President-elect Donald Trump will meet with Mitt Romney on Tuesday at Trump Tower, transition aides said, marking the second interview for the former Trump critic under consideration for the secretary of state post.
Trump on Monday hosted retired Gen. David Petraeus for about an hour at the Fifth Avenue skyscraper, tweeting afterward that he was “very impressed.”
Petraeus is also being weighed as a potential secretary of state, presenting an alternative as some of Trump’s inner circle openly criticized Romney as a potential Cabinet pick because he opposed the president-elect during the campaign.
“He basically walked us around the world, showed a great grasp of a variety of the challenges that are out there and some of the opportunities as well,” Petraeus said afterward of Trump.
The four-star general formerly directed the CIA but resigned after the discovery of an extramarital affair. He pleaded guilty last year to a misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information, passing it along to his biographer mistress.
Trump had targeted Hillary Clinton during his campaign for her use of a private email server while secretary of state and said she risked classified information falling into the wrong hands.
Meanwhile, his surrogates have, in television interviews, spoken against Romney. Senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said Sunday on ABC that the 2012 GOP presidential nominee and former Massachusetts governor “went out of his way to hurt” Trump.
Romney first met with Trump earlier this month at the real estate developer’s New Jersey country club.
“The two, quite frankly, hadn’t spent that much time together,” transition communications director Jason Miller told reporters about the need for a second meeting.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is also up for secretary of state.
Meanwhile, Miller was asked Monday about a flurry of tweets Trump sent alleging “millions” of illegally cast ballots and “voter fraud” in three states that he lost. He took to Twitter in the wake of a three-state recount effort initiated by the Green Party.
Miller cited a Washington Post story with data later debunked by the outlet about noncitizen voting in 2008 and 2010. He also referenced a Pew Research Center study about millions of invalid or inaccurate voter registrations, but an author of the study, David Becker, said Monday there were no actual findings of voter fraud.
“Voter lists are much more accurate now than when we issued that study in 2012,” Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation & Research, added on Twitter.
Neither source offered by Miller fully supports Trump’s claims of fraud in this year’s election.
“If this much attention and oxygen is going to be paid to a frivolous fundraising scheme, then there should be substantive looks at voter fraud and illegal immigrants voting,” Miller told reporters of money collected for the recount effort being pursued by Green Party nominee Jill Stein and supported, in Wisconsin, by Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
He said he would not speculate on whether Trump will instruct his Department of Justice to investigate illegal voting.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday that there is “no evidence produced to substantiate” Trump’s claims, referring requests for explanation to Trump’s transition team.
Last night, a person familiar with the decision said Trump has selected Georgia Rep. Tom Price to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. Price, a leading critic of Obama’s signature health care law, is expected to announced this morning, the AP reported.
The president-elect also met Monday with Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, Sheriff David Clarke and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.
In addition to Romney, Trump is set Tuesday to interview Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and Marion Blakey, chief executive of Rolls-Royce North America.