Trump taps billionaire as adviser on regulation

Jonathan Lemire
Associated Press

Palm Beach, Fla. — Billionaire investor Carl Icahn has been picked by President-elect Donald Trump to be a special adviser for regulatory reform.

“Carl was with me from the beginning and with his being one of the world’s great businessmen, that was something I truly appreciated,” Trump said in a statement on Wednesday “His help on the strangling regulations that our country is faced with will be invaluable.”

Icahn — whose net worth is $21.6 billion, according to Forbes — endorsed Trump, who repeatedly mentioned him as a potential Treasury secretary, a lead negotiator of trade deals with China and Japan, or both.

In another sign that he intends to shake up relations with China, Trump named economist Peter Navarro to lead a newly created White House council on trade.

The University of California-Irvine professor, who advised Trump during the campaign, has sharply criticized China’s economic and military policies in books and videos. In addition to leading the new White House National Trade Council, Navarro will be director of trade and industrial policy.

In a statement, the Trump transition team said the creation of the council “demonstrates the president-elect’s determination to make American manufacturing great again.”

Trump says China’s unfair trade practices are responsible for wiping out American factory jobs. U.S. manufacturers have cut 5 million jobs since 2000. Trump has threatened to impose taxes on Chinese imports and to label China a “currency manipulator” for allegedly pushing its currency lower to give Chinese exporters a price advantage.

In other matters, one of Trump’s most trusted aides is setting up a government consulting shop a block from the White House — a move that complicates the president-elect’s promises to “drain the swamp” of Washington.

Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s first campaign manager, and former Trump adviser Barry Bennett announced Wednesday they are starting a government relations and political consulting firm called Avenue Strategies. They’re pitching their ties to Trump as they seek clients.

In what could be a preview of the type of work Lewandowski will do, he recently brokered a meeting between Trump and Carlos Slim, a billionaire Mexican businessman who publicly feuded with Trump throughout the campaign.

Trump also met Wednesday with the heads of Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

Politico contributed.