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Trump to announce secretary of state Tuesday morning — and it's probably not Mitt Romney

U.S. president-elect Donald Trump has tweeted that he will announce his choice for secretary of state on Tuesday morning, and Mitt Romney has issued a statement indicating it won't be him.

Choice of Goldman Sachs exec Gary Cohn as economic adviser marks 3rd pick linked to the Wall Street bank

Donald Trump speaks at a 'Thank you USA' tour rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Monday. The U.S. president-elect says he will announce his pick for secretary of state on Tuesday morning. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

U.S. president-elect Donald Trump has tweeted that he will announce his choice for secretary of state on Tuesday morning, and Mitt Romney has issued a statement indicating it won't be him.

"It was an honour to have been considered for secretary of state of our great country. My discussions with president-elect Trump have been both enjoyable and enlightening," said Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and once vocal Trump critic, in a written statement posted to his Facebook page.  

"I have very high hopes that the new administration will lead the nation to greater strength, prosperity and peace."

Trump's search for the country's top diplomat has stretched out in a highly public fashion for weeks.

Trump and Mitt Romney dine at Jean Georges restaurant in New York City on Nov. 29. The once vocal Trump critic had been in the running for secretary of state. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson has recently emerged as a leading candidate. He has met twice with Trump during the past week.

Transition officials told Reuters and The Associated Press that Tillerson, 64, would be the choice.

In an interview with Fox News Sunday, Trump pointed to Tillerson's deep relations with Moscow as a selling point. As Exxon Mobil's head, Tillerson maintained close ties with Russia and was awarded by President Vladimir Putin with the Order of Friendship, an honour for foreign citizens.

Senators who will have to confirm the pick may not share that view.

ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson is a perceived front-runner for secretary of state under Trump. (Daniel Kramer/Reuters)

3rd Goldman Sachs appointment

Earlier on Monday, Trump said he would appoint Goldman Sachs Group Inc. president and chief operating officer Gary Cohn to head the White House National Economic Council, a group that co-ordinates economic policy across agencies.

"As my top economic adviser, Gary Cohn is going to put his talents as a highly successful businessman to work for the American people," Trump said in a statement.

The post does not require Senate confirmation.

In the heat of the presidential campaign, Trump accused primary rival Ted Cruz of being controlled by Goldman Sachs because his wife, Heidi, previously worked for the Wall Street giant. He slammed Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for receiving speaking fees from the bank.

"I know the guys at Goldman Sachs. They have total, total control over him," Trump said of Cruz. "Just like they have total control over Hillary Clinton."

The president-elect has now chosen three people with ties to the bank for his administration, including Steven Mnuchin, the treasury secretary nominee, and Steve Bannon, Trump's chief strategist and senior counsellor, both of whom used to work for the Wall Street giant.

From left to right, Gary Cohn, Steven Mnuchin and Steve Bannon, all of whom have ties to Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs, have been appointed to Trump's administration. (Ruben Sprich, Mike Segar, Mark Kauzlarich/Reuters)

Wall Street executives have long wielded influence in Washington, filling top jobs in both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Goldman Sachs itself has produced several treasury secretaries, White House chiefs of staff and top economic advisers. 

If Cohn accepts the job, he will be the third Goldman executive to run the NEC. Robert Rubin was the NEC director under Bill Clinton, and Stephen Friedman had the job during George W. Bush's administration.

Draining the swamp?

The financial industry's high-level presence in Trump's burgeoning administration runs counter to some core campaign messages that energized his supporters.

Goldman Sachs stocks are up 33 per cent since Trump's election.

Trump repeatedly warned that Clinton's Wall Street ties in the form of paid speaking gigs meant she would never reform the financial industry.

He promised that he would "drain the swamp" in Washington, a city he painted as beholden to financial and political special interests. He cast himself as a champion for working-class people who watched the big banks grow wealthier after a government bailout, but haven't seen the effects of an improving economy in their own lives.

"I'm not going to let Wall Street get away with murder," Trump told voters in Iowa. "Wall Street has caused tremendous problems for us."

To Democrats, the fact that Trump is now plucking advisers from Wall Street smacks of hypocrisy.

"Everyone who voted for Trump, who thought he'd defend working people, pay attention to the reality of what he's doing, not just his rhetoric," said Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who railed against Wall Street's influence in Washington when he ran against Clinton in the Democratic primary.

Trump team touts real-world experience 

Goldman was involved in the securities market for subprime mortgages, the same financial instruments that helped fuel the housing bubble and ultimately led millions of Americans to lose their homes to foreclosure.

Wall Street executives also opposed the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation signed by President Barack Obama, legislation Trump has vowed to overhaul.

Trump's advisers dismiss charges that the president-elect is going back on his promises to put the interests of working-class Americans ahead of financial institutions. They say Trump is tapping people who bring real-world experience and business acumen to Washington.

"You're not going to find better people than those who have been at the top of finance, the top of our markets, understand the way our markets work," Kellyanne Conway, Trump's senior adviser, said on MSNBC.

With files from CBC News and Reuters

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