Donald Trump’s appointments updates: Ben Carson out, Chris Christie possible, Bob Corker possible secretary of state

Published 1:25 pm Tuesday, November 15, 2016

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Donald Trump’s transition to the presidency (all times EST):

2:06 p.m.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson will not be taking a position in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration.

Email newsletter signup

Carson business manager Armstrong Williams tells The Associated Press that Carson has opted out of being considered for any cabinet or other administration positions, including leading the Department of Health & Human Services and the Department of education.

Carson had never been officially offered a role in the Trump administration, but Williams says the president-elect had made clear he wanted his former rival-turned-adviser in some role.

But he says Carson “always knew that he could be more effective with the president-elect outside the administration.”


1:40 p.m.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he intends to remain as governor but would consider a Trump administration post if offered.

Christie spoke Tuesday on WPG talk radio from the Republican Governors Association conference in Florida. Christie says he has “every intention” of staying on as governor until 2018 when his term ends.

Christie chaired President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team until he was made vice chairman last week.

He says he told Trump that if he is asked to serve he would consider a position in the administration.

Christie was among the earliest backers of Trump, lending his vocal support soon after the businessman’s New Hampshire primary victory.

Trump’s victory comes after the nearly six-week George Washington Bridge lane-closure trial in which two of Christie’s former allies were convicted.


1:35 p.m.

A majority of D.C. Council members believe the city should spend less money on a reviewing stand for President-elect Donald Trump’s inaugural parade than it did for President Barack Obama’s inauguration four years ago.

Three members of the left-leaning Council argued at a breakfast meeting Tuesday morning that the city shouldn’t build a stand at all. Independent Council member Elissa Silverman says the city shouldn’t celebrate Trump’s inauguration because his policy proposals are “hostile to our residents.”

Other members said not building a stand would be disrespectful.

Four years ago, the city spent nearly $350,000 on a heated, enclosed reviewing stand in front of City Hall. Democratic Council Chairman Phil Mendelson says he will suggest to Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser that the stand be “less extravagant.”


11:00 a.m.

A Pentagon spokesman says President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has not yet contacted the Pentagon to arrange for briefings or meetings.

The spokesman, Gordon Trowbridge, said that under Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s direction, the Pentagon has prepared briefing materials to be made available to Trump transition officials. On Monday, Carter said a Trump transition team was expected at the Pentagon “sometime this week.”

The president-elect has not yet announced who he intends to nominate to be secretary of defense.


9:50 a.m.

Coordination between the White House and President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team is on hold until Trump’s team signs a key document.

The process was put on hold after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was replaced as Trump’s transition chairman by Mike Pence. The vice president-elect has yet to sign a memorandum of understanding facilitating interactions between transition officials and Obama administration officials.

Responding to questions about the transition, White House spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine said the White House is working with Trump’s team to get the document signed. She said the Obama administration is ready to provide access to government personnel and resources to help Trump’s team get ready to take over in January.


9:20 a.m.

Sen. Bob Corker says he believes Russia tried to interfere in the U.S. presidential election — but international spying happens all the time.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman told MSNBC on Tuesday that he has “no proof” of Russia’s involvement and said foreign political organizations and governments secretly snatch information from each other all the time.

Corker says “what was unprecedented was the overt nature” of the interference ahead of the Nov. 8 election. He says “it was done in a manner to be visible to the world. That was a new step.”

He says “it was done to try to embarrass and discredit” the winner, who was expected to be Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Democratic National Committee emails were released by WikiLeaks, leading to a number of embarrassing disclosures about some Clinton confidents.

Republican Donald Trump instead shocked the world with his victory.


9 a.m.

Former Rep. Mike Rogers, a well-respected Republican voice on national security, is stepping down from Donald Trump’s transition team.

Rogers says in a statement that is he proud of the work his team did to produce policy and personnel guidance “on the complex national security challenges facing our great country.” He says the work provides a “strong foundation” for Trump’s new transition team.

Days after winning the presidential election, Trump announced that he was putting Vice President-elect Mike Pence in charge of the transition. The move amounted to a demotion for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who had been running the operations for months.

Rogers’ departure is likely to rattle some Republicans who worry about Trump’s lack of foreign policy experience. Rogers chaired the House Intelligence committee and is a former Army officer and FBI special agent.


8:50 a.m.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker says he might be interested in being Donald Trump’s secretary of state.

But the Tennessee Republican told MSNBC on Tuesday that there are others who were more “central” to Trump’s presidential campaign and his victory that stunned the nation.

Corker said his camp has “had some conversations” with Trump officials. He adds that he’s glad they are taking their time over such an important appointment.

A Trump official has told The Associated Press that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has emerged as the favorite for secretary of state.


8:10 a.m.

Republican governors gathering in Florida say Donald Trump’s victory gives them a chance to push wish lists for “disruptive change.”

That’s what Gov. Rick Scott told his peers gathered in Orlando Monday ahead of the Republican Governors Association’s annual conference. GOP governors are likely to want sweeping changes to Medicaid, education and transportation. Some GOP leaders want to change Medicaid, the safety net health care program for the poor, into a federal block grant program that gives states more control.

Thirty governors are expected to attend this week’s at a resort hotel near Disney World. They include some who are newly elected, as well as some with a mixed history with Trump. New Mexico Gov. Susanna Martinez, for example, did not endorse Trump but congratulated him after his win.


8:45 a.m.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says he’s not bothered by the telephone conversation between U.S. president-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Stoltenberg said Tuesday that “it is a very normal thing that president-elect Donald Trump speaks to world leaders, including of course the leader of Russia.”

He said “when we face many different security challenges, it is important to have a chance for political dialogue open with Russia. It is no contradiction between strong defense and political dialogue.”

But Stoltenberg said NATO “will never accept the violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and that is why we have responded as we have to the Russian aggression.”

The Kremlin says Putin and Trump discussed the “extremely unsatisfactory” state of U.S.-Russia relations and ways to “normalize ties.”


7:05 a.m.

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager says she’s not aware of any plan for the president-elect’s adult children and son-in-law to get top secret security clearances.

Kellyanne Conway tells NBC’s “Today” show she’s “not intimately aware” that such a move is afoot.

“You know, we’re filled with questions in the Trump transition and that’s logical,” she said. But she said any such “inquiries remain very informal.”

Conway also said Tuesday she was certain the Trump children “will be there to support their father in informal capacities.”

A transition official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he could not discuss personnel questions publicly, had said late Tuesday that Trump did not request that his children receive top security clearances and they had not started filling out paperwork for it.


6:45 a.m.

The potential awkwardness surrounding the transition from Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration to one led by Republican President-elect Donald Trump has prompted the internet to imagine some amusing chats between Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

One of the memes includes a picture of Biden clutching Obama’s hand in the Oval Office. The imagined conversation has Biden pleading with Obama, “don’t leave me with them.” Another joke has Biden asking Obama if he could put whoopee cushions under the chairs before Trump’s arrival at The White House. Another meme shows Biden looking at a computer, musing how he can throw everyone off “the White House Netflix account.”

Biden has been a frequent target for jokes among late night comics and satire publications like The Onion during his time in office.


3:25 a.m.

Sequestered in his Manhattan high-rise, President-elect Donald Trump is preparing to fill key foreign policy posts. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has emerged as the favorite to serve as secretary of state, a senior Trump official said.

Although Giuliani has little foreign policy experience, the official said there was no real competition for the job as the nation’s top diplomat. However, a second official cautioned that John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, remained in contention for the key post. Both officials requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the process by name.

The New York billionaire also was considering tapping Richard Grenell as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, a move that would bring some experience and diversity to his nascent administration. Grenell, who served as U.S. spokesman at the U.N. under President George W. Bush, would be the first openly gay person to fill a Cabinet-level foreign policy post.