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South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley

Post: US ambassador to the United Nations

Previous Experience in foreign affairs: NONE

Age: 45 in January 2017

Schooling: Nikki attended Orangeburg Preparatory Schools. She graduated from Clemson University with a bachelor's degree in accounting.

Background: Born Nimrata "Nikki" Randhawa to Indian parents, Nikki Haley was raised in a Sikh household. She is currently governor of South Carolina.

During the presidential campaign, Haley supported Florida Senator Marco Rubio and then Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

Haley criticizes Trump: Haley strongly attacked Trump's proposal to ban Muslim immigrants, describing it as "un-American".

Trump criticizes Haley: "She’s weak on illegal immigration, and she certainly has no trouble asking me for campaign contributions because over the years she’s asked me for a hell of a lot of money in campaign contributions. So, it’s sort of interesting to hear her. Perhaps if I weren’t running, she would be in my office asking me for money," Trump said.

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Betsy DeVos

Post: Secretary of Education

Previous experience in education: NONE

Age: 59 in January 2017

Schooling: DeVos attended Holland Christian High School and graduated from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan with a bachelor's degree in business administration and political science.

A Trump critic: This past March, DeVos said "I don't think he [Trump] represents the Republican party. I think he is an interloper."

Background: A billionaire republican donor from Michigan and former Michigan republican party chairwoman. Her husband, who unsuccessfully ran for Michigan governor in 2006, is heir to the Amway fortune.

DeVos is described as an American politician, businesswoman, philanthropist, and “education activist”.

DeVos is an advocate of Republican-favored charter schools, which are publicly funded and set up - outside the state school system - by teachers, parents, or community groups.

Devos has also previously supported the Common Core education standards that Trump has vowed to eliminate, a federal maths and reading syllabus set up in most states. Trump calls the Common Core program a "disaster".

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Georgia Republican Congressman Tom Price

Post: secretary of Health and Human Services

Previous Experience in health and human services: Price ran an orthopedic clinic in Atlanta for 20 years before returning to Emory University as assistant professor of orthopedic surgery. He also was the director of the orthopedic clinic at Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital.

Age: 62

Schooling: Price attended Adams Jr. High and Dearborn High School in Dearborn. He graduated with an M.D. from the University of Michigan. He completed his residency at Emory University in Atlanta, and decided to settle in the suburb of Roswell, where he still lives.

Background: Price was born in Lansing, Michigan and grew up in Dearborn.

Price will play a key role in Trump’s plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Note: Trump took a more dovish tone towards repealing the Affordable Care Act after meeting with Obama).

Price has been at the center of congressional efforts to repeal Obamacare as chairman of the House Budget Committee. He was one of a handful  of GOP lawmakers to design a replacement plan for the 2010 health care law — a proposal that never received a vote in committee or on the floor of the House.

As secretary of Health and Human Services, Price could leverage his close relationship with Speaker Paul Ryan, a friend from their years together on the budget panel, to reimagine health care policy and make changes to entitlement programs such as Medicare.

Price’s own Obamacare replacement plan called for tearing down the system’s insurance exchanges, mandates and minimum requirements for health plans. It instead favored tax credits based on a policy holder’s age that would help customers buy insurance on individual markets.

Price, who was first elected in 2004, represents the prosperous 6th congressional district in the northern suburbs of Atlanta. It has been traditionally Republican and Price has easily won re-election.


The Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) oversees 11 agencies including:

Administration for Children and Families (ACF)

Administration for Community Living (ACL)

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)


Bureau of Primary Health Care

Bureau of Health Professions

Indian Health Service (IHS)

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

National Cancer Institute

National Eye Institute

National Institute on Aging

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

National Institute on Drug Abuse

National Institute of General Medical Sciences

National Institute of Mental Health

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

National Institute of Nursing Research

National Library of Medicine

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

What the agencies do: http://www.hhs.gov/about/agencies/hhs-agencies-and-offices/index.html


Sanders blasts Trump's HHS pick: 'What hypocrisy!'

The Hill  /  November 29, 2016

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Tuesday blasted President-elect Donald Trump's selection of Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) as the next Health and Human Services secretary.

While Sanders reiterated his support for some of Trump's economic policies, he criticized the president-elect's HHS selection, saying it runs counter to his campaign promises.

"Donald Trump asked workers and seniors to vote for him because he was the only Republican candidate who would not cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid - programs that are of life-and-death importance for millions of Americans," Sanders said.

"Now, he has nominated a person for secretary of Health and Human Services, Rep. Tom Price, who has a long history of wanting to do exactly the opposite of what Trump campaigned on," Sanders added.

The Vermont lawmaker outlined Price's positions and said Trump should publicly admit that his promises "were just lies."

"Rep. Price has a long history of wanting to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. What hypocrisy! Mr. Trump needs to tell the American people that what he said during the campaign were just lies, or else appoint an HHS secretary who will protect these programs and do what Trump said he would do," Sanders said.

"Chairman Price, a renowned physician, has earned a reputation for being a tireless problem solver and the go-to expert on healthcare policy, making him the ideal choice to serve in this capacity," said Trump.

"He is exceptionally qualified to shepherd our commitment to repeal and replace Obamacare and bring affordable and accessible healthcare to every American. I am proud to nominate him as Secretary of Health and Human Services," Trump added.


Tom Price, a Radical Choice for Health Secretary

The New York Times Editorial Board  /  November 30, 2016

In picking Representative Tom Price, President-elect Donald Trump has chosen as his secretary of health and human services a man intent on systematically weakening, if not demolishing, the nation’s health care safety net.

Price, a Republican from Georgia, is a fierce opponent of the Affordable Care Act, the 2010 health reform law, and beyond that, supports plans to slash Medicare and Medicaid, which cover tens of millions of elderly, disabled and low-income Americans. He is against a woman’s right to choose and has backed legislation to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding.

Trump and many Republicans have talked vaguely about plans to repeal the health reform law but suggest they might keep some popular parts of the law. Mr. Price makes no such noises. The detailed legislation he introduced most recently in 2015 would destroy the reform law and is a good indication of his philosophy in managing the nation’s largest health programs: cut benefits and leave millions with no health care at all.

His bill would, among other things, roll back the federally financed expansion of Medicaid in 31 states and the District of Columbia, taking coverage away from 14 million poor people. It would severely cut federal subsidies that help individuals and families buy policies on government-run health exchanges. The reduced subsidies would make it hard, if not impossible, for millions to afford the coverage they have gotten since the Affordable Care Act went into effect. And the bill would no longer require insurers to cover addiction treatment, birth control, maternity care, prescription drugs and other essential medical services.

As for coverage of pre-existing medical conditions — a key element of the current law, requiring insurers to sell plans to those with health problems — Price’s bill has that protection only for those who maintained continuous health coverage with any insurer for the previous 18 months. This means that insurers would not be required to sell an affordable plan to anyone who did not have coverage for, say, a month while he or she was between jobs.

Beyond his commitment to tearing apart the health care law, Price, who leads the House Budget Committee, published a budget proposal last year that would convert Medicaid into a block grant to state governments. This would reduce federal spending on the program by 34 percent by 2025, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Such a cut would inevitably cause states to offer fewer benefits and reduce the number of people covered, far beyond the 14 million who would lose their coverage if Medicaid expansion is rolled back.

Price also supports big changes to Medicare that could hurt older Americans by increasing their health care costs. A plan backed by Price and the House speaker, Paul Ryan, would turn Medicare, which covers the cost of medical care for people over 65, into a program in which people would buy private insurance through what is known as premium support. The idea is to turn Medicare into a voucher program, designed to limit federal spending while forcing seniors to bear more of the cost. Given that most American families have little or no retirement savings, this would be disastrous. It also stands in stark contrast to Trump’s campaign promise not to “cut” Medicare and Social Security.


Associated Press  /  January 16, 2017

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) last year purchased shares in a medical device manufacturer days before introducing legislation that would have directly benefited the company.

Price is Trump's nominee for Health and Human Services secretary.

Price bought between $1,001 to $15,000 worth of shares last March in Zimmer Biomet, according to House records.

Less than a week after the transaction, the Georgia Republican congressman introduced the HIP Act, legislation that would have delayed until 2018 a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services regulation that industry analysts warned would significantly hurt Zimmer Biomet financially once fully implemented.

Zimmer Biomet, one of the world's leading manufacturers of knee and hip implants, was one of two companies that would been hit the hardest by the new CMS regulation that directly impacts the payments for such procedures.

After Price offered his bill to provide Zimmer Biomet and other companies relief from the CMS regulation, the company's political action committee donated to the congressman's reelection campaign.

The new revelation is the latest example of Price trading stock in a health care firm at the same time as pursuing legislation that could impact a company's share price.

The issue has become a major liability for the congressman after The Wall Street Journal reported last month that he traded roughly $300,000 in shares over the past four years in health companies while pursuing legislation that could impact them.

Concerns over insider trading on Capitol Hill, where members of Congress traded stock based on intelligence gleaned from the legislative process, prompted the enactment of the STOCK Act in 2012 aimed at combating the practice.

Price sat on an influential Ways and Means subcommittee that directly oversees health care policy. Over the last year-and-a-half, Price raised objections to the CMS regulation that proposed major changes to how providers and manufacturers are paid and reimbursed for hip and knee implants through Medicare.

Medical device manufacturers were poised to be hit the hardest by the new regulation, posing a significant threat to Zimmer Biomet.

In September 2015, Price spearheaded a letter to Andy Slavitt, the acting administrator of CMS, asking that the regulation be delayed because it "represents a significant change to our healthcare delivery system which could have a negative impact on patient choice, access and quality."

Two days after the letter, Zimmer Biomet's PAC wrote Price's reelection committee a check for $1,000.

When CMS didn't listen to Price, the congressman unveiled his legislation to delay implementing the regulation until 2018, with the bill coming days after investing in the company, whose shares were selling for $103.59 at the time.

Three months after he introduced the bill, the company's PAC wrote Price's campaign committee another $1,000 check.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has now called for an ethics investigation into Price.

"This new report makes clear that this isn't just a couple of questionable trades, but rather a clear and troubling pattern of congressman Price trading stock and using his office to benefit the companies in which he is investing," said Schumer. "The Office of Congressional Ethics needs to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation into these potential violations of the STOCK Act before Rep. Price's nomination moves forward."



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Elaine Chao

Post: Secretary of Transportation

Previous experience: Deputy Secretary of Transportation under President George H. W. Bush (1989-1991);

Secretary of Labor under President George W. Bush (2001-2009);

Director of the Peace Corps;

Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission;

Deputy maritime administrator;

White House Fellow.

Age: 63 (64 next March)

Schooling: Chao attended Tsai Hsing Elementary School in Taipei for kindergarten and first grade, and Syosset High School in Syosset, Long Island, New York.

She received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, in 1975 and an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1979.

Chao has received 36 honorary doctorates, most recently a Doctor of Humane Letters from Georgetown University.

Background: Elaine Chao was born in Taipei, Taiwan. Her parents had fled from Shanghai to Taiwan in 1949 when the Communists took over the mainland. Chao arrived in the U.S. with her family in 1961 at age 8.

Chao is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. They married in 1993.

Trump says Chao will play a key role in carrying out his campaign pledge to revitalize U.S. infrastructure with up to $1 trillion in funding, a goal that will require broad support from Congress.

“Secretary Chao’s extensive record of strong leadership and her expertise are invaluable assets in our mission to rebuild our infrastructure in a fiscally responsible manner. She has an amazing life story and has helped countless Americans in her public service career," said Trump in a statement.

"The President-elect has outlined a clear vision to transform our country's infrastructure, accelerate economic growth and productivity, and create good paying jobs across the country. I am honored to be nominated by the President-elect to serve my beloved country as Transportation Secretary,” said Chao in a statement.

“Chao has a distinguished record of serving the nation and has already shown she can work effectively with members on both sides of the aisle. Her leadership will benefit the Department of Transportation in guiding investment in our infrastructure and making transportation safer and better for the public,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Commerce Committee, which oversees trucking policy.

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Steven Mnuchin (pronounced mah-NEW-chin)

Post: Secretary of the Treasury Department

The Treasury secretary is the chief navigator of the nation’s economy, overseeing the collection of taxes, the imposition of foreign sanctions, managing the public debt and serving as the chief connection between the administration and the financial markets and the business community.

Previous experience: None

Age: 53 (54 in December)

Schooling: Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University

Background: Steven Terner Mnuchin is an American banker, film producer, and political fundraiser. He was made partner at Goldman Sachs at age 31 and remained there for 17 years. Mnuchin’s father worked at Goldman Sachs for 33 years, and his brother Alan was a Goldman Sachs vice president. Mnuchin made a $40 million fortune at Goldman Sachs, and more at his own private-equity fund. He then founded the motion picture firm, RatPac-Dune Entertainment.

Co-Founder, Co-Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Dune Capital Management LP.

Finance Chairman of Trump campaign from May 2016.

Co-founded OneWest Bank Group LLC in 2004 and served as its Chairman and CEO

Founder of Dune Real Estate Partners LP

An Investment Professional of Soros Fund Management LLC.

Chairman and CEO of IMB Holdco LLC.

CEO at SFM Capital Management from 2003 to 2004.

Executive Vice President at SFM from February 2001

Co-Chief Information Officer at SFM from February 2001 to December 2001.

Member of the Executive Office at SFM from December 1999 to February 2001.

Responsible at SFM for overseeing mortgages, U.S. governments, money markets, and municipals in the fixed income, currency, and commodities division from December 1998 to November 1999.

Head of the Mortgage Securities Department at SFM from November 1994 to December 1998.

Chief Information Officer at Goldman Sachs from December 2001.

Entertainment Business: Mnuchin financed American Sniper, Gravity, Avatar, and Life of Pi. Non-Executive Co-Chairman of Relativity Media, LLC since October 2014.

Past chairman of CIT Bank, National Association.

Past chairman of OneWest Bank N.A.

Past vice chairman of ESL Investments, Inc. since 2003 and serves as its Director.

Director of CIT Bank, National Association.

Independent Director of Sears Holdings Corporation since 2005.

Director on the Yale Development Board.

Member of the Board of Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles (MOCA), New York Presbyterian Hospital, the Los Angeles Police Foundation, Life Trustee of New York Presbyterian Hospital and UCLA Health System Board.

Vice chairman of CIT Group Inc. from January 2, 2016 to March 31, 2016 and previously served in the same role from August 8, 2015 to December 12, 2015.

Director of CIT Group Inc. since August 2015.

He is divorced twice and currently engaged.

If confirmed by the Senate, Mnuchin will join a list of prominent bankers who moved from Wall Street to Washington, including two of his former bosses at Goldman, Henry Paulson and Robert Rubin, who were both top Goldman executives before joining the treasury department. Rubin, who served under Bill Clinton from 1995 to 1999, was a former co-chairman of Goldman and Paulson was CEO between 1998 and 2006 before a three-year stint in government that spanned the financial crisis.

Mnuchin’s close ties to an industry he would be in charge of regulating have the potential to complicate his confirmation and could undermine Trump’s populist message. While campaigning, Trump frequently lambasted big banks, Goldman Sachs in particular, advocating the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall legislation that once separated retail and investment banks.

Mnuchin was deeply involved in running a bank that had been at the heart of the subprime housing bust, eventually selling it for billions of dollars in profit.

Mnuchin has given mostly to Democrats in recent years. He gave the maximum $2,300 to Hillary Clinton’s presidential primary bid in 2007. When her campaign failed, he donated the maximum to then-Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential run. Mnuchin also has given to several other Democratic presidential campaigns over the years, including those of John Edwards, John Kerry and Al Gore.

After leaving Goldman Sachs, Mnuchin worked for billionaire investor George Soros, a well-known Democratic donor. He then founded his own private-equity fund, Dune Capital Management. Among its most notable investments was the purchase of IndyMac from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation during the depths of the financial crisis in 2009. Dune led a consortium of investors including John Paulson, Chris Flowers, George Soros and Michael Dell, who bought the failed subprime lender for about $1.6 billion, and Mnuchin oversaw the rebuilding of its business as CEO of the renamed OneWest. Under Mnuchin, the bank more than doubled its branches and increased its assets. But it also faced criticism from advocacy groups who complained about aggressive foreclosure tactics. At one point, activists marched to Mnuchin’s home in the Bel Air area of Los Angeles to protest its treatment of customers.

In 2014, OneWest was sold to financial services firm CIT Group for $3.4 billion. Mnuchin is on CIT’s board of directors. He owns $100 million in company stock.





“So much for draining the swamp,” said Adam Hodge, communications director for the Democratic National Committee, on Tuesday. “Nominating Steve Mnuchin to be Treasury secretary — a billionaire hedge fund manager and Goldman Sachs alumnus who preyed on homeowners struggling during the recession — is a slap in the face to voters who hoped he would shake up Washington.”


Trump reverses stance by turning to Goldman alumni for key roles

The Financial Times  /  November 30, 2016

President-elect’s change of heart over Wall St bank veterans is a political gamble

It is less than four weeks since Donald Trump ran an attack ad on Hillary Clinton, using an image of Goldman Sachs chief Lloyd Blankfein to illustrate how the Democratic candidate favored big business over small people.

But since winning the presidential election, Trump has turned to Goldman veteran after Goldman veteran.

Stephen Bannon, appointed head of strategy, was a former M&A banker at Goldman Sachs.

Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s pick for Treasury secretary, had 17 years in various roles at Goldman Sachs.

Gary Cohn, Goldman Sach’s president and chief operating officer, could complete a hat-trick of appointments if he caps a 25-year career at the bank with a move into government. Cohn had a lengthy meeting with Trump on Tuesday afternoon.

So far at least, “it’s not been a swamp-draining exercise,” said Doug Landy, a partner at US law firm Milbank.

But analysts note that Trump has gone where other administrations led. Goldman people have played outsized roles in previous governments, whatever the political climate around ties to Wall Street.

Robert Rubin and Hank Paulson both ran Goldman before becoming Treasury chiefs under presidents Bill Clinton and George W Bush, respectively.

During the 2008-09 financial crisis and its aftermath, the corridors of power were stuffed with so many ex-Goldman people — including Neel Kashkari, a former assistant secretary of the Treasury for Financial Stability, and Gary Gensler at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission — that people began to refer to “Government Sachs”.

Goldman is by no means the only springboard into positions of power and influence. Citigroup has also been a rich source of state appointees in recent years, from Jack Lew, the current Treasury secretary, to Stanley Fischer, vice-chairman of the Federal Reserve.

But Goldman appointees, above all, seem to carry a certain cachet.

“They’re obviously very competent people and they work long and hard on connections,” said Simon Johnson, a professor of global economics and management at MIT. “They figured out before the competition that finance is about connections, and how to position yourself. The business of government is extremely profitable, and they’re good at it.”

Goldman’s network spreads well beyond the US. Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, is a Goldman alumnus, as is Mario Draghi at the European Central Bank.

In the summer José Manuel Barroso, ex-president of the European Commission, took up a position as non-executive chair of Goldman Sachs International, the bank’s largest subsidiary.

Analysts note that Mnuchin is by no means assured of becoming the 77th Treasury secretary. Isaac Boltansky at Compass Point in Washington said the confirmation hearings will be “bumpy,” given his Goldman ties and his involvement in the crisis-era purchase of IndyMac, the fourth largest bank failure in the history of the US.

They also note that the president-elect is taking a gamble with such an obvious reversal of his earlier stance. During the campaign, Trump made much of the highly paid speeches Clinton gave to Goldman and other Wall Street banks. He also accused his rival for the Republican nomination, Ted Cruz, of being “controlled” by Goldman.

Maxine Waters, a Democratic ranking member of the House of Representatives’ financial services committee, said on Wednesday that Trump showed “his true colors” by backing Mnuchin.




Donald Trump’s nominee for Treasury secretary made millions buying failed IndyMac and has résumé at odds with president-elect’s campaign rhetoric

The Wall Street Journal  /  November 30, 2016

On a muggy morning in July 2008, hundreds of customers stood outside IndyMac Bank branches in Southern California, trying to pull their savings from the lender, which was doomed by losses on risky mortgages.

Steven Mnuchin didn’t know much about IndyMac as he watched the scenes on CNBC from his Midtown Manhattan office. But he immediately saw an opportunity and began figuring out how to buy the bank.

Regulators seized IndyMac, foreshadowing a vicious banking crisis. Six months later, Mnuchin and his investment partners acquired IndyMac with a helping hand from the U.S. government. The deal eventually earned him hundreds of millions of dollars in personal profits.

The former Goldman Sachs partner, Hollywood financier and hedge-fund manager now is President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for Treasury secretary. Like other Trump cabinet picks, Mnuchin has a résumé that is at odds with much of the president-elect’s populist rhetoric on the campaign trail.

Trump is building a cabinet that combines traditional Republican Party leanings with unconventional elements, including people who made their fortunes by taking big investment risks.

IndyMac was the defining deal of Mnuchin’s career. He knew that the government needed to sell the failed bank—and he played hardball.

In an interview Tuesday, Mnuchin said he is proud of the transformation at Pasadena, Californina-based IndyMac. “We turned around a huge economic disaster,” he said.

Mnuchin, 53 years old, has no experience in government or running a large organization, though he was a campaign loyalist and fundraiser for Trump.

Mnuchin’s political views are a secret even to some of his associates. If confirmed by the Senate, the defining traits he will bring as the 77th Treasury secretary include a Wall Street pedigree, long relationship with Trump, and a history of moving fast to seize opportunities that might terrify others.

In the interview, Mnuchin said the new administration’s goal would be to achieve annual economic growth of 3% to 4%. He said his top policy priorities would be to overhaul the federal tax code, roll back certain financial regulations, review trade agreements and invest in infrastructure.

Mnuchin is regarded within the Trump transition team’s inner circle as a skilled team player. Trump’s advisers say Mnuchin will fuse traditional Republican Party support for lower taxes and less regulation with the president-elect’s populist stances on trade and infrastructure.

“Trump, like Ronald Reagan, would go outside of the box,” says Mnuchin. He said Trump won’t hesitate to call up corporate chiefs to lean on them about jobs, factory closures and other matters.

The IndyMac deal will likely be a feature of Mnuchin’s confirmation process. Senator Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate committee that will hold hearings on the proposed appointment, said Tuesday that Mnuchin has a “history of profiting off the victims of predatory lending.”

Foreclosures on the homes of delinquent IndyMac borrowers sparked protests outside Mnuchin’s mansion in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles. The bank, which was renamed OneWest Bank and is now part of CIT Group, is under civil investigation by the Department of Housing and Urban Development for loan-servicing practices.

Mnuchin, whose father spent his entire career at Goldman, came of age on Wall Street in the 1980s as the business of slicing loans into securities was booming. As a mortgage banker at Goldman, he saw the savings-and-loan crisis and efforts by the government to wind down hundreds of insolvent financial institutions.

Colleagues recall Mnuchin’s ability to quickly weigh the risks involved in particular trades. He made partner in 1994 and oversaw Goldman’s mortgage-trading desk before becoming chief information officer.

Dinner parties

Like other partners, he earned tens of millions of dollars when Goldman became a publicly traded company in 1999. He bought a 6,500-square-foot apartment in a famous Park Avenue building. Mnuchin and Trump were soon in the same philanthropic and social circles, attending dinner parties at each other’s Manhattan homes and mingling at the U.S. Open tennis tournament and the Metropolitan Museum of Art Gala.

The reserved Mnuchin never struck colleagues as a political animal but contributed regularly to political campaigns.

Mnuchin said he has been a registered Republican for “as long as I can remember,” yet he also gave a total of $7,400 since 2000 to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaigns.

Mnuchin donated to the campaigns of Democrats Barack Obama, John Edwards, John Kerry and Al Gore. The only Republican presidential candidate Mnuchin gave money to was Mitt Romney in 2012.

In 2002, Mnuchin left Goldman and wound up running an investment fund set up by billionaire investor George Soros. Soros was a big contributor to the super PAC backing Hillary Clinton in her unsuccessful presidential campaign this year and has donated to other groups

Mnuchin and two former Goldman colleagues struck out on their own in 2004 with a new hedge fund, Dune Capital Management LP, which received financial backing from Soros. Mnuchin soon steered Dune into the business of financing Hollywood films, which began to elevate his public profile. He also was part of a group that lent money to Trump for a Chicago condominium project.

When IndyMac unraveled in 2008, the images of customers lined up around corners and across parking lots became an enduring symbol of the financial crisis. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. officials descended on IndyMac’s headquarters on July 11 and shut down the bank.

It was the second-largest bank failure of the crisis, surpassed only by Washington Mutual Inc. in September 2008.

Federal officials expected to suffer as much as $8 billion in losses from IndyMac. That left regulators looking for someone to take over the bank and mitigate the damage. Speed was essential, since the FDIC was bracing for a wave of additional bank failures.

Mnuchin assembled an all-star cast drawn from his years on Wall Street, including Soros, hedge-fund manager John Paulson, billionaire Michael Dell’s investment firm and several former Goldman executives, including J. Christopher Flowers. They signed up on the basis that Mnuchin would personally run the bank.

By now, he knew that few bidders would be willing to buy all the failed bank’s assets. And he knew he was taking a giant risk.

At the end of 2008, Mnuchin persuaded the FDIC to sell IndyMac for about $1.5 billion. The deal included IndyMac branches, deposits and assets. The FDIC also agreed to protect the buyers from the most severe losses for years. That loss-sharing arrangement turned out to be a master stroke.

Mnuchin threw himself into managing IndyMac, where he became chairman and CEO of the parent company. He moved from New York to California. To accomplish his goal of a quick turnaround, Mnuchin needed to deal with IndyMac’s bad mortgages and other assets, a job made easier by the FDIC’s agreement.

Mnuchin set out to refashion OneWest as a plain-vanilla lender that eschewed the unconventional mortgages that got IndyMac in trouble. It was a major provider of Alt-A loans, a category between prime and subprime that often involved borrowers who didn’t fully document their income or assets.

He began scouting opportunities for OneWest to buy other small lenders. Before long, OneWest had doubled the number of branches that IndyMac had when it failed. OneWest often paid more than other banks for deposits, helping it attract new customers while interest rates were unusually low.

Sharing the losses

Banks often go out of their way to avoid losses, even when borrowers are in violation of loan terms. The loss-sharing agreement took away some of the disincentives, since future losses would be borne partly by the government.

In October 2011, dozens of activists gathered outside his mansion to protest OneWest’s evictions, waving signs and shouting angry slogans. Mnuchin said he was rattled, and OneWest agreed to pay for security services at his home.

Mnuchin said Tuesday it was “unfortunate that anyone was foreclosed, [but] all these loans were originated under previous management.”

In 2013, OneWest had more than $300 million in profits, nearly equal to what IndyMac earned in 2006. It had a loss of $767 million in the first half of 2008.

Mnuchin’s next step was to sell. He toyed with the idea of taking OneWest public. Then a better option came along. Another Goldman veteran, former Merrill Lynch & Co. Chief Executive John Thain, had taken over commercial lender CIT Group Inc. and was trying to fortify its finances. OneWest was a source of stable deposits.

In July 2014, CIT agreed to buy OneWest for $3.4 billion, a bounty of more than $3 billion, including dividends. Mnuchin’s take was several hundred million dollars, according to a person familiar with the matter. He stayed on at CIT.

After the sale, newly discovered accounting problems forced CIT to take a $230 million charge.

It inherited another problem from nearly $40 million of loans OneWest made in 2014 to struggling film studio Relativity Media LLC, in which Mnuchin was a big investor through his Dune Capital hedge fund.

Relativity filed for bankruptcy less than a year later, and CIT struggled to get the loans repaid. A film-financing company that also was owed money by Relativity accused OneWest of getting favorable repayments because of Mnuchin’s dual roles at the bank and the studio.

Mnuchin left CIT amid a management shake-up announced last year, receiving a $10.9 million severance payment. His exit came just as Trump’s bid for the Republican nomination was gaining momentum. “The timing worked out well,” said Mnuchin.

Before formally launching his presidential bid, Trump turned to Mnuchin for advice over dinner. Mnuchin helped write a tax-cutting plan and tried to rein in some of Trump’s populist rhetoric, including his vow to not “let Wall street get away with murder.”

“I don’t think he has negative views on Wall Street,” Mnuchin said of Trump in the earlier interview.

When Trump delivered his victory speech after the New York primary in April, Mnuchin stood behind him and took photos of the crowd with his cellphone. The next morning, Trump asked if he would consider taking the role of national finance chairman, an operation that had previously relied largely on Trump’s own bank account. Mnuchin agreed.

Mnuchin had no previous experience in political fundraising and the finance operation endured early setbacks. It eventually got on track.

Mnuchin, who divorced his second wife in 2014, brought his fiancée, Scottish actress Louise Linton, on the Trump campaign plane, where she got to see a draft of one of his foreign-policy speeches, she wrote in an Instagram post.

Since Election Night, Mnuchin has been commuting from Los Angeles to New York and has been a regular presence inside Trump Tower as the president-elect works on the transition team.

Trump’s financial agenda, which Mnuchin would lead as Treasury secretary, has ignited a broad stock-market rally. CIT shares are up about 13%, increasing the value of Mnuchin’s stake by about $11 million. It is now worth more than $100 million.


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Wilbur Ross Jr. (nicknamed the “King of Bankrupcty”)

Post: Secretary of Commerce

Previous experience: None

Age: 79  (born November 28, 1937)

Schooling: Ross attended the elite Catholic college preparatory Xavier High School in Manhattan, later earning a Bachelor of Arts/Science degree at Yale University (also his father's alma mater). Ross’s faculty adviser at Yale helped him get his first summer job on Wall Street. He earned his MBA at Harvard Business School.

Marriages: Judith (Nodine) Ross (May 26, 1961-October 1995, divorced); Betsy (McCaughey) Ross (December 7, 1995-August 2000, divorced); Hilary (Geary) Ross (October 9, 2004-present).

Background: An American investor, and former banker, known for restructuring failed companies in industries such as steel, coal, telecommunications, foreign investment and textiles. He specializes in leveraged buyouts and distressed businesses. As of August 2014, Forbes lists Ross having a net worth of $2.9 billion.

Ross was born in Weehawken, New Jersey, and grew up in an affluent family. His father, Wilbur Louis Ross, Sr., was a lawyer who later became a judge, and his mother, Agnes was a school teacher.

1976-2000 - Ross works 25 years for the investment bank Rothschild Inc. During his tenure, he becomes a top bankruptcy adviser.

January 1998 - Ross pledges $2.25 million towards then-wife and Lt. Governor Betsy McCaughey Ross's campaign for Governor of New York. He withdraws the funding in September and files for divorce in November.

2000 - Purchases a small fund he started at Rothschild and opens his own private equity firm, WL Ross & Co. LLC.

2002 - Establishes the International Steel Group (ISG), with himself as chairman of the board, through a series of mergers and acquisitions starting with Bethlehem Steel Corp.

December 2003 - ISG goes public.

2004 - Ross forms the International Coal Group (ICG) after purchasing the assets of Horizon Natural Resources in a bankruptcy auction.

October 2004 - Merges ISG with Mittal Steel for $4.5 billion.

January 2, 2006 - A West Virginia explosion at the Sago Mine, operated by ICG subsidiary Wolf Run Mining Co., leads to the death of 12 miners. Families of the dead and Randal McCloy, the lone survivor, sue ICG and WL Ross & Co. claiming negligence. All of the lawsuits are settled by November 2011.

April 2010 - Purchases a 21% stake in Richard Branson's Virgin Money. In November 2011, Ross helps Branson fund a successful bid for the British bank Northern Rock.

August 2, 2010 - In an interview with Charlie Rose, Ross states that he's fine with higher taxes on the wealthy as long as the government puts the money to good use.

June 2011 - Arch Coal, Inc. acquires International Coal Group (ICG) for $3.4 billion.

September 2011 - W.L. Ross & Co. is among a group of five American and Canadian investors who purchase a 34.9% stake in the Bank of Ireland. Ross' share is 9.3%.

March 2016 - Ranked number 595 on the annual Forbes World's Billionaires list, with an estimated net worth of $2.9 billion.

March 21, 2016 - Nexeo Solutions, a chemical distribution company, announces their merger agreement with W.L. Ross Holding Corporation. The merger is valued at $1,575 million.

August 24, 2016 - The SEC announces that W.L. Ross & Co will pay a $2.3 million fine for failing to properly disclose fees it charged. The firm refused to admit to any wrongdoing.

“Part of the reason why I’m supporting Trump is that I think we need a more radical, new approach to government – at least in the U.S. – from what we’ve had before,” Ross explained. “I think the reason why the Trump phenomenon has become so important … is because middle class and lower middle class America has not really benefited by the last 10 to 15 years of economic activity and they’re sick and tired of it and they want something different.”

Wilbur Ross Jr. / CNBC / June 15, 2016




Ross escalates Trump trade criticism against Beijing

The Financial Times  /  January 18, 2017

Commerce Secretary nominee labels China ‘most protectionist’ major economy
The billionaire businessman set to oversee trade policy for President Trump has hit back at Chinese leader Xi Jinping and his bid to become the leading advocate for globalization, calling China the “most protectionist” major economy in the world.

The criticism by Wilbur Ross, made at his confirmation hearing to become Trump’s commerce secretary, is the latest in criticism from Trump and his economic advisers against Beijing which has already sparked concerns of a US-China trade war.

“They talk much more about free trade than they actually practice,” Ross told the Senate commerce committee on Wednesday. “China is the most protectionist country of very large countries.”

Ross’s remarks come a day after President Xi used his appearance at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos to push back against rising protectionism, widely seen as an effort by the Chinese leader to takeover international leadership in the global economy from the United States.

Ross is expected to play a much more prominent role in setting US trade policy than his predecessors at commerce. Trump aids say the former investment banker will lead the new administration’s trade team. That would put the 79-year-old in charge of delivering the “America First” agenda that was at the center of Trump’s presidential campaign.

Ross has been Trump’s most outspoken critic of existing international trade relations, saying previous administrations have engaged in “dumb trade” with China and Mexico.

At the hearing, Ross said he was a free trader who would be focused on trying to increase US exports to boost economic growth.

“I am not anti-trade. I am pro-trade,” Ross said. “But I am pro-sensible trade, not pro-trade that is to the disadvantage of the American worker and the American manufacturing industry.”

Despite Trump’s recent threats against automakers that they would face import levies unless they built cars for the US market inside the US, Ross said he was mindful of the lessons of the 1930s when US-imposed tariffs helped extend and deepen the Great Depression.

“Tariffs do have a useful role in correcting inappropriate practices,” Ross said. But he added: “I am keenly aware of [1930s-era tariff acts] and the effect that it had. If nothing else we can learn the lessons of history. If it didn’t work very well then it likely wouldn’t work very well now.”

Trump threatened during the campaign to impose a 45 percent tariff on Chinese imports. He has also threatened to impose a 35 percent “border tax” on imports from Mexico. Those threats, Ross told senators, had been useful in signaling to countries like China and Mexico that “change is coming” and laying the ground for negotiations.

“When you start out with your adversary understanding that he or she is going to have to make concessions, that’s a pretty good background to begin,” he said.

Ross said his first priority would be to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico, as Trump promised during the campaign.

The Trump administration is expected to notify those countries within days that it wants to reopen the pact. But he repeatedly singled out China as a major offender in the global economy.

“It’s a little weird that we have very low tariffs and China has very high tariffs,” Ross said. “That seems to me to be a bit of an imbalance. It’s one thing to talk about free trade. We would like our trading partners to practice more free trade.”

A third of China’s state-owned companies were on the verge of failure, Ross said, supported only by low-cost loans from state-run banks and other subsidies.

China also was at the centre of global problems of overcapacity in steel and other industries.

Ross promised to take a more aggressive approach towards anti-dumping cases, raising the possibility that he would become the first US commerce secretary since the 1990s to take advantage of rules allowing the “self-initiation” of anti-dumping cases normally brought by industry.

Ross also said the Trump administration would crack down further on dumping by countries such as China, blaming it for a collapse in global prices for steel and aluminum.

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James N. Mattis, USMC General (retired)

Post: Secretary of Defense

Commands held in the U.S. military

     U.S. Central Command

     U.S. Joint Forces Command

     Supreme Allied Commander of Transformation for NATO

     I Marine Expeditionary Force

     U.S. Marine Forces Central Command (Middle East excluding Israel)

     Marine Corps Combat Development Command

     1st Marine Division

     7th Marine Regiment

     1st Battalion, 7th Marines

Age: 66 (Born September 8, 1950)

Schooling: Mattis graduated from Columbia High School in Richland, Washington, in 1968. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Central Washington University. Mattis is a graduate of the U.S. Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare School, U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and the National War College.

Background: Mattis was born on September 8, 1950 in Pullman, Washington.

Since retirement from the military, Mattis has worked for FWA Consultants and also serves on General Dynamics Board of Directors.

In August 2013, he became an Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution, an American public policy think tank and research institution located at California’s Stanford University.

Mattis is noted for his intellectualism and interest in military history.

Mattis is a life-long bachelor. He has never been married and has no children.

Red Flag: In mid-2012, a Department of Defense official evaluating Theranos's blood-testing technology for military use initiated a formal inquiry with the Food and Drug Administration about the company's intent to distribute its tests without FDA clearance. In August 2012, via email, Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes asked Mattis, who had expressed interest in testing Theranos's technology in combat areas, to help. Within hours, Mattis forwarded his email exchange with Holmes to military officials, asking "how do we overcome this new obstacle." Since 2013, Mattis has been a Theranos board member, a controversial Silicon Valley biotech company with criticized corporate governance practices. In a July 2013 letter from the Department of Defense approving his possible employment by Theranos, Mattis was given permission with conditions. He was cautioned to do so only if he did not represent Theranos with regards to the blood testing device and its potential acquisition by the Departments of the Navy or Defense. Theranos is under criminal investigation. http://www.wsj.com/articles/theranos-is-subject-of-criminal-probe-by-u-s-1461019055

Instead of attributing the Middle East’s atrocities to radical Islam, Mattis blames regional anti-Western hostility on the perception of the injustice of oppression suffered by Palestinians under the Israeli occupation. At the 2013 Aspen Security Forum, speaking about the Israeli-Palestinian situation, Mattis said “I paid a military security price every day as the commander of CENTCOM because the Americans were seen as biased in support of Israel.” Calling Israeli control of Judea and Samaria “unsustainable,” Mattis warned that Jewish “settlements” could turn Israel into an “apartheid state.”

Before deploying to Iraq, Mattis ensured his troops were given courses on Arab culture and cultural sensitivity classes.

Note: Mattis will need Congress to pass new legislation to bypass a federal law stating that defense secretaries must not have been on active duty in the previous seven years. The National Security Act of 1947 states a general must wait 10 years from leaving active duty before becoming defense secretary. An exception was granted on a one-time basis for Gen. George C. Marshall in 1950, with lawmakers saying in special legislation at the time that it was the “sense of the Congress that after General Marshall leaves the office of Secretary of Defense, no additional appointments of military men to that office shall be approved.”

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Benjamin Solomon "Ben" Carson

Post: Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

Previous experience: NONE

Age: 65  (born September 18. 1951)

Schooling: Carson attended Southwestern High School in Southwest Detroit, where he participated in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), reaching the rank of cadet colonel.

In his autobiography, Carson claimed to have been offered scholarships to both the University of Michigan and West Point, though the latter one was disputed during Carson's 2016 presidential run.

Carson graduated from Yale University in 1973 with a degree in psychology.

Carson received his medical degree from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1977.

After medical school, Carson completed his residency in neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.

In 1983, he accepted the position of senior registrar at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth, Western Australia, spending one year there.

Upon returning to Johns Hopkins in 1984, Carson was appointed the university's Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery, specializing in traumatic brain injuries, brain and spinal cord tumors, achondroplasia, neurological and congenital disorders, craniosynostosis, epilepsy, and trigeminal neuralgia.

At Johns Hopkins, Carson figured in the revival of the hemispherectomy, a drastic surgical procedure in which part or all of one hemisphere of the brain is removed to control severe pediatric epilepsy. Carson refined the procedure in the 1980s and performed it many times.

In 1987, Carson gained notoriety as the lead neurosurgeon of a 70-member surgical team that separated conjoined twins Patrick and Benjamin Binder, who had been joined at the back of the head.

On July 1, 2013, Carson retired as a surgeon, saying: "I'd much rather quit when I'm at the top of my game."

Background: Carson was born in Detroit, Michigan. His father was a minister and later Cadillac factory worker. Both parents came from Georgia and were living in Tennessee when they met and married. Carson's mother was 13 when she married Carson's father, who was 28. Carson's mother subsequently discovered her husband had another family, for which Carson's father eventually abandoned her. Following his parents' divorce, when Carson was 8-years-old, both he and his older brother, Curtis, were raised by their mother, who worked two or three jobs at a time, usually as a domestic servant.

Trump says he was “thrilled to nominate” Carson, saying the retired neurosurgeon had “a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities. Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a presidency representing all Americans.

Carson would oversee a budget of nearly $50 billion that provides rental assistance for more than 5 million households. Demand for that assistance is high in part because housing costs are rising faster than incomes. HUD also promotes home ownership with the Federal Housing Administration underwriting about 1 in 6 mortgages issued in the U.S. The agency also enforces federal fair housing laws.

On November 15, Carson’s business manager and close friend Armstrong Williams said: "Dr. Carson feels he has no government experience, he's never run a federal agency. The last thing he would want to do was take a position that could cripple the presidency."

On November 23, Carson said “After serious discussions with the Trump transition team, I feel that I can make a significant contribution particularly to making our inner cities great for everyone. We have much work to do in strengthening every aspect of our nation and ensuring that both our physical infrastructure and our spiritual infrastructure is solid.”

We appreciate Dr Carson’s willingness to take on such a challenging task at an agency that is in need of reform to better serve all Americans,” said Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate majority leader and husband of transportation secretary nominee Elaine Chao. “I’m confident his life-long career of selfless service will be a positive addition to the incoming administration.”

Dr Ben Carson is a disconcerting and disturbingly unqualified choice to lead a department as complex and consequential as Housing and Urban Development,” said Nancy Pelosi, the Democrats’ leader in the House of Representatives. “There is no evidence that Dr Carson brings the necessary credentials to hold a position with such immense responsibilities and impact on families and communities across America.”

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John F. Kelly, USMC General (retired)

Post: Secretary of Homeland Security

Age: 66 (Born May 11, 1950)

Schooling: Received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Massachusetts Boston in 1976, and later a Master of Arts degree from Georgetown University. Kelly later attended the Marine Corps Command and Staff College and National War College.

Background: Kelly was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts.

Kelly enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1970, and was discharged as a sergeant in 1972, after serving in an infantry company with the 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, NC.

Following graduation from the University of Massachusetts in 1976, he was commissioned and returned to the 2nd Marine Division where he served as a rifle and weapons platoon commander, company executive officer, assistant operations officer, and infantry company commander.

He then served aboard the Mayport, Florida-based aircraft carriers USS Forrestal and USS Independence.

In 1980, then Captain Kelly transferred to the U.S. Army's Infantry Officer Advanced Course in Fort Benning, GA. After graduation, he was assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, DC, serving there from 1981 through 1984, as an assignment monitor.

Kelly returned to the 2nd Marine Division in 1984, to command a rifle and weapons company. Promoted to the rank of Major in 1987, he served as the battalion's operations officer.

In 1987, Major Kelly transferred to the Basic School, Quantico, VA, serving first as the head of the Offensive Tactics Section, Tactics Group, and later assuming the duties of the Director of the Infantry Officer Course. After three years of instructing young officers, he attended the Marine Corps Command and Staff College and School for Advanced Warfare at Quantico.

Completing duty under instruction and selected for Lieutenant Colonel, Kelly was assigned for two years as Commanding Officer, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, CA.

Kelly returned to the East Coast in 1994, to attend the National War College in Washington, DC. He graduated in 1995, and was selected to serve as the Commandant's Liaison Officer to the U.S. House of Representatives, Capitol Hill, where he was promoted to the rank of Colonel.

In 1999, Kelly transferred to joint duty and served as the Special Assistant to the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, in Mons, Belgium.

Kelly returned to the United States in 2001, and was assigned to a third tour of duty at Camp Lejeune, now as the Assistant Chief of Staff G-3 with the 2nd Marine Division.

In 2002, selected to the rank of Brigadier General, Kelly again served with the 1st Marine Division, this time as the Assistant Division Commander, spending much of his two-year assignment in Iraq.

Kelly then returned to Headquarters Marine Corps as the Legislative Assistant to the Commandant from 2004 to 2007.

Promoted to major general, he returned to Camp Pendleton as the Commanding General, I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward). The command deployed to Iraq in early 2008 for a year-long mission, replacing II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) as Multinational Force-West in Al Anbar and western Ninewa provinces.

Kelly commanded Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North from October 2009 to March 2011.

Kelly  was Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense from March 2011 to October 2012.

Kelly commanded the United States Southern Command from November 2012 to January 2016 when he retired.


"Hell, these are Marines.  Men like them held Guadalcanal and took Iwo Jima. Bagdad ain't shit." ~ Marine Major General John F. Kelly


Kelly’s hawkish testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2015 led to a meeting with Trump on November 19 at his New Jersey country club.

In my opinion, the relative ease with which human smugglers moved tens of thousands of people to our nation’s doorstep also serves as another warning sign. These smuggling routes are a potential vulnerability to our homeland. As I stated last year, terrorist organizations could seek to leverage those same smuggling routes to move operatives with intent to cause grave harm to our citizens or even bring weapons of mass destruction into the United States. Addressing the root causes of insecurity and instability is not just in the region's interests, but ours as well, which is why I support President Obama's commitment to increase assistance to Central America. Unless confronted by an immediate, visible or uncomfortable crisis, our nation's tendency is to take the security of the Western Hemisphere for granted. I believe this is a mistake," Kelly told the Senate committee.

“The drug trade, exacerbated by U.S. drug consumption, has wrought devastating consequences in many of our partner nations, degrading their civilian police and justice systems, corrupting their institutions, and contributing to a breakdown in citizen safety,” said Kelly.

Asked about the seriousness of the threat of foreign nationals entering the United States via the region’s human smuggling networks, Kelly said that kind of illegal movement of people presents a threat to the United States.

“This network … is so efficient that if a terrorist, or almost anyone, wants to get into our country, they just pay the fare. No one checks their passports. They don't go through metal detectors. No one cares why they're coming. They just ride this network,” Kelly responded.

In his final post as commander of Florida-based U.S. Southern Command, Kelly’s missions included the border with Mexico, counternarcotics trafficking and counterinsurgency, and the portfolio allowed him regular meetings with Central and South American leaders.

His 2015 testimony placed the border issue as not just a socioeconomic problem but as a national security one, saying the same criminals who smuggle unescorted children and adults across the border would be willing to shepherd Islamist terrorists and/or weapons of mass destruction.

“These networks could unwittingly, or even wittingly, facilitate the movement of terrorist operatives or weapons of mass destruction toward our borders, potentially undetected and almost completely unrestricted,” Kelly said.

“In addition to thousands of Central Americans fleeing poverty and violence, foreign nationals from countries like Somalia, Bangladesh, Lebanon and Pakistan are using the region’s human smuggling networks to enter the United States.”

He also warned about the activities of Lebanese Hezbollah, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization sponsored by Iran.

“The terrorist group Lebanese Hezbollah, which has long viewed the region as a potential attack venue against Israeli or other Western targets, has supporters and sympathizers in Lebanese diaspora communities in Latin America, some of whom are involved in lucrative illicit activities like money laundering and trafficking in counterfeit goods and drugs,” he said.

“Addressing the root causes of insecurity and instability is not just in the region’s interests, but ours,” he said.

He said SouthCom’s low priority has translated into meager intelligence assets.

“U.S. Southern Command has accepted risk for so long in this region that we now face a near-total lack of awareness of threats and the readiness to respond, should those threats reach crisis levels,” he said.


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Scott Pruitt

Post: Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Previous experience relating to the post: NONE

Age: 48 (Born May 9, 1968)

Schooling: Pruit graduated from Georgetown College in 1990 with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and Communications. He received a Juris Doctor from the University of Tulsa in 1993, and passed the bar examination that same year.

Background: Pruit is currently Oklahoma Attorney General. He is a lawyer and Republican politician. Pruit was born in Danville, Kentucky.


The New York Times  /  December 7, 2016

Republican Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general and a close ally of the fossil fuel industry, to run the EPA, signaling Trump’s determination to dismantle President Obama’s efforts to counter climate change — and much of the EPA itself.

Pruitt has been a key architect of the legal battle against Obama’s climate change policies, actions that fit with Trump’s comments during the campaign. Trump has criticized the established science of human-caused global warming as a hoax, vowed to “cancel” the Paris accord committing nearly every nation to taking action to fight climate change, and attacked Obama’s signature global warming policy, the Clean Power Plan, as a “war on coal.”

Pruitt has been in lock step with Trump’s views.

“Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind,” he wrote in National Review earlier this year. “That debate should be encouraged — in classrooms, public forums, and the halls of Congress. It should not be silenced with threats of prosecution. Dissent is not a crime.”

At the heart of Obama’s efforts to tackle climate change are EPA regulations aimed at forcing power plants to significantly reduce their emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide pollution. Trump cannot unilaterally cancel the rules, which were released under the 1970 Clean Air Act. But a legally experienced EPA chief could substantially weaken, delay or slowly take them apart.

Beyond climate change, the EPA itself may be endangered. Trump campaigned on a pledge to greatly shrink — or even dismantle — it. “We are going to get rid of it in almost every form,” he once pledged.

Mr. Pruitt may be the right man to do that. As attorney general, Mr. Pruitt created a “federalism unit” in his office, to “more effectively combat unwarranted regulation and systematic overreach by federal agencies, boards and offices,” including Obama’s health care law and environmental regulations.

Although Obama’s climate rules were not completed until 2015, Pruitt and other attorneys general began planning as early as 2014 for a coordinated legal effort to fight them. That resulted in a 28-state lawsuit against the administration’s rules. A decision on the case is pending in a federal court, but it is widely expected to advance to the Supreme Court.

As Pruitt has sought to use legal tools to fight environmental regulations on the oil and gas companies that are a major part of his state’s economy, he has also worked with those companies. A 2014 investigation by The Times found that energy lobbyists drafted letters for Pruitt to send, on state stationery, to the EPA, the Interior Department, the Office of Management and Budget and President Obama, outlining the economic hardship of the environmental rules.

The close ties have paid off for Pruitt politically: Harold G. Hamm, the chief executive of Continental Energy, an Oklahoma oil and gas company, was a co-chairman of Mr. Pruitt’s 2013 re-election campaign.

Pruitt, who grew up in Kentucky, moved to Oklahoma to go to law school. An avid baseball fan, for eight years he co-owned and managed the Oklahoma City Redhawks. He won a seat in the Oklahoma Legislature and opened a small legal office, which he called Christian Legal Services, to challenge government actions that he saw as compromising individual rights.

As he ran for attorney general of Oklahoma in 2010, he made clear that he intended to use his power as the state’s top law enforcement official to attempt to force the EPA to back down, convinced that it was wrongly stepping on state government powers.

“There’s a mentality emanating from Washington today that says, ‘We know best.’ It’s a one-size-fits-all strategy, a command-and-control kind of approach, and we’ve got to make sure we know how to respond to that,” Mr. Pruitt said during his 2010 election campaign.

But that campaign, once Pruitt was sworn in, quickly became an opportunity to work secretly with some of the largest oil and gas companies, and the state’s coal-burning electric utility, to try to overturn a large part of the Obama administration’s regulations on air emissions, water pollution and endangered animals, documents obtained by The Times show.

As attorney general, Pruitt took the unusual step of jointly filing an anti-regulatory lawsuit with industry players, such as Oklahoma Gas and Electric, the coal-burning electric utility, and the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance, a non-profit group backed by major oil and gas executives, including Mr. Hamm.

Behind the scenes, Pruit was taking campaign contributions from many of the industry players on his team, or helping deliver even larger sums of money to the Republican Attorneys General Association, which he became the chairman of.

Pruitt’s office also began to send letters to federal regulators — including the EPA and even to President Obama — that documents obtained through open records requests show were written by energy industry lobbyists from companies including Devon Energy. Pruitt’s staff put these ghostwritten letters on state government stationery and sent them to Washington, moves that the energy companies then praised in their own news releases, without noting that they had actually drafted the letters in the first place.


The Washington Post  /  December 7, 2016

An ally of the energy industry, Pruitt, along with Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, came to the defense of ExxonMobil when it fell under investigation by attorneys general from more liberal states seeking information about whether the oil giant failed to disclose material information about climate change.

“We do not doubt the sincerity of the beliefs of our fellow attorneys general about climate change and the role human activity plays in it,” they wrote at the conservative publication National Review. “But we call upon them to press those beliefs through debate, not through governmental intimidation of those who disagree with them.”

In September as a D.C. federal appeals court was preparing to hear arguments over the Clean Power Plan, Pruitt detailed why he has remained a leading opponent of the EPA’s efforts to curb carbon emissions by regulating power plants.

 “What concerns the states is the process, the procedures, the authority that the EPA is exerting that we think is entirely inconsistent with its constitutional and statutory authority,” he said at the time.

Agencies such as the EPA, he said, should not be trying to “pinch hit” for Congress.

“This is a unique approach by EPA, whether they want to acknowledge it or not,” he said of the provisions of the Clean Air Act that the agency had relied upon to write new regulations. “The overreach is the statutes do not permit [EPA officials] to act in the way they are. They tend to have this approach that the end justifies the means ... They tend to justify it by saying this big issue, this is an important issue.”

But he added that’s where Congress should have authority, not EPA. “This is something from a constitutional and statutory perspective that causes great concern.”

Pruitt has also fought to limit the scope of the federal government in regulating pollution of rivers under the Waters of the United States rule.

Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), who has been active on environmental issues, said, “Scott Pruitt would have EPA stand for Every Polluter’s Ally.”

In 2014, the New York Times reported that a letter ostensibly written by Pruitt alleging that the agency overestimated air pollution from natural gas drilling was actually written by lawyers for Devon Energy, one of the state’s largest oil and gas companies.



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Andrew Puzder

Post: Secretary of Labor

Previous government experience in labor: None

Age: 66  (Born July 11, 1950)

Schooling: Puzder has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Cleveland State University, and a Juris Doctor from Washington University.

Background: Puzder was born in Cleveland, Ohio.

Puzder is a vocal critic of government regulation and opposes a $15 minimum wage, broader overtime pay and the Affordable Care Act.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed in March, Puzder said a $15 minimum wage, mandatory paid sick leave laws and the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, raise costs for employers and force them to rely more on automated technology.

"While the technology is becoming much cheaper, government mandates have been making labor much more expensive," he wrote.

Puzder told the Los Angeles Times in March that he's not opposed to raising the federal minimum wage above $7.25 or pegging it to inflation, though he said a jump to $15 an hour will cost workers their jobs.

Puzder has also been one of the harshest critics of an Obama administration rule that would require workers who make less than $47,500 and work 40 hours per week be paid overtime. The rule was put on hold by a federal judge in November.

"The real world is far different than the Labor Department's Excel spreadsheet," Puzder wrote in a Forbes guest column in May. "This new rule will simply add to the extensive regulatory maze the Obama Administration has imposed on employers, forcing many to offset increased labor expense by cutting costs elsewhere."

In 2004, CKE agreed to pay $9 million to settle three class-action lawsuits involving overtime pay. Puzder told the Orange County Register in 2014 that CKE had spent $20 million on overtime lawsuits in California over the previous eight years, and that the company had reclassified managers as hourly workers as a result.

Puzder is anti-abortion. While practicing law in St. Louis, Puzder authored a Missouri abortion law upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services in 1989. Following the Webster decision, Puzder was a founding member of the Common Ground Network for Life and Choice. In 1984, Pudzer and another lawyer had written an article for the Stetson Law Journal proposing a Missouri law that would define life as beginning at conception in the broad context of contract or property law. Puzder reasoned that if fetuses were recognized as having rights in other contexts, it would establish a foundation for challenging Roe v. Wade later on.

In St. Louis, Puzder met Carl Karcher, the founder of the Carl's Jr. fast food restaurant chain. Karcher was embroiled in serious financial difficulties and asked Puzder to move to California as his personal attorney. In 1991, Puzder relocated to Orange County, California. Puzder has been credited with resolving Karcher’s financial dilemma, allowing Karcher to avoid bankruptcy and retain a significant ownership interest in the company he founded, CKE Restaurants, Inc.

Puzder solved Karcher’s financial problems by putting together a transaction with William P. Foley, the Chairman and CEO of Fidelity National Financial. In 1994, Foley became Chairman and CEO of CKE and Karcher became Chairman Emeritus. In 1995, Puzder went on to become Executive Vice President and General Counsel for Fidelity, managing one of the largest corporate legal departments in the country. Puzder also worked with Foley to create the Santa Barbara Restaurant Group, and served as the company’s CEO.

In 1997, Puzder was also named Executive Vice President and General Counsel for CKE. Also in 1997, CKE purchased Hardee’s Food Systems, Inc.. Hardee's was a distressed brand and CKE was burdened by over $700 million in debt following the acquisition. The company underperformed and its market capitalization dropped to about $200,000. Faced with serious financial and operational issues, CKE’s Board of Directors named Puzder as president and CEO of Hardee’s Food Systems in June 2000 and named him president and CEO of CKE Restaurants, Inc. in September of that year. Puzder is credited with turning around both Hardee’s and CKE.


The Financial Times  /  December 8, 2016

Donald Trump’s pick for labor secretary, a fast-food company CEO who is an outspoken opponent of raising the minimum wage, setting the stage for a fight with US unions. 

Andrew Puzder, head of CKE, the California-based owner of the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr chains, has been a longtime campaigner against efforts to raise the minimum wage and the reach of government into business.

Trump says the ex-lawyer will “save small businesses from the crushing burdens of unnecessary regulations that are stunting job growth and suppressing wages”.

“Andy Puzder has created and boosted the careers of thousands of Americans,” he said. 

The move fits the Republican’s pledge to help create a business-friendly environment and help the economy through a combination of tax cuts and deregulation. 

The decision marks another major departure from the Obama administration, which has been advocating an increase in the minimum wage despite opposition from many business groups. This year the Obama administration also introduced new overtime rules meant to secure better pay for middle-managers and other salaried workers often forced to work long hours without extra pay. 

Earlier this year, Puzder said his first move, were he president, would be to cut 10% of all government regulations and force departments to justify why they needed to keep others. 

“I think our country has really gone in a very bad direction over the past seven years,” he said. “We’ve been a country traditionally where consumers drive the economy [but] we’ve now become one where the government is more and more involved in driving the economy and taking the power away from consumers.” 

Puzder has expressed other more provocative views related to work and business. 

In one interview this year, Puzder spoke of replacing workers with robots in his company’s fast-food stores. “They’re always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case,” he said.

News of Mr Trump’s pick immediately drew outrage from Democrats and labour groups.

“The Labor secretary should be someone who wakes up every day thinking about how they can raise American wages and fight for American workers. Mr Puzder’s career has shown exactly the opposite,” said Charles Schumer, the Democrats’ incoming leader in the Senate. 

Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, a union-affiliated think-tank that Trump often cited on the campaign trail, said: “Donald Trump ran a campaign that was long on rhetoric about helping working people. But will his actual policies enrich business at the expense of workers? 

“There is nothing in his record or his public statements to indicate that he would lead in developing policies and enforcement strategies to generate higher wages and better quality jobs for America’s workers.” 

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Trump meets with Mulally

The Detroit News  /  December 8, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump met with former Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally on Thursday as he builds the cabinet for his incoming administration.

Mulally is a candidate for secretary of state.

After serving as head of the commercial aircraft business at Boeing Co., Mulally earned adulation for his time as Ford’s CEO from 2006-2014. He steered the company through the 2008 and 2009 collapse of new vehicle sales without a government bailout or a Chapter 11 reorganization, as was needed by General Motors and then-Chrysler.

He oversaw a massive restructuring of Ford to reinvigorate the automaker in part through better-aligned global operations and a crystallized focus on Ford and Lincoln cars and trucks, positioning the company to reap heady profits during the industry’s recovery.

Trump spokesman Jason Miller refused to describe the nature of the meeting, but said “Mr. Mulally is certainly someone who knows a lot about trade issues and the economy and what we need to do get our manufacturing sector going again.”

The pool of potential candidates for secretary of state includes 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman [superb individual], former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker and former CIA Director David Petraeus.


Ex-Ford boss Mulally in mix for secretary of state

Bloomberg  /  December 9, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump’s short list for secretary of state has grown, with former Ford CEO Alan Mulally now under consideration for the job as the nation’s top diplomat, a top adviser said today.

Mulally, 71, met with Trump Thursday in New York to discuss the position, campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said.

Mulally helped engineer a turnaround at the automaker while avoiding the bankruptcies that befell its crosstown rivals, General Motors and Chrysler, now part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV. He previously served as head of Boeing Co.’s commercial airline business division.

“This is an important process,” Conway said. Trump “is welcoming in a number of men and women who have very diverse backgrounds.”

Conway said Exxon Mobil Corp. CEO Rex Tillerson, former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former CIA Director David Petraeus, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, and Representative Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican, were also among the names under consideration.

Trump’s vision

Conway has publicly warned that the selection of Romney could upset Trump voters who see the former Massachusetts governor as too aligned with the political establishment. She said today that whoever was selected would need to hew to the president-elect’s foreign policy vision.

“You have to be able to adhere to what will be the Trump doctrine worldwide and be able to execute it,” she said.

While Conway didn’t indicate who was Trump’s leading contender, she did praise some of the candidates. She said Corker, a Republican from Tennessee, would likely “face easy confirmation” by his colleagues. And she praised Giuliani as “a very close and loyal adviser throughout the campaign” who remains “still in the mix.”

She acknowledged that Mulally would be an interesting choice considering that Trump has targeted two firms he helped lead. Earlier this week, Trump tweeted that Boeing’s contract to build the next Air Force One plane was too expensive. He has said he wants to keep Ford from moving manufacturing plants from the U.S. to Mexico.

Staved off bankruptcy

Mulally, who retired as CEO of Ford in 2014, earned bipartisan praise for his efforts at the iconic automaker, staving off bankruptcy by globalizing new models, cutting costs, boosting technology and overhauling the lineup with fuel-efficient vehicles such as the aluminum-bodied F-150 pickup.

After leaving Ford, Mulally joined the board of Google just as the tech giant was stepping up research into self-driving cars.

Before leaving Ford, Mulally had been considered for the top job at Microsoft Corp. that ultimately went to Satya Nadella. There was also speculation that he could join the Obama administration because he sat on Barack Obama’s Export Council, formed in 2010 to advise the president on trade.

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Gary Cohn

Post: White House - Director of the National Economic Council

Previous government experience: None

Current position: President and COO of Goldman Sachs

Age: 56  (Born August 27, 1960)

Schooling: Cohn studied at Gilmour Academy, and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from American University's Kogod School of Business.

Background: Investment banker Gary Cohn was born to an Eastern European family and raised in Shaker Heights, Ohio.

Cohn is married and has three daughters. He lives in New York City.

Cohn’s annual salary at Goldman Sachs was US$22 million in 2014.

Cohn started his career at the home products division of U.S. Steel in Cleveland, Ohio.

After only a few months at U.S. Steel, he left and started his career as an options dealer in the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Cohn was recruited by Goldman Sachs in 1990.

In 1996, Cohn was named head of Goldman Sach’s commodities department, part of Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities Division (FICC). In 2002, he was named head of the division.

Since January 2004 Cohn was the co-head of global securities businesses and he was the co-head of Equities since 2003.

Cohn was head of Goldman Sach’s global securities businesses from December 2003, and became President and Co-Chief Operating Officer, and director, in June 2006.

Trump says Cohn will “put his talents as a highly successful businessman to work for the American people”.

Trump was critical of Goldman Sachs during the presidential campaign and lambasted Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for giving paid speeches to the Wall Street giant. But Trump’s now chosen three people with ties to Goldman Sachs for his administration, including Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary nominee, and Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor.

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Ryan Zinke

Post: Secretary of the Interior

Previous experience: None

Current position: U.S. Representative for Montana's at-large congressional district

Age: 55  (Born November 1, 1961)

Schooling: Zinke has a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree from the University of Oregon, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from National University and a Master of Science degree from the University of San Diego.

Background: Zinke was born in Bozeman, Montana, He is married and has three children.

Zinke served as a U.S. Navy SEAL from 1986 to 2008, retiring at the rank of Commander. Zinke graduated from Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training class 136 in February 1986 and served with SEAL TEAM ONE from 1986 to 1988. He then was a First Phase Officer of BUD/S.

Zinke served with United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (NSWDG) from 1991 to 1993. He then served as a Plans officer for Commander in Chief, U.S. Naval Forces, Europe (CINCUSNAVEUR).

Zinke served a second tour with NSWDG as team leader and operations officer from 1996 to 1999.

From 1999 to 2001, Zinke served as executive officer (XO) for the Naval Special Warfare Unit Two. He was as executive officer, Naval Special Warfare Center from 2001 to 2004.

In 2004, Zinke was deputy and acting commander of Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force–Arabian Peninsula, leading a force of more than 3,500 Special Operations personnel in Iraq. Zinke was awarded two Bronze Stars for meritorious service in a combat zone, four Meritorious Service Medals, two Joint Service Commendation Medals, two Defense Meritorious Service Medals, and an Army Commendation Medal.

Following his tours in Iraq, Zinke was selected to establish the Naval Special Warfare Advanced Training Command, where he served as “Dean” of the Naval Special Warfare graduate school until his retirement from active duty in 2008.

Zinke was elected to the Montana Senate in 2008, serving from 2009 to 2011, representing Whitefish, Montana.

He was the running mate of Montana gubernatorial candidate Neil Livingstone in the 2012 election. The Livingstone/Zinke ticket finished fifth out of seven in the Republican primary with 12,038 votes (8.8% of the vote).

In July 2016, Zinke withdrew as a delegate to the Republican nominating convention in protest of a plank in the party's draft platform which would require that "certain" public lands be transferred to state control. Zinke said that he endorses "better management of federal land", not transfer.

In the spring of 2014, Zinke ram for Montana's at-large congressional district, a seat that became vacant when its then-incumbent Republican Steve Daines resigned in his successful U.S. Senate bid to replace Democratic U.S. Senator Max Baucus after he became the U.S. ambassador to China. Zinke won the five-way Republican primary with 43,766 votes (33.25%). Zinke campaigned on a message of North American energy independence, a stronger economy, and a robust national defense and border security. He won the general election with 56% of the vote out of over 200,000 votes cast in the statewide district.


Trump interior secretary pick on climate change: 'I don’t believe it’s a hoax'

The Guardian  /  January 18, 2017

Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of interior, Ryan Zinke, distanced himself from president-elect Trump on Tuesday, saying “the climate is changing. The debate is what is that influence and what can we do.”

Zinke, a two-term congressman for Montana, had been asked by Bernie Sanders about Trump’s infamous 2012 tweet where the real estate developer described climate change as “created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive”.

Zinke, a former navy Seal, responded by stating matter of factly, “I don’t believe it’s a hoax.”

The statement came in a hearing on his nomination held by the Senate energy and natural resources committee on Tuesday.

However, the Trump cabinet nominee insisted he wasn’t “a climate science expert” and stated his belief in “being prudent” towards what he characterized as “a lot of debate on both sides of the aisle”.

Zinke also differed from many in his own party by insisting: “I’m absolutely against transfer or sale of public lands.”

Many Republicans have long pushed for the federal government to transfer ownership of public lands to the states, and this was included as a plank in the party’s platform.

However, the Montana Republican still made clear his support for fossil fuel drilling on federal lands, saying “We have to have an economy.”

Zinke is expected to sail through the Senate with bipartisan support. He was introduced by both of his state’s senators, Democrat Jon Tester and Republican Steve Daines, before the hearing on Tuesday.

Zinke had long been considered the strongest general election opponent to Tester in 2018 but his appointment likely prevents him from seeking a Senate bid and boosts Democratic chances of holding onto Tester’s seat in the midterms.




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I can tell you from first hand experience that Zinke is truly a top notch guy. A Navy Seal, then a seal instructor, he doesn't mix his words. He is an excellent family man and friend. 

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The problems we face today exist because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by the people who vote for a living.

The government can only "give" someone what they first take from another.

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Rex W. Tillerson

Post: Secretary of State

Previous experience: None

Current position: Chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobile Corp.

Age: 64  (Born March 23, 1952)

Schooling: In 1970, Tillerson graduated from Huntsville High School in Huntsville, Texas. He earned a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in civil engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 1975.

Background: Tillerson was born on March 23, 1952, in Wichita Falls, Texas. Active in the Boy Scouts of America for most of his life, he earned the rank of Eagle Scout in 1965. He is married with four children, and lives in Irving, Texas.

Tillerson joined Exxon in 1975 as a production engineer.

In 1989, Tillerson became general manager of the central production division of Exxon USA.

In 1995, he became President of Exxon Yemen Inc. and Esso Exploration and Production Khorat Inc.[13]

In 1998, Tillerson became a vice president of Exxon Ventures (CIS) and president of Exxon Neftegas Limited with responsibility for Exxon's holdings in Russia and the Caspian Sea.

In 1999, with the merger of Exxon and Mobil, he was named executive vice president of ExxonMobil Development Company.

In 2004, Tillerson became president and director of ExxonMobil.

On January 1, 2006, he was elected chairman and CEO, following the retirement of Lee Raymond.

Tillerson has close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin. They have been associates since Tillerson represented Exxon’s interests in Russia during President Boris Yeltsin's premiership.

Tillerson has had more interactive time with Vladimir Putin than probably any other American, with the exception of Henry Kissinger.

Tillerson is a friend of Igor Sechin, who is "widely believed to be Russia's second-most powerful person" after President Putin.

In 2011, on behalf of ExxonMobil, Tillerson signed an agreement with Russia for drilling in the Arctic that could be valued up to $300 billion. Exxon began drilling in the Kara Sea in the Summer of 2014, and a round of sanctions against Russia introduced in September that year due to the Ukrainian crisis was to have brought the project to a halt in mid-September. Nevertheless, the U.S. government granted Exxon a reprieve allowing it to continue work until October 10, which enabled it to discover a major field with about 750 million barrels of new oil for Russia.

In 2011, Tillerson, on behalf of ExxonMobil, signed a deal to develop oil fields in the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan. The agreement was in defiance of Iraqi law, which forbids companies from dealing directly with Iraqi Kurdistan.

In 2013, Tillerson was awarded the Order of Friendship by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In 2012, Tillerson's compensation package was $40.5 million. It was $28.1 million in 2013, $33.1 million in 2014, and $27.2 million in 2015.


"Rex Tillerson's career is the embodiment of the American dream," Trump said. "His tenacity, broad experience and deep understanding of geopolitics make him an excellent choice for secretary of state."

Tillerson said he was "honored" by the nomination, adding that he shared Trump's "vision for restoring the credibility of the United States' foreign relations and advancing our country's national security". "Rex Tillerson is an excellent choice for secretary of state. He will bring to the post remarkable and broad international experience; a deep understanding of the global economy; and a belief in America's special role in the world," Condoleezza Rice said. "I know Rex as a successful businessman and a patriot. He will represent the interests and the values of the United States with resolve and commitment. And he will lead the exceptional men and women of the State Department with respect and dedication."

"I strongly endorse the President-elect's selection of Rex Tillerson to be the next secretary of state. He would bring to the position vast knowledge, experience and success in dealing with dozens of governments and leaders in every corner of the world," said former defense secretary Robert Gates. "He is a person of great integrity whose only goal in office would be to protect and advance the interests of the United States." Note: Gates and Rice were both critical of Trump during the election. Gates said Trump was "beyond repair" and "unfit to be commander-in-chief." Rice called for Trump to leave the presidential race in October, as he became mired in sexual assault allegations. "Rex Tillerson, who is a friend of mine, is an excellent choice to head the State Department and has an opportunity to be a very effective secretary of state,"said James Baker, secretary of state under President George Bush,. "As CEO of one of the world's largest and best-run companies, has demonstrated the management and negotiating skills, and has the international experience, that are required in the job." Baker's firm, Baker Botts, has aextensive ExxonMobil ties. It has represented Exxon on cases involving allegations of natural-gas price fixing and issues related to gas pipeline rates. It also represented Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft on a deal with Exxon.


Political views

Opposition to sanctions

Tillerson has stated that "We do not support sanctions, generally, because we don't find them to be effective unless they are very well implemented comprehensively and that's a very hard thing to do."

Climate change and carbon taxing

In 2010, Tillerson said that while he acknowledged that humans were affecting the climate through greenhouse gas emissions to some degree, it was not yet clear "to what extent and therefore what can you do about it."

Tillerson also stated, "The world is going to have to continue using fossil fuels, whether they like it or not."

Tillerson stated in 2009 that he favors a carbon tax as "the most efficient means of reflecting the cost of carbon in all economic decisions—from investments made by companies to fuel their requirements to the product choices made by consumers."

Support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

In 2013, Tillerson outlined his support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), stating at the Global Security Forum: "One of the most promising developments on this front is the ongoing effort for the Trans-Pacific Partnership... The 11 nations that have been working to lower trade barriers and end protectionist policies under this partnership are a diverse mix of developed and developing economies. But all of them understand the value of open markets to growth and progress for every nation.”

Free Trade (Global Energy)

Speaking in March 2007 at a Council on Foreign Relations event, Tillerson said:

Should the United States seek so-called energy independence in an elusive effort to insulate this country from the impact of world events on the economy, or should Americans pursue the path of international engagement, seeking ways to better compete within the global market for energy? Like the Council's founders, I believe we must choose the course of greater international engagement. ... The central reality is this: The global free market for energy provides the most effective means of achieving U.S. energy security by promoting resource development, enabling diversification, multiplying our supply channels, encouraging efficiency, and spurring innovation.”

Government regulation

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Tillerson expressed his impatience with government regulation, stating "there are a thousand ways you can be told 'no' in this country."


In September 2013, Tillerson wrote an op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal defending Common Core.[39]

Fundraising and donations

Tillerson is a longtime contributor to Republican campaigns. According to the FEC records available online, he has given $442,284.50 in direct contributions since 2003, $72,200 in "joint fundraising contributions" and $5000 to a Super PAC. FEC records do not show any contributions by Tillerson to Democrats during this period.

He has contributed to the political campaigns of George W. Bush, Mitt Romney in 2012, and Mitch McConnell. He did not donate to Donald Trump's campaign, rather, Tillerson donated to Jeb Bush's campaign during the 2016 Republican primaries.

Secretary of State consideration

Rex Tillerson was first recommended to Trump for the Secretary of State role by Condoleezza Rice, during her meeting with Trump in late November. Rice's recommendation of Tillerson to Trump was backed up by Robert Gates, three days later.


The New York Times  /  December 12, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday officially selected Rex W. Tillerson, the chief executive of Exxon Mobil, to be his secretary of state.

In saying he will nominate Tillerson, the president-elect is dismissing bipartisan concerns that the globe-trotting leader of an energy giant has a too-cozy relationship with Russian president Vladimir V. Putin.

The announcement brought to an end his public and chaotic deliberations over the nation’s top diplomat — a process that at times veered from rewarding Rudy Giuliani, one of his most loyal supporters, to musing about whether Mitt Romney, one of his most outspoken critics, might be forgiven.

Instead, Trump has decided to risk what looks to be a bruising confirmation fight in the Senate.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers had warned that Tillerson will face intense scrutiny over his two-decade relationship with Russia, which awarded him its Order of Friendship in 2013, and with Mr. Putin.

The hearings will also put a focus on Exxon Mobil’s business dealings with Moscow. Exxon Mobil has billions of dollars in oil contracts that can go forward only if the United States lifts sanctions against Russia, and Tillerson’s stake in Russia’s energy industry could create a very blurry line between his interests as an oilman and his role as America’s leading diplomat.

Tillerson has been publicly skeptical about the sanctions, which have halted some of Exxon Mobil’s biggest projects in Russia, including an agreement with the state oil company to explore and pump in Siberia that could be worth tens of billions of dollars.

Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, said on Saturday that Mr. Tillerson’s connections to Mr. Putin were “a matter of concern to me” and promised to examine them closely if he were nominated.

Under Tillerson, Exxon has entered into joint ventures with Rosneft, a Russian-backed oil company, and donated to the country’s health and social programs.

Trump has fanned speculation about his choice for secretary of state for weeks. In the end, he discarded not only Giuliani and Romney, but also an endlessly changing list that at times included Tennessee Republican Senator Bob Corker; former Army general and C.I.A. director David H. Petraeus; and former Utah governor and 2012 presidential candidate Jon M. Huntsman Jr. [Huntsman Chemical].

Trump initially favored former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, but quickly grew weary of his penchant for drawing outsize media attention. Trump was also troubled by reports of Giuliani’s business entanglements overseas. And some of the president-elect’s closest advisers, including his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, saw Giuliani as a poor fit for the job.

That led to interest in Romney, who had called Trump a “fraud” and a “phony” during the campaign.

Trump and Romney made peace, meeting twice and speaking periodically by phone. But some of Trump’s advisers including campaign manager Kellyanne Conway warned that some of his supporters would quickly drift away if Romney were chosen.

Tillerson emerged as a contender on the strong recommendations of James A. Baker III, the secretary of state under President George Bush, and Robert M. Gates, the former defense secretary.

Kushner and Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, argued strongly for Tillerson.

Trump met with Tillerson on Saturday and described Tillerson as being in a different “league” than his other options.



Associated Press  /  December 13, 2016

As Republicans in Washington bashed President Barack Obama's efforts to secure an Iran nuclear deal last year, Exxon Mobil was watching.

The oil giant's European competitors were preparing to enter Iran's oil business - something the company legally could not do with American sanctions still in place stemming from Iran's nuclear program. Exxon hired lobbyists to monitor the fight in Washington, though the company said it never took a position on whether the sanctions were appropriate.

Given CEO Rex Tillerson's position on sanctions in general, it was scarcely needed.

"We always encourage the people who are making those decisions to consider the very broad collateral damage of who are they really harming with sanctions," Tillerson said at Exxon's 2014 shareholder meeting. Generally, "we don't find them to be effective," he said.

Announced Tuesday as Donald Trump's choice for secretary of state, Tillerson has no deep history of diplomatic experience so it's unclear how he'll handle the job if confirmed. But he's not a blank slate.

His work at Exxon has sometimes put him at odds with U.S. policy under Obama - and with key Republican positions on Iranian sanctions and Vladimir Putin's Russia.

Trump has promised his "number one priority" will be to either rigidly enforce or dismantle the Iran nuclear accord and treat the country as "the biggest sponsor of terrorism" worldwide.

But observers of Tillerson's business career say they expect his aversion to sanctions to stay in place.

"He's a product of the Exxon system," said Fadel Gheit, an energy industry analyst for Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. "He believed in a free market. And if you have a contract, you have to meet your obligation."

As part of the Exxon approach, the company adopted a strict policy that it deemed staying out of politics. If a government was stable - regardless whether it was corrupt - Exxon would work with it under strict contractual terms, said Gheit.

"What Rex Tillerson says is 'that's none of my business,'" he said.

That approach was crucial in Tillerson's dealings in Russia. Over the course of Tillerson's tenure there, Exxon succeeded where many of its rivals failed in working with Russia's government.

Key among the company's choices was avoiding a partnership with Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an oil oligarch who went on to spend a decade in jail after challenging Putin. Tillerson helped Exxon broker a partnership with oil giant Rosneft to "be on the same side of the table" as the government.

After Exxon struggled to work with local government officials, Putin told Exxon he would clear the way by executive order.

Tillerson said no - on the grounds that Putin didn't have legal authority. Exxon would need laws changed. The demand initially infuriated Putin, but the project went ahead.

The cordial relations continued after Tillerson ascended to Exxon's top job in 2006. When other oil companies saw relationships sour to the point that executives fled the country, Exxon continued to sign deals in Russia. Tillerson received an honorary medal - the Order of Friendship - from Putin's government in 2013.

When Exxon Mobil ran into trouble in Russia in 2014, it came from Washington, not Moscow. As punishment for Russia's annexation of Crimea and support for pro-Russian Ukrainian rebels, the U.S. imposed sanctions.

Exxon wasn't initially affected, and Tillerson said he didn't believe Russia would lash out at its American partner.

"I think it's a very valued relationship by both parties," he said at a May 2014 Exxon shareholder meeting.

As the crisis in Crimea deepened, however, the Obama administration extended sanctions to the Russian oil industry, hitting a partnership between Exxon and state-owned Rosneft to drill for oil in the Arctic. The sanctions - which Exxon lobbied against- cost the company as much as $1 billion.

Though still bound by the prohibitions, Exxon executives have spoken of a desire to re-engage on the project. Should sanctions be lifted, Exxon and its stockholders would directly benefit - and Tillerson owns around $240 million in Exxon stock and options. Under federal conflict of interest rules, he will have to sell off his holdings if confirmed as secretary of state.

Exxon has not always abided by America's diplomatic desires. In 2011, the U.S was trying to resolve a fight between Iraq's central government and a Kurdish regional government over oil money, a dispute that American diplomats saw as threatening Iraq's future as a single country.

Negotiating in secret, Exxon struck a major oil deal directly with the Kurds. American officials were enraged.

"I had to do what was best for my shareholders," Tillerson told the diplomats in a conference call explaining the company's move.

The approach was emblematic of Exxon's culture and Tillerson's leadership.


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And all these people operated within the law, I'm sure there are people who have something to say (bad) about almost anybody, I have dealt with people out of needing their help, not because I liked them, did not make them bad, just sometimes biz makes strange bed fellows, Trump needs smart people to get this mess under control, maybe these are the people to do it.  

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  • 4 weeks later...

Rick Perry (James Richard Perry)

Post: Secretary of Energy*

* The Department of Energy (DOE) also plays the leading role in designing nuclear weapons, thwarting their proliferation, and ensuring the safety and reliability of the nation’s aging nuclear arsenal through a constellation of laboratories considered the crown jewels of government science.

Previous experience: None

Current position: Board member of Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of Dakota Access LLC. The company owns 62,500 miles of oil and natural gas pipelines and is currently in the process of constructing the 1,172 mile long Dakota Access Pipeline.

Age: 66  (Born March 4, 1950)

Schooling: After graduating from Paint Creek High School in 1968, Perry earned a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Animal Science from Texas A&M in 1972.

Note: The last two energy secretaries, Ernest J. Moniz of M.I.T. and Steven Chu of Stanford, brought to the office their doctorates in physics, academic credentials and, in Dr. Chu’s case, a Nobel Prize.

Background: Perry was born in Haskell, Texas and raised in Paint Creek (Haskell County).

Perry was in the Boy Scouts and earned the rank of Eagle Scout.

12/21/2000 – 1/20/2015          Governor of Texas

1/19/1999 – 12/21/2000          Lieutenant Governor of Texas

1/15/1991 – 1/19/1999            Agriculture Commissioner of Texas

1/8/1985 – 1/8/1991                Texas House of Representatives, 64th District

1972 – 1977                            United States Air Force, Captain, 772th Tactical Airlift, Squadron (C-130s)


July 18, 2015

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) on Saturday said businessman Donald Trump should apologize to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for disparaging remarks he made about the 2008 Republican presidential nominee's military record. 

"As an individual who has worn the uniform of this country, I was highly offended by what Donald Trump said about John McCain," said Perry. 

"Donald Trump owes every American, and in particular John McCain, an apology," he continued. 

"He [McCain] was a war hero because he was captured,” said Trump. “I like people who weren’t captured.”

Perry said Trump's comments were "as disturbing to me as anything I’ve heard."

"There was an individual who doesn't understood, or doesn't care to, people who serve the United States of America," Perry said of Trump, adding that the comments about McCain should disqualify the brash mogul as a presidential candidate "and as a commander-in-chief of this country." 


July 22, 2015

“He [Trump] is without substance when one scratches below the surface. He offers a barking carnival act that can be best described as Trumpism: A toxic mix of demagoguery and mean-spiritedness and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition if pursued.”

“Let no one be mistaken — Donald Trump’s candidacy is a cancer on conservatism, and it must be clearly diagnosed, excised and discarded.”

Rick Perry

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These nominees are mostly people who get things done, with proven business acumen. Most are also accomplished financially, don't need the money, and are taking a huge pay cut to answer a higher calling to serve their country. This includes Donald Trump himself. He doesn't need the aggravation, he merely is attempting to help get his country back to a place we can all be proud of.

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One can find a lot of humor within the confirmation hearings.


“I’m in no position to speak” on behalf of [Exxon] company executives, Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson said, dodging Senator Tim Kaine’s (D-Va.) questions about the company where he worked for 40 years. “You would have to speak to them.”

At one point, Kaine asked, “Do you lack the knowledge to answer my question, or are you refusing to do so?”

“A little of both,” Tillerson responded.


Tillerson told Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) that “to my knowledge, Exxon never directly lobbied against [Russia] sanctions.”

Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, chair of the Senate foreign relations committee, interjected: “I think you called me at the time” when the Russia sanctions were being debated.

Congressional lobbying records show Exxon lobbied on many Russia sanctions bills.

(As chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil from 2006 to 2016, it is impossible to believe that Tillerson had no knowledge of the company he led lobbying against sanctions.)

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