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Trump Team Considering Another Goldman Executive for Key Treasury Post

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01/06/2017 | 06:16pm EDT

After tapping several Goldman Sachs Group Inc. alumni for senior economic posts, President-elect Donald Trump?s team is considering yet another for a key job at the Treasury Department.

Jim Donovan, a senior Goldman Sachs private banker, is under consideration to be the U.S. Treasury Department?s undersecretary for domestic finance, according to people familiar with the matter.

The choice isn?t yet final and could change, these people said. Attempts to reach Mr. Donovan on Friday were unsuccessful. Mr. Trump?s transition team didn?t respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Donovan?s nomination likely would inflame Democrats and liberal groups, which already have been critical of other Trump nominees with ties to the financial sector. Earlier this week, a few dozen protesters sought access to the lobby of Goldman?s lower Manhattan headquarters protesting the bank?s influence in politics.

When President Barack Obama tried in 2014 to fill that Treasury slot with Lazard Ltd. banker Antonio Weiss, that prompted a backlash from Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren among others, leading Mr. Weiss to withdraw the nomination. (Mr. Weiss went on to fill the position informally, as a counselor.)

After blasting his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, for her ties to Goldman Sachs during the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump has since the election tapped Goldman alumni for several key positions. Gary Cohn, the bank?s president and heir apparent to its CEO, recently left the firm to become the senior economic counselor in the Trump White House.

Mr. Trump?s nominee for Treasury secretary is Steven Mnuchin, once ran Goldman?s mortgage-trading business and later oversaw some of its forays into online banking. Both men have been significant voices on other personnel appointments in recent weeks, people familiar with the matter said.

Mr. Trump said Wednesday that he would nominate Wall Street lawyer Jay Clayton to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission. Mr. Clayton has represented Goldman Sachs on some big transactions.

The consideration of Mr. Donovan comes as Mr. Trump?s team moves to nominate the officials who will shape financial policy during his administration. Mr. Trump has made clear he wants to roll back the financial regulatory regime built up by Mr. Obama and his appointees after the financial crisis, and he is seeking candidates who can carry out that agenda.

The Trump team has yet to nominate someone for perhaps the most important financial regulatory job, the Federal Reserve vice chair in charge of overseeing the nation?s largest banks.

One candidate for that job, according to people briefed on the matter, is David Nason, a former official in George W. Bush?s Treasury Department who is president and CEO of General Electric Co.?s GE Energy Financial Services. A GE spokeswoman said Mr. Nason couldn?t be reached for comment.

Another possible contender is Rep. French Hill (R., Ark.), a former banker and investment manager, these people said. His spokesman had no immediate comment.

Mr. Nason was once a counsel to Paul Atkins, a senior Trump transition team adviser on financial regulation, when Mr. Atkins was a member of the SEC during the George W. Bush administration. Mr. Atkins is also said to be a candidate for the Fed job.

Mr. Trump also is looking for a leader of the nation?s primary regulator of derivatives markets, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. A leading candidate for that job is J. Christopher Giancarlo, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Giancarlo is currently one of three commissioners at the CFTC.

The Treasury undersecretary job requires confirmation by the Senate and plays an important role in management of the U.S. debt, fiscal policy, housing finance, financial regulation and other economic matters. It ranks below the deputy Treasury secretary-a slot that has yet to be filled-and the Treasury secretary.

Republicans have enough votes in the Senate to confirm Mr. Trump?s nominees without Democratic support-unless some GOP senators vote against them.

Mr. Donovan is a longtime GOP donor. One of his Goldman clients was financier Mitt Romney, and he strongly supported the former Massachusetts governor?s 2012 presidential campaign. Leading up to last November?s election, Mr. Donovan donated $95,000 to the political action committee supporting former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, one of Mr. Trump?s rivals for the GOP presidential nomination, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. He also donated to several Republican senators and more than $100,000 to the Republican National Committee.

Mr. Donovan attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Law School. He was named a Goldman managing director in 2000 and is a senior executive in Goldman?s private-wealth management unit, which handles investments and savings and makes loans to wealthy individuals.

Mr. Donovan?s family disputes have made bizarre headlines. He and his siblings have had public legal disputes with their father, John J. Donovan Sr., which the elder Mr. Donovan said were about the family finances.

Write to Ryan Tracy at ryan.tracy@wsj.com, Liz Hoffman at liz.hoffman@wsj.com and Nick Timiraos at nick.timiraos@wsj.com

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
ACCESS CO., LTD. -0.96% 928 End-of-day quote.-2.83%
CHANGE INC. 4.36% 10780 End-of-day quote.641.40%
DEERE & COMPANY -3.50% 214.21 Delayed Quote.23.64%
GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY -7.70% 6.35 Delayed Quote.-43.10%
TEAM, INC. -7.23% 6.03 Delayed Quote.-62.24%
THE GOLDMAN SACHS GROUP, INC. -0.44% 194 Delayed Quote.-15.63%
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