President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday picked a fossil fuel industry defender as his top environmental official, another retired general as homeland security chief and Iowa's governor as U.S. ambassador to China in choices at odds with some of his recent pronouncements.
Trump, continuing to build his Cabinet as he prepares to take office on Jan. 20, said Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, 48, would be nominated to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt sued the EPA in a bid to undo a key regulation under outgoing President Barack Obama that would curb greenhouse gas emissions blamed for climate change, mainly from coal-fired power plants.
|U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks at a USA Thank You Tour event at Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., December 6, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton.
Trump tapped retired Marine Corps General John Kelly, 66, for secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, whose responsibilities include immigration. Kelly, the third retired general named by Trump to a senior administration post, last year told Congress that a lack of security on the U.S.-Mexican border posed a threat to the United States.
Trump's transition team said Republican Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, 70, who has boasted of close ties to Beijing's leaders, was picked as U.S. ambassador to China.
In addition, transition officials said Linda McMahon, 68, former CEO of professional wrestling company WWE and wife of wrestling kingpin Vince McMahon, was Trump's choice to head the Small Business Administration. Trump has taken part in WWE events in the past and has close ties to the McMahons. He is a member of the WWE Hall of Fame.
All four posts require Senate confirmation.
Pruitt's selection came despite a softer tone Trump has struck on environmental regulation since his Nov. 8 election. He has stepped back from casting climate change as a hoax, signaled he might be willing to allow the United States to continue participating in the Paris climate change deal aimed at lowering world carbon emissions, and met with former Vice President Al Gore, a leading environmental voice.
Pruitt's selection brought a quick rebuke from Democrats.
"The head of the EPA cannot be a stenographer for the lobbyists of polluters and Big Oil," House of Representatives Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said of Pruitt.
Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, brushed off the criticism, praising Pruitt's record and telling reporters at Trump Tower: "We're very accustomed to the naysayers and the critics."Reuters