Trump transition to the White House - live blog

Last Updated Nov 26, 2016 10:17 PM EST

Over the next two months, leading up to his inauguration as the nation’s 45th president, Donald Trump and his transition team will be hiring thousands of people -- about a thousand of whom must be confirmed by the Senate. Here’s the latest on what’s going on with the presidential transition:

Saturday, Nov. 26

10:14 p.m. ET Jerry Falwell Jr. told the Associated Press that President-elect Trump had offered him Secretary of Education position, but he turned it down for personal reasons. 

3:07 p.m. ET President-elect Donald Trump called the recount efforts by the Green Party’s Jill Stein “ridiculous.”  

“This is a scam by the Green Party for an election that has already been conceded, and the results of this election should be respected instead of being challenged and abused, which is exactly what Jill Stein is doing,” Mr. Trump wrote in a statement.  

12:05 p.m. ET Vice president-elect Mike Pence also weighed in on Twitter, claiming that “[n]ew hope dawns” after Castro’s death. 

11:00 a.m. ET Mr. Trump’s transition team issued a longer statement on his behalf addressing the death of Fidel Castro. 

“Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights,” Mr. Trump said in the statement. “While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve.”

He promised that his administration “will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty.”

8:30 a.m. ET President-elect Donald Trump reacts with a single tweet to the death of Fidel Castro, Cuba’s fiery communist leader, who passed away Friday at 90 years old. 

Friday, Nov. 25

1:45 p.m. ET President-elect Donald Trump taps K.T. McFarland, a Fox News commentator, for Deputy National Security Adviser, the transition team announced Friday. 

“She has tremendous experience and innate talent that will complement the fantastic team we are assembling, which is crucial because nothing is more important than keeping our people safe,” Mr. Trump said in a statement.

The statement also included a quote praising McFarland from former U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, a Democrat-turned-Independent from Connecticut. 

“In asking KT McFarland to become his Deputy National Security Advisor, President-elect Trump has brought to the top ranks of his Administration one of our country’s most experienced, informed, and wise foreign policy and national security experts” said Lieberman, a longtime friend of the McFarland family. “KT and General Mike Flynn will form a very strong leadership team at the National Security Council.” 


Candidate Kathleen Troia “KT” McFarland debates against John Spencer for the republican Senate nomination, on the campus of Pace University in New York on Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2006.

AP Photo/Angel Chevrestt, Pool

IIn her own statement, McFarland said she was “honored and humbled that he has asked me to be part of his team.”

Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who is Mr. Trump’s pick for National Security Adviser, tweeted his congratulations to McFarland Friday:

The president-elect also chose Don McGahn, a former chair of the Federal Election Commission and current partner at the Jones Day law firm, to serve as assistant to the president and White House Counsel.

“Don has a brilliant legal mind, excellent character and a deep understanding of constitutional law,” Mr. Trump said of his WHite House Counsel pick. “He will play a critical role in our administration, and I am grateful that he is willing to serve our country at such a high-level capacity.”

1:00 p.m. ET Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein is seeking recounts in three states: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Michigan has not yet been called, and it’s the closest of the three states. If the three states were to move into Clinton’s column, she would win, with 278 electoral votes, but this seems very unlikely. It’s rare that recounts change the result of a race. Here’s the current state of the recount process

The president-elect has not weighed in on the recount efforts underway, but adviser Kellyanne Conway taunted, “Look who ‘can’t accept the election results’” in a tweet of a New York Times story with the headline “Hillary Clinton Supporters Call for Vote Recount in Battleground States.”

11:00 a.m. ET President-elect Trump has spoken with five more foreign leaders Friday, including the prime ministers of Greece, Hungary, and Sweden, and the presidents of Panama and Slovenia.

Two staff level announcements are expected today, according to a conference call held by transition team spokesmen Jason Miller and Sean Spicer. No more cabinet announcements will be made until after the weekend.

Spicer also discussed Mr. Trump’s meetings for Monday, which include face time with Sheriff David Clarke, Pennsylvania Rep. Lou Barletta, a big Trump booster during the campaign, and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.

The president-elect will continue to conduct his business at Mar-a-Lago until Sunday. 

7:54 a.m. ET President-elect Donald Trump will work on the transition Friday at his Florida resort after spending Thanksgiving with his family.

Mr. Trump made foreign policy a centerpiece of his campaign, but he has yet to name secretaries of defense, homeland security or state. The current fight on the transition team is over who will lead the State Department - a question that has Mr. Trump’s inner circle bitterly divided, reports CBS News correspondent Errol Barnett.

Thursday, Nov. 24

10:00 a.m. ET 

President-elect Donald Trump says in a tweet that he’s still “working hard” this Thanksgiving to convince air conditioning company Carrier to keep their business in the U.S. Mr. Trump says he’s “MAKING PROGRESS” on that front:

Carrier confirmed in their own tweet that they have been in touch with the incoming administration, but no announcements are expected in the near future.

9:30 a.m. ET Kellyanne Conway, a top Trump transition team adviser, tweeted about the possibility of Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, as secretary of state:

Wednesday, Nov. 23

Nikki Haley named U.N. ambassador; Ben Carson tweets announcement coming on his role in Trump administration; Betsy DeVos tapped for education secretary. 

5:50 p.m. ET The president-elect delivered a Thanksgiving video message via YouTube Wednesday. 

A Thanksgiving Message from President-Elect Donald J. Trump by Transition 2017 on YouTube

Mr. Trump urged Americans to unite despite the “long and bruising” political campaign season. 

“Emotions are raw and tensions just don’t heal overnight,” he said in the video. “It doesn’t go quickly, unfortunately, but we have before us the chance now to make history together to bring real change to Washington, real safety to our cities, and real prosperity to our communities, including our inner cities. So important to me, and so important to our country.”

With the conclusion of the election, the president-elect heralded the beginning of “a great national campaign to rebuild our country and to restore the full promise of America for all of our people.”

1:15 p.m. ET Donald Trump taps school choice advocate Betsy DeVos for education secretary

“Betsy DeVos is a brilliant and passionate education advocate,” Mr. Trump said in a statement Thursday. “Under her leadership we will reform the U.S. education system and break the bureaucracy that is holding our children back so that we can deliver world-class education and school choice to all families.”


DeVos accepted Trump’s offer on Nov. 23.

The philanthropist and education activist served as chairman of the Michigan Republican Party from 1996 to 2000.

She was the second woman to be appointed to Trump’s cabinet.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

DeVos called it an “honor” to accept the president-elect’s nomination.

“The status quo in education is not acceptable,” she said in a statement. “Together, we can work to make transformational change that ensures every student in America has the opportunity to fulfill his or her highest potential.”

11:58 a.m. ET Ben Carson tweets “an announcement is forthcoming” on his role in the Trump administration.

And on his Facebook page, he wrote, “I feel that I can make a significant contribution particularly to making our inner cities great for everyone. We have much work to do in strengthening every aspect of our nation and ensuring that both our physical infrastructure and our spiritual infrastructure is solid.”

10:45 a.m. ET In a call with reporters, the Trump transition team says to expect a “Cabinet-level announcement” on Wednesday.

9:20 a.m. ET
Mr. Trump is at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida resort, where he’ll spend the rest of the week; Vice President-elect Pence will spend Thanksgiving in Mississippi to visit his son, who is stationed there.

9:15 a.m. ET Mr. Trump’s transition team officially announces the president-elect’s pick for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley.

“Governor Haley has a proven track record of bringing people together regardless of background or party affiliation to move critical policies forward for the betterment of her state and our country,” President-elect Trump said in a statement Wednesday. “She is also a proven dealmaker, and we look to be making plenty of deals. She will be a great leader representing us on the world stage.”

The Trump transition team cited Haley’s work as South Carolina governor as the reason for her nomination. In the team’s announcement of Mr. Trump’s pick, they note that as governor, Haley has “led seven overseas trade missions and successfully attracted jobs and investment through negotiations with foreign companies.”

7:39 a.m. ET President-elect Trump has offered South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley the post of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and she has accepted, a CBS News source confirms.

The story was first reported by The Post and Courier and The Washington Post. Haley would, in effect, be the voice of the Trump administration at the 193-nation world body, if she is confirmed by the Senate, reports CBS News’ Pamela Falk. 

Tuesday, Nov. 22

Trump appears to back away from some campaign promises during NYT meeting; Romney remains serious contender for secretary of state; 

9:16 p.m. ET Ben Carson told Fox News’ “Your World with Neil Cavuto” that housing and urban development (HUD) secretary was “one of the offers that’s on the table” from Donald Trump. Carson told Fox that the inner cities are “in terrible shape,” and “it certainly it something that has been a long-term interest of mine and I’ll be thinking and praying about it seriously over the holiday.”

Just a week ago, Carson’s friend Armstrong Williams had told The Hill that Carson wasn’t interested in running a government agency because he’s never run a federal agency.

Earlier today, Trump had said he was “seriously considering” Carson for the job.

In a meeting with the New York Times, Donald Trump appeared to back away from some of the most prominent promises he made during his presidential campaign, notably, whether he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton, and whether or not torture should be used in the war on terror.

Asked whether he had ruled out prosecuting Hillary Clinton, he replied, “It’s just not something I feel strongly about,” Mr. Trump told the room, according to Times media reporter Michael Grynbaum, who live-tweeted the meeting.

Prosecution, he said “would be very, very divisive for the country,” Mr. Trump told the room, according to Times political reporter Maggie Haberman. “My inclination for whatever power I have on the matter is to say let’s go forward. This has been looked at for so long, ad nauseum.”

4:02 p.m. ET President Obama has spoken with President-elect Donald Trump at least once since their joint meeting at the White House earlier this month, CBS News has learned.

“As President-elect Trump indicated in the Oval Office, he was hoping that he would have the opportunity to consult with President Obama over the course of this transition,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a Tuesday briefing. “President Obama has committed to a smooth transition and as a result, they’ve spoken at least once since their Oval Office meeting.”

2:14 p.m. ET President-elect Donald Trump has continued his Twitter antics after Election Day -- but most voters think he should shut his account down as president, according to a new poll.

The survey, from Quinnipiac, found that 59 percent of U.S. voters say Trump should shut down his personal Twitter account. Just 35 percent said he should keep the account open. Despite their concerns over his social media use, though, 59 percent of Americans say they are “optimistic” about the next four years with Mr. Trump as president, compared with 37 percent who are not.

12:39 p.m. ET Mitt Romney impressed Donald Trump so much during their meeting at Bedminster over the weekend, that he became a serious contender for secretary of state, said a source close to the Trump transition, who added a little more insight to what the vice president-elect told CBS News over the weekend.

The meeting between the president-elect and the 2012 GOP nominee was initially scheduled as a courtesy visit, and could have been awkward, given the animosity between the two during the presidential campaign. In March, Romney delivered a speech specifically intended to derail Trump’s presidential candidacy, calling him a “fraud” and a “phony.” Trump, in turn, labeled Romney a “loser” and a “choke artist.”

Yet whatever tension there may have been seems to have dissipated. “Trump enjoyed the meeting,” the source told CBS News.

Though Rudy Giuliani has been a leading candidate for secretary of state -- the source said Trump has had his “head wrapped around Rudy Giuliani” for the position – Trump has reconsidered since his meeting with Romney.

Also, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, despite a meeting with Mr. Trump this past weekend, is out of the running for a position as a top adviser or department chief. Christie has been telling supporters he’s “in it for the long run.”  He’ll serve out his term as governor which ends in January 2018, and await what may come from Bridgegate. Christie, according to the source, wanted to be attorney general. His view is that he’s been a good soldier for Mr. Trump throughout the campaign, once he ended his own presidential bid, and he’ll continue to sit back and be a good soldier in hopes of serving in Trump’s administration years from now. Mr. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, whose father Christie prosecuted, was a driving force behind Christie’s ouster from Trump world. -- Arden Farhi

10:08 a.m. ET Mr. Trump’s meeting with the New York Times is back on just hours after he ranted against the news organization on Twitter. They’ll meet at 12:30 p.m., according to a Trump tweet. 

“Mr. Trump’s staff has told us that the President Elect’s meeting with The Times is on again,” Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said. “He will meet with our publisher off-the-record and that session will be followed by an on-the-record meeting with our journalists and editorial columnists.”

7:13 a.m. ET Early this morning, Trump canceled meeting with New York Times.

But he says it could be rescheduled.

Monday, Nov. 21

Trump meets with more people at Trump Tower; network execs and anchors gather for “reset” with Trump; Trump’s international visitors highlight conflict of interest concerns


At 9:14 p.m. Trump tweets response to stories about his business interests:

Trump’s international visitors highlight conflict of interest concerns 

NEW YORK  Donald Trump has been adamant that his business will mean nothing to him as president, telling 60 Minutes last week “I don’t care about hotel occupancy. It’s peanuts compared to what we’re doing.”

But a Facebook photo from last Tuesday, that has since been deleted, showed the smiling president-elect at Trump Tower joined by three of his Indian business partners, developers of the Trump Towers luxury apartment complex in Pune, India.

The Trump Organization said it was just “an exchange of hellos,” but Indian media clearly thought it was more, saying “Donald Trump meets Indian partners.”-- Anna Werner


Donald Trump with his Indian business partners

Devendra Jain/Facebook

6:24 p.m. ET In a 2.5-minute recorded video announcement, President-elect Donald Trump said his transition team is working “very smoothly” and outlined a series of actions he plans to take upon being inaugurated in January.

“Our transition team is working very smoothly, efficiently, and effectively,” he said in the video. “Truly great and talented men and women, patriots indeed, are being brought in, and many will soon be part of our government, helping us make America great again.”

Among the immediate actions he’ll take, Mr. Trump said, are issuing a notification stating the U.S. will withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, cutting restrictions on energy production and requiring two regulations to be discontinued for every new regulation added. He also said he would direct the Defense Department to develop a plan to fight off cyberattacks, ask the Department of Labor to investigate visa program abuses, and impose a five-year ban on officials lobbying after they leave the administration.

4:30 p.m. ET Several media executives and news anchors made the trip to Trump Tower in Manhattan Monday afternoon for a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump for what was characterized as a “reset” gathering.

The executives and anchors spotted in the lobby of his Fifth Avenue headquarters included CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and CNN’s president, Jeff Zucker, executives from Fox News as well as CBS News’ Charlie Rose, John Dickerson, Norah O’Donnell and Gayle King. After the meeting, top Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway called the meeting “excellent” and “unprecedented.”

“Excellent meeting with the top executives and anchors of the major networks - ABC, CBS, NBC - which of course includes MSNBC, Fox News and CNN represented,” Conway told reporters at Trump Tower. “Pretty unprecedented meeting we pulled together in two days.”-- Rebecca Shabad, Arden Farhi

2:31 p.m. ET President-elect Donald Trump is considering former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, Brown confirmed Monday.

Brown, who served more than 30 years in the National Guard, told reporters outside Trump Tower in New York after meeting with Mr. Trump that he’s “not competing with anybody” but believes he’s the “best person”for the job.

“We obviously spoke about my passion and his passion which are veterans issues,” Brown told reporters outside of Trump Tower Monday. “And you know obviously I think it’s the toughest job in the cabinet to lead the VA, because while it has so many angels working there, it has so many great problems as well.”

Were he to be appointed to the post, Brown said he would focus on lowering the suicide rate among veterans and shortening the long lines for treatment at VA hospitals around the country. He said Trump is “going to take … [his] interest under consideration,” and that he expects to hear Trump’s decision after Thanksgiving.

9:54 a.m. ET Trump is back at Trump Tower in Manhattan after spending the weekend in Bedminster, N.J. On Monday, he’s expect to meet with Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, who’s also Mitch McConnell’s wife, and former Speaker Newt Gingrich. 

Sunday, Nov. 20

Donald Trump meets with more Cabinet contenders, continues to tweet about “Hamilton”

4:00 p.m. ET New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie arrives for his meeting with Mr. Trump in Bedminster, New Jersey. 

3:30 p.m. ET Mr. Trump weighed in on when his wife, Melania Trump, and his 10-year-old son Barron would move to the White House from Trump Tower in Manhattan. 

“Right after he finishes school,” the president-elect told reporters Sunday. 

Transition spokesmen Jason Miller and Sean Spicer spoke with reporters before investor Wilbur Ross left Bedminster. 

As CBS News’ Major Garrett noted, Ross appears to be a top pick for Commerce. When Mr. Trump was asked if he’d name Ross commerce secretary, he said on camera, “that’s what we’re looking for.” Ross repeated “we’ll see” when asked before and after his meeting if he thought he’d join Mr. Trump’s Cabinet.

Former New York City major Rudy Giuliani, a top contender to be secretary of state, also met with Trump Sunday.

2:30 p.m. ET President-elect Donald Trump has met with Peter Kirsanow, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, a former member of the National Labor Relations Board, and a partner in the labor and employment practice group of Benesch, Friedlander. He has also spoken with Wilbur Ross, Ari Emanuel and John Gray. Ross is in the running to be the president-elect’s secretary of commerce. 

Mr. Trump told the press that they’re “getting very close on a lot” of decisions. 

Asked about whether he was still upset about Hamilton, the president-elect called it “very inappropriate.”

Gov. Chris Christie arrived at 2:30 p.m. in Bedminster, New Jersey. 

10:45 a.m. ET President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence will begin their meetings after church this Sunday morning.

Beginning at noon, their meetings will include: Ari Emanuel of William Morris Endeavor; Peter Kirsanow of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; John Gray of Blackstone; Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state who recently proposed reinstating a Muslim registry in the U.S.; Wilbur Ross; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani; Robert Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television; David McCormick of Bridgewater and former Treasury staff; T.W. Shannon, an Oklahoma politician; Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, R-Wisconsin; and Gen. John Kelly, Marine Corps.