Trump to meet with Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
President-elect Donald Trump scheduled meetings with an array of politicians and former government officials on Monday, including a Democratic congresswoman who backed Senator Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential primary against Hillary Clinton.
War veteran Tulsi Gabbard, a U.S. representative from Hawaii who quit the Democratic National Committee in February to endorse the independent U.S. senator from Vermont, will be first on Trump’s meeting list, transition officials said.
Gabbard, the first Hindu member of the U.S. Congress, has veered from Democratic Party positions at times, backing policies cracking down on immigration to the United States by Muslims in particular.
In November, she was one of a few dozen Democrats who joined Republicans to pass a bill mandating stronger screening process for refugees from Iraq and Syria seeking to enter the United States. In 2014, she called for a rollback of the visa waiver program for Britain, Germany, France and other European countries with what she called “Islamic extremist” populations.
The Republican president-elect has hosted a parade of visitors at his offices in Manhattan, and in New Jersey over the weekend, as he works to build a Cabinet and fill other senior administration positions for his term that begins on Jan. 20.
In addition to seeing Gabbard, Trump was scheduled to meet on Monday with former Texas Governor Rick Perry, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich and Elaine Chao, the U.S. labor secretary under former President George W. Bush, advisers said.
Perry is being considered for Cabinet posts including defense, energy and veterans affairs, Trump’s transition team said. Fallin’s name has come up as a possibility for interior secretary, Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said on Fox News.
Conway said the transition team is “way ahead of schedule” on Cabinet decisions as Trump speaks to a variety of current and former leaders and experts from many fields. “Most people who meet with him are not going to be in his Cabinet,” she said.
Trump, a New York businessman who has never previously held public office and who was the surprise winner over Clinton in the Nov. 8 election, has so far chosen three senior leaders of his national security and law enforcement teams.
They are U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions for attorney general, U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo as CIA director, and retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn as national security adviser.
Over the weekend, Trump held court at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he conferred with retired Marine Corps General James Mattis, a contender for defense secretary, and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, a fierce Trump critic during the presidential campaign who is now under consideration for secretary of state.
Summing up two days of talks on Sunday evening, Trump said he had made decisions on a couple of appointments. “We really had some great meetings, and you’ll be hearing about them soon,” he said.
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Patricia Zengerle; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Frances Kerry)