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Wall Street veterans compose Trump’s economic team

November 30, 2016 at 6:50 PM EST
President-elect Donald Trump announced two more Cabinet picks on Wednesday: Goldman Sachs veteran Steven Mnuchin for treasury secretary and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross for commerce secretary. He also chose a deputy for Ross: Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts. On Twitter, Mr. Trump said he would stay “completely out of business operations” to focus on the presidency. Lisa Desjardins reports.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: As the picture of the Cabinet President-elect Trump wants is filled in, we’re seeing more figures who reflect deep ties to Washington or Wall Street. It’s a contrast with his campaign, during which he disparaged the power centers as corrupt and out of touch with ordinary Americans.

Lisa Desjardins has our report.

LISA DESJARDINS: Two fronts for the transition of power today. In Washington, Vice President-elect Mike Pence worked on alliances with Republican leaders on Capitol Hill, as, in New York, team Trump offered more Cabinet nominees for Congress to consider, including the highest ranking yet, financier Steven Mnuchin for treasury secretary.

STEVE MNUCHIN, Secretary of the Treasury-Designate: I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to work with him in the administration. And our number one priority is going to be the economy, get back to 3 to 4 percent growth. We believe that’s very sustainable. And focus on things for the American worker. That’s absolutely our priority.

LISA DESJARDINS: Mnuchin’s resume is full of Wall Street experience, including 17 years at Goldman Sachs. He has no government experience. During the election, he headed up fund-raising operations for the Trump campaign, and had a hand in shaping candidate Trump’s message on taxes. If confirmed, he’d be tasked with turning that rhetoric into reality.

Alongside him this morning on CNBC, billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, who is Mr. Trump’s pick to be the commerce secretary and a point person on trade policy.

WILBUR ROSS, Secretary of Commerce-Designate: The real trick is going to be increase American exports. Get rid of some of the tariff and non-tariff barriers to American exports.

LISA DESJARDINS: Ross is known for turning around troubled companies, where he cuts costs and sometimes worker benefits to boost profits. He also owned the Sago coal mine in West Virginia, where a collapse killed 12 miners in 2006. He said, “It was the worst week of my entire life.”

Mr. Trump also picked out a deputy for Ross, Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts, a prominent Republican donor who, at one point in the campaign, spoke out against candidate Trump.

Mr. Trump made other jobs news today, too. Overnight, there was word that he had cut a deal with the air conditioner maker Carrier to keep 1,000 jobs in Indiana. That is most, but not all of the jobs that the company said it was going to eliminate.

Also today, there were questions about Mr. Trump’s own business future when he’s president. On Twitter, he said he would take himself — quote — “completely out of business operations,” and indicated he will explain how in a news conference in two weeks.

Also still unknown, who will be Mr. Trump’s secretary of state. The president-elect met a second time with one candidate, Mitt Romney, last night in New York. Afterwards, Mr. Trump’s former critic had warm words.

FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R-Mass.): These discussions I have had with him have been enlightening, and interesting, and engaging. I have enjoyed them very, very much.

LISA DESJARDINS: All this as Green Party candidate Jill Stein officially filed a hand recount request in Michigan, the third of three states she has pledged to verify.

For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Lisa Desjardins.

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