White House

Kansas’ Kris Kobach leaves two-hour meeting at Trump Tower. Will job offer follow?

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach will meet with President-elect Donald Trump in New York on Thursday.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach will meet with President-elect Donald Trump in New York on Thursday. Wichita Eagle

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach spent two hours at Trump Tower on Thursday, fueling speculation that he might be vying for a job the president-elect’s administration.

Kobach walked into the tower’s lobby at 12:19 p.m. on Thursday for his second meeting with Donald Trump since Election Day and left at 2:13 p.m. He did not respond to reporters’ questions.

A staffer in the Kansas Secretary of State's office said Thursday afternoon that they couldn’t comment on the nature of Kobach’s meeting with Trump.

Kobach, an immigration hardliner who serves as Kansas’ top election official, previously met with Trump in November, when he was photographed carrying plans for the Department of Homeland Security into Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

The document included plans for a Muslim registry, zero immigration from Syria, deportation of “criminal aliens” defined as “anyone arrested for any crime” and extreme vetting of “high-risk” immigrants by questioning them on Sharia law, gender equality, and jihad.

Kobach advised Trump on immigration issues during the campaign. Trump’s spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway also said recently he was a source for Trump’s tweet alleging without evidence that millions of people voted illegally in the presidential election.

“My gut tells me that he’s going to be a part of this administration,” said Kelly Arnold, chairman of the Kansas Republican Party.

Clay Barker, the Kansas GOP’s executive director, heard about 10 days ago that Kobach “was being looked at or negotiating” for an assistant secretary position at either Homeland Security or the Department of Justice, and that part of that process involved presenting a work portfolio to Trump.

Barker said that he no idea what Kobach discussed with Trump at Thursday’s meeting and that he wasn’t even sure whether Kobach would preside over Monday’s Electoral College vote in Kansas.

“He’s been really tight on information,” Barker said. “I mean, I’m having a hard time coordinating with his guys about the Electoral College (vote) on Monday. I don’t know if he’s actually going to be there or not.”

Kobach could designate a deputy to oversee the vote, Barker said.

The news that Kobach still might be in the running for an administration job prompted praise from Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, an organization that supports a more restrictive immigration policy.

The Southern Poverty Law Center categorizes FAIR as a hate group; FAIR disputes that characterization.

“The president-elect is assembling a strong team of highly qualified and knowledgeable individuals to fill key positions dealing with immigration,” Stein said in a statement. “Along with (Alabama Sen.) Jeff Sessions as attorney general and (retired Gen.) John Kelly at DHS, the addition of Kobach to a high level position within the administration would send a clear signal to the American people that the rule of law will be restored to our nation’s immigration system.”

Lowry of the Wichita Eagle and Hunter Woodall of the Kansas City Star contributed to this report from Topeka, Kansas.

Lindsay Wise: 202-383-6007, @lindsaywise