It’s not surprising if Donald Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway is pushing him in private to forget about Mitt Romney for secretary of state. But taking her case public via Twitter and the Sunday talk shows? Now that seems unusual.
Trump’s fans would “feel betrayed to think that Gov. Romney would get the most prominent Cabinet post after he went so far out of his way to hurt Donald Trump,” Conway said on CNN.
The comments set off a round of Kremlinology-meets-Trump Tower version among pundits.
“I have never, EVER, seen any aide to a [president or president-elect] publicly try and box the boss in like this. Extraordinary,” tweeted David Axelrod, a former Obama White House top aide.
But Axelrod, like others, allowed for an alternate explanation — that Trump put her up to it. Asked directly on ABC’s “This Week” Conway said, “I won’t discuss that.”
Either way, it’s not a good look, suggested a tweet by MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, an informal Trump adviser. “Now all world leaders will be watching to see if a President Trump can be bullied by his staff.”
Trump claims mass voting fraud
Trump’s Twitter complaints about the Green Party-initiated moves for vote recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania boiled over Sunday afternoon as he claimed without evidence that he was cheated.
“In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” The latest count shows Clinton had 2 million more votes.
Earlier Trump tweets recounted Hillary Clinton’s concession on Nov. 9 and said “Nothing will change.” Clinton’s campaign is now backing the recount effort while expressing doubt the result will change.
See Emily Ngo’s story for Newsday.
The take-away: Schoolyard fight
Bracing for hostilities over education policy under a new federal regime, northeastern Democrats appear ready to invoke states’ rights, traditionally a southern battle cry.
Trump’s choice to head the U.S. Department of Education, Betsy DeVos, is an advocate of tax-funded vouchers for private and parochial schools and charter-school expansion. See Dan Janison’s column for Newsday.
A world of conflicts
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called for Trump’s name be removed from Trump Towers in Istanbul after he called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States. But he hasn’t repeated the demand since Trump defended Erdogan’s crackdown on dissidents after a failed coup.
It’s just one example The New York Times catalogs of where Trump’s policies as president could pose conflicts for his worldwide business interests. Another in India, where Trump projects are being built through companies with family ties to India’s most important political party.
Billionaires find employment
Trump has named two billionaires to his Cabinet — DeVos whose family is worth for education and Wilbur Ross ($2.9 billion) as commerce secretary, Politico says.
Another may be in the pipeline — oil mogul Harold Hamm ($15.3 billion), who is under consideration as secretary of energy. Todd Ricketts, from the billionaire family that owns the Chicago Cubs, is a contender for deputy commerce secretary.
Won’t eat their words
Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio said Sunday they are rooting for Trump to succeed but neither recanted harsh attacks they made on him during the Republican primaries.
Cruz, asked on ABC about his comment that Trump “lies” with “practically every word” out of his mouth and is “utterly amoral,” said: “I’m not going to re-litigate the past. I’m going to focus on the future.”
Rubio deflected on CNN when quizzed about his campaign comment that voters should not give “the nuclear codes of the United States to an erratic individual.”
Was he now comfortable? “I feel comfortable that the voters have chosen him to be the commander in chief,” Rubio said. “And we’re going to give him every chance to be a successful one.
What else is happening:
- Trump is “absolutely” willing to reverse the opening of diplomatic relations with Cuba unless there is “movement in the right direction” by Raul Castro’s government, incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus told “Fox News Sunday.”
- Trump tweeted on Thanksgiving Day that he was leaning on the Carrier company to reverse plans to move jobs from Indiana to Mexico. Bernie Sanders says Trump should use as leverage parent corporation United Technologies’ defense contracts, Export-Import Bank financing, and tax breaks.
- Trump and President Barack Obama are speaking regularly and had a 40-45 minute phone conversation Saturday, Conway says. She wouldn’t offer details on what was discussed.
- After a holiday weekend at his Mar-A-Lago retreat in Florida, Trump headed back to New York and is due to meet Monday with eight prospective administration hires, including Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, Sheriff David Clarke.
- Both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan would become lame ducks under Trump’s term-limits plan for Congress. That’s one among many daunting obstacles, The Washington Post says.