French President Emmanuel Macron presented a diverse cabinet of 22 ministers, including a Jew, a Muslim and both advocates and critics of Israel.
Macron, a centrist who had served in governments led both by Socialists and Republicans before his election on May 7 on an independent ticket, appointed on Wednesday as his foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, a former defense minister under the previous president, Francois Hollande of the Socialist Party.
In 2014, Le Drian wrote in a statement that France “condemns” the firing of rockets into Israel “but requests that Israel” minimize any harm to civilians in its attacks on Hamas.
Macron appointed Edouard Philippe, a lawmaker from the moderate wing of the main center-right The Republicans party, as prime minister.
Macron appointed to health minister Agnes Buzyn, a physician born to a Polish Jewish couple. Her father survived the Holocaust and her mother was born in France shortly after the war to Jewish immigrants from Poland. She is one of 11 women whom Macron made ministers – exactly half of his cabinet.
Francois Bayrou, a billionaire-turned-politician who has in the past criticized what he has called Israel’s “arbitrary and unjust arrests of Palestinians,” among other alleged actions by the Jewish state, was named minister of state – a position equivalent to minister without portfolio which nonetheless suggests seniority.
Bruno le Maire of The Republicans party was made minister of the economy. Pro-Israel activists in France regard him as a staunch ally and defender of the Jewish state, according to the right-leaning news site Alyaexpress.
Last year, le Maire criticized Hollande’s government for supporting a vote at the United Nations educational branch, UNESCO, which ignored Jewish ties to Jerusalem. He called it “a moral and political error.”
Marielle De Sarnez, a former lawmaker at the European Parliament who in 2010 visited Hamas-controlled Gaza and co-authored a letter urging Israel to lift its blockade of the area, was appointed as the minister in charge of European affairs. The letter she co-signed did not mention Hamas’ violations of human rights and terrorist activities. It also praised the work of UNRWA, a UN agency which Israel in those years accused of incitement, as “fantastic.”
Macron appointed Mounir Majhoubi, a 33-year-old entrepreneur whose family is Muslim and has Moroccan roots, to be France’s minister in charge of digitalization. Majhoubi in 2010 opened a successful high-tech firm together with his then business partner, the French-Jewish developer Marc-David Choukroun.
“Israel is a friend, it is an ally but for us to be an effective ally we need also to strengthen our relationship with the other legitimate partners in the region,” he said in an interview.
Ottawa strives to be more balanced, “more open” and more “efficient” in its foreign policy, he told Radio Canada last year in a separate interview. Siding with Israel only, as the previous governments under prime minister Stephen Harper did, is ultimately in nobody’s interest, he argued.
Following his election in October 2015, Trudeau told Netanyahu in a telephone conversation that “there would be a shift in tone” from the unabashedly pro-Israel rhetoric of Harper, but said “Canada would continue to be a friend of Israel’s” and support the Jewish State.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget, outside Paris on November 30, 2015. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Prior to her appointment as foreign minister on Tuesday, Freeland was trade minister when she oversaw last year’s ratification of the Canada-European Union free trade agreement after initial concerns Europe wouldn’t approve it. NAFTA is Canada’s largest and most important economic pact and Freeland will remain the point person on trade with the US.
Trudeau noted that Canada is among a few nations promoting free trade.
“President-elect Trump very much takes a trade and job lens to his engagements in the world in international diplomacy,” Trudeau said. “It makes sense for the person who is responsible for foreign relations with the United States to also have the ability and the responsibility to engage with issues such as NAFTA and the broad range of trade issues that we’ll be facing with our friends and neighbors south of the border.”
Freeland, a former journalist and author of Ukrainian descent, is barred from Russia, something she has called an honor. Russia banned her in 2014 as part of a series of retaliatory sanctions against 13 Canadian officials. She had lived in Russia and has been a critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, someone Trump has praised.
“That’s a question for Moscow,” Freeland said when asked if she will be able to travel to Russia.
Trudeau said: “Her ability to deal with multiple situations around the world was well demonstrated in her tremendous success in her negotiating the Canada-Europe trade agreement. As to how she gets along with Russia, she speaks fluent Russian.”
She speaks five languages in all.
Another experienced hand, John McCallum, who oversaw the arrival of more than 39,000 Syrian refugees as immigration minister, is retiring from Parliament to become ambassador to China as Trudeau embarks on a free trade agreement with that Asian country.
McCallum is the former chief economist for Canada’s largest bank and his wife is of Chinese origin. He also represents a district near Toronto that is 40 percent Chinese origin.
Ahmed Hussen, a Somali refugee, was named Canada’s new immigration minister. Hussen came to Canada as a teenager from war-torn Somalia. A lawyer and community activist, he became the first Somali-Canadian to be elected to Parliament in 2015.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Labour Patty Hajdu, Minister of Status of Women Maryam Monsef, Minister of International Trade Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould and Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen applaud before being sworn-in during a cabinet shuffle at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, Tuesday, January 10, 2017. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP)
The Cabinet makeover was Trudeau’s first since becoming prime minister in late 2015. He made a splash then when he named a Cabinet that was 50 percent women. He now has 15 women ministers and 14 men.
News of the shuffle leaked Monday just as Trudeau’s office confirmed that his two top aides, Chief of Staff Katie Telford and Principal Secretary Gerald Butts, have been meeting with some of Trump’s senior advisers seeking to build bridges to the incoming administration. Freeland, who was head of the Cabinet committee on Canada-US relations, has been involved in the meetings.
“We’ve been laying the groundwork for some personal relationships,” Freeland said. “Being able to call each other on the phone and send emails, that is something that is really important for the Canadian government.”
Ayn Rand was a terrible person who wove a philosophy of selfishness and greed out of the threads of her own psychopathy. Rand’s writings and speeches should be recognized as rantings suited for an audience of a well-trained therapist, instead of inflicted upon millions of English students.
Rand, who declared “altruism” a national disease, wrote admiringly of child-murderer William Edward Hickman’s callous indifference toward others and his “immense, explicit egotism.” Her contempt for the poor and middle-class are pronounced by anti-Robin Hoods who brag about stealing from “the thieving poor” to give to “the productive rich.” Rand defended Native American genocide and murderous white supremacy, once stating “any white person who [brought] the elements of civilization had the right to take over this continent.” Objectivism, Rand’s refutation of basic human decency in favor of pathological self-interest and ruthless capitalism, was correctly identified as “perfect in its immorality” by Gore Vidal more than half a century ago. Today it’s the prevailing ethos of the GOP, embraced by Republicans going back to Ronald Reagan and especially beloved among the incoming Trump administration.
As James Hohmann of the Washington Post notes, Trump pledged his affection to Rand in an interview earlier this year with Kirsten Powers. Trump, who proudly admits he doesn’t read—neither books nor intelligence briefings that might slow his roll toward starting a nuclear war—told Powers he relates to Howard Roark, the architect protagonist of The Fountainhead. Roark espouses the warped belief that selfishness is a virtue (“Man’s first duty is to himself”) and commits a violent sexual assault. Without specifics, it’s hard to know precisely where Trump thinks the resemblance begins and ends.
Trump shares an affinity for Rand with several other members of his cabinet—though that’s not the worst thing you can say about them, considering the group is a motley assortment of Islamophobes, white supremacists, alleged wifebeaters, and anti-worker .1 percenters.
Hohmann writes that Trump’s labor secretary pick Andy Puzder “is the CEO of CKE Restaurants, which is owned by Roark Capital Group, a private equity fund named after Howard Roark.” When the New York Times asked for a few personal insights about Puzder from one of his business cohorts, the fast-food titan was described only as an “avid reader who love[s] Ayn Rand.” Puzder recently told the Wall Street Journal’s Jennifer Grossman that he’s advised all six of his kids to read The Fountainhead, in the hope they’ll “lead the kind of lives of achievement, integrity and independence that Ayn Rand celebrated in her novels.”
Trump’s choice for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, who’s as famous for being the CEO of ExxonMobil as for his coziness with Vladimir Putin, is also a Rand adherent. Hohmann discovered the oil baron “listed [Atlas Shrugged] as his favorite book in a 2008 feature for Scouting Magazine.” Trump’s choice to head the CIA, Mike Pompeo, previously indicated to the Washington Post that many of his political views are the result of “a long interest in libertarian and conservative thought, first formed at age 15 when he read Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead.” John A. Allison IV, the former CEO of BB&T Bank and Cato Institute who had a closed-door meeting with Trump late last month, reportedly gave his executive staffers copies of Atlas Shrugged, calling it “the best defense of capitalism ever written.” Paul Ryan and Donald Trump have had some friction, but maybe now they can now bond over their mutual love of Rand and the belief that “money is the creation of the best power within you.” After years ofsaying Rand inspired his whole career, Ryan has more recently claimed he no subscribes to objectivist philosophy. His policy proposals beg to differ.
“The fact that all of these men, so late in life, are such fans of works that celebrate individuals who consistently put themselves before others is therefore deeply revealing,” Hohmann writes. “They will now run our government.”
Ayn Rand finally hit a wall through which her delusions could no longer pass; by the time of her death in 1982, she was enrolled in both Medicare and Social Security. After a lifetime of pushing a fever-dreamed philosophy, she was forced to reconcile with reality by old age, illness, and the boundaries of her own personal wealth. The GOP was all too happy to pick up the torch. Trump’s team of millionaires and billionaires, bonded by a philosophy of cruelty, are now running with it.
A lot was written during the presidential campaign about the end of norms. It was a norm for a presidential candidate to release his or her taxes; now it isn’t. It was a norm to divest one’s assets and put them in a blind trust; now it isn’t. It was a norm for a president-elect to sit through daily or almost daily intelligence briefings; now it isn’t.
In the century since, the department’s responsibilities have grown to cover everything from compiling labor statistics to ensuring mine safety to overseeing the nation’s pension programs. When it comes to appointing labor secretaries, there’s been an unwritten rule: Democrats don’t appoint union leaders and Republicans don’t appoint CEOs.
It’s generally been a no-no to appointing a CEO or union leader; until now
The president-elect’s choice to head the department is Andrew Puzder, the CEO of CKE Enterprises, a restaurant chain that includes Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. It’s telling that the chain is owned by Roark Capital, a private equity concern that was named after Howard Roark, the protagonist of The Fountainhead, written by Ayn Rand. In the novel, Roark is the heroic architect and builder of a skyscraper who is forever being stymied by moochers and takers, Rand was a hero to libertarians, who treat her attacks on government benefits as scripture. Puzder reportedly enjoys reading Rand in his spare time, and that makes sense when one learns he opposes the Obama administration’s efforts to raise it the minimum wage as well as its plans to expand overtime benefits.
To be fair, most any labor secretary appointed by a Republican president was bound to oppose his Democratic predecessor’s policies. But Puzder has praised automation that displaces restaurant workers and has been an active opponent to efforts that would make the parent companies of franchisees open to lawsuits. We can’t be sure exactly how he will manage the $12 billion department or its 17,000 employees if confirmed. His ex-wife had accused Pudzel of spousal abuse, but she has recently rescinded that charge via a letter distributed by the Trump transition team. Perhaps Puzder will prove to be the practical-minded businessman that supporters insist he is, but given his positions and the startling choice of a CEO as labor secretary, expect a more dramatic lurch to the right than anything seen under the Bush presidencies.
During the presidential campaign, there was always considerable wonder as to what Trump’s governing philosophy would be. After all, it was only a few years ago that he was praising the Clintons, donating to their foundation and denouncing “wackos” like Pat Buchanan, the Nixon/Reagan official turned commentator who ran for president on a platform of restricting immigration and erecting tariff barriers. Many wondered whether Trump was really a Republican, He broke with his party’s orthodoxy on trade and immigration, but he also offered succor to liberals and his working-class base when he said he would never touch Medicare and Social Security. Now every indication is that Trump will govern as a very conservative Republican, kind of a Ted Cruz who tweets.
Bill Bennett, who was education secretary under Ronald Reagan, has called Trump’s cabinet picks the most conservative ever. And that’s hard to dispute. Trump said he doesn’t want to touch entitlements, but his choice for secretary of health and human services, Tom Price, a Republican congressman from Georgia and a physician, is a believer in making Medicare a voucher system, transforming it from an insurance program that offers a defined set of hospital, physician and prescription benefits into a “premium support” program under which the elderly are given a subsidy to buy private insurance. As for Medicaid, the government health program for lower-income Americans, he’s favored turning it over to the states. This is far to the right of anything pursued by George W. Bush, who actually expanded Medicare more than any president since Lyndon Johnson when he proposed and passed a prescription drug benefit. Maybe Marco Rubio or Carly Fiorina would have appointed Price, a House leader on health care, but this is not the hands-off Medicare policy that Trump promised.
Donald Trump is expected to nominate Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. BRENDAN MCDERMID / REUTERS
Trump’s nomination of Scott Pruitt to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency is unlike any since the first days of the Reagan administration. George W.. Bush appointed moderate New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman to be his first EPA head. His father appointed William Reilly, then head of the World Wildlife Fund. Pruitt, the attorney general of Oklahoma, is a climate change denier who became infamous for having written a letter of complaint to the EPA about what he said was an overestimation of pollution figures for his state. The letter, it emerged, was written by staff at Devon Energy. Any Republican was going to shift Obama’s policies on climate change, although it’s worth remembering that Senator John McCain used to talk about climate change and supported cap-and-trade measures to stem it. The EPA has never seen an administrator so fundamentally hostile to its mission. It’s the environmental equivalent of handing the Labor Department to Puzder.
At the Education Department, the appointment of Betsy DeVos marks a turning point—she would be the first education secretary who has never attended public school nor has their children. DeVos is a fierce advocate for offering vouchers to allow parents to send their children to private schools. The idea has wide currency among Republicans and some Democrats alarmed at the state of some poorer school districts. Most Republican secretaries of education, such as Lamar Alexander and Margaret Spellings, have recognized the political realities of trying to institute a national voucher program and have instead focused on choice within the public school system and the creation of charter schools. The Obama administration has largely continued this idea, albeit in a way more friendly to the American Federation of Teachers and other education unions. But Trump hasn’t talked charter schools so much as total take-it-anywhere-you-want vouchers, and DeVos will pursue that idea as well as ripping up the common core standards developed by states and private industry during the Bush years.
Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions with Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York City, October 7.MIKE SEGAR/REUTERS
Likewise, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Trump’s pick to be attorney general, can be expected to carry over all of the most controversial policies of the Bush-Obama years when it comes to surveillance and civil liberties. But as the Senate’s leading advocate of restricting immigration, legal and illegal, he’ll take the department in a direction that it never saw under the last two Republican attorneys general, John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales. Concerns over Sessions’s commitment to civil rights as U.S. attorney in Alabama led to his being denied a federal judgeship by the Senate in 1986. In modern times, no president has nominated an attorney general who had previously been rejected by the Senate for a post.
It’s not that every proposed member of the Trump cabinet represents a dramatic shift to the right. Some are ciphers. Nikki Haley, the amiable governor of South Carolina who Trump has nominated to be America’s ambassador to the United Nations, has never lived outside South Carolina. Who knows whether she’ll be a firebreather like John Bolton, George W. Bush’s representative to the body, or more moderate, like his successor Thomas Pickering, an esteemed career diplomat? James Mattis, the retired general tapped to be defense secretary, and John Kelly, the general picked to be homeland security secretary, don’t represent dramatic swings to the right. (Obama appointed no fewer than two Republicans to be defense secretary, Chuck Hagel and Bob Gates.)
In general, though, this is shaping up as the most conservative cabinet ever. It’ll also be the richest, with at least $14 billion in personal wealth. Depending on where you sit, that’s a good or a bad thing. But it’s a much more solidly conservative Republican assemblage than Trump intimated he’d pursue during the campaign. Unless our protean president does another flip, we now know who he is.
President-elect Donald Trump ran on a campaign of blue-collar anger and populism, but he’s now drawing fire for stocking his White House with fellow billionaires.
Financial success isn’t necessarily a barrier to public service. President Obama has a billionaire on staff too: Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker is worth an estimated $2.5 billion, from real estate and family banking investments in Chicago.
But already the combined wealth of Trump’s prospective cabinet tops $14 billion — more than 30 times greater than that of even President George W. Bush’s White House. And Trump isn’t halfway done with his picks.
Here’s a look at how some of the wealthiest appointees so far stack up, according to data and estimates by the Washington Post, Forbes, The Guardian, and OpenSecrets.org:
$5.3 billion – Todd Ricketts – Deputy Secretary of Commerce
Co-owner of Chicago Cubs. Billionaire father founded the Ameritrade discount brokerage services.
$5.1 billion – Betsy DeVos – Secretary of Education
Daughter-in-law of co-founder of Amway, a multi-level-marketing company later renamed “Quixtar.” Brother founded Blackwater. Fierce faith-based proponent of school voucher programs.
$2.9 billion – Wilbur Ross – Secretary of Commerce
Dubbed the “king of bankruptcy.” Restructured failed companies in steel, coal, and telecommunications using leveraged buyouts.
$1.16 billion (with husband) – Linda McMahon, head of Small Business Administration
Co-founder of the pro-wrestling company World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), which she owns with her husband, Vince McMahon. His net worth is estimated to be $1.16 billion, according to Forbes. The magazine reported that Linda McMahon owns $84 million in the company’s stock. She previously attempted to enter politics when she ran for the U.S. Senate in Connecticut in 2010 and 2012, pouring close to $100 million into the campaigns.
$46 million – Steven Mnuchin – Secretary of the Treasury
Worked 17 years at Goldman Sachs. Started his own hedge fund and invested in at least two Donald Trump projects. Turned around failed home lender IndyMac and renamed it OneWest. Company was involved in string of lawsuits over questionable foreclosure practices. In one controversy the bank foreclosed on a senior who accidentally underpaid by 27 cents.
$26 million – Ben Carson – Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
A former Republican presidential candidate and neurosurgeon with revenue from best-selling books, paid speeches and board positions. During his campaign said social safety net and welfare programs create dependency among poor.
$16.9 million – Elaine Chao – Transportation Secretary
Former member of both Bush administrations. Daughter of a shipping magnate. Married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
$13.6 million – Tom Price – Secretary of Health and Human Services
An orthopedic surgeon with medical industry companies in his stock portfolio. He wants to repeal Obamacare and replace it with tax credits and health savings accounts.
$15.8 million – Jeff Sessions – Attorney General
Republican Senator from Alabama. Noted advocate for reducing legal immigration. Supported Bush tax cuts, opposed 2009 stimulus and Obamacare. Top contributors are in legal, health, real estate and utilities, especially a gas and electric company and a coal-mining firm.
In a campaign commercial that ran just before the election, Donald J. Trump’s voice boomed over a series of Wall Street images. He described “a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth, and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations.”
The New York Stock Exchange, the hedge fund billionaire George Soros and the chief executive of the investment bank Goldman Sachs flashed across the screen.
Now Mr. Trump has named a former Goldman executive and co-investor with Mr. Soros to spearhead his economic policy.
With Wednesday’s nomination of Steven Mnuchin, a Goldman trader turned hedge fund manager and Hollywood financier, to be Treasury secretary, a new economic leadership is taking shape in Washington.
Mr. Mnuchin will join Wilbur L. Ross Jr., a billionaire investor in distressed assets, who has been chosen to run the Commerce Department, and Todd Ricketts, owner of the Chicago Cubs, who has been picked to be deputy commerce secretary. All are superwealthy and to be overseen by the first billionaire president in United States history.
That two investors — Mr. Mnuchin and Mr. Ross — will occupy two major economic positions in the new administration is the most powerful signal yet that Mr. Trump plans to emphasize policies friendly to Wall Street, like tax cuts and a relaxation of regulation, in the early days of his administration.
While that approach has been cheered by investors (the stocks of Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have been on a tear since the election), it stands in stark contrast to the populist campaign that Mr. Trump ran and the support he received from working-class voters across the country.
Anthony Scaramucci, a hedge fund executive and member of the Trump transition team, insisted on Wednesday that appointing wealthy investors did not contradict the campaign’s populist message.
“The working-class people of the United States, they need a break,” Mr. Scaramucci said. “And we need to switch them from going from the working class into the working poor into what I call the aspirational working class, which my dad was a member of.”
Still, Democrats were quick to attack the latest nomination.
“Steve Mnuchin is just another Wall Street insider,” Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said in a joint statement. “That is not the type of change that Donald Trump promised to bring to Washington — that is hypocrisy at its worst.”
So far, none of the nominees who will be shaping economic policy have any significant experience in government.
Mr. Mnuchin, 53, and Mr. Ross, 79, are both familiar with buying distressed properties and selling for a profit. But they are political neophytes with scant experience in managing large organizations. They will oversee two government agencies that together employ about 130,000 people around the world.
In the case of Mr. Mnuchin at Treasury, his experience as a principal investor who made large sums of money through high-risk, high-return wagers suggests that he will look critically at the thicket of regulations that now constrain the risk-taking activities of investment banks.
That could mean a reassessment of what has come to be known as the Volcker Rule, part of the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul that followed the 2008 financial crisis. The rule forbids banks to make certain speculative investments with their own capital.
“I would say the No. 1 problem with the Volcker Rule is it’s too complicated and people don’t know how to interpret it,” Mr. Mnuchin said in an interview with CNBC on Wednesday. “So we’re going to look at what to do with it as we are with all of Dodd-Frank. The No. 1 priority is going to be to make sure that banks lend.”
In the interview, Mr. Mnuchin also said he would look to cutting corporate tax rates as a way to increase economic growth. And he said the wealthy would not see a big tax cut.
“Any reductions we have in upper-income taxes will be offset by less deductions so that there will be no absolute tax cut for the upper class,” Mr. Mnuchin said in the interview. “There will be a big tax cut for the middle class, but any tax cuts we have for the upper class will be offset by less deductions that pay for it.”
There is a Washington tradition of presidents calling on a Goldman Sachs luminary to take the reins of the economy, including the Democrat Robert E. Rubin in 1995 and Henry M. Paulson Jr., a Republican, in 2006.
Mr. Mnuchin’s Goldman pedigree is as good as it gets, given that his father, Robert, was a pioneer in stock trading who spent 35 years at the firm.
While the Goldman brand may have initially attracted Mr. Trump, for the broader financial community it is Mr. Mnuchin’s track record at hedge and private equity funds, which is where the real money is made on Wall Street these days, that makes him appealing.
“Mnuchin as Treasury secretary is somebody who can speak to bankers — Jamie Dimon, Lloyd Blankfein, James Gorman and Brian Moynihan. He can speak their language,” said Gary Kaminsky, a former vice chairman at Morgan Stanley, referring to the chief executives of JPMorgan Chase, Goldman, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America. “He comes from a trading desk, and that’s something that is very strong,” Mr. Kaminsky, who has attended fund-raisers for Mr. Trump, added.
While there is little doubt that Mr. Mnuchin can speak the language of Wall Street, he has had little experience running large, complex bureaucracies. Mr. Rubin and Mr. Paulson had ascended to the top at Goldman, and had many years of experience managing people and organizations under their belt.
Mr. Mnuchin did assume a leading role in the restructuring and reinventing of IndyMac, now known as OneWest, a California mortgage giant that collapsed in 2008. He and partners acquired the firm and later made billions.
After he moved from New York to the West Coast, Mr. Mnuchin was targeted by protesters who claimed that the bank was too quick to foreclose on struggling homeowners. Last year the bank was sold to the CIT Group, a small-business lender run at the time by another Goldman Sachs alumnus, John A. Thain.
In a statement announcing his economic appointments, Mr. Trump highlighted the deal. “He purchased IndyMac Bank for $1.6 billion and ran it very professionally, selling it for $3.4 billion plus a return of capital,” he said of Mr. Mnuchin. “That’s the kind of people I want in my administration representing our country.”
Mr. Mnuchin has faced other controversies. In 2010, he and his brother, Alan, were sued over their mother’s early investment with Bernard L. Madoff, an investor who was convicted of running a Ponzi scheme. The lawsuit, filed by a trustee for Madoff victims, alleged that $3.2 million of the money Mr. Mnuchin withdrew from his mother’s account shortly after she died belonged to other victims. The lawsuit was dropped last year because of a time limit.
Hollywood has been another reinvention for Mr. Mnuchin.
In 2006, he and a partner, Chip Seelig, struck a deal through their company Dune Entertainment to invest $325 million in 28 movies produced by 20th Century Fox. It was a successful partnership; Fox delivered hits (made in part with Dune’s money) like “Avatar,” which took in $2.8 billion worldwide in 2009.
After breaking with Mr. Seelig in 2012, Mr. Mnuchin teamed up with a company called RatPac, owned by the rowdy filmmaker Brett Ratner and the Australian billionaire James Packer. Mr. Ratner was then notorious in Hollywood; he resigned as a producer of the Academy Awards in 2011 after using an anti-gay slur at a public event and making frank remarks about his sex life on Howard Stern’s radio show. (He apologized.) But together the three men formed a vehicle to invest $450 million in an extensive array of Warner Bros. movies.
Some have been major hits, like “Gravity,” which took in $723.2 million. But there have also been money losers, including “Pan” and “In the Heart of the Sea.”
Still, Mr. Mnuchin has clearly enjoyed a Hollywood lifestyle, whether attending celebrity-filled parties at the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc during the Cannes Film Festival or going in with a movie industry friend to buy a Dassault Falcon 50 jet (since sold). He can currently be seen in a cameo — playing a Merrill Lynch executive — in Warren Beatty’s new movie “Rules Don’t Apply.”
Beyond the entertainment industry, there other similarities between Mr. Trump and Mr. Mnuchin. They are both twice divorced, and their third partners are decidedly younger. (Mr. Mnuchin’s fiancée is Louise Linton, a 34-year-old actress from Scotland.) They also both have a taste for landmark Manhattan real estate: Trump Tower for the president-elect and 740 Park Avenue for Mr. Mnuchin.
But there are differences, too. Despite his Hollywood appetites, Mr. Mnuchin is described by people who know him as slightly awkward and not one to command a room. Friends of the two men describe them more as social and professional acquaintances than close friends.
The names of flashier prospects had been floated as possible candidates for Treasury, according to a fund manager close to the president-elect’s economic brain trust. Among them: Henry Kravis of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company, Jonathan Gray of Blackstone, Jamie Dimon, Mitt Romney, and Thomas J. Barrack Jr. of Colony Capital, a Los Angeles-based real estate investor who has been close to Mr. Trump for decades.
Former members of the security cabinet told The Jerusalem Post Sunday that they witnessed their colleagues on the key forum voting on substantial issues without being prepared.
Unlike the United States, where the president decides security matters as the commander in chief, in Israel, that responsibility lies with a group of ministers appointed by the prime minister, which usually includes the heads of the parties in his coalition. The holders of the Defense, Public Security and Justice portfolios are automatically part of the forum.
Former security cabinet ministers from across the political spectrum came out Sunday in favor of Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s demand that security cabinet members be briefed regularly by a military secretary who would be at their disposal. The ministers said a military secretary could ensure that they will have access to information required for decision-making that could save lives.
Former Meretz leader Yossi Beilin, who participated in security cabinet meetings from 1984 to 2001 in various capacities , including minister of justice, found himself in the strange position of backing up Bennett.
“There is no doubt more information is needed, especially on very professional decisions,” Beilin said. “I had at times to get my information in an informal way or to ask the prime minister or head of military intelligence for favors. Not having information has caused ministers to vote based on political alliances because they had no opinion. There should be someone whose job is to brief the security cabinet, whether individually or collectively.”
For example, Beilin pointed out a decision to develop and purchase the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system, rather than Israeli and American alternatives.
“On issues like that, you receive impressions from both sides, and you need to understand better why one is right and wrong,” he said.
Former Likud justice minister Dan Meridor said he would constantly take time to prepare, learn, and meet people to prepare for security cabinet meetings but many of his colleagues did not. He said under current circumstances, ministers need to build trust with security officials to receive key information and prove they will not leak it.
“A lot of information is needed,” Meridor told Army Radio. “I still feel guilty when lives were lost that I didn’t do enough.”
Former National Religious Party chairman Rabbi Yitzhak Levy, who served in security cabinet meetings under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon said only Sharon took steps to ensure his ministers received enough information ahead of key votes.
Levy, who admitted he is personally bitter at Sharon for the Gaza Strip disengagement, said he is thankful to him for regularly dispatching his own military secretary, current Kulanu minister Yoav Galant, to brief security cabinet ministers.
“It is important to know the information, what to ask, what to agree on and disagree on,” Levy said. “There were times we came and didn’t even know the agenda of the meeting due to excuses of security reasons. In certain security cabinet meetings, information has purposely been kept from ministers. There was no information before meetings and not enough information provided during them.”
Zionist Union MK Eitan Cabel also endorsed Bennett’s position Sunday in a post on Facebook.
“From my time on the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee , I realized the full, embarrassing, and worrisome picture,” he wrote. “There have been security cabinet ministers who had no idea what was going on regarding key issues that they were supposed to be deciding.”
Election season is nothing but a series of empty promises from politicians that I suspect are drones bent on our destruction. But still, in lieu of the demonic Play-doh disguised as candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, it’s refreshing to hear some of the sunny promises Bernie and Hillary serve us from their platters of hope (I still think they’re drones). In a recent statement Hillary Clinton says women will be half her Cabinet if elected, a promise that feels way too straightforward and plausible to actually believe.
It was during an MSNBC town hall meeting that Clinton revealed her plan for an equal cabinet – saying, “Well, I am going to have a Cabinet that looks like America, and 50 percent of America is women.” It sounds pretty fucking reasonable to me that the first female president would see to more gender equality in office. Sadly, in the scheme of American politics this promise is still as relatively radical as the idea that women should have control over their reproductive rights.
Hillary’s campaign manager John Podesta confirmed her intentions to bring more women into office, saying, “We’ll start with a broad list and then begin to narrow it. But there is no question that there will be women on that list.”
I’m hoping that Hillary’s promises to bring women into office will also include an honorary kill-list, in which each woman in office can pick at least one man in politics to legally murder. Can you imagine how much swift change would come about through that policy?! We all know that presidents themselves can’t do that much, but a fully empowered cabinet of high-ranked vigilantes could really get some shit done.
Clinton also said on Monday that she’d like to run alongside someone with ample military experience, because she claims we are facing “a complex, dangerous world,” But I know it’s really because she needs her drone batteries charged by a professional (I’m not sexist because I think Bernie is a drone too).
She finished by emphasizing her intentions to have a team with diverse perspectives:
“So whether it’s in a vice president or members of a Cabinet or in the White House staff, I want as broad a set of experiences that I can possibly draw together. Because I’m someone who likes to listen to people who come at problems from different perspectives – even argue among themselves about it – because I think we get to a better solution, and that’d certainly be how I go about it.”
If it comes to this, I’m fine with listening to these promises for the next few years before the ocean explodes and sets my apartment on fire.
Leftist leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was sworn in as President Dilma Rousseff’s chief of staff on Thursday amid a deepening political crisis as protests against his appointment continued for a second day and a judge sought to block the move.
Soon after the swearing-in ceremony, the federal judge in Brasilia issued an injunction to suspend the appointment on the grounds it prevented “the free exercise of justice.”
Prosecutors have charged Lula with money laundering and fraud as part of a sweeping graft probe centered on state oil company Petrobras. The former president’s appointment as a minister would provide him immunity from prosecution by all but the Supreme Court.
The government can appeal the injunction in a higher court but the judge’s move could raise tensions that are already running high between the executive and the judiciary.
During the swearing-in ceremony, Rousseff strongly criticized the release on Wednesday of a taped telephone conversation between her and Lula that was made public by another federal judge, calling it illegal and anti-democratic.
“Convulsing Brazilian society with lies, with reprehensible practices violates constitutional rights and as well as the rights of citizens,” said Rousseff, who is herself facing mounting pressure to quit.
Lula’s supporters clashed briefly with opponents of his Workers’ Party outside the presidential palace before the ceremony. Police said they used pepper spray to stop it and move away some 300 opposition protesters.
Hundreds of anti-government protesters calling for Rousseff’s impeachment and Lula’s arrest also blocked the central Avenue Paulista in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city and economic hub, for a second day.
An impeachment process against Rousseff was expected to kick off in Congress on Thursday, with the nomination of the commission expected to hear the proceedings in the lower house.
Government supporters hope the return of Lula will help to reunite a fragmented coalition before the impeachment process reaches a vote.
Brazil’s currency and stock market gained sharply on Thursday, as a second day of protests calling for Rousseff’s ouster boosted bets on her removal. Investors hope the fall of her left-leaning government would usher in more market-friendly policies.
The appointment of Lula to the cabinet triggered large protests in several Brazilian cities on Wednesday.
With Brazil’s economy mired in its worst recession in a generation, popular anger at Rousseff is mounting as the wide, longrunning investigation into bribes and political kickbacks at Petrobras taints her inner circle.
The corruption scandal has divided her governing coalition and moved her main partner, the PMDB party, closer to breaking with her government.
Vice President Michel Temer, leader of the PMDB, did not attend the swearing-in of Lula, his aides said, because Rousseff appointed a party lawmaker, Mauro Lopes, as civil aviation minister even though a party convention on Saturday banned its members from taking new posts in her government.
Centered on an unrelated allegation of irregularities in the government budget accounting, the impeachment proceedings have become a test of the political strength of Rousseff’s government and the mood on the streets.
Indonesia’s president announced a Cabinet reshuffle Wednesday, replacing key economic ministers with the aim of speeding up infrastructure spending to revive sputtering growth and stabilize the sliding rupiah.
The Cabinet shake-up comes amid increasing public dissatisfaction with the lagging performance of Indonesia’s economy since Jokowi took office nearly ten months ago. Southeast Asia’s largest economy, home to more than 250 million people, grew 4.7 percent in the second quarter, the slowest pace since 2009.
Four ministers lost their jobs and two were rotated to less important positions, ending weeks of speculation in Indonesia about the possible changes.
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo chose former central bank governor Darmin Nasution to become Indonesia’s new coordinating minister for the economy, replacing Sofyan Djalil.
Djalil has become the national development planning minister, replacing Andrinof Chaniago. Jokowi picked Thomas Lembong as trade minister.
Jokowi also appointed current Presidential Chief of Staff Luhut Panjaitan as the new coordinating minister for politics, law and security and a prominent economist Rizal Ramli as the coordinating maritime minister.
He did not speak to media after officially inaugurating the new ministers at a ceremony in the presidential palace.
Presidential spokesman Teten Masduki said in a statement that Jokowi made the changes because he wanted a more effective and coordinated Cabinet to respond to the challenges facing Indonesia economy.
Jokowi wants to “speed up the realization of the national development programs in order to improve people’s welfare,” he said.
Public dissatisfaction with Jokowi’s administration soared after it raised the price of fuel weeks after he took office on Oct. 20 because the government couldn’t afford to maintain heavy subsidies. The increase hit wallets and sparked a surge in prices for other goods.
Jokowi’s move to bring Nasution, who is regarded as highly competent, into the cabinet will likely cheer markets and analysts. He retired as Bank Indonesia governor in 2013 and has held important positions in the finance ministry that included director general of the tax office and head of the capital markets regulator.
Fadhil Hasan, a senior economist at Institute for Development of Economics and Finance, said the economic team’s status as a “target of public attack” made it particularly vulnerable for replacement. A fresh economic team could assuage public anger about the government’s failure to address the slowdown, he said.
Nasution’s replacement of Djalil also reduces Vice President Jusuf Kalla’s involvement in economic policy. Djalil had strong links to Kalla who clashed with Jokowi over economic policy.
Meanwhile, Indonesia’s currency, the rupiah, has fallen 8.5 percent against the U.S dollar since the beginning of 2015. It lost further ground on Tuesday and Wednesday after China announced a devaluation of its tightly controlled yuan.
Bank Indonesia’s deputy governor Mirza Adityaswara said that rupiah was “undervalued.”
He said the recent movement was primarily a reaction to China’s announcement which affected currencies across Asia.
“We believe that this will be temporary,” Adityaswara said. “We see that the rupiah is currently undervalued.”