Giuliani won't be in cabinet as Trump makes campaign-style stops
Former New York City mayor had been considered a top contender for secretary of state
Appearing jovial and relaxed, Donald Trump plunged back into election politics Friday, a full month after he won the presidency, enthusiastically prodding Louisiana Republicans to turn out for Saturday's Senate runoff election and protect the party's 52-48 margin in Washington.
Addressing a large crowd at an airport hangar, at one point he tossed his trademark "Make America Great Again" hat to a supporter. He noted that he'd been named Time's "Person of the Year" and asked the crowd if the magazine should go back to its former "Man of the Year."
Gauging the boisterous response, he declared the answer was yes.
In private, people close to Trump said he was expected to name another Goldman Sachs executive to his White House team. The president-elect's National Economic Council is to be led by Gary Cohn, president and chief operating officer of the Wall Street bank, which Trump repeatedly complained during the election campaign would control Hillary Clinton if she won.
Major decisions remain for Trump, most importantly his choice for secretary of state. The deliberations have become a source of tension within his transition team, with chief of staff Reince Priebus said to be backing Mitt Romney while other advisers oppose the idea of selecting the 2012 Republican nominee given his fierce criticism of Trump during the campaign.
Giuliani won't be in cabinet
Trump announced that Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor who was an early favourite, was no longer under consideration.
CNN reported earlier on Friday, citing an unnamed source, that Giuliani had been told he was no longer in contention for the top U.S. diplomat post.
"Rudy Giuliani is an extraordinarily talented and patriotic American. I will always be appreciative of his 24/7 dedication to our campaign after I won the primaries and for his extremely wise counsel," Trump said in the statement. "He is and continues to be a close personal friend, and as appropriate, I will call upon him for advice and can see an important place for him in the administration at a later date.
"Rudy would have been an outstanding member of the cabinet in several roles, but I fully respect and understand his reasons for remaining in the private sector," said Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20.
Reince Priebus, Trump's incoming White House chief of staff, said in the statement that Giuliani "was vetted by our team for any possible conflicts and passed with flying colours."
Giuliani told Fox News that he decided to get out of the way because Trump had many good candidates.
Following the Giuliani announcement, Exxon Mobil Corp. chief executive Rex Tillerson emerged on Friday as Trump's leading candidate for U.S. secretary of state, a senior transition official said.
Trump met Tillerson on Tuesday and may talk to him again over the weekend, the official said. Trump appears to be in the final days of deliberations over his top diplomat, with an announcement possible next week.
The transition official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Tillerson had moved ahead in Trump's deliberations over 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who has met Trump twice.
But the official said Romney was still under consideration for the job, along with John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; U.S. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee; and retired Navy Admiral James Stavridis.
Calls and campaign-style stops
On a busy Friday, Trump also spoke by telephone with Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who broke with protocol during the campaign to publicly endorse Hillary Clinton and said afterward she would not maintain "a diplomatic silence in the face of attitudes of racism, sexism, misogyny or intolerance of any kind."
Sturgeon's office said she used Friday's call to emphasize the "values Scotland and the United States share." Trump's transition team described the conversation as a "short congratulatory call."
In Louisiana, Trump campaigned for Republican John Kennedy, the first stop on a day that was also taking his post-election victory tour to Grand Rapids in Michigan. Trump won both states on Nov. 8.
He reiterated some of the major themes of his campaign, vowing to renegotiate faulty trade deals, repair roads and bridges and "build a wall" to guard against unlawful immigration.
"We have people coming into our country by the thousands, thousands and thousands of people and now I don't have to campaign so I don't have to say Hillary's going to increase it by 550 per cent," Trump said. "No, I don't have to say it anymore. Isn't it nice?"
At a rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Friday evening, Trump said he would name Andrew Liveris, chairman and chief executive of Dow Chemical Co., to head the Manufacturing Council, a private sector group that advises the U.S. secretary of commerce.
Companies shut down
Also on Friday, it was discovered that corporate registrations in Delaware show Trump shutting down some of his companies in the days after the election, including four companies that appeared connected to a possible Saudi Arabia business venture.
News of the move comes days before Trump was expected to describe changes he is making to his businesses to avoid potential conflicts of interest as president.
The Trump Organization's general counsel, Alan Garten, told The Associated Press that the business currently has no deals in Saudi Arabia.
Garten said he did not know why those companies were set up or whether they were involved a previously planned business venture.
He said the closure of corporate entities was routine.
With files from Reuters