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Trump Pledges to Remove Himself from His Business

  • VOA Staff

FILE - Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the third presidential debate with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at UNLV in Las Vegas.

FILE - Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the third presidential debate with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at UNLV in Las Vegas.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump said Wednesday he will take himself "completely out of business operations" at his company in order to focus on the presidency without any conflicts of interests.

The topic has been a key question since his election with his company involved in properties in areas across the world and within the United States. Trump wrote on Twitter he would hold a news conference on December 15 to discuss the move.

Also Wednesday, former Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin has been selected as Trump's nominee for Treasury secretary, while billionaire Wilbur Ross said he was the choice to lead the Commerce Department.

Trump has been working to fill positions in his Cabinet since the November 8 election. One of the most high profile posts still open is that of secretary of state, with those under consideration including former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Tennessee Senator Bob Corker and former Central Intelligence Agency chief David Petraeus.

Romney was once among Trump's fiercest critics, but he praised Trump after the two men had dinner Tuesday night and called their discussions "enlightening and interesting and engaging."

President-elect Donald Trump, center, eats dinner with Mitt Romney, right, and Trump Chief of Staff Reince Priebus at Jean-Georges restaurant, Nov. 29, 2016.

President-elect Donald Trump, center, eats dinner with Mitt Romney, right, and Trump Chief of Staff Reince Priebus at Jean-Georges restaurant, Nov. 29, 2016.

Those remarks came nine months after Romney gave a blistering speech supporting Trump's remaining competitors in the race for the Republican Party nomination. In March Romney said if Trump enacted his economic plans, the country would go into a "prolonged recession, and that on foreign policy Trump is "very, very not smart."

But on Tuesday, Romney said he was impressed by the Trump transition effort and his Cabinet choices so far. Romney, who lost the 2012 presidential election to Barack Obama, also highlighted what he called a "message of inclusion and bringing people together."

"I think you're going to see America continuing to lead the world in this century, and what I've seen through these discussions I've had with President-elect Trump as well as what we've seen in his speech at the night of his victory, as well as the people he's selected as part of his transition, all of those things combined give me increasing hope that President-elect Trump is the very man who can lead us to that better future," Romney told reporters.

Secretary of state is one of the most high profile positions for which Trump has not yet announced a nominee. In addition to Romney, the others believed to be under consideration include former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, and retired General David Petraeus, who also once led the Central Intelligence Agency.

Former CIA director and retired Gen. David Petraeus talks with reporters after a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump, Nov. 28, 2016.

Former CIA director and retired Gen. David Petraeus talks with reporters after a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump, Nov. 28, 2016.

Earlier Tuesday, Trump selected Georgia Representative Tom Price to lead the Department of Health and Human Services and lead the administration's efforts to repeal and replace Obama's signature healthcare legislation.

"Price, a renowned physician, has earned a reputation for being a tireless problem-solver and the go-to-expert on health care policy, making him an ideal choice to serve in this capacity," Trump said.

Price says he wants a healthcare system that works for patients, families and doctors and leads the world in curing and preventing sickness.

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, helped millions of people get health coverage and eliminated things like denials based on pre-existing conditions and limits on the amount of care a person could receive. But premiums under the program have gone up sharply for many people and the program unpopular with many Republicans has been a key target for reforms.

Trump and many members of Congress have long said they will work to replace Obamacare, but have not given much in the way of specific changes they would make.

Trump's other Cabinet pick announced Tuesday was former Labor Department Secretary Elaine Chao as his choice to head the Department of Transportation.

"Secretary Chao's extensive record of strong leadership and her expertise are invaluable assets in our mission to rebuild our infrastructure in a fiscally responsible manner," he said.

Chao was born in Taiwan and was labor secretary under President George W. Bush. She was the first Asian-born woman ever to serve in a U.S. president's Cabinet.

She says Trump has a "clear vision" on how to rebuild the nation's crumbling infrastructure, such as bridges and highways, and create good-paying jobs.

But the president-elect also plans big tax cuts and it is unclear how he would fund such massive rebuilding projects.

Just like all Cabinet appointees, Price and Chao need U.S. Senate approval.

The incoming Senate Democratic leader, New York's Chuck Schumer, immediately signaled his opposition to Price, calling him "far out of the mainstream of what Americans want" for programs to help older people, women, families and those with disabilities.

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