WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump is expected to nominate lawyer Robert Lighthizer as U.S. Trade Representative, a transition official said Monday night, filling in one of the final pieces in the new administration’s senior team.
Lighthizer, who served as deputy USTR under President Ronald Reagan, would play a key role in Trump’s trade agenda. The president-elect has vigorously opposed the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership pact, but has said he would ink one-on-one trade deals with individual countries. Trump has also signaled a tough stance on trade with China, including levying a hefty tariff on Chinese imports.
The transition official was not authorized to publicly confirm Trump’s expected decision and insisted on anonymity.
Trump returned to New York Monday after spending the holidays at his private club in South Florida. With less than three weeks until his Jan. 20 inauguration, Trump is expected to fill out a handful of remaining Cabinet-level posts in the coming days.
In addition to the USTR, Trump is also weighing picks to lead the departments of Agriculture and Veterans Affairs, as well as a Director of National Intelligence. In addition, Trump is still filling out some top White House positions.
Trump has already signaled that he plans to spread work on his trade policies beyond USTR. His transition team has said billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, Trump’s nominee to head the Commerce Department, will play a lead role on trade. The president-elect has also named economist Peter Navarro to a newly created White House National Trade Council.
Outside of government, Lighthizer has worked on trade issues as a lawyer, representing manufacturing, agricultural and high-tech companies, according to his law firm biography. Lighthizer’s bio also states that he focused on “market-opening trade actions on behalf of U.S. companies seeking access to foreign markets.”