The Latest: Flynn was sharp critic of Obama administration


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

8:00 p.m.

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to be his national security adviser built a reputation in the Army as an astute intelligence professional and a straight talker.

What set retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn apart after he shed his uniform in 2014 was the blistering public criticism he quickly leveled at the White House and Pentagon.

He took issue with a wide range of national security policies, including the administration’s approach to fighting the Islamic State and, more generally, its handling of global affairs.

In recent public comments, including his fiery address at the Republican National Convention, Flynn has emphasized his view that the threat posed by the Islamic State group requires a more aggressive U.S. military, as well as his belief that Washington should work more closely with Moscow.

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7:20 p.m.

Donald Trump has offered retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn the job of national security adviser.

That’s according to a senior Trump official.

The official wouldn’t say whether Flynn has officially accepted the job. Flynn has been a close adviser to Trump throughout the presidential campaign and has worked with him on national security issues during the transition.

The national security adviser does not require Senate confirmation. The job is based in the White House and its occupant has frequent access to the president.

The official was not authorized to discuss the offer publicly so insisted on anonymity.

— By Julie Pace

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7:10 p.m.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he is convinced that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump is a leader in whom he can have great confidence.

Abe described his meeting with Trump on Thursday afternoon as “really cordial” and said he was convinced that he was able to establish a relationship of trust.

Abe said during the meeting that he conveyed his views on basic issues, but declined to provide further details.

“I do believe that without confidence between the two nations (the) alliance would never function in the future and as the outcome of today’s discussion I am convinced Mr. Trump is a leader in whom I can have great confidence,” Abe said following the meeting.

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6:02 pm

Defense, justice and foreign policy officials say that the Trump transition team has contacted their departments, and that meetings and briefings are being set up.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement that the department is in contact with Trump’s representatives, and that officials “look forward to supporting their work and preparations in keeping with the president’s priority of ensuring a smooth transition.”

Defense Department press secretary Peter Cook official said Pentagon leaders received a phone call Wednesday afternoon and they expect to begin briefings on Friday. Eric Rosenbach, chief of staff to Defense Secretary Ash Carter, is heading the department’s transition process.

The Justice Department also issued a statement that it had been contacted and would begin briefing transition team members.

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4:30 p.m.

President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has finally finished key paperwork clearing the way for the White House to start sharing information.

Coordination was on hold until Trump’s team submitted documents, including a list of transition team members who will coordinate with specific federal agencies, plus certification that they meet a code of conduct barring conflicts of interest.

White House spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine says the minimum paperwork was finished Thursday. That means agencies can start giving briefings and written materials to Trump’s team.

But Trump’s team still hasn’t submitted names for some agencies. The White House isn’t saying which agencies are missing.

Hoffine says the White House expects Trump’s team will submit names for a “wider range of agencies.” She says the White House will process those “on a rolling basis.”

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4:26 p.m.

Israel’s Ambassador to the United States is calling President-Elect Donald Trump a “friend of Israel” and says the country looks forward to working with everyone in his administration.

Ron Dermer told reporters gathered in Trump Tower in New York City on Thursday that Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence were both strong allies.

Dermer said Israel looks forward to working with the administration, “including Steve Bannon, in making the US-Israel alliance stronger than ever.”

Trump has named Bannon, a far-right publishing executive, as his top White House Strategist. Bannon led the Breitbart website, considered by many to be the alt-right’s platform that has been widely condemned as racist, sexist and anti-Semitic.

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3:27 p.m.

Mitt Romney will meet this weekend with Donald Trump.

That’s according to a source involved with the incoming Republican president’s transition, who described it as a “healing meeting.” The source requested anonymity because the event has not been officially announced.

Romney was the 2012 presidential nominee and was an outspoken critic of Trump throughout the election. He slammed the New York businessman as a “phony” and a “fraud.”

Trump repeatedly referred to Romney as a “loser.”

But the two began mending fences after Trump’s victory. Romney called to congratulate Trump.

“Mitt Romney called to congratulate me on the win,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Very nice!”

—By Julie Bykowicz

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3:15

Vice President-elect Mike Pence says he’s confident Donald Trump’s administration can find common ground with Democrats.

Pence spoke briefly with reporters after a private meeting with incoming Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York. He also met with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California during a busy day in Washington.

Pence says he’s looking “forward to finding ways that we can find common ground and move the country forward.”

He adds: “I’m very grateful for the open door, and I look forward to carrying the presided-elect’s agenda to all of the members of the Senate and all the members of the House after January 20th.”

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3:07 p.m.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi says Vice President-elect Mike Pence will be a “valued player” on Capitol Hill.

Pence met with Pelosi and other House leaders Thursday. The former Indiana congressman says they discussed areas where they could work together, and that he and president-elect Donald Trump are “working briskly” on the transition.

Pelosi says Pence will be valued in Congress because he “knows the territory.” She says they talked about infrastructure and child care.

She says Democrats will try to find common ground where they can, and stand their ground when they can.

A spokesman says Pelosi also has “deep concerns” about the appointment of conservative publisher Steve Bannon as a top White House adviser.

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2:40 p.m.

America’s future First Lady Melania Trump “paused her studies” to pursue a modeling career in Milan and Paris.

That’s according to her new biography on President-elect Donald Trump’s transition website, GreatAgain.gov.

The biography states that Melania Trump “would pursue a degree at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia, but paused her studies to advance her modeling career in Milan and Paris.”

It’s a modified version of an older biography posted on her personal website, which stated that the would-be First Lady began jet-setting between modeling gigs “after obtaining a degree in design and architecture at University in Slovenia.”

That version was later removed from the website.

The Trump transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment

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2:15 p.m.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence has taken time while on a break between Capitol Hill meetings to offer a personal welcome to some tourists.

Pence was walking through Statuary Hall when he stopped and unlatched the red velvet rope forming a barricade that separated him from some tour groups.

“Welcome,” Pence told a mother and her son — visiting from Brazil. “So nice to have you all here.

Next up was a Massachusetts woman, Christine Slavin, and her service dog, Earle. Pence knelt down on one knee to speak with her eye to eye in her wheelchair.

“So nice to meet you,” he told her. Enjoy your day at the Capitol.”

Slavin says it’s great to meet a future leader, but she says she probably wouldn’t have recognized Pence if other people hadn’t mentioned his name.

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1:50 p.m.

President-elect Donald Trump has wrapped up a meeting with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in Trump Tower.

Trump’s transition team says the incoming president and Kissinger discussed China, Russia, Iran and the European Union.

It comes ahead of Trump’s meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, his first in-person meeting with a foreign leader since his election.

Kissinger was Secretary of State under Republican presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

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1:40 p.m.

New York City charter school leader Eva Moskowitz is out of the running to be education secretary for President-elect Donald Trump.

Moskowitz said Thursday she’s taken herself out of the running. She heads New York’s largest charter school network and met with Trump this week at Trump Tower.

She says she hopes to work with Trump on school choice and suggests there are “positive signs” the president-elect will govern differently than he campaigned.

But she adds that she voted for Hillary Clinton, and in a letter to parents, warns that many of her students are overwhelmingly black and Latino and would feel that “they are the target of the hatred that drove Trump’s campaign.”

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10:47 a.m.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence says he’s confident the all-Republican government can “rebuild our military, revive our economy and, in a word, make America great again.”

That’s what the Indiana governor said as he left a closed-door meeting with House Republicans. Pence was making the rounds of meetings on Capitol Hill on Thursday, sitting down with Republican and Democratic leaders.

Pence spent more than a decade in Congress. He said it was humbling to be back among his colleagues. He sought to reassure Republicans that the Donald Trump transition wasn’t in disarray.

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10:44 a.m.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence has a simple message for House Republicans about the incoming administration and next year: “Buckle up.”

That’s the word from lawmakers who attended Thursday’s closed-door meeting with the Indiana governor.

Congressman Daniel Webster of Florida said Pence told Republicans the next year won’t be the slow process they’re used to. With an all-Republican government led by Donald Trump, the GOP intends to dismantle much of President Barack Obama’s record, from his health care law to environmental rules to cuts in domestic programs.

Congressman Mark Meadows of North Carolina says the message was the administration will be aggressive and will require an all-hands-on-deck approach.

Pence also asked lawmakers to pray for Trump and his family.

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10:10 a.m.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is calling on Donald Trump to apologize for some of his rhetoric during the presidential campaign. He’s also asking Trump to cut ties with campaign CEO Steve Bannon.

The president-elect has named Bannon as a top White House adviser, sparking outcry from Democrats who say the conservative media CEO peddles conspiracy theories and white supremacy.

Sanders says his office received “many, many” calls from people wanting Trump to ditch Bannon.

But he also says there may be opportunities to work together on curbing high drug prices, renegotiating trade deals, curbing the influence of Wall Street and other ideas that will “improve life for working people.”

Sanders says Democrats will hold Trump accountable for his campaign promises.

He’s speaking to reporters in Washington.

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This story has been corrected to reflect that Bannon was appointed, not nominated.

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8:50 a.m.

Sen. Ted Cruz is being coy about any role he might have been asked to play in the incoming Trump administration.

Cruz tells Fox News Channel’s “Fox and Friends” that he and the billionaire businessman who was his bitter campaign rival had “a far-reaching conversation” at Trump Tower.

But when asked pointedly if the position of attorney general or any other administration post had been discussed, Cruz replied that “the heart of what we talked about” were solutions for the problems facing the country.

“I’m eager to work with the new president in whatever capacity I can have the greatest impact defending the principles that I was elected to defend,” said the Texas Republican. Cruz fiercely challenged Trump for the Republican presidential nomination and relations between the pair were strained for months. Trump repeatedly referred to him as “Lyin’ Ted.”

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8:05 a.m.

President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway says she expects that initial announcements of Cabinet choices could come “either before or after Thanksgiving” and says “it’s Donald Trump and Donald Trump alone who makes the ultimate decisions.”

Conway also says in a nationally broadcast interview she believes her boss is prepared for the weight of the presidency.

“I actually love seeing how engaged he is in the transition,” Conway told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program Thursday.

“He’s there sitting at his desk, he’s on the phone,” and talking to advisers, she said. “He’s ready.”

Conway said the pace of Trump’s transition work is on a par with the timetables of recent presidents-elect.

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