Charisma Caucus

The Bedminster Meetings: Who's Joining the Trump Cabinet?

Donald Trump and Robert Johnson
President-elect Donald Trump and BET funder Robert Johnson met over the weekend to discuss a potential role in the Trump administration. (Reuters photo)

President-elect Donald Trump moved his deliberations and meetings related to his new Cabinet to his Trump National Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Those meetings, like those at Trump Tower, were held behind closed doors, but "readouts" offered by the Presidential Transition Team afterward were somewhat telling. Here's a rundown of those meetings:

Saturday

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, possible secretary of state candidate—President-elect Donald J. Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence's first meeting of the day was with Gov. Mitt Romney. They had a substantive and in-depth conversation about world affairs, national security and the future of America. It was an extremely positive and productive conversation.

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Former Washington, D.C., Chancellor of Public Schools Michelle Rhee, possible secretary of education candidate—The president-elect and vice president-elect then met with Ms. Michelle Rhee and enjoyed an in-depth discussion about the future of public education in our country. This included the possibility for increasing competition through charter and choice schools. They also brought the idea of merit pay for teachers going above and beyond in their classrooms into the conversation.

Windquest Group Chairwoman Betsy DeVos, possible secretary of education candidate—Their discussion with Ms. Betsy DeVos was focused on the Common Core mission, setting higher national standards and promoting the growth of school choice across the nation.

Former Commander of U.S. Central Command Marine Corps Gen. (ret.) James "Mad Dog" Mattis, possible secretary of defense candidate—The president-elect and vice president-elect were very impressed in their meeting with the "real deal" and American hero General James Mattis. They had an incredibly in-depth conversation on plans for national security. The discussion included ISIS, the Middle East, North Korea, China, NATO and other hotspots around the world.

Chicago Cubs co-owners Todd Ricketts, possible secretary of commerce candidate—A constructive conversation occurred with Mr. Todd Ricketts. It involved domestic commerce, ingenuity and growth for our country. Discussions on tax reform regulations and entrepreneurial initiatives were also included.

Center for Neighborhood Enterprise founder Bob Woodson, possible secretary of housing and urban development candidate—The president-elect and vice president-elect had a great discussion with Mr. Bob Woodson regarding community-based developments and opportunity. They also discussed plans to strengthen neighborhoods across America and faith-based initiatives.

CKE Restaurants (Hardee's, Carl Jr.'s) CEO Andy Puzder, possible secretary of labor candidate—Their conversation with Mr. Andy Puzder was regarding regulations, labor reforms, and freeing up small business loans for new and innovative business ventures.  Discussion on international trade was also included. 

Granite Capital International Group co-founder Lew Eisenberg, possible secretary of labor candidate—In the meeting with Chairman Lew Eisenberg, President-elect Trump and Vice President-elect Pence discussed plans for America First initiatives, bringing Made in America manufacturing to the forefront and improving infrastructure.

UCLA medical professor Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, possible surgeon general candidate—Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong joined President-elect Trump and Vice President-elect Pence for dinner this evening. The renowned doctor has appeared on the cover of Forbes for his advances in finding a cure for cancer. They discussed innovation in the area of medicine and national medical priorities that need to be addressed in our country.

Sunday

Ari "The King of Hollywood" Emanuel—Mr. Ari Emanuel was their first meeting of the day. They had a good conversation with a longtime friend about business, politics and bridging the political divide across America.

Peter Kasinow, possible secretary of labor candidate—The president-elect and vice president-elect then met with Mr. Peter Kasinow. They had a substantive conversation about labor laws, regulations and freeing up commerce to create more jobs in America.

Blackstone Global Head of Real Estate Jon Gray, possible secretary of the treasury candidate—An in-depth conversation followed with Mr. Jon Gray. Their discussion included the economy, global capital markets and the world financial situation. Future legislation regarding the tax code and long-term debt were also discussed.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, possible secretary of homeland security candidate—The president-elect and vice president-elect then met with Mr. Kris Kobach to discuss border security, international terrorism, and reforming federal bureaucracy.

Wilbur Ross, possible secretary of commerce candidate—This was followed by a great discussion with Mr. Wilbur Ross. They engaged in a conversation regarding negotiating the best foreign deals, American manufacturing and job creation. Their discussion also focused on engaging ambassadors to participate in creating more economic opportunities for America.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, vice-chairman of the Presidential Transition Team—A productive discussion was held with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Topics of domestic security, law enforcement and the American Justice system were included in their meeting.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, vice-chairman of the Presidential Transition Team—The President-elect and Vice President-elect had an open discussion on administration priorities with longtime ally former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.  Additionally, they conversed about restoring America's prominence in the world, ongoing national security issues and threats at various hotspots on a global basis.

(Prior to returning to Indiana, Vice President-Elect Pence met privately with Christie and Giuliani. Early Monday morning, Christie scheduled an improptu meeting with the New Jersey Cabinet.)

BET Founder Robert Johnson—possible secretary of labor (or commerce) candidate—In the meeting with Mr. Robert Johnson, President-elect Trump and Vice President-elect Pence considered many opportunities for access to capital in small businesses and the issues facing the inner cities of America. Their focus was on the creation of high-paying jobs in both manufacturing and service industries. They also touched on the critical nature of reviving inner city economies through principles of capitalism.

Bridgewater Associates President David McCormick, possible secretary of commerce candidate—The meeting between President-elect Trump, Vice President-elect Pence and Mr. David McCormick involved a discussion on global financial markets, currency and the American economy. Special emphasis was placed on restoring long-term economic growth rates on an annual basis of four to five percent.

Former Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon, possible secretary of transportation candidate—President-elect Trump and Vice President-elect Pence met with Former Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon to discuss transportation, infrastructure and issues relating to Western land usage.

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), chairwoman of the House Republican Conference and possible secretary of the interior candidate—President-elect Trump and Vice President-elect Pence met with Chair of the House Republican Conference Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers to discuss the optimization of federal lands across the country, energy exploration and mining. They also focused on opportunities for working families and the importance of greater access to services for children with special needs.

Former Commander of the U.S. Southern Command Marine Corps Gen. (ret.) John Kelly, possible secretary of defense (or Homeland Security) candidate—The last meeting of the evening occured with General John Kelly. They had a frank discussion about the global national security situation in the United States and various areas of conflict in the Middle East. Additionally, they discussed General Kelly's diplomatic experience during his time as the Commander of United States Southern Command in Latin America and as a Combat Commander in various areas of conflict in the Middle East.

The meetings were, almost entirely, job interviews for various positions within the Trump administration, although some could be considered "courtesy calls." No announcements were made over the weekend, but members of the Presidential Transition Team said they should be coming soon.

There is considerable concern, however, among evangelicals about the possibility that Romney or Christie could be in line for jobs in the Trump administration. Romney led several efforts to derail Trump's campaign that could have resulted in Hillary Clinton's election, and Christie is still reeling from his scandal-plagued administration in New Jersey and his recent firing as head of the Presidential Transition Team over the inclusion of too many lobbyists in the process.

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