WASHINGTON, Dec. 2 - Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., met with President-elect Donald Trump for about two hours in New York for a “thoughtful and wide-ranging discussion” that included energy and rural banks, she said.
The meeting came amid speculation that she was under consideration for secretary of agriculture or another department. She declined to talk to reporters as she left Trump Tower, and a statement released by her Senate office gave no indication that a cabinet post was discussed.
“President-elect Trump and I had a thoughtful and wide ranging discussion on a variety of issues important to North Dakota and the country,” Heitkamp said in the statement.
“We talked about finding a realistic path forward for coal and combating human trafficking, as well as the Export-Import Bank and keeping jobs in the U.S., energy infrastructure including the complexities of the Dakota Access pipeline and the challenges for law enforcement as well as the Keystone pipeline, and the issues facing small community banks that help support rural towns.”
Heitkamp also said she discussed her personal background. “I look forward to working with him and all of my colleagues in Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, to reach results for North Dakota and the country," she said.
She said Thursday that she planned to discuss the rural economy with Trump, and Rep. Kevin Cramer, a North Dakota Republican who is close to the Trump operation, said Thursday that the meeting was about a USDA nomination.
However, Heitkamp’s office sent a statement to Agri-Pulse on Friday shortly before the meeting that detailed her work on energy policy and Indian affairs, all issues that fall under the Interior or Energy departments.
“She is a moderate, solutions-oriented senator who has a long record of working with both Republicans and Democrats to get results for North Dakota,” the staff statement said.
“Prior to joining the Senate, Sen. Heitkamp served for more than a decade as a director of the one-of-a-kind Dakota Gasification synfuels plant in North Dakota, and she has long work to find a realistic path forward for coal.”
Trump spokesman Jason Miller said on Thursday that Heitkamp came “very highly recommended,” was a “proven leader,” and “would be an asset in any role or capacity.” But on Friday morning, he told reporters at the transition team's daily briefing that it was "too premature" to say that "specific administration roles" were being discussed with either Heitkamp or another Democratic senator, Joe Manchin of West Virginia.