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Trump eyes Cabinet vacancies, policy questions

Jan. 4, 2017 at 4 a.m.


NEW YORK (AP) - His inauguration less than three weeks away, President-elect Donald Trump worked to fill senior posts in his administration on Tuesday as he began to press his agenda at home and abroad.

The incoming president tapped as U.S. trade representative a former Reagan official who has condemned Republicans' commitment to free trade. Trump indicated that Robert Lighthizer, who is expected to take a hard line against China, would represent "the United States as we fight for good trade deals that put the American worker first."

The new administration's specific plans for crafting new trade deals, spokesman Sean Spicer said, "will come in time."

While several hundred high-level White House posts remain unfilled, just a handful of outstanding Cabinet-level vacancies remain, specifically in the departments of Agriculture and Veterans Affairs, as well as a director of national intelligence. Trump's private meetings Tuesday included one with Leo MacKay, a senior executive at a military contractor who previously served in the Department of Veterans Affairs under President George W. Bush.

"The president-elect is up on the issues," said MacKay, a senior vice president at Lockheed Martin Corp., citing "first-class health care" for veterans as one of his priorities.

The president also tapped a familiar face from his former reality show to join his administration. Omarosa Manigault, a contestant from the first season of "The Apprentice," is expected to focus on public engagement in the White House, according to two people familiar with the decision. They insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the hiring process publicly.

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