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Thursday, December 01, 2016

Trump says he will back away from business to focus on White House

Mattis likely to become defense secretary, despite Democrats' concerns U.S. President-elect Donald Trump (L) and Vice President-elect Mike Pence (R) greet retired Marine General James Mattis in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar U.S. President-elect Donald Trump (L) and Vice President-elect Mike Pence (R) greet retired Marine General James Mattis in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 19, 2016. Reuters/Mike Segar By Patricia Zengerle | WASHINGTON Congress is expected to approve President-elect Donald Trump's choice of retired Marine Corps General James "Mad Dog" Mattis as secretary of defense, despite Democratic concerns that it ignores a long tradition of civilian control of the military. For Mattis to be confirmed, the Senate and the House of Representatives both must pass a waiver exempting him from a law written when the Department of Defense was created to ensure that the military is under civilian command.Legislators have granted such a waiver only once, in 1950, when Congress passed an act that allowed General George Marshall, who had retired in 1945, to serve as Pentagon chief. The 66-year-old Mattis, who is revered by fellow Marines, retired 3-1/2 years ago. The 1947 National Security Act requires a seven-year gap between active duty military service and the Cabinet position, leaving the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff as the Pentagon's top uniformed military position. Another Marine general, Joseph Dunford, is the current chairman, serving a two-year term that ends in mid-2017. Mattis was once Dunford's commander. Lawrence Korb, who was an assistant secretary of defense under Republican President Ronald Reagan, said having a military officer as secretary of defense would rob the Pentagon of needed perspective. He noted, for example, that social change in the military - from ending segregation to allowing women in combat - has always been pushed by civilians. "I don't think it's a good idea to have a military person as secretary of defense," he said Friday in a telephone interview. Trump takes office on Jan. 20. After Trump announced his selection on Thursday, Democrats joined many Republicans, who control majorities in both houses of Congress, to heap praise on Mattis. DEMOCRATS' CONCERNS But a few also raised concerns about having too many generals in the top tiers of the government. Trump's choice for national security adviser is Michael Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general and former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. The president-elect is also said to be considering David Petraeus, another retired Army general, as secretary of state, and retired Marine General John Kelly to head the Department of Homeland Security. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, a Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, said on Thursday she would not back a waiver for Mattis. Chris Murphy, another Senate Democrat, said on Friday he was "deeply fearful" that the precedent of civilian control of the military could wither, although he would talk to Mattis and spoke highly of the military leader. "It would be a really dangerous precedent to break here," he told a news conference in Connecticut, his home state. Representative Adam Smith, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, had high praise for Mattis but said the House should perform a full review, including committee hearings, if it were to consider overriding the prohibition on recent military officers leading the Pentagon. "Civil control of the military is not something to be casually cast aside," Smith said in a statement. (Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Jonathan Oatis) ==================== Thu Dec 1, 2016 | 10:01 PM Trump says he'll name Mattis as secretary of defense By Phil Stewart | WASHINGTON U.S. President-elect Donald Trump said on Thursday night he would nominate retired Marine Corps General James Mattis, known as "Mad Dog" and renowned for his tough talk and battlefield experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, to lead the Pentagon. "We are going to appoint 'Mad Dog' Mattis as our secretary of defense," Trump told a rally in Cincinnati. He said the formal announcement would be made on Monday. The choice of a seasoned military strategist would be another indication that Trump, a Republican, intends to steer U.S. foreign policy away from Democratic President Barack Obama's increased reliance on U.S. allies to fight Islamist militants and to help deter Russian and Chinese aggression in Europe and Asia. Mattis is a revered figure in the Marine Corps and known for his distrust of Iran. The Washington Post and CNN reported earlier that Trump had chosen Mattis, but Trump spokesman Jason Miller said earlier on Twitter that "no decision has been made yet with regard to Secretary of Defense." While the nomination of the 66-year-old Mattis would likely be popular among U.S. forces, it would have to clear a bureaucratic hurdle. Because he retired only in 2013, Mattis would need the U.S. Congress to waive a requirement that a defense secretary be a civilian for at least seven years before taking the top job at the Pentagon. His impressive combat record, however, may deter some Senate Democrats from trying to block his nomination. Trump has described Mattis as "a true general's general." The New York real estate magnate famously asserted last year: "I know more about ISIS than the generals do." Mattis, whose past assignments include leading Central Command, which oversees U.S. military operations in the Middle East and South Asia, is known for his colorful expressions that unashamedly embrace the job of the U.S. armed forces: fighting wars. In one famous line in 2003 attributed to Mattis, the general told Marines in Iraq: "Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet." TOUGH TALK In a 2016 question-and-answer session, Mattis appeared to be moved by a Marine's question about how far out he could inflict casualties with his knife hand, known as a "kill-casualty radius." "Once you get to be a high-ranking officer, the kill-casualty radius is whatever your Marines make it, and by the time I got up to the senior ranks it was hundreds of miles," he said in a video for the Marine Corps. Still, such tough talk has gotten him in hot water. He was once rebuked for saying in 2005 that "it's fun to shoot some people." His talk, however, belies a more thoughtful side. Mattis once said the most important 6 inches in a combat zone was "between your ears." Now a fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, Mattis is also a scholar who was praised by then-U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates in 2010 as one of the country's great strategic thinkers. Mattis reads avidly, frequently quotes history and is proud that he grew up with a large library and no television. After meeting Mattis on Nov. 19, Trump described him as a strong, dignified man who persuasively argued against waterboarding, an interrogation tactic that involves pouring water over someone's face to simulate drowning. FILE PICTURE: General James Mattis testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington July 27, 2010, on his nomination to be Commander of U.S. Central Command. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Picture 3/3 FILE PICTURE: General James Mattis testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington July 27, 2010, on his nomination to be Commander of U.S. Central Command. Reuters/Yuri Gripas/File Picture FILE PICTURE: U.S. President-elect Donald Trump stands with retired Marine Gen. James Mattis following their meeting at the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo 1/3 FILE PICTURE: U.S. President-elect Donald Trump stands with retired Marine Gen. James Mattis following their meeting at the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 19, 2016. Reuters/Mike Segar/File Photo U.S. President-elect Donald Trump stands with retired Marine Gen. James Mattis following their meeting at the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar 2/3 U.S. President-elect Donald Trump stands with retired Marine Gen. James Mattis following their meeting at the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 19, 2016. Reuters/Mike Segar FILE PICTURE: General James Mattis testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington July 27, 2010, on his nomination to be Commander of U.S. Central Command. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Picture 3/3 FILE PICTURE: General James Mattis testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington July 27, 2010, on his nomination to be Commander of U.S. Central Command. Reuters/Yuri Gripas/File Picture FILE PICTURE: U.S. President-elect Donald Trump stands with retired Marine Gen. James Mattis following their meeting at the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo 1/3 FILE PICTURE: U.S. President-elect Donald Trump stands with retired Marine Gen. James Mattis following their meeting at the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 19, 2016. Reuters/Mike Segar/File Photo › Trump had promised during the campaign he would not only revive use of waterboarding, which is widely regarded as torture and was banned under President Barack Obama, but bring back "a hell of a lot worse" if elected. "(Mattis) said: 'I’ve always found, give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers and I do better with that than I do with torture.’ And I was very impressed by that answer," Trump told The New York Times. WARY OF IRAN The Senate Armed Services Committee will consider Mattis' nomination. In a statement on Thursday night, its chairman, Republican John McCain, called him "one of the finest military officers of his generation and an extraordinary leader." Mattis would be the first former U.S. general to become defense secretary since George C. Marshall took the job in 1950. The decision adds to Trump's national security team another Pentagon veteran who served during the Obama administration but often had a testy relationship with it. Related Coverage Trump fills top jobs for his administration Contenders, picks for key jobs in Trump's administration Officials who knew him before he retired in 2013 said Mattis clashed with top administration officials when he headed Central Command over his desire to better prepare for potential threats from Iran and to win more resources for Afghanistan. Trump has given the job of national security adviser to Michael Flynn, a retired three-star Army general who was pushed out of the top job at the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014 by Obama's administration. Flynn was fiercely critical of Obama during the 2016 campaign, adopting much of Trump's rhetoric. Along with Flynn and Trump's choice for CIA director, U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo, Mattis has been critical of the deal to curb Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program, saying the threat from Tehran should outrank more immediate concerns about Islamic State or al Qaeda. "The Iranian regime, in my mind, is the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East," Mattis said. Speaking about the Iranian nuclear deal, Mattis said: "Hoping that Iran is on the cusp of becoming a responsible, modern nation is a bridge too far." If Mattis wins Senate confirmation, he will work side by side with another Marine - General Joseph Dunford, who is chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Having two Marine generals in those top jobs would be highly unusual for a service that prides itself on being the most elite U.S. fighting force. It would also raise questions about how Mattis and Dunford might divide up tasks. Both Dunford and Mattis share battlefield experience, including in Iraq. In 2003, Mattis led the 1st Marine Division during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. He has said one of the toughest things he had to do was oversee the retreat of his forces from the city of Falluja in 2004, something he feared would hurt morale, but did not. "We just don't take refuge in self-pity or any of that kind of stuff. And so as a result, the Marine Corps remains a very feared organization in this world. As it should be," he said. (Reporting by Phil Stewart; Additional reporting by Emily Stephenson in Cincinnati and Doina Chiacu in Washington; Editing by Sandra Maler and Peter Cooney) =========================================== 13h ago | 01:23 Ross and Mnuchin are relatively safe choices - analyst Trump says he will back away from business to...X By Steve Holland and Melissa Fares | NEW YORK U.S. President-elect Donald Trump vowed on Wednesday to step back from running his global business empire to avoid conflicts of interest but gave few immediate details as concern over his dual role mounts ahead of his Jan. 20 inauguration. Trump, a real estate magnate who owns hotels and golf resorts from Panama to Scotland, said he would spell out at a Dec. 15 news conference how he will separate himself "in total" from his worldwide business holdings, which include a winery, modeling agency and a range of other businesses. After Trump won the Nov. 8 election, his company, the Trump Organization, had said it was looking at new business structures with the goal of transferring control to Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump - three of his adult children who are involved with the company. Trump gave few details in a series of early morning tweets but said that "legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations" and that his children would attend the news conference. He did not say what the planned change might mean for ownership of his businesses. Although Trump's fellow Republicans generally take a more laissez faire stance toward business than Democrats, the president-elect will travel to Indiana on Thursday to formally announce a deal he reached with United Technologies Corp to keep close to 1,000 jobs at its Carrier Corp air conditioner plant in Indianapolis rather than have them moved to Mexico. Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana, railed against Carrier on the campaign trail, using the company's outsourcing move as an example of how trade agreements hurt American workers. 'HE NEEDS TO SELL THE BUSINESSES' Critics have raised questions about the role of Trump's children, who are on the executive committee of his White House transition team. His daughter Ivanka joined a telephone call her father had with Argentine President Mauricio Macri earlier this month and attended a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, creating concerns about possible conflicts of interest. A brand name around the globe, Trump previously argued he had no need to separate himself from the Trump Organization, which includes a hotel down the street from the White House, a Manhattan tower where he lives and is running his transition to office, and a New Jersey golf course where he interviewed Cabinet candidates earlier this month. Trump said on Wednesday he was not required by law to alter his relationship with his business, but added: "I feel it is visually important, as president, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses." As the Republican heads toward taking over the White House from Democratic President Barack Obama, scrutiny of potential conflicts has grown. Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill called for hearings on the issue. Rules on conflict of interest for executive branch employees do not apply to the president, but Trump will be bound by bribery laws, disclosure rules and the U.S. Constitution, which bars elected officials from taking gifts from foreign governments. The nonpartisan Office of Government Ethics, a government office that oversees ethics programs for the executive branch, issued a statement saying it applauded Trump's aims and appearing to suggest that he completely shed his holdings. "Divestiture resolves conflicts of interest in a way that transferring control does not," it said. Richard Painter, who served as the chief ethics lawyer to former Republican President George W. Bush, concurred. U.S. President-elect Donald Trump gestures to the news media as he appears outside the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar 2/2 U.S. President-elect Donald Trump gestures to the news media as he appears outside the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 20, 2016. Reuters/Mike Segar U.S. President-elect Donald Trump arrives at the the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar 1/2 U.S. President-elect Donald Trump arrives at the the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 19, 2016. Reuters/Mike Segar U.S. President-elect Donald Trump gestures to the news media as he appears outside the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar 2/2 U.S. President-elect Donald Trump gestures to the news media as he appears outside the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 20, 2016. Reuters/Mike Segar U.S. President-elect Donald Trump arrives at the the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar 1/2 U.S. President-elect Donald Trump arrives at the the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 19, 2016. Reuters/Mike Segar › "He needs to sell the businesses not just have someone else manage them for him," Painter, a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, said in an emailed comment. WALL STREET PICKS Trump, a former reality TV star, has spent much of the past few weeks setting up his Cabinet and interviewing candidates for top jobs in his administration. On Wednesday, Trump said he would nominate his chief campaign fundraiser, Steven Mnuchin, to lead the U.S. Treasury. Mnuchin said the administration would make tax reform and trade pact overhauls top priorities as it seeks a sustained pace of 3 percent to 4 percent economic growth. Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs banker, also signaled a desire to remove U.S. mortgage-finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from government ownership, a move that could have wide-ranging ramifications for how Americans pay for their homes, and said banking regulations should be eased to spur lending. Related Coverage VIDEOTrump to leave his business VIDEOBreakingviews TV: Treasury under Trump FACT BOX Contenders, picks for key jobs in Trump's administration FACT BOX Trump to meet with Linda McMahon, Gen. John Kelly, U.S. prosecutor Trump named Wilbur Ross, a billionaire known for his investments in distressed industries, as his nominee for commerce secretary. Both nominees will require confirmation by the U.S. Senate. Trump is also considering Goldman Sachs President and Chief Operating Officer Gary Cohn, a former commodities trader, to head his White House budget office or to fill another position, a Trump transition official said. The economic picks were praised by the Business Roundtable, a group that represents America's largest corporations. But U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren called Mnuchin "just another Wall Street insider." "That is not the type of change that Donald Trump promised to bring to Washington - that is hypocrisy at its worst," Sanders, a Vermont independent who ran for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, and Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, said in a joint statement. Trump pledged during his campaign to "drain the swamp" in Washington. A spokesman said giving top economic jobs to Wall Street figures was not inconsistent with that vow. "You want some people that are insiders and understand the system and some outsiders that are creative thinkers, out-of-the-box thinkers and disruptors," said Anthony Scaramucci, an asset manager who is on Trump's transition committee. Trump is also working to fill out his foreign policy team, but no decision appeared imminent on who the next secretary of state would be. (Additional reporting by David Lawder and Eric Walsh in Washington and Melissa Fares in New York; Writing by Roberta Rampton and Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Alistair Bell and Peter Cooney)

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