Speculation mounts over Trump's top administration posts

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," November 24, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: As a country, we have just emerged from a noisy, passionate, and sometimes divisive campaign season.

PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP: It's my prayer that on this Thanksgiving we begin to heal our divisions and move forward as one country.


DOUG MCKELWAY, GUEST ANCHOR: The president and the president-elect both speaking about Thanksgiving and their hopes for the future. Mr. Trump says it's a working holiday in his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach. He will be residing there throughout the weekend. But he had some time for work today and some time for tweets. He said "I'm working hard, even on Thanksgiving, trying to get Carrier A.C. company to stay with us in the U.S., Indiana. Making progress. Will know soon." That does indeed appear to be true. Carrier responding in a tweet, quote, "Carrier has had discussions with the incoming administration and we look forward to working together. Nothing to announce, though, at this time."

Let's bring in the panel right now: Tom Rogan, columnist for National Review; Tim Farley, host and managing editor of "Morning Briefing POTUS" on Sirius XM Radio, and Daniel Halper of The New York Post.

So this suggests that Trump's plea to American industries to stay in the United States appears to be working, at least to some small extent. We also had an announcement by Ford. They are reconsidering their decision to manufacture Lincolns in Mexico, keeping them instead in Kentucky. What do you think of that, Tim?

TIM FARLEY, SIRIUS XM RADIO: I think first in the Ford case, they had already said they were not going to move out of the country anyway. And in the case of this Carrier incident, I'm not sure exactly what Donald Trump can do to make them -- although he had said during the campaign he was going to put taxes and heavy taxes on them. That would require Congress. But at the least, it indicates that he is pushing for what he was trying to do and he is looking good in this transition. I think this has all been about the optics. It's about looking presidential and trying to at least look like you are living up to the promises you were making. And so this is part of that, I think.


DANIEL HALPER, NEW YORK POST: Look, we don't know exactly what the conversation took place or what they actually said. But that it took place, as Tim said, is a continuation of the Trump promise. It's him trying to come through. But he will eventually have to come through. People will hold him to his word. People will wonder if countries are leaving. And you've got to expect there will be made some sort of "Made in the USA" bill in Congress. And he has the legislative support on Capitol Hill to get something done to try to make these companies do it if he's not able to just negotiate without making some sort of legislation.

So, look, people will hold Donald Trump to his promises. The voters will. They will respond. It will be very clear. Right now it's talk and optics. It's nice. It looks good. But eventually he will have to deliver.


TOM ROGAN, NATIONAL REVIEW: I take a slightly different approach. I think this is just pure PR. The president-elect knows coming in the only way functionally you are going to be able to persuade American companies to retain more jobs and production in the United States is to reform the corporate tax code. It's a simple fact because the exodus of wealth, the Obama administration had repeatedly tried to prevent it through actions through the department of treasury. It hasn't worked because there's too much financial incentive for the companies to move to lower tax locales.

If he does that, if he can get a corporate tax reform through, then functionally I think he could actually accomplish some of this. But that will be the pivot. I think he knows that. I think this is Thanksgiving everyone be happy and eat your turkey and jobs will stay here. The real turkey will be consumed -- not consumed, come next year.

MCKELWAY: I want to shift gears a little bit now to another potential nominee for a cabinet position whose name has not been really discussed all that much. We're talking about Wilbur Ross for commerce secretary. As the AP said in an article about Ross recently, quote, "The billionaire investor considered the king of bankruptcy for buying beaten down companies with the potential to deliver profits." What do you know about Wilbur Ross?

FARLEY: Not much except what I have been reading, and "king of bankruptcy" is in every headline, and that he was a Democratic supporter. He worked with Bill Clinton, worked with Russia on some deals. So a big Democratic fundraiser. He's secretary of commerce following in the tradition of Patty Pritzker, which is President Obama. It's not the top of the line position. I still think people are waiting to see what happens at state, defense, which we have heard names floated. But commerce secretary is kind of one of those names that, all right, that sounds cool. They are going to have to do something with trade. He evidently is very much in simpatico with Donald Trump on trade, but other than that I'm not sure what this signal sends to anybody other than the fact that he knows a guy who is in business, and that's what they're going to proceed with.

MCKELWAY: Any meaning in this to you, Daniel?

HALPER: Donald Trump has named -- there are 10 people we know of who are in the Donald Trump administration including Trump himself, and this will be the third billionaire. So it sends a message I think to a lot of people that, wow, he is really rewarding a lot of people who are rich and a lot of people who are wealthy.

Like our previous discussion, it will depend on whether he can deliver, right? And his resume as a turnaround artist might be perfect for this job. Donald Trump campaigned extensively, saying that we need basically a turnaround artist. We need somebody who can come in and revive this country, who can make America great again. And so Wilbur Ross could be the perfect person.

And we shouldn't prejudge people by any means based on their wealth or lack thereof, nor should we look at his cabinet appointments, Wilbur Ross, Betsy DeVos, she's also a billionaire, education secretary, and of course Trump himself. So look, it remains to be seen whether or not what his plans actually are, as Tim says, and where the Trump administration will take this.

MCKELWAY: I was struck when I saw -- I think it was on CNN early in the campaign, they did a focus group. And one woman said, you know, what is it you like about Donald Trump? And it was very pithy but enlightening. She said, he is rich. I want to be rich. This guy is rich. It's a measure of success, Tom.

ROGAN: It is a measure of success. And I think what actually this says to me, this prospective appointment, is that Trump is really going to push hard on something that unifies I think the wide diversity of the Republican party. Still the disunity is bubbling below the surface. It has been papered over a little bit with some of the appointments. But because of Mr. Trump's stated desire to get rid of a lot of regulations, you bring in someone like this who has that reputation in the private sector of restructuring companies, it does suggest that will be an early priority for the administration if he does pick him. And I think a lot of Republicans would welcome that.

MCKELWAY: There is said to be a lot of internal dissention about the potential pick of Mitt Romney as secretary of state. Between the Romney camps and the Giuliani camps and perhaps the Petraeus camps whose name is also entered into the fray. But we are trying to read into the tea leaves a little bit over this. Here is a tweet from Kellyanne Conway, quote, "Receiving a deluge of and private communications re Romney. Some Trump loyalists warned against Romney as secretary of state." And then this follow-up tweet from Conway. "This from Erick Erickson shows how diverse our GOP party truly is while Dems are in an identity crisis struggling to connect with America." Then she cites the previous Erick Erickson tweet in which he says, "As secretary of state," Romney he is referring to here, "he would provide stability and a calming affect internationally. Trump would be smart to do that." Tom, you want to take that?

ROGAN: It can't be David Petraeus, after all his, frankly, heroism in terms of dedicating his life to the service of the country because of the CIA scandal and how much president-elect Trump hit Hillary Clinton on the e-mail thing. I don't think it would tenable. It would be hypocrisy.

I do think Mitt Romney certainly around the world he would be very much more popular. He is known by foreign leaders because of his business interests but also because of running as the Republican nominee. They like him. They feel he is comfortable in terms of old-school realist, traditionalist conservative in terms of that outreach abroad. And I think he would be a very popular pick.

MCKELWAY: I'll give you about 15 seconds.

HALPER: Kellyanne is either on the reservation or off. There's a possibility that she is channeling Donald Trump. There's also the possibility that there's some dissention within the Trump transition team. We don't know what's going on within there. But if she is going off the reservation, it's the first time really Trump staffers, the most loyal, have really took swipes at Donald Trump himself in the midst of a very important decision.

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