WASHINGTON (AP) – The Latest on President-elect Donald Trump (all times local):
2:20 p.m. – The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has agreed to perform at President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony.
The church announced on its website Thursday that the 360-member volunteer choir will sing at Trump’s swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 20.
The group has performed at a handful of other presidential inaugurals, including those of presidents George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.
The choir’s president, Ron Jarrett, says the group has “a great tradition of performing at the inaugurals of U.S. presidents” and is “honored to be able to serve our country by providing music for the inauguration of our next president.”
Trump had trouble during the Republican primary campaign winning over Mormon voters, who voiced skepticism about his candidacy.
2:10 p.m. – The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says he and the panel’s Republican chairman “have a disagreement” about the need to review Rex Tillerson’s personal tax returns. Tillerson is President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for secretary of state.
Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin says in a letter sent Thursday to other Democrats on the committee that “it will be difficult to lock in a nomination hearing time” for Tillerson until lawmakers have received and examined three years’ worth of the Exxon Mobil CEO’s tax returns.
Cardin says Tillerson “promised to provide” the tax information in response to a question on a standard questionnaire that all nominees submit prior to appearing before the committee.
But the committee’s chairman, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, is rejecting the assertion Tillerson pledged to provide his tax returns. Corker says the Democrats are playing politics.
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President-elect Donald Trump Communications Staff x
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2:05 p.m. – President-elect Donald Trump is announcing his senior communications team.
The transition office said Thursday that Sean Spicer will be White House press secretary. Spicer is the former communications director for the Republican National Committee.
Jason Miller will be the director of communications. Campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks will be director of strategic communications, while Dan Scavino will be director of social media.
Hicks and Scavino were original members of the Republican businessman’s campaign. Miller joined after Trump became the presumptive nominee.
And Spicer is an ally of incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus who took a more central role during the transition.
Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway is the frequent TV presence who will serve as counselor to the president.
12:45 p.m. – President-elect Donald Trump says he’s sticking with his “drain the swamp” campaign mantra after a top supporter suggested otherwise.
Trump tweets, “Someone incorrectly stated” that he was no longer using the phrase. Trump says, “Actually, we will always be trying to DTS.”
That someone is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, an adviser who told NPR this week that Trump now “disclaims” the popular campaign slogan.
Now Gingrich says he “goofed” in the interview and mischaracterized Trump’s position. He says in an online video that he spoke with the president-elect Thursday morning and, “Drain the swamp is in. The alligators should be worried.”
Trump has faced criticism for filling his cabinet with wealthy billionaires and corporate bosses after running a populist campaign.
12:10 p.m. – President-elect Donald Trump is suggesting that the United States must “greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability.”
Trump tweeted Thursday that the U.S. must bolster its arsenal “until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”
It was not immediately clear what Trump meant.
The tweet comes a day after Trump met with several military procurement officers to discuss defense budgets, including Lt. Gen. Jack Weinstein, the deputy chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration for the Air Force.
During the campaign, Trump had suggested that the U.S. expand its arsenal and mused that the world would be “better off” if other countries, including Japan and South Korea, had nuclear capabilities.
10:45 a.m. – President-elect is Donald Trump is urging the United Nations Security Council to veto a draft resolution against Israeli West Bank settlements.
Trump says in a statement released Friday “that peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties, and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations.”
He adds that the measure “puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis.”
The draft resolution, circulated by Egypt, also declares that all existing settlements “have no legal validity” and are “a flagrant violation” of international law.
The resolution is opposed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called for the United States to veto it. A vote is expected later Thursday.
8:10 a.m. – The top Democrats on Senate committees responsible for vetting President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees say his picks should not advance to a Senate vote without completing a financial disclosure statement and responding to “reasonable requests for additional information.”
The statement comes after preliminary contacts with several nominees have failed to satisfy Democrats’ expectations for information such as tax returns and other disclosures regarding financial holdings. Several of Trump’s nominees are billionaires whose holding could raise conflicts of interest.
Democrats have limited options to block nominees outright because they changed filibuster rules when controlling the Senate in 2013. But they could force longer debates than have been traditional at the start of an administration.
The issue has the potential to produce a major political battle in the opening days of Trump’s administration.
7:10 a.m. – Donald Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway is headed to the White House, where she’ll serve as counselor to the president.
The announcement was made by the president-elect’s transition team early Thursday.
Conway served as Trump’s third campaign manager and is widely credited with helping guide him to victory.
She is also a frequent guest on television news programs.
Conway had said previously that she planned to move her family to Washington to serve Trump, either inside or outside the administration.
The transition team says Conway “will work with senior leadership” in the White House “to effectively message and execute the administration’s legislative priorities and actions.”
3:34 a.m. – President-elect Donald Trump is renewing his vow to stop radical terror groups and appeared to suggest a willingness to move ahead with his campaign pledge to temporarily ban Muslim immigrants from coming to the United States.
Trump proposed the Muslim ban during the Republican primary campaign, drawing sharp criticism from both parties. During the general election, he shifted his rhetoric to focus on temporarily halting immigration from an unspecified list of countries with ties to terrorism.
When asked on Wednesday whether the deadly truck attack on a Christmas market in Berlin would cause him to evaluate the proposed ban or a possible registry of Muslims in the United States, the president-elect said: “You know my plans. All along, I’ve been proven to be right, 100 percent correct.”