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Students protest against Donald Trump as allies speculate about appointments

Published 15/11/2016

A book by US President-elect Donald Trump, Think Like a Champion, on display in the Moscow House of Books in Moscow, Russia (AP)
A book by US President-elect Donald Trump, Think Like a Champion, on display in the Moscow House of Books in Moscow, Russia (AP)

Hundreds of students have walked out of class and gathered outside the Supreme Court in Washington to protest against Donald Trump's election.

The students began assembling outside Mr Trump's newly-opened hotel on Tuesday and walked past the Capitol to the Supreme Court across the street.

The streets in between are blocked by protesters and police.

The protesters are carrying signs reading "Black Lives Matter" and "Not My President".

Woodrow Wilson High School students promoted the event on social media, saying they want to tell Mr Trump "he can't divide us".

Wilson Principal Kimberly Martin said in a letter to parents that the school defends students' right to self-expression, but she warned that students who participate will receive unexcused absences.

The protests came as Donald Trump's allies engaged in an unusual round of public speculation about his potential appointments - including their own futures.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani seemed to be angling for secretary of state, and a Trump official said the job was his if he wanted it.

However, a second official cautioned that John Bolton, a former US ambassador to the United Nations, remained in contention.

In Washington late on Monday, Mr Giuliani said Mr Bolton would be a "very good choice". Asked if there was anyone better, he replied: "Maybe me, I don't know."

On Twitter, businessman Carl Icahn disclosed details of a conversation he said he had with the president-elect.

Mr Icahn said Mr Trump was considering Steven Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs banker, and Wilbur Ross, a billionaire investor, to lead the Treasury and Commerce departments.

Meanwhile, Mike Rogers, a respected Republican voice on national security issues, announced he was stepping down from the transition effort, while an apparent clerical oversight effectively halted the Trump team's ability to co-ordinate with President Barack Obama's White House.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence, now running the transition team, ignored questions from reporters as he walked through the lobby of Trump Tower, a thick binder tucked under his arm.

He took over from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who spent months running transition operations before his demotion last week. The switch has slowed Mr Trump's ability to co-ordinate with the White House.

Mr Pence has yet to sign a memorandum of understanding facilitating interactions between his team and Obama administration officials.

Mr Christie had signed the document, but Mr Pence's promotion makes it no longer valid.

A stream of Trump advisers arrived on Tuesday at his eponymous skyscraper to plan for the next administration.

"He's going to be a great president. He's got a team," said retired Lieutenant General Keith Kellogg, who is advising on defence issues.

"He's got great people. They believe in him. They believe in the republic. It's going to be just fine."

The team appeared to be focusing on filling out the top national security jobs. Mr Trump's selections will be the first signals to anxious international allies about the direction he plans to take US foreign policy.

Mr Giuliani, 72, would be an out-of-box choice for secretary of state. A former mayor and federal prosecutor, he is known for his hard line law-and-order views.

Mr Bolton has years of US foreign policy experience, but has raised eyebrows with some of his hawkish stances, including a 2015 New York Times op-ed in which he advocated bombing Iran to halt the country's nuclear programme.

Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, a loyal Trump ally and immigration hardliner, is said to be a contender to lead the Pentagon as defence secretary.

Mr Trump is also considering Richard Grenell as US ambassador to the United Nations, which would bring some experience and diversity to his nascent administration.

Mr Grenell, who served as US spokesman at the UN under George W Bush, would be the first openly gay person to fill a Cabinet-level foreign policy post.

The transition planning comes amid continued backlash from Mr Trump's weekend decision to appoint Steve Bannon, a man celebrated by the white nationalist movement, to serve as his chief strategist and senior adviser.

"After winning the presidency but losing the popular vote, President-elect Trump must try to bring Americans together - not continue to fan the flames of division and bigotry," House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said.

She called Mr Bannon's appointment "an alarming signal" that Mr Trump "remains committed to the hateful and divisive vision that defined his campaign".

Until joining Mr Trump's campaign this summer, Mr Bannon led the Breitbart website that appealed to the so-called "alt-right" - a movement often associated with far-right efforts to preserve "white identity", oppose multiculturalism and defend "Western values".

Breitbart has frequently targeted House Speaker Paul Ryan. Asked about Mr Bannon's appointment, Mr Ryan said: "I would just simply say the president will be judged on results."

On Monday, Mr Trump spoke for the first time by telephone to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The president-elect "is very much looking forward to having a strong and enduring relationship with Russia and the people of Russia," his transition office said.

Mr Trump, who has no foreign policy experience,has also spoken with the leaders of China, Mexico, South Korea and Canada in recent days.

AP

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