GRAND FORKS — Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., is under advanced consideration for energy secretary, he said Monday after a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump.
Cramer recounted the discussion, which included talks of him joining Trump’s Cabinet, hours after speaking with Trump and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.
“I will tell you this: He was interested in talking to me about a possible Cabinet post, specifically secretary of energy,” Cramer said, noting that Trump asked what Cramer would do if he were offered the post -- would he stay in the House of Representatives or join the administration?
“He kept saying, well, which one would you rather do?” Cramer said. “There’s strong pluses to both, and I’d be honored to do either one. I’d do both with enthusiasm and all the influence I have.”
Cramer’s name has been included in Cabinet speculation for weeks. He addressed the possibility in November following Trump’s electoral victory, but he said he’d “prefer to have the influence I have as a congressman.” He also said, though, that nobody “should lightly say no to a president” and called a Cabinet offer a “tough call.”
Trump also hosted Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., on Friday. Their meeting prompted speculation that she was under consideration for a Cabinet position as well, though Heitkamp insisted the topic wasn’t broached. Instead, the two spoke about issues such as human trafficking, energy and the Dakota Access Pipeline.
"I think the president-elect wanted to better understand what my thinking was, what my priorities were," she said. "He's a very busy person. To spend an hour just really hashing around a lot of issues, I so appreciated the opportunity to really talk about things that are so important to North Dakota."
Cramer said that he, Trump and Priebus spoke for between 45 minutes and an hour.
“We talked about politics; we talked about North Dakota. (Trump) kept saying, ‘I love North Dakota, I love North Dakota,’” Cramer said, adding that he briefly spoke with Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, before the meeting took place.
Cramer added that, as energy secretary, he would weigh technologies that help make coal production more environmentally friendly and move away from what he framed as a politicized preference for renewable energies within the Energy Department.
“It was a nice conversation -- that’s the way to put it,” Cramer said, adding that their conversation also touched on the Dakota Access Pipeline and climate change. “We talked about energy policy, basically, and we talked about the Cabinet.”
A Cabinet appointment for either Cramer or Heitkamp would prompt North Dakota’s governor to call for a special election to fill the vacated seat in Congress.