At Ohio rally, Trump ‘unofficially’ announces defense pick Mattis

JUDY WOODRUFF: President-elect Trump filled up another Cabinet seat, while some of his supporters aggressively challenged recount efforts in three states.

The "NewsHour"'s John Yang has our report.

DONALD TRUMP (R), President-Elect: We are going to appoint "Mad Dog" Mattis as our secretary of defense.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

DONALD TRUMP: But we're not announcing it until Monday, so don't tell anybody.

JOHN YANG: President-elect Trump scooped himself Thursday night, making his choice public in Cincinnati, the first stop of his thank you tour. He met with retired General James Mattis last month in New Jersey.

DONALD TRUMP: He is the real deal. He is the real deal.

JOHN YANG: Mattis retired as a four-star general three years ago, after four decades as a Marine. He headed U.S. Central Command until 2013, in charge of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He would need a special congressional waiver, because federal law says a defense secretary has be out of uniform for at least seven years.

In Cincinnati, Mr. Trump pledged to ease still simmering post-election tensions.

DONALD TRUMP: We're going to bring our country together, all of our country. We're going to find common ground and we will get the job done properly. We will get it done properly.

JOHN YANG: But at Harvard University, top officials of his campaign clashed with Clinton campaign managers at a normally civil post-election review. Clinton aides said the Trump campaign fueled racism.

JENNIFER PALMIERI, Clinton Director of Communications: I would rather lose than win the way you did.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, Trump Senior Adviser: Do you think I ran a campaign where white supremacists had a platform? Are you going to look me in the face and tell me that?

JENNIFER PALMIERI: It did. Kellyanne, it did.

(CROSSTALK)

KELLYANNE CONWAY: Do you think you could have just had a decent message for the white working-class voters?

JOHN YANG: There were also sparks when Clinton aides noted that their candidate won more votes than the president-elect.

JOEL BENENSON, Clinton Chief Strategist: You guys won. That's clear, you won the Electoral College. That's the currency.

(CROSSTALK)

JOEL BENENSON: But let's also be honest. Don't act as if you have some popular mandate for your message. The fact of the matter is, is that more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump.

KELLYANNE CONWAY: Hey, guys. We won. You don't have to respond. I mean, seriously.

JOHN YANG: Today, Trump supporters moved to block recounts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

The president-elect was in New York today, meeting with longtime supporters Republican Senator David Perdue of Georgia and former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton. His schedule also included an unusual suspect, Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, a Democrat.

For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm John Yang.

JUDY WOODRUFF: We will have much more on the Mattis pick right after this news summary.

And late today, the transition team reported that president-elect Trump spoke by phone with the president of Taiwan. It is a highly unusual move. The U.S. cut formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1979.

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