President-elect Donald Trump has picked up the pace of his transition efforts, holding court at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf resort throughout the weekend with contenders for top administration jobs while at the same time continuing his feud with the cast of “Hamilton” and denouncing NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.”
The dichotomy has been jarring, with Trump appearing the poised president-elect one moment as he greeted prospective Cabinet appointees on the front steps of his Bedminster golf club, only to turn belligerent on Twitter the next moment, declaring (and quickly deleting) that a “Hamilton” actor “couldn’t even memorize lines!”
“The cast and producers of Hamilton, which I hear is highly overrated, should immediately apologize to Mike Pence for their terrible behavior,” Trump tweeted at 6:22 a.m. Sunday, continuing his barbs against the Broadway musical after a lead actor used the Friday night curtain call to tell Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who was in the audience, that he worried the administration would “not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights.”
Trump took aim at “Saturday Night Live,” too, writing Sunday morning that it is “a totally one-sided, biased show — nothing funny at all.” Alec Baldwin played Trump in a skit on Saturday’s show.
But Trump also took to Twitter to boost retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, who met with Trump on Saturday and is seen as a front-runner for secretary of defense.
“General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, who is being considered for Secretary of Defense, was very impressive yesterday. A true General’s General!” Trump tweeted Sunday morning.
After days of chaos in his transition effort — fueled in part by the ouster of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as the leader of the effort — Trump is now moving full-speed ahead on the massive task of preparing to take over the White House. Three major appointments were announced Friday, with Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) picked for attorney general, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn named national security adviser, and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) nominated to lead the CIA.
Additional nomination announcements are “definitely a possibility” Sunday, a transition spokesman said during a daily conference call with reporters.
Trump and Pence have a crowded schedule of Sunday meetings after beginning their day attending church near the golf club.
Ari Emanuel, the famed Hollywood agent whose brother Rahm is the mayor of Chicago and former chief of staff to President Barack Obama, is scheduled to meet with the pair Sunday. Kris Kobach, the controversial Kansas secretary of state who said the new administration would consider a registry for Muslim immigrants, is also set to meet with Trump and Pence on Sunday.
Trump’s incoming chief of staff, Reince Priebus, sent mixed signals on that proposal during an appearance Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“Look, I’m not going to rule out anything,” Priebus said, but then added: “We’re not going to have a registry based on a religion.”
Christie will also be paying a visit Sunday. His prospects for a Cabinet position continue to dim in the wake of guilty verdicts for two top aides involved in the George Washington Bridge scandal and his ouster atop the transition, reportedly because Trump was unhappy with the team’s progress. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will visit as well. Once a favorite for the top job at the State Department, Giuliani is seen as less likely to be selected for that position after revelations about his business ties abroad.
Along with Mattis, buzz is growing around the possibility that 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney could be named secretary of state. Romney, who exchanged fierce criticisms with Trump during the Republican nominating contest, met with Trump and Pence on Saturday to discuss world affairs.
“I know he’s under active consideration to be the secretary of state,” Pence told “Fox News Sunday.”
The placement of the statesmanlike Romney atop State would be a nod to the Republican establishment and foreign policy elite, some of whom have bristled at the notion of controversial figures like Flynn — who once deemed Islam “a cancer” — taking such powerful roles in the national security apparatus.
Pence also used his appearance Sunday to declare once again that repealing the Affordable Care Act will be a top priority for the Trump administration. That declaration comes after Trump has said he is willing to keep pieces of the law in place and took to Twitter to praise incoming Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer, who has pledged to defend the law.
“I have always had a good relationship with Chuck Schumer,” Trump wrote Sunday morning. “He is far smarter than Harry R[eid] and has the ability to get things done. Good news!”
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