Trump’s Economic Brain Trust
The president-elect will develop his economic policies with the help of a circle of associates beyond his family. Treasury secretary hopeful Steve Mnuchin and commerce secretary nominee Wilbur Ross will be key influences, as will former Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn, the incoming chief of the National Economic Council. An affection for Ronald Reagan unites many at Trump’s side; and he will depend on advisers with zealous ideas about trade and manufacturing to get his message out. He’ll hear from a coterie of friends from the rough-and-tumble property and gaming industries—such as Vornado Realty Trust Chief Executive Officer Steven Roth and casino mogul Phil Ruffin—who have been loyal to him and his family through the decades. And rich supporters such as Carl Icahn, Peter Thiel—who both oppose regulation—and others will continue to have his ear.
As chief legal officer for the Trump Organization, Greenblatt has been named the first special representative for international negotiations. Trump has called Greenblatt “one of my closest and most trusted advisers.” He accompanied Trump to Cuba on numerous visits.
He’s one of Trump’s few close pals. He described Trump as “thoughtful,” “warm,” and “not ego-driven” on CNBC. He’s CEO of Vector Group, a cigarette maker, and controls real estate giant Douglas Elliman. He’s also chairman of hot-dog vendor Nathan’s Famous.
The New York real estate billionaire boasts a half-century-long friendship with the president-elect stemming from warm ties between the two men’s fathers. LeFrak talks to Trump regularly and can keep him up to speed on housing-market dynamics.
The University of California at Irvine econ professor has spent his career criticizing China’s trade behavior. This has endeared him to Trump, as has Navarro’s fondness for Reagan-era trade policies. Named head of a new National Trade Council and assistant to Trump, he’ll be responsible for trade negotiation strategy and manufacturing policy.
His 2015 book, American Made: Why Making Things Will Return Us to Greatness, could have been written by Trump. The 40-year veteran of the steel industry and former Nucor CEO bonded with Trump, as DiMicco tells it, when the president-elect called to say that he, too, was a “student of a screwed-up trade system.” He’ll be industry’s advocate as Trump tries to boost jobs in manufacturing.
The D.C. lawyer checks two big boxes as a message man for Trump: experience in trade litigation and service in the Reagan administration. Lighthizer claims to have helped craft two dozen bilateral trade agreements as a deputy trade representative for Reagan. His international expertise appealed to Trump, who’ll rely on him to drive hard bargains on trade deals.
The Chicago Cubs co-owner has more in common with Trump than a 2016 upset victory. He hit it off with Trump at a wide-ranging meeting in November. Ricketts is slated to be deputy commerce secretary.
The Cerberus Capital Management co-founder and CEO specializes in private equity and distressed sales and was one of 13 originally named to Trump’s economic advisory council in August.
The billionaire founder and chairman of Colony Capital has experience owning and operating casinos, as does the president-elect. Barrack also looks to the Reagan years, when he was deputy undersecretary of the Interior Department, for inspiration. Barrack withdrew from cabinet consideration but heads Trump’s inauguration committee.