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Rep. Kevin Cramer under advanced consideration for energy secretary

Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., is under advanced consideration for energy secretary, he said, following a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump during which the two discussed the possibility of Cramer joining Trump’s Cabinet.

Cramer recounted the discussion to the Herald by phone Monday afternoon, hours after he said he spoke with both 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.”

If Cramer were tapped for energy secretary, he would join an administration that has already named leaders such as conservative activist Betsy DeVos for education secretary and investor Wilbur Ross Jr. as commerce secretary.

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 recently hosted Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., in New York on Dec. 2. The meeting prompted speculation that she was under consideration for a Cabinet position as well, though Heitkamp insisted that the topic wasn’t broached. Instead, the two spoke about issues like 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 one hour, beginning at about 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

“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.”

Sam Easter

Sam Easter is a City Government reporter for the Grand Forks Herald. You can reach him with story tips, comments and ideas at 701-330-3441.

(701) 780-1108