President-elect Donald Trump
named Wall Street veteran Steven Mnuchin for treasury secretary Wednesday, filling key slots on his economic team even as he announced plans to leave his businesses to avoid any conflict of interest.
Mnuchin and billionaire Wilbur Ross were asked in a television interview with CNBC if they could confirm reports they had been named to lead the US Treasury and Commerce departments, respectively.
"We can, indeed," said Mnuchin. "We're thrilled to be here and we're thrilled to work for the president-elect and honored to have these positions."
Mnuchin, 53, is a former Goldman Sachs partner who was Trump's campaign chairman and Ross is an investor who has made billions turning around distressed companies.
Trump's picks, although not yet confirmed by his White House transition team, would be the first major nominations to his economic policy team.
They came as the president-elect announced he will be leaving his private businesses to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest while in the White House, while saying he was not legally bound to do so.
In a series of Tweets, Trump said he would unveil his plans at a December 15 news conference in New York with his children.
He said he would "discuss the fact that I will be leaving my great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country in order to 'Make America Great Again!'"
"While I am not mandated to do this under the law, I feel it is visually important, as President, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses."
The billionaire real-estate mogul has yet to explain in detail how he intends to separate himself from his complex business empire while president.
US presidents typically put their assets in blind trusts managed without their input.
But Trump has said he wants to leave the management of his extensive business interests to his children.
At the same time, he has reportedly looked into getting a security clearance for his son-in-law Jared Kushner so he could continue as a special adviser.
Trump also has kept the former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, a fierce critic of Trump during the Republican presidential primary battle, in contention for the secretary of state position.
Romney made an impassioned statement in support of Trump on Tuesday to try to erase doubts about him among Trump's supporters after he dined with him and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus at a French restaurant at a Trump hotel in Manhattan.
Trump Tuesday also added the third woman Elaine L. Chao, the former US secretary of labor under George W. Bush's administration, as the transportation secretary to his cabinet.