Sunday show questions swirl over optics, strategy of Trump picks

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) and 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney are among the favorites to be secretary of State under the Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE administration, his campaign indicated Sunday.

While Vice President-elect Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PencePence posts, deletes photo of Trump campaign staff without face masks, not social distancing Pence threatens to deploy military if Pennsylvania governor doesn’t quell looting Pence on Floyd: ‘No tolerance for racism’ in US MORE praised the potential picks, some Democrats are skeptical about whether Trump is seriously considering Romney.

Romney actively criticized Trump during his campaign, and once called the billionaire candidate a “con” and a “phony.”


“In this new world, I would love Mitt Romney at the State Department,” said Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffDemocrats introduce resolution condemning acts of violence against the press Schiff asks if defense resources provided intelligence during protests Schiff uses Tiananmen anniversary to condemn Trump’s response to protests MORE (D-Calif.)

“But I think it’s a total head fake. … I think this is Donald Trump still being the entertainer, still running a show where he wants to build suspense.”

“I would be very surprised if he chooses Romney,” he added on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

But Pence told “Fox and Friends” that the former Massachusetts governor is under “active consideration” to be secretary of State.

Trump and Romney met Saturday at Trump’s private New Jersey golf club in what the vice president-elect called a “warm and substantive exchange.”

“It was a cordial meeting,” Pence said on “Fox and Friends.


“But more importantly to the American people, it was a very substantive conversation and I know the president-elect was grateful that Mitt Romney came here to Trump National and spent some time and is willing to be considered for this important role at such an important time in the life of our nation.”

Schiff’s accusation of using Romney as a bit of political theatre followed news Friday that Trump had agreed to pay $25 million to settle three suits against Trump University.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called it a “stunning reversal by Donald Trump,” who had pledged not to settle. Some online pointed to the feud as a distraction from the settlement and the controversies over some of his Cabinet picks and the presence of his daughter Ivanka at a meeting with the Japenese prime minister.



Trump tweeted early Saturday morning about the case.

 “I settled the Trump University lawsuit for a small fraction of the potential award because as President I have to focus on our country,” he posted.

“The ONLY bad thing about winning the Presidency is that I did not have the time to go through a long but winning trial on Trump U. Too bad!” he added.

Trump is facing backlash for naming Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsMcCabe, Rosenstein spar over Russia probe Rosenstein takes fire from Republicans in heated testimony Rosenstein defends Mueller appointment, role on surveillance warrants MORE as his pick for attorney general.

Democrats have questioned the Alabama senator’s history on civil rights issues and vowed to give him a “tough vetting.”

“It’s premature to make any decisions but, except to say a very thorough and tough vetting for a Senate colleague, as well as for anybody else,” incoming Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerOvernight Health Care: US showing signs of retreat in battle against COVID-19 | Regeneron begins clinical trials of potential coronavirus antibody treatment | CMS warns nursing homes against seizing residents’ stimulus checks Schumer requests briefing with White House coronavirus task force as cases rise Schumer on Trump’s tweet about 75-year-old protester: He ‘should go back to hiding in the bunker’ MORE (D-N.Y.) said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Other Democrats, including Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names MORE (D-Mass.) have called on Trump to rescind the nomination.

“If he refuses, then it will fall to the Senate to exercise fundamental moral leadership for our nation and all of its people,” she said.

But Trump’s incoming White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, on Sunday called the criticisms of Sessions unfair.

“This is an honorable, decent, good human being that we’re talking about. I can assure you that if there’s wrongdoing out there, no matter in the streets or in the police department, Sen. Sessions is going to fight it and bring justice to wherever it needs to be brought to,” he said on CNN.


Trump has been known to reward loyalty. Many of the selections and appointments he has made during the transition have gone to his staunchest supporters, including Sesssions and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn for national security adviser.

Giuliani became one of Trump’s most visible and passionate surrogates during the campaign, and is said to be another leading candidate to be secretary of State. He was also set to meet with Trump Sunday in New Jersey.

Priebus, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that Giuliani is “of course” still a possibility for the role.

Others include former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

In other transition news, conservative radio host Laura Ingraham reacted Sunday to speculation she is under consideration to be Trump’s White House press secretary.

“It’s an intriguing idea,” she said on “Fox News Sunday.”

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