Mitt Romney may be in while Newt Gingrich says he is out of the running for a post in Donald Trump’s cabinet as the president-elect’s team continued to piece together key positions in the new administration on Thursday.
A source close to Trump told NBC News that Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, is being considered for secretary of state. The two men feuded throughout Trump’s 2016 run, with Romney actively calling on Republicans to reject the candidate he called “a phony” and “a fraud.”
The frosty relationship seemed to thaw a bit last week after Trump tweeted that Romney called him to congratulate him on his victory.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who served as a top surrogate to Trump, confirmed to NBC News he will not be in the president-elect’s cabinet. “I want to focus on strategic planning for the emerging Republican majority from local government through the executive branch,” Gingrich said.
Also on Thursday, Trump’s transition team on Thursday launched teams of staffers to begin the transition process in a handful of key national security agencies: The Department of Defense, Department of State, the National Security Council, and the Department of Justice.
The “landing teams” will liaise with staffers designated by the President Barack Obama’s administration to “facilitate transition” throughout the government as Republican National Committee Chief Strategist Sean Spicer explained on a conference call with reporters. More teams, handling economic and domestic departments, will be launched over the next few days.
It’s only one piece of what was a busy day for the president-elect as he continues to build out plans for his administration, with about two months to go until Inauguration. Trump adviser Jason Miller told reporters Trump had at least nine meetings planned with a handful of prominent figures in Republican politics and policy, many of whom have been floated as potential cabinet secretaries.
Those include South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who has emerged as a potential Secretary of State; Texas Representative Jeb Hensarling, who’s been named a possible Treasury Secretary; FedEx Corp. CEO Fred Smith; Oracle Corp. co-CEO Safra Catz; former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger; Florida Gov. Rick Scott; retired General Jack Keane; Navy Admiral Mike Rogers; and former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.
Trump himself tweeted that his “transition team, which is working long hours and doing a fantastic job, will be seeing many great candidates today.”
Trump had a private meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Thursday. Abe in brief remarks to reporters said the atmosphere or the meeting was “cordial” and said “I am convinced that Mr. Trump is a leader with whom I can have great confidence.” He did not go into details about what they discussed, because Trump has not yet taken office.
On Friday, Trump will have a two-hour meeting with the transition team before heading to Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.
But despite the flurry of meetings, Trump’s advisers wouldn’t give a timeline on when the public can expect him to name any members of his staff or administration.
“The president-elect will be announcing specific abinet recommendations when those decisions have been made,” Spicer told reporters on the call.
Spicer also elaborated on the ban on lobbyists serving on Trump’s transition team or in his administration that Vice President-elect Mike Pence implemented since taking over as head of transition last week. He told reporters current and future members of Trump’s transition team and potential cabinet nominees must sign a written pledge affirming that they’re not currently a registered lobbyist, or committing to terminate their lobbying status and provide the team with written verification they’ve done so.