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December, 4, 2016

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Trump tapping Washington, Wall Street veterans for top jobs

WASHINGTON- President-elect Donald Trump is enlisting a trio of nominees with deep ties to Washington and Wall Street to fill out his Cabinet, including former Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin as secretary of the Treasury Department.

On Tuesday, Trump also chose Georgia Rep. Tom Price to oversee the nation's health care system, picking a fierce "Obamacare" critic who has championed efforts to privatize Medicare. And he selected another veteran Republican, Elaine Chao, a former labor secretary and the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to lead the Department of Transportation.

Mnuchin's official announcement was expected as early as Wednesday, according to a person familiar with the decision who insisted on anonymity in order to confirm the pick ahead of time.

Mnuchin, 53, led Trump's finance operations during the presidential campaign and become close with the president-elect and his family. But he has no government experience, which could prove a hurdle in navigating the tricky politics of Washington.

If confirmed by the Senate, Mnuchin would play a central role in shaping Trump's tax policies and infrastructure plans. He would also lead an agency tasked with implementing international economic sanctions.

Mnuchin is expected to be joined on Trump's senior economic team by another financier, Wilbur Ross. The billionaire investor is considered the "king of bankruptcy" for buying beaten-down companies with the potential to deliver profits.

Trump spent much of Tuesday in his Manhattan skyscraper, racing through meetings with prospective administration hires as high-profile vacancies remain — none bigger than secretary of state. He emerged in the evening for a private dinner with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is on the shortlist for the nation's chief diplomat.

Romney spoke briefly to reporters after the meal, saying he has "increasing hope" that Trump can lead the country to a "better future."

A transition official said the president-elect and Vice President-elect Mike Pence will travel to Indiana on Thursday for an event with Carrier, the air conditioning company. During the campaign, Trump repeatedly used the news of Carrier's plans to move some business to Mexico as criticism of Democratic trade policies. Carrier tweeted, "We are pleased to have reached a deal with President-elect Trump & VP-elect Pence to keep close to 1,000 jobs in Indy."

Price, picked to lead the Department of Health and Human Services after more than a decade in Congress, helped craft House Speaker Paul Ryan's plan to privatize Medicare — a position Trump opposed in the campaign.

Price's selection raised questions about the incoming president's commitment to Medicare, among other popular entitlement programs he repeatedly vowed to preserve before the election. The Georgia congressman led GOP efforts on Capitol Hill to transform Medicare into a voucher-like system, a change that if enacted, would likely dramatically reduce government spending on the health care program that serves an estimated 57 million people.

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