By Steve Holland
President-elect Donald Trump’s early list of potential appointments to top positions appears to reward people who were loyal to him after a campaign in which many Republican Party leaders kept their distance.
Jeff Sessions, an Alabama senator who was one of Trump’s most fervent supporters in the U.S. Congress, is said to be under consideration for a prominent role, perhaps defense secretary, sources familiar with transition planning said on Wednesday.
Retired General Michael Flynn emerged as a possible pick for Trump’s national security adviser, the sources said.
Flynn, a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, played a prominent role during the campaign, often serving as an introductory speaker at campaign rallies and has provided private counsel on foreign affairs.
“He has a calming influence on Trump,” said a source familiar with transition planning.
In addition, former House of Representatives Newt Gingrich and U.S. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee were also considered potential selections for secretary of state, the sources said. Corker chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Both Corker and Gingrich had been under discussion as potential vice presidential picks for Trump, a position that eventually went to Indiana Governor Mike Pence.
These same sources said Republican National Committee Reince Priebus, who has emerged as a trusted adviser to the New York businessman, was being talked about as a potential White House chief of staff.
A Priebus deputy, RNC senior strategist Sean Spicer, was a possibility for White House press secretary.
Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, who helped bring about a more disciplined approach to the candidate, was seen as potential White House senior adviser.
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who endorsed Trump after dropping out of the 2016 Republican presidential nomination fight, was a possible education secretary.
Richard Grenell, a former spokesman for the United States at the United Nations, was a potential U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, as was New York Republican Representative Peter King.
Mike Rogers, a former chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, was in the mix for CIA director, the sources said.
Trump’s transition team set up a website (https://www.greatagain.gov/) and Twitter account (@transition2017), promising to keep the country posted on plans, Politico reported. Trump was a prolific user of Twitter during the campaign, sometimes using it to deliver pithy put-downs of his critics and rivals.