Trump Hosts Candidates for Key Veterans Affairs Post

PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) -

President-elect Donald Trump met Tuesday with candidates for his unfilled Cabinet positions, including prospective hires to run the Department of Veterans Affairs, a beleaguered agency that the Republican businessman has vowed to overhaul.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence met with members of his incoming national security team a day after acts of violence rocked the world.

At Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s palatial Florida estate, the president-elect met with Luis Quinonez, who runs a company with military and health care ties and is said to be under consideration for VA secretary. He also interviewed Toby Cosgrove, the CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, who was a top contender to replace Eric Shinseki when he resigned at the VA in 2014. Cosgrove later withdrew from consideration.

Trump repeatedly pledged during the campaign to fix the woes at the department and said he would “take care of great veterans.” But he also came under scrutiny for being slow in paying out money raised for veterans groups and for suggesting that “strong” veterans don’t need treatment for mental health problems.

Others said to be considered for the post include former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, Florida Rep. Jeff Miller and Pete Hegseth, an Army veteran and former CEO of Concerned Veterans for America.

Trump is also considering Jovita Carranza, who worked in President George W. Bush’s administration, as his choice for U.S. trade representative. She served as deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration under Bush.

Pence, meanwhile, met in Washington with former Texas state official Susan Combs, who served both as state agriculture commissioner and comptroller. Trump also needs to fill the Agriculture Cabinet slot. Transition officials did not immediately confirm if Combs is up for that post.