have won the popular vote if it hadn’t been for “millions of people who voted illegally.” On Twitter, he singled out Virginia, California and New Hampshire.
There has been no indication of widespread election tampering or voter fraud in those states or any others. Trump aides struggled Monday to back up their boss’ claim.
Pace reported from Washington. AP writer Jonathan Lemire contributed to this report.
Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC and http://twitter.com/catherine_lucey
By his own account, President-elect Donald Trump has worked out a few agreements after a parade of weekend visitors who could land major appointments in his administration.
There were hints but no decisions to announce. Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee in 2012, was “under active and serious consideration” for secretary of state, Vice President-elect Mike Pence said. Trump himself said retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis was an “impressive” prospect for defense secretary.
“We’ve made a couple of deals,” Trump told reporters at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club before returning to New York. He gave assurances that “incredible meetings” would be brining “incredible people” into the government. “You’ll be hearing about them soon.”
More meetings are on Trump’s Monday schedule. His transition team said former Texas governor and GOP presidential rival Rick Perry was expected to meet with Trump on Monday.
Among the visitors to the white-pillared clubhouse Sunday were Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, billionaire investor Wilbur Ross and retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, the former commander of U.S. Southern Command.
The businessman who is now thepresident-elect also apparently was considering options to lead the Commerce Department, meeting with Ross. “Time will tell,” Ross told reporters when asked if he wanted a post.
It was hard to tell if some of the visitors were on the job hunt. Hollywood powerbroker Ari Emanuel and BET founder Robert Johnson came through over the weekend as did health care billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong. Trump made a show of each guest, greeting them formally at the door, shaking hands and smiling for the cameras and telling the press how “great” they were.
“King of Hollywood,” Trump said, as he ushered Emanuel in the door Sunday.
Between conversations, Trump revealed he was making transition plans for his family. 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!”
The comments were indications that Trump is looking outside his immediate circle as he works toward rounding out his foreign policy and national security teams. On Friday, he named a loyalist, retired Gen. Michael Flynn, as his national security adviser.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 GOP presidential contender, and Trump exchanged bitter insults during the campaign, and Mattis has not been considered a Trump confidante. The appointment of more establishment figures could offer some reassurance to lawmakers and others concerned about Trump’s hard-line positions on immigration and national security and his lack of foreign policy experience.
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.
But even as Trump and his team discussed pressing issues facing the country and how to staff the incoming administration, the president-elect’s Twitter feed suggested other issues too were on his mind.
His targets Sunday included Sen. Reid. Trump tweeted that incoming Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, another media-savvy New Yorker, was “far smarter” than Reid and “has the ability to get things done.”
Trump also complained that “Saturday Night Live,” which thrives on making fun of politicians, is “biased” and not funny. The night before, actor Alec Baldwin portrayed Trump as Googling: “What is ISIS?”
Trump also insisted again that the cast and producers of “Hamilton” should apologize after the lead actor addressed Pence from the stage Friday night, telling the vice president-elect that “diverse America” was “alarmed and anxious.” Pence said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he wasn’t offended.
Kellman reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report.
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