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Trump Transition Update


President-elect Donald Trump has kept a relatively low profile over this Thanksgiving weekend. May be the last chance he'll get for the next four years. Though Trump has taken to Twitter to weigh in on recount efforts in three states. We'll get to that. But first we're joined now by NPR's national political correspondent, Mara Liasson. Hi, Mara.


WERTHEIMER: So Trump's transition planning. Do we know about his plans for this week?

LIASSON: We know that on Monday, he's going to be meeting with a whole bunch of people - former Securities and Exchange Commissioner Paul Atkins and Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee County, Wis. Clarke is the African-American tough law-and-order sheriff who was one of Trump's most prominent supporters during the campaign. He's also meeting with Congressman Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania, another early supporter. He has a lot of the big four jobs left to fill - Defense, Treasury and State.

WERTHEIMER: We're still waiting, of course, on those key appointments. And there's been a lot of debate about the State Department job, Mara, some of it on Twitter.

LIASSON: Yes. Donald Trump is conducting this process of filling his cabinet with the utmost of drama, infighting and contradictory signals. I guess that's par for the course, kind of like how he ran the campaign. But the State Department pick is interesting. It's getting a lot of pushback from his base and reportedly from Steve Bannon, his top adviser, and publicly in tweets from Kellyanne Conway, his campaign manager. She's tweeting there's been a groundswell of opposition to Mitt Romney as secretary of state because Romney, of course, was one of Trump's harshest critics.

This raises the question - why do this in public? Is Twitter is the way to communicate with the boss? But Romney, if he was chosen, would represent a big olive branch from Trump to reach beyond his core base, something he hasn't done with his first picks for - with Jeff Sessions and Mike Flynn for attorney general, national security adviser. They were hard-right insiders.

WERTHEIMER: So we are going to have - we're just going to have to wait and see what he does because we don't really know what he says?

LIASSON: Well, he says a lot of different things. But yes, I think it's a good idea to wait to see what he does. He's sent conflicting signals on continuing to investigate or call for a prosecution of Hillary Clinton. He's - hasn't made any indication that he wants to do anything about his potential conflicts of interest around the world with his business interests. He actually told The New York Times last week that his brand has gotten a lot hotter since he's been elected.

WERTHEIMER: Now, votes are still being counted. Hillary Clinton still leads the popular vote by over 2 million. Wisconsin announced Friday it would hold a statewide recount of the presidential vote. There's also a movement to have electors change their votes and go with the popular vote. Does any of this - is any of this real, do you think, Mara?

LIASSON: I don't think any of it has any real traction. No one I've talked to thinks that. But what was interesting was that Donald Trump issued a statement and a tweet ridiculing the recount that was pushed for by Jill Stein, one of the third-party candidates, and saying that the people had spoken. Actually, the Electoral College count has spoken. Hillary Clinton, as you said, still has 2 million plus more votes in the popular vote. But this is the same Donald Trump who said that the system was rigged. He warned about massive voter fraud. He refused to commit in advance to accepting the results if he didn't win.

So I think what you're going to see over time is that the Electoral College is going to become exhibit A in the Democrats' argument that the system is rigged. No one's saying it's illegal. No one is saying Trump stole the election. But the Electoral College is rigged. And Democrats have now won the popular vote in the last six of seven presidential elections, and in two of those they did not become president. So you're going to hear that from Democrats echoing Trump's populist rhetoric and saying there is a rigged system.

WERTHEIMER: NPR's Mara Liasson. Thank you very much.

LIASSON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.