- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 20, 2016

Vice President-elect Mike Pence exuded confidence Sunday about Donald Trump’s transition, saying Sen. Jeff Sessions will be confirmed as attorney general and that the president-elect is bringing “energy” and “leadership” to a busy round of meetings with potential Cabinet picks at his tony golf club in New Jersey.

Amid reports that Mr. Trump’s efforts were off to a rocky start, Mr. Pence defended the mogul’s moves to swiftly name his national security team and vet former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney for secretary of state and retired Gen. James Mattis for defense secretary.

Mr. Trump called the latter “very impressive” in a Sunday morning tweet, signaling he nailed the interview.

“Stay tuned, as the president-elect works through all of those decisions,” Mr. Pence told “Fox News Sunday.”

Yet Mr. Pence demurred when asked whether Mr. Romney and Mr. Trump were able to bury the hatchet after a contentious campaign season, during which the former Massachusetts governor denounced Mr. Trump as a “fraud” and a “phony” whose reckless behavior and uniformed foreign policy views would threaten the safety of America and the world.

Mr. Trump, meanwhile, dismissed Mr. Romney as a “choke artist” and “loser” for failing to unseat President Obama in 2012.

“They did have some private time together, and you could ask either one of them what they talked about,” Mr. Pence told Fox.

Indeed, Mr. Pence downplayed the notion he will act as the driving force, or chief operating officer, in the Trump administration, saying the real estate developer “will be the one leading the Trump administration, and I’ll be providing a supporting role.”

He said Mr. Trump alreadyhas decided to dedicate the early days of his administration to repealing President Obama’s health care law, though Republicans have signaled it will take longer to figure out how to replace it.

“Repealing Obamacare will be the first priority in a session that will be characterized by tax reform, rebuilding the military, infrastructure, ending illegal immigration, and that’s where we’re focused,” he told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Mr. Pence, who recently took over the transition team, said they are moving “headlong” into another series of meetings Sunday. The docket includes New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was ousted from the transition effort amid friction with the president-elect, former New York City mayor and Trump loyalist Rudy Giuliani and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is best known for his aggressive push to purge non-citizens from his state’s voter rolls.

Mr. Trump recently made waves by naming Mr. Sessions, Alabama Republican, as his pick to become attorney general, causing consternation among progressives who’ve questioned his commitment to minority voting rights and immigration reform.

Mr. Pence defended Mr. Sessions on Sunday as a man of integrity with an impressive legal background.

“This is a man who prosecuted the KKK in his own home state,” he said.

Mr. Pence also said the Trump administration will be a diverse one, despite the string of white men who’ve been considered for top jobs so far.

On Saturday, the Trump team met with Michelle Rhee, whose hard-charging efforts to revamp D.C. schools by tying teacher pay and employment to student achievement was met by both praise and scorn.

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