Trump transition team still mum on Carson, Ross

The transition team of President-elect Donald Trump would not confirm reports that two men who live at least part-time in Palm Beach County, Dr. Ben Carson and Wilbur Ross, have been offered cabinet positions.

News reports have indicated that Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who lives in Palm Beach Gardens, has been offered the position of secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. After meeting with Carson on Tuesday, Trump himself tweeted: “I am seriously considering Dr. Ben Carson as the head of HUD. I’ve gotten to know him well – he’s a greatly talented person who loves people!”

Other reports have indicated Ross, a billionaire businessman who has a home not far from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago mansion on Palm Beach, is the president-elect’s choice for secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

During a conference call with reporters on Friday, Trump transition spokesman Jason Miller said the president-elect has no official news on the selection of either Carson or Ross.

“There has not yet been an announcement with regard to those men,” Miller said. “I would say that, until the president-elect makes an announcement, I would hold off on that.”

Trump is spending the Thanksgiving holiday weekend at Mar-a-Lago.

Carson endorsed Trump after ending his own bid for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. He has given conflicting signals about his willingness to serve in Trump’s cabinet.

As Trump’s transition team began to announce cabinet nominees, Carson said he would not serve in the cabinet and would seek to help Trump as an outside-of-Washington, D.C. voice of reason.

After meeting with Trump on Tuesday, however, the retired neurosurgeon hinted during an interview on Fox News that he is interested in a role that would allow him to help inner cities.

“You know, our inner cities are in terrible shape, and they definitely need some real attention,” Carson said. “You know, there have been so many promises made over the last several decades, and nothing has been done, so it certainly is something that has been a long-term interest of mine, and I’ll be thinking and praying about it seriously over the holiday.”

Ross has become known as the “king of bankruptcy” because of his success in buying distressed companies at low costs, restructuring them and selling for large profits. Critics contend those restructurings have harmed some workers and encouraged non-compliance with safety regulations in the name of profits.

If nominated, both Carson, 65, and Ross, who turns 79 on Tuesday, would require confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

Miller said Trump will not meet with any other potential members of his administration until Monday, when he will meet with eight potential nominees: Sandeep Mathrani, chief executive of a real estate investment firm; Paul Atkins, former commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; Kathleen White, former chairwoman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality; U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa.; Dave Steward, chairman and co-founder of a technology firm; E. Scott Pruitt, attorney general for the state of Oklahoma; David Clarke, sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, and John Allison, founder of an asset management firm.

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Destination D.C.? Resumes flooding inboxes of Trump’s Florida gatekeepers

Some of these gatekeepers may even be headed to Washington themselves.

“The sky’s the limit for Pam Bondi,” Trump campaign chairman Joe Gruters said of Florida’s attorney general, who is now also a member of the President-elect’s transition team.

Trump’s pick Friday of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general may have lowered the altitude somewhat for Bondi. But Florida’s two-term attorney general, set to leave office in 2018, is widely seen as destined for a prominent post in the new administration.

Joining the part-time Palm Beacher headed for the White House could be another resident of the island, billionaire Wilbur Ross, viewed as a possible Commerce Department secretary. Ross, 78, is an investor who has restructured companies in the steel, coal and textiles industry.

Ross, like Trump, also lives in New York, where he raised money for the candidate last summer in The Hamptons. He also served as an economic adviser to the president-elect’s campaign.

With Trump needing to fill about 4,100 jobs relatively quickly — from Cabinet posts to White House schedulers – a number of Floridians are seen as likely contenders, given the state’s political importance and the president-elect’s ties to Palm Beach, where he bought the landmark Mar-A-Lago estate 31 years ago.

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