PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — President-elect Donald Trump declared Wednesday that the deadly truck attack on a Christmas market in Germany was “an attack on humanity and it’s got to be stopped.”
The president-elect spoke to reporters briefly before a meeting with retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, his incoming White House national security adviser. Asked whether the attack was prompting him to reevaluate his call during the campaign for temporarily banning Muslim immigration into the United States, Trump said, “I’ve been proven to be right.”
Twelve people were killed and 48 injured when a truck plowed into a popular Berlin market Monday evening in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group. German officials have launched a Europe-wide manhunt for a “violent and armed” Tunisian man suspected in the attack.
Trump is spending the final days of 2016 at his palatial private estate in South Florida, meeting advisers and completing plans for his Cabinet and White House staff.
While Trump has assembled his Cabinet at a quick pace, the process to fill out top White House jobs has been slowed by pushback among some advisers. Some of Trump’s earliest advisers have expressed concern to the president-elect himself that they are getting boxed out in favor of those more closely aligned with incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus, who has chaired the Republican National Committee.
Trump won’t be bringing his first campaign chief, Corey Lewandowski, into a White House job, but the combative operative won’t be far away. Lewandowski said Wednesday he would not be joining the administration. He announced plans to start a political consulting firm with offices just a block from the White House, raising the likelihood that he will remain an influential player in Trump’s orbit even without a West Wing office.
The president-elect’s transition team has said announcements on White House staffing could come as early as Wednesday.
Trump opened his day by boasting anew about his Nov. 8 election victory, tweeting that his win in the Electoral College was more difficult to pull off than winning the popular vote would have been if he had tried. Democrat Hillary Clinton won at least 2.6 million more votes than Trump, an apparent sore point for the president-elect. “
I would have done even better in the election, if that is possible, if the winner was based on popular vote – but would campaign differently,” he tweeted.
Trump met Tuesday with candidates for his unfilled Cabinet positions, including prospective hires to run the Department of Veterans Affairs, a beleaguered agency that the Republican businessman has vowed to overhaul.
At Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s palatial Florida estate, the president-elect met with Luis Quinonez, who runs a company with military and health care ties and is said to be under consideration for VA secretary. He also interviewed Toby Cosgrove, the CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, who was a top contender to replace Eric Shinseki when he resigned from the VA in 2014. Cosgrove later withdrew from consideration.
Trump repeatedly pledged during the campaign to fix the woes at the department and said he would “take care of great veterans.” But he also came under scrutiny for being slow in paying out money raised for veterans groups and for suggesting that “strong” veterans don’t need treatment for mental health problems.
Others said to be considered for the post include former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, Florida Rep. Jeff Miller and Pete Hegseth, an Army veteran and former CEO of Concerned Veterans for America.
Trump is also considering Jovita Carranza, who worked in President George W. Bush’s administration, as his choice for U.S. trade representative. She served as deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration under Bush.
With just a handful of Cabinet posts to fill, Trump is facing some criticism for a lack of diversity in his senior team, which currently includes no Hispanics.
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