President-elect Trump whittles list to final four for Secretary of State

President-elect Donald Trump, center, eats dinner with Mitt Romney, right, and Trump Chief of Staff Reince Priebus at Jean-Georges restaurant, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President-elect Donald Trump, center, eats dinner with Mitt Romney, right, and Trump Chief of Staff Reince Priebus at Jean-Georges restaurant, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Latest on President-elect Donald Trump (all times EST):

11:33 a.m. – President-elect Donald Trump is weighing four finalists to lead the State Department, one of the most powerful and prominent Cabinet positions.

Spokesman Jason Miller says Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani are on the short list. A separate transition official said Trump is also considering former CIA Director David Petraeus and Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker for the job.

A decision on the secretary of state post is not believed to be imminent.

Trump held a private dinner with Romney Tuesday night, their second meeting to discuss the Cabinet position. The president-elect also met with Corker and Petraeus this week.

Giuliani was initially seen as a lock for the State Department, but questions about his international business ties and his public campaigning for the job are said to have given Trump pause.

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11:12 a.m. – Donald Trump’s senior adviser says his adult children are expected to take more control of his business empire as the president-elect works to prevent conflicts of interest before he takes office.

Kellyanne Conway told The Associated Press Wednesday that, “The three adult children who do already work in the corporation are expected to continue in those roles and in fact increase their responsibilities in those roles.”

The incoming president tweeted Wednesday that legal documents are being prepared that would “take me completely out of business operations.”

Conway said the specific transition plan would be announced at a Dec. 15 press conference.

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9:48 a.m. – The president-elect’s pick for treasury secretary says federal spending on roads and bridges will be a “big priority for the administration.”

Speaking to reporters in Trump Tower Wednesday, Steven Mnuchin said the country needs infrastructure that is “built for the 21st Century.” President-elect Donald Trump emphasized infrastructure investment throughout his campaign.

Mnuchin said the administration will work with Congress to figure out how to pay for this effort. He said funding options include some public-private partnerships.

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8:53 a.m. – President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for treasury secretary says he expects U.S. interest rates to stay “relatively low for the next couple of years” – but eventually they will rise.

Steven Mnuchin tells CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that the country is in a period of low rates that “have come up a little bit, which I think makes sense.”

He’s putting people on notice that “eventually we are going to have higher interest rates and that’s something that this country is going to need to deal with.”

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has suggested that the central bank is on track to raise interest rates when policymakers hold their final meeting of the year next month.

Yellen has said she has no plans to step down before her four-year term ends in early 2018.

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8:27 a.m. – Key members of Donald Trump’s economic team are promising major changes to the 2010 Dodd-Frank law Congress passed to prevent another financial crisis.

Critics say the law went too far to hinder banks from making loans that people and businesses need to spend and hire.

The president-elect’s pick for treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, says loans are “the engine of growth” for small- and medium-sized businesses, and that the fallout from Dodd-Frank has been a cutting back on lending.

Mnuchin tells CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that the incoming administration wants to “strip back parts of Dodd-Frank that prevent banks from lending, and that’ll be the number one priority on the regulatory side.”

And Trump’s choice for commerce secretary, financier Wilbur Ross, blames the law for putting banks in a position where he says “they now have more compliance people than they have lending officers.”

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8:05 a.m. – Nigel Farage, former leader of Britain’s anti-EU right-wing party, says he and President-elect Donald Trump wouldn’t have achieved their goals without social media.

Farage says the internet means governments “simply can’t lie to us any more in the way they used to.”

He says “nobody has made better use on the internet” than he did, adding “Trump has done exactly the same thing.”

Farage told an international broadcast news industry conference on Wednesday his right-wing UK Independence Party “would never, ever” had gotten “off the ground” and UKIP wouldn’t “have been any more than a little fringe party had it not been for YouTube.”

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7:53 a.m. – President-elect Donald Trump has filled more top posts on his economic team – picking former Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin as treasury secretary and financier Wilbur Ross to lead the Commerce Department.

Mnuchin is confirming that he and Ross are joining Trump’s Cabinet, pending confirmation by the Senate.

He tells CNBC’s “Squawk Box” in an interview Wednesday that “we’re thrilled to work for the president-elect and honored to have these positions.”

Mnuchin says “sustained economic growth” is the chief priority of the incoming administration and he says “we can absolutely get to sustained 3 to 4 percent” in the gross domestic product.

He’s also outlining what he calls “the largest tax change” since President Ronald Reagan – cutting the corporate tax rate to 15 percent, a “big” middle-class income tax cut and simplifying taxes.

Mnuchin led Trump’s finance operations during the presidential campaign and became close to the president-elect and his family.

Ross is a billionaire investor who’s considered the “king of bankruptcy” for buying beaten-down companies with the potential to deliver profits.

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7:00 a.m. – Donald Trump says he’s leaving his “great business” so he can focus on being the nation’s 45th president.

Trump tweeted early Wednesday that legal documents are being crafted to “take me completely out of business operations,” adding, “the presidency is a far more important task!”

Trump had been under criticism for exposing himself to potential conflicts if he kept a role in his global business while being president.

He says he’ll hold a news conference with his children on the subject on Dec. 15.

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3:20 a.m. – President-elect Donald Trump is tapping conservatives with deep ties to Washington and Wall Street to fill out key Cabinet roles as he continues to deliberate over his secretary of state.

Trump is moving forward with nominations, including former Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin (meh-NEW’-chen) as secretary of the Treasury.

Mnuchin’s official announcement is 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.

Trump on Tuesday 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 (chow), a former labor secretary, to lead the Department of Transportation.

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This story has been corrected to reflect that Trump is holding a news conference with his children, not leaving business to his children.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

 

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