Trump begins White House transition as protests simmer

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WASHINGTON: Donald Trump said Friday he had a “busy day” planned as the Republican president-elect — confronted with the magnitude of the task ahead — begins building his administration before entering the White House in 70 days.

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Trump’s challenge in unifying a restless nation after the most divisive campaign in memory was immediately put under pressure by thousands of angry protesters who took to the streets of US cities for a second straight night.

In Portland, a march by some 4,000 protesters turned violent, with cars vandalized and projectiles thrown at police, who used rubber bullets and pepper spray to disperse the crowd. At least 26 people were arrested.

On Friday, the real estate tycoon-turned-world-leader was ensconced in his luxury Manhattan apartment at Trump Tower. The aides who guided his campaign to victory were seen marching in to huddle with him and map out the way forward.

Rudy Giuliani, the city’s former mayor and Trump stalwart who is reportedly being considered for a cabinet position, also headed up to the billionaire’s residence along with other campaign staff.

“Busy day planned in New York,” Trump said on Twitter regarding his transition process, which has been cranking up to full speed since his shock presidential upset Tuesday over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“Will soon be making some very important decisions on the people who will be running our government!”

The 70-year-old incoming president has a mammoth task of fleshing out his cabinet.

He took the first step on Thursday when he traveled to Washington for talks with Barack Obama about the transition ahead of the January 20 inauguration — a conversation the outgoing president called “excellent.”

The names of several Trump surrogates have been tossed about for top-level post, including Giuliani, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former House speaker Newt Gingrich and Senator Jeff Sessions.

Trump’s finance chairman, Goldman Sachs veteran Steven Mnuchin, is reportedly a strong consideration for Treasury secretary, along with JP Morgan chief executive Jamie Dimon.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker is among those under consideration for secretary of state.

Overnight, anger over Trump’s big win again spilled out into the streets.

Accusing Trump of racism, sexism and xenophobia, protesters from New York to Los Angeles blocked traffic and chanted slogans like “Not my president” and “We reject the president-elect.”

In his first comments on the unrest, Trump tweeted that the media had unfairly “incited” the protesters.

But he toned down the charge hours later, writing: “Love the fact that the small groups of protesters last night have passion for our great country. We will all come together and be proud!”

The violence stood in contrast to an apparently harmonious meeting Thursday between Trump and Obama designed to heal divisions and quell fears about the health of the world’s leading democracy.

The outgoing president and his successor huddled one-on-one in the Oval Office, and then put on a remarkably civil joint public appearance.

“It is important for all of us, regardless of party and regardless of political preferences, to now come together, work together, to deal with the many challenges that we face,” Obama said.

Trump appeared more subdued than usual, and was unusually cautious and deferential in his remarks.

“Mr President, it was a great honor being with you,” Trump said, calling Obama a “very good man.”

White House officials said Obama and Trump discussed a range of issues including global hotspots and the president’s meetings next week with leaders from Germany, Greece and across the Asia-Pacific.

On that trip, Obama is likely to be inundated with panicked questions about America’s role in world affairs.

The White House hopes that by rolling out the red carpet for Trump, they can bind him to some of the conventions of the office.

Trump has already been in touch with several world leaders including British Prime Minister Theresa May, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, with whom he reaffirmed Washington’s strong relations.

On Friday, Trump spoke with French President Francois Hollande, and the two expressed their “willingness to work together,” Hollande’s office said, adding that the pair discussed the fight against terrorism, Syria, Ukraine and the Paris climate accord.

Trump in the past has described climate change as a “hoax.” AFP

AFP/CC

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