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A Trump White House Preview: Feuds, Turmoil And Conspiracies

First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Donald Trump Holds Weekend Meetings In Bedminster, NJ
BEDMINSTER TOWNSHIP, NJ - NOVEMBER 19: Vice president-elect Mike Pence looks on as president-elect Donald Trump answers questions from the press as they exit the clubhouse after a day of meetings at Trump International Golf Club, November 19, 2016 in Bedminster Township, New Jersey. Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)Drew Angerer / Getty Images

First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.

A Trump White House Preview: Feuds, Turmoil And Conspiracies

Sunday summed up what a Trump presidency will probably look like after the inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017. The day began with a morning tweetstorm mocking the recount effort by the Green Party’s Jill Stein (which Hillary Clinton’s lawyers later joined). Hours later, a top Trump aide knifed one of the top choices to be secretary of state, Mitt Romney. “People feel betrayed to think that Gov. Romney, who went out of his way to question the character and the intellect and the integrity of Donald Trump … would be given the most significant cabinet post of all,” former Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said on “Meet the Press” yesterday. Then, in the afternoon, Trump tweeted -- falsely -- that millions voted illegally in the presidential election, and that he would have won the popular vote if you didn’t count them. Not only did that make him seem like a sore winner, it legitimized the recount efforts out there (if there’s voter fraud, shouldn’t there be a recount after all?), and it conveniently distracted from a bigger story that day (the New York Times’ exposé on Trump’s conflicts of interest). So there’s your Trump presidency in a nutshell. Thin-skinned rants. Feuding aides. Conspiracy theories. And all a distraction from the bigger issues out there.

How it all delegitimizes the media and democracy

There’s one more consequence to the rants, feuds, and conspiracy theories: They end up delegitimizing the media -- and the country’s democracy. Think about it: Every time Trump claims, without substantiation, that millions voted illegally, and every time the news media call him out for it, that only delegitimizes the media among Trump’s supporters. And then when the same media write and cover Trump’s conflicts of interests (or policy proposals or anything else), those same supporters won’t believe a word of it. Will the media be alone in this challenge? Or will members of BOTH parties decide that what’s happening to two key institutions -- the press and the vote -- is worth fighting for? By the way, who has been the biggest driver of the story that millions voted illegally in the election? Try InfoWars’ Alex Jones…

Romney vs. Rudy for secretary of state

As for Kellyanne Conway’s comments about Romney, they give you a taste of the biggest personnel battle inside Trump World -- Rudy Giuliani vs. Mitt Romney for secretary of state. “And it traces the outlines of the enduring split in the Republican Party between establishment figures who scoffed at Mr. Trump’s chances of victory and the grass-roots insurgents who backed him as a disrupter of the Washington power structure,” the Times writes. Per MSNBC’s Morning Joe Team: “Two sources at the top of the Trump transition team confirm to MSNBC that they spoke to the president-elect today and that Donald Trump was ‘furious’ at Kellyanne Conway's comments Sunday suggesting Trump ‘betrayed’ his supporters by even considering Mitt Romney for a position in his cabinet. ‘Kellyanne went rogue at Donald Trump's expense at the worst possible time,’ a source familiar with Trump's thinking told MSNBC. Trump's top aides said they were ‘baffled’ by Conway's comments and suggested that it feeds into a growing concern inside the campaign that ‘instead of driving Donald Trump's message, she's pushing her own agenda.’”

Cabinet Watch

Here is our running list of possible candidates we’ve been hearing about so far. We’ll continue to update it as the president-elect’s team makes its choices final.

  • Secretary of State: Rudy Giuliani, John Bolton, Bob Corker, Mitt Romney
  • Attorney General: Jeff Sessions OFFERED
  • Treasury: Steve Mnuchin, Jeb Hensarling
  • Defense: Jim Talent, Tom Cotton, James Mattis
  • Homeland: Michael McCaul, David Clarke
  • Interior: Sarah Palin, Mary Fallin
  • HUD: Ben Carson OFFERED (but hasn’t accepted)
  • Education: Betsy DeVos OFFERED
  • Commerce: Lew Eisenberg, Linda McMahon, Wilbur Ross
  • Transportation: John Mica, Deb Fischer, Lou Barletta, Elaine Chao
  • Agriculture: Rick Perry, Sid Miller
  • CIA Director: Mike PompeoOFFERED
  • UN Ambassador: Nikki Haley OFFERED
  • National Security Adviser: Michael Flynn OFFERED
  • RNC Chair: Ronna Romney McDaniel, David Urban

Will a Trump White House roll back Obama’s Cuba policy?

On “Meet” yesterday, Conway really didn’t answer the question. “On, on the issue of diplomatic relations being re-opened with Cuba, what President-elect Trump says is that he'd be open to that himself, but that we got nothing in return. We're allowing commercial aircraft there. We pretend that we're actually doing business with the Cuban people now when, really, we're doing business with the Cuban government and the Cuban military. They still control everything.” But when one of us asked if that was a rollback of Obama’s policies, Conway added, “None of that has been decided. The president-elect will make those decisions and will make those announcements once he is president. We have a president in office for eight more weeks, and we're very respectful of that.”

The irony of Jill Stein’s recount effort

  • Michigan margin between Trump and Clinton: 10,700… Stein received 50,700 votes
  • Pennsylvania margin 68,000… Stein received 48,912 votes
  • Wisconsin margin: 22,500 votes…. Stein received 30,980 votes