The Latest: Trump goes out for dinner without press in tow


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Donald Trump’s transition to the presidency (all times EST):

8:50 p.m.

President-elect Donald Trump has broken with protocol by leaving his Trump Tower residence without taking along his press contingent.

The Trump transition team had informed reporters and photographers at Trump Tower that there would be no movement by the president-elect for the rest of the day and evening. Then, before 8 o’clock Tuesday, a presidential-style motorcade left the building unannounced.

That sent the press corps scrambling to find out if Trump was indeed in the motorcade and where it was heading.

It turns out that Trump is having dinner at the 21 Club. Reporters and photographers have caught up with him at the midtown Manhattan restaurant but are not allowed inside.

A spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, confirms that Trump is having dinner with his family.

The episode calls into question whether the Trump transition team can be trusted to keep the press appraised of the president-elect’s whereabouts at all times, as is the custom.

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8:30 p.m.

The White House says Donald Trump’s transition team has taken a step toward resolving the paperwork problem that prevented it from communicating with the administration about the transfer of power.

A White House spokeswoman says Vice President-elect Mike Pence signed a key document Tuesday evening.

The formal transition process has been stalled since last week when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was replaced by Pence as the transition chair. The memorandum of understanding must be signed by the transition leader.

White House spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine says the administration is still waiting on more documents required by law before agencies can begin sharing information with the transition team.

Those documents include a list of all transition team members and certification that they meet a code of conduct barring conflicts of interest.

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7:15 p.m.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is departing meetings at Trump Tower but declining to provide details of what he discussed with President-elect Donald Trump and his team.

Cruz tells reporters in New York that the “election was a mandate for change” and it’s now time for Republicans to deliver on their conservative agenda.

Asked whether he wants to be considered for a post in the Trump administration, Cruz says he looks forward to working closely with Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence “to repeal Obamacare” and confirm “a strong, conservative Supreme Court justice.”

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6:10 p.m.

When Donald Trump announced Stephen Bannon as his top White House strategist, critics erupted once again with allegations that Bannon is racist, sexist and anti-Semitic.

Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway insists that Bannon isn’t as scary as people say. But Bannon isn’t likely to put those fears to rest anytime soon.

As a conservative media brawler, Bannon has discarded norms for discussing race, gender and religion, often framing even abstract political fights in deliberately inflammatory terms.

Bannon was born into a Norfolk, Virginia, family of Catholic Democrats, and served in the U.S. Navy and attended Harvard Business School. He worked for Goldman Sachs and started a media-focused boutique investment banking firm.

Under his leadership the news site Breitbart became a platform for the “alt-right,” a loose group espousing a provocative and reactionary strain of conservatism.

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6:15 p.m.

President-elect Donald Trump has called New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key to pass on his sympathies for the powerful earthquake that killed two people.

Key’s office described the conversation on Wednesday as “very warm and cordial.”

The magnitude-7.8 quake that struck on Monday has left hundreds of tourists stranded in the coastal town of Kaikoura after landslides blocked off roads. The military is evacuating people in helicopters.

Trump had tried to get in touch earlier in the week but Key had missed the call in the confusion after the quake.

Key’s office said in a statement that he had congratulated Trump on his election win. The leaders also discussed the New Zealand economy, trade, and the relationship between the two nations, which they agreed was in great shape.

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6:10 p.m.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham has been one of Donald Trump’s strongest critics, once comparing the choice between Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the Republican primary as the difference between being poisoned and shot.

But now that Trump’s president-elect, Graham is looking for common ground.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Graham said “count me in” on infrastructure improvements, more military spending, conservative Supreme Court picks and repealing and replacing President Barack Obama’s health care law. Though he says the last one will be “harder than we all think.”

He did appear to express concerns about Trump’s relationship with Russia, and said his Senate panel would hold a series of hearings on that country’s role in the world.

Graham said: “They are a bad actor in the world, they need to be reined in.”

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6:05 p.m.

Some of the GOP’s biggest donors and fundraisers will be leading president-elect Donald Trump’s presidential inaugural committee.

Trump’s transition team announced Tuesday that investor Tom Barrack will serve as the committee’s chairman.

The finance co-chairs include Lew Eisenberg, who ran the Republican National Committee’s joint fundraising operations with the Trump campaign.

The committee’s vice chairs include a host of the GOP’s biggest donors, including casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, Anthony Scaramucci, Mel Sembler, and casino developers Phil Ruffin and Steve Wynn.

The group is responsible for planning and paying for the activities surrounding Trump’s inauguration.

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5:45 p.m.

Sen. Ted Cruz is meeting with President-elect Donald Trump in New York.

Cruz and Trump have had a tortured relationship since the Republican presidential primary. Cruz derided Trump during the primary as a “pathological liar” and “serial philanderer” but came around in September and endorsed him. But even then the senator from Texas said the decision to back Trump was “agonizing.”

Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier said in a statement Tuesday that Cruz was “pleased” to have the chance to meet with Trump and he looked forward to assisting the Trump administration.

Trump angered Cruz in the primaries by insulting his wife and suggesting, without evidence, that his Cuban-born father could have been linked to the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

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4:45 p.m.

Outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid says President-elect Donald Trump should rescind Stephen Bannon’s appointment as a top White House aide.

Reid says that “as long as a champion of racial division is a step away from the Oval Office, it would be impossible to take Trump’s efforts to heal the nation seriously.”

Reid made the comment in a Senate floor speech. He joins a growing chorus of Democrats calling on Trump to get rid of Bannon, whose Breitbart website aligns with white nationalist ideologies.

Reid said Trump’s election had “sparked a wave of hate crimes.” Nonetheless he said Democrats “want to work with Mr. Trump when we can.”

Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn then stood and remarked that “we used to call people like that sore losers.”

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4:30 p.m.

For nearly the entire week since he became president-elect, Donald Trump has been holed up in his gilded New York skyscraper. A steady stream of visitors has come to him, flooding through metal detectors and getting whisked up to Trump’s offices and penthouse residence.

It’s good preparation for the insular, security-shrouded bubble that awaits Trump at the White House.

Unlike President Barack Obama, who flew commercial and lived in a dingy Washington apartment within about a year of taking office, Trump has already spent decades living an unusually cloistered life. While Obama often bemoans his inability to take a walk or enjoy a meal at a sidewalk cafe, Trump doesn’t appear to have much of an affinity for either.

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3:15 p.m.

A leading Republican voice on national security matters says any attempt by the incoming Trump administration to reset relations with Russia would be “unacceptable.”

In a statement Tuesday, Sen. John McCain of Arizona says the price of starting anew with Moscow would be U.S. complicity in the “butchery of the Syrian people” being carried out by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar Assad.

President-elect Donald Trump and Putin spoke by telephone Monday about future efforts to improve U.S.-Russian ties. Trump said in a statement that he is looking forward to having a “strong and enduring relationship with Russia.”

McCain, the Armed Services Committee chairman, dismissed Putin as a former KGB agent who has plunged his country into tyranny and murdered his political rivals and threatened U.S. allies.

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2:30 p.m.

Former President George W. Bush says “anger shouldn’t drive policy” and is defending encouraging global trade through pacts like the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Bush spoke Tuesday at a Dallas institute named for him. He said he’d refrain from criticizing President-elect Donald Trump and other White House successors.

But he suggested that anger and frustration helped decide last week’s presidential election and shouldn’t shape future policy.

Instead, he said policy should be influenced by “what’s best for the people who are angry.”

Bush defended the trade agreement, which Trump has sharply criticized. Bush said expanded trade helped close wage gaps while benefiting Mexico, Canada and the U.S.

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2:20 p.m.

French President Francois Hollande is suggesting he doesn’t believe that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump would throw out the Iran nuclear accord.

Trump has called the accord the world’s “worst deal.” Hollande said in an interview with three French news outlets that Europe must start assuring its own security.

The French president said “Europe doesn’t do enough,” and that he’s told his colleagues across the continent that they “must take charge” of Europe’s defense.

Hollande asked rhetorically whether “the United States can, with Donald Trump, throw this accord into question? I don’t think so.”

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2:06 p.m.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson will not be taking a position in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration.

Carson business manager Armstrong Williams tells The Associated Press that Carson has opted out of being considered for any cabinet or other administration positions, including leading the Department of Health & Human Services and the Department of education.

Carson had never been officially offered a role in the Trump administration, but Williams says the president-elect had made clear he wanted his former rival-turned-adviser in some role.

But he says Carson “always knew that he could be more effective with the president-elect outside the administration.”

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1:40 p.m.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he intends to remain as governor but would consider a Trump administration post if offered.

Christie spoke Tuesday on WPG talk radio from the Republican Governors Association conference in Florida. Christie says he has “every intention” of staying on as governor until 2018 when his term ends.

Christie chaired President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team until he was made vice chairman last week.

He says he told Trump that if he is asked to serve he would consider a position in the administration.

Christie was among the earliest backers of Trump, lending his vocal support soon after the businessman’s New Hampshire primary victory.

Trump’s victory comes after the nearly six-week George Washington Bridge lane-closure trial in which two of Christie’s former allies were convicted.

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