Trump Says His Potential Hires Are ‘Really Talented People’

  • Another national security pick is imminent, spokesman says
  • Romney, Mnuchin lead raft of hopefuls, advisers meeting Trump

Trump's Transition: A Weekend of Cabinet Hopefuls

President-elect Donald Trump emerged from hours of meetings at his New Jersey golf resort, declaring that the day’s talks were “really good” and that his candidates are “really talented people” who would make good on his campaign pledge to make America great again.

Responding to a CNN report that retired Marine General James Mattis is now the front-runner to become defense secretary, Trump said merely, “Well, we think he’s a great guy. He is some great man.” Mattis was at the resort for more than an hour on Saturday.

Donald Trump and James Mattis on Nov. 19.

Photographer: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Trump was having dinner with Patrick Soon-Shiong, an aide said. Soon-Shiong became a billionaire selling two drug companies and owns a stake in the Los Angeles Lakers NBA basketball team.

Mitt Romney and Steve Mnuchin earlier led a parade of visitors to the clubhouse in Bedminster as the president-elect continues to assemble his administration.

Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee and a fierce critic of Trump for most of the 2016 election season, is now said to be on the short list to become secretary of state. Mnuchin, a close ally who was the finance chairman of Trump’s campaign, may be under consideration for Treasury secretary.

The former governor of Massachusetts, Romney spent about an hour with Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence. “We had a far-reaching conversation with regards to the various theaters of the world of interest to the United States, of real significance,” Romney said upon emerging. He didn’t take questions.

Upscale Resort

Trump, 70, decamped from his midtown Manhattan penthouse on Friday afternoon to the upscale club set in Bedminster, in New Jersey’s horse country, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) to the west. The course sits on the former estate of automaker John DeLorean. It features two 18-hole courses designed by renowned architect Tom Fazio, and is scheduled to host the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open tournament.

Besides Romney, Trump’s short list to become the nation’s top diplomat is said to include former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Senator Bob Corker from Tennessee, John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the UN, and Nikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina.

Mnuchin is one of 16 members of the transition team’s executive committee, along with the president-elect’s son Eric Trump, who also attended on Saturday.

Sean Spicer, spokesman for the Trump transition team, told reporters that it was “very possible we’ll see an additional announcement” in the national security area on Saturday. The director of national intelligence and secretary of defense are two notable jobs not filled to date.

National Security

On Friday, Trump tapped three campaign loyalists, whose positions lie outside the conservative mainstream, to positions that could drive the nation’s immigration and intelligence agenda. Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions was nominated for attorney general, Representative Mike Pompeo for CIA director, and retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn as national security adviser. Contentious hearings are possible in the Senate for Sessions and Pompeo; Flynn’s appointment is not subject to confirmation.

President Barack Obama, speaking in Lima on Saturday while attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting, said Trump’s administration shouldn’t be prejudged. At a town hall meeting, Obama urged the world “not to make immediate judgments, but give this new president-elect a chance” to put his team together.

Candidates for other administration posts arrived in Bedminster on Saturday, including Betsy DeVos, a major Republican donor, and educator Michelle Rhee. Both are said to be under consideration as education secretary.

Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, who may be on the short list for commerce secretary, will sit down with Trump on Sunday. Others meeting with Trump on Sunday, according to the transition team, include Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, the only woman currently in a Republican congressional leadership post; T. W. Shannon, former speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives; Giuliani; and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

(An earlier version corrected the spelling of Kevin Johnson)

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