From Roberta Rampton and Steve Holland
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla./WASHINGTON (Reuters) — President-elect Donald Trump on Friday picked Washington insider Donald McGahn to be his White House counselor, providing him the job of untangling possible conflicts of interest that the New York businessman’s presidency may present.
A former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, McGahn, was among the few members of the establishment to embrace the outsider candidate and had been the chief counsel of the Trump effort.
While Trump during his effort often promised to “drain the swamp” of this political establishment in Washington, McGahn has a considerable history in the funding, especially in conservative politics.
McGahn served for decades as counsel to the National Republican Congressional Committee, the arm of the Republican Party that oversees campaigns for the U.S. House of Representatives.
Throughout his time at the FEC, McGahn had been an advocate for putting limitations on campaign spending and was praised for opening up more of the internal processes of the commission to the general public.
Together with providing problems, the White House Counsel’s office advises the president on the legality of laws and executive orders along with vets possible administration appointees, including Supreme Court justices.
“Don has a brilliant legal mind, fantastic character and a deep comprehension of constitutional law,” Trump said in a statement.
A businessman who has never held public office , Trump, has property and leisure holdings all over the planet, sparking concerns that his investments can colour his decision at office. Trump has stated that he is going to hand over day-to-day responsibilities of running his companion however, he has resisted calls to place his assets in a blind trust.
Trump has expressed interest in locating a way to skip a national law to be able to give his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, a formal White House job.
When Trump and President Barack Obama satisfied this month, Obama advised Trump through their Oval Office chat that his White House counsel would be an important endeavor.
Trump has vowed to reverse Obama’s executive orders including gun and immigration control. He must nominate a person to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. McGahn is going to be tasked with shepherding the nominee.
Trump, who is spending the Thanksgiving holiday weekend at his home in Palm Beach, Florida, also continued to round out his national security staff on Friday, naming Kathleen Troia “K.T.” McFarland, as his deputy national security advisor.
McFarland has been an aide to Henry Kissinger in the 1970s and served in three Republican administrations. A powerful backer of Trump during the election campaign, McFarland will function Trump’s choice, with Lieutenant General Michael Flynn because of his national security advisor.
Neither position needs confirmation by the U.S Senate.
The appointments came amid reports that Trump’s aides are divided about his pick for secretary of state, with some preferring 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who also harshly criticized Trump during the effort, and others backing Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor.
Transition officials Friday downplayed any inner tension, predicting reports of discord “overblown.”
Officials stated that after arriving to New York, Trump will meet with several more potential cabinet picks on Monday, such as John Allison, the former chief executive of BB&T Corp who has been cited as a potential selection for U.S. Treasury secretary, and Paul Atkins, a former commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
(Writing by James Oliphant; Editing by Caren Bohan and Leslie Adler)