Trump held meetings with several potential candidates for senior administration jobs over the weekend at his Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. While no new official announcements were made over the weekend, we did get a couple of new clues on potential appointments to key positions.
Will be working all weekend in choosing the great men and women who will be helping to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 18, 2016
Numerous patriots will be coming to Bedminster today as I continue to fill out the various positions necessary to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 20, 2016
Of the open positions, the running for Treasury Secretary has emerged as one of the most highly contested with a handful of very successful candidates. As Bloomberg reports, Trump's weekend meetings in New Jersey included sessions with Jon Gray, a billionaire democrat from Blackstone who vehemently supported Hillary's campaign. Other candidates for the Treasury job include Trump campaign finance manager Steven Mnuchin; David McCormick, the president of hedge fund Bridgewater Associates; and billionaire Wilbur Ross. Jamie Dimon's name has also been tossed around for the Treasury post though it's unclear whether he would be interested.
President-elect Donald Trump discussed the possibility of naming Blackstone Group LP’s Jon Gray as Treasury secretary during a half-hour meeting the two held Sunday, according to people familiar with the events.
Gray, 46, a billionaire who oversees real estate at the world’s biggest manager of alternative assets, is a Democrat who financially supported Hillary Clinton during the campaign. He’s one of a number of business executive to be considered for the role by Trump’s transition team, joining a list that includes Trump campaign finance manager Steven Mnuchin; David McCormick, the president of hedge fund Bridgewater Associates; and billionaire Wilbur Ross.
Ross, a distressed-debt investor, met with Trump on Sunday and is also being considered to lead the Commerce Department, people with knowledge of the deliberations have said. Ross entered his meeting at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, about 10 minutes after Gray exited his, which lasted about 32 minutes. McCormick later arrived at the golf resort.
The “in-depth” conversation with Gray “included the economy, global capital markets and the world financial situation,” Trump’s transition team said in a statement late Sunday. “Future legislation regarding the tax code and long-term debt were also discussed.”
David McCormick, president of the hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, also met with Trump. McCormick, a West Point graduate who served in the first Gulf War, later worked at Treasury and in the White House during the George W. Bush administration.
For Secretary of Defense, General James Mattis seemed to take the lead over the weekend after Trump sent the following tweet:
General James "Mad Dog" Mattis, who is being considered for Secretary of Defense, was very impressive yesterday. A true General's General!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 20, 2016
That said, Trump is actively considering several other candidates including Texas Governor Rick Perry, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Marine Corps General John F. Kelly.
From 2010 to 2013, Mattis headed the U.S. military's Central Command, which oversees operations stretching from the Horn of Africa through the Middle East and into Central Asia including Afghanistan and Pakistan. During that time, he was at odds with the Obama administration on the need to prepare for potential threats from Iran and about resources for Afghanistan.
Mattis, 66, served as an American commander in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and was known to be popular among the troops.
Among those also said to be in the mix to run the Pentagon is former Texas Governor Rick Perry, who will meet with the president-elect on Monday, according to a person familiar with Trump’s schedule. Perry, 66, is thought to be under consideration for a number of roles in the new administration; Miller declined to say which positions.
Trump met with Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas on Nov. 18, also to talk about the defense position, said two people with knowledge of the meeting. On Sunday the president-elect was to meet with Marine Corps General John F. Kelly, former commander of the U.S. Southern Command.
And, last, but certainly not least, the debate over who will fill the critical Secretary of State position is still raging. Speculation swirled over a potential Romney appointment over the weekend as the two met for a brief meeting in New Jersey and VP Pence confirmed that "Governor Romney is under active and serious consideration to serve as secretary of state of the United States." That said, given the bitter exchanges between Romney and Trump during the campaign, many doubt whether he is seriously being considered. Other candidates under active consideration include 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.
Pence said that Trump and Romney had a good meeting and "a warm and a substantive exchange."
"I can say that Governor Romney is under active and serious consideration to serve as secretary of state of the United States," Pence said on the CBS program "Face the Nation."
A source close to Romney from his time as Massachusetts governor expressed concern he might be "frozen out" by officials whose thinking appears to be closer to Trump's, such as Flynn, Mattis, White House counselor Steve Bannon, and members of Trump's family.
"How much influence and latitude he will have will be up to Trump, and they don't appear to be on the same page about much," the source said.
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.
If Trump is looking to extend an olive branch to the democrats we know of another Secretary of State candidate who happens to be recently unemployed...though we suspect the ongoing FBI criminal investigations could make security clearance an issue.