Trump says only he knows finalists for Cabinet posts


By Ken Thomas and Julie Pace, AP

NEW YORK–President-elect Donald Trump hadn’t been seen in public for days when he walked into New York’s 21 Club to applause from fellow diners. The unannounced evening out with family was a contrast to the behind-the scenes machinations that suggested a struggling transition as names surfaced and sank for top administration positions.

Not to worry, Trump suggested in a Tuesday night tweet: “Very organized process taking place as I decide on Cabinet and many other positions. I am the only one who knows who the finalists are!”

Before dinner at the midtown Manhattan restaurant — he broke with protocol and left his press contingent behind — Trump met with the head of his transition team, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, but another day passed without a Cabinet announcement.

Strains were showing within the process. Trump’s allies engaged in an unusual round of public speculation about his potential appointments. Former Representative Mike Rogers, a respected Republican voice on national security issues, quit the transition effort. And an apparent clerical oversight effectively halted the Trump team’s ability to coordinate with President Barack Obama’s White House.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani seemed to be angling for secretary of state. But Trump’s transition team was reviewing Giuliani’s paid consulting work for foreign governments, which could delay a nomination or bump Giuliani to a different position, according to a person briefed on the matter but not authorized to speak publicly about it. Former New York Mayor Giuliani founded his own firm, Giuliani Partners, in 2001, and helped businesses on behalf of foreign governments, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. He also advised TransCanada, which sought to build the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, and helped the maker of the painkiller drug OxyContin settle a dispute with the Drug Enforcement Administration.

A Trump official said John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, remained in contention for secretary of state. Bolton has years of foreign policy experience, but he has raised eyebrows with some of his hawkish stances, including a 2015 New York Times op-ed in which he advocated bombing Iran to halt the country’s nuclear program.

Businessman Carl Icahn disclosed on Twitter, based on conversations with the president-elect, that Trump was considering Steve Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs banker, and Wilbur Ross, a billionaire investor, to lead the Treasury and Commerce departments.