Trump Taps Investor, Cubs Owner for Commerce

WASHINGTON (CN) – President-elect Donald Trump has chosen investor Wilbur Ross to serve as his commerce secretary, Trump’s transition team announced Wednesday.

Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts will serve as deputy commerce secretary under Ross, Trump also announced.

Ross made his fortune by turning around failing businesses in the steel, textile and coal industries, typically through budget cuts and layoffs. Forbes reports that Ross is worth $2.9 billion, good for 232nd on the list of richest people in the country.

The chair of W.L. Ross & Co., Ross was a key economic adviser on Trump’s campaign. He also was a bondholder on the Trump Taj Mahal casino and was one of the investors who renegotiated with Trump to allow him to keep the casino, The New York Times reported.

Ross told the New York Post he could have foreclosed on Trump’s casino “and he would have been gone.”

Trump praised his pick in a statement this morning, calling Ross “one of the greatest negotiators I have ever met, and that comes from me, the author of ‘The Art of the Deal.’”

“Together we will take on the special interests and stand up for American jobs,” Trump said. “Wilbur knows that cutting taxes for working families, reducing burdensome government regulations and unleashing America’s energy resources will strengthen our economy at a time when our country needs to see significant growth.”

Ross has been a vocal critic of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an Obama administration trade deal that Trump criticized as a central focus of the populist economic message he is riding to the White House.

The baseball bigwig tapped to serve under Ross meanwhile is the son of Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts and brother of Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts.

Facing criticism from the Ricketts during the primary campaign, Trump tweeted out that the family “better be careful, they have a lot to hide!”

The Ricketts came around for Trump during the general election, reportedly helping raise money and contributing some of their own to support Trump against Hillary Clinton.

On Wednesday, Trump praised Todd Ricketts for his “unparalleled knowledge of the finance industry.”

“As deputy commerce secretary he will help us cut waste and streamline government so that it works for the people of America,” Trump said in a statement. “The incredible job he and the Ricketts family did in the purchase and turnaround of the Chicago Cubs – on perfect step after another, leading to the world championship, is what I want representing our people.”

Also on Wednesday, Trump confirmed news that spread the night before of his pick for secretary of the Treasury Department.

Steven Mnuchin served as finance chair on Trump’s campaign after spending 17 years at Goldman Sachs. He later founded a movie-financing company that put up the funds for hits like “X-Men” and “Avatar.”

Mnuchin was also part of a group that bought failing mortgage company IndyMac and renamed it OneWest. The company quickly earned a reputation for aggressively foreclosing on homes and was the subject of a complaint from fair-housing groups that accused OneWest of not lending to minorities enough.

Following in the shoes of Robert Rubin and Hank Paulson, who served under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, respectively, Mnuchin will be the third former Goldman Sachs employee to hold the Treasury secretary job in the past two decades.

Trump railed against special interests and the so-called global elite in his campaign, seemingly at odds with his choice to fill a key cabinet spot with a former member of a financial institution that has been used as a symbol of corporate greed since the financial crisis.

Trump even showed a picture of current Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein during a campaign ad as narration, accusing the “global power structure” of putting “money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations.”

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