Ambassador, small business advocate among latest Trump picks

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Governor of Iowa Terry Branstad arrives to meet with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., December 6, 2016.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid - RTSUXVM

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HARI SREENIVASAN: A new flurry of high-level announcements today from the Trump transition. They include a new ambassador and a new leader for small business interests, and the incoming president himself has picked up another honor.

Lisa Desjardins has our report.

LISA DESJARDINS: He didn’t appear in New York’s Trump Tower lobby today, but President-elect Donald Trump still made headlines, as “TIME” magazine named him its 2016 person of the year, billing him president of the divided states of America.

Meanwhile, the president-elect made more picks of his own, announcing he will nominate Iowa Governor Terry Branstad as his ambassador to China. Branstad is a Republican and the longest-serving governor of Iowa ever. He was one of the most prominent establishment Republicans to support Mr. Trump in the election, and he has a longstanding friendship with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping.

Another official announcement, former wresting executive Linda McMahon is Mr. Trump’s nominee to head the Small Business Administration.

Also today, the Associated Press and other outlets reported retired Marine General John Kelly is the choice for secretary of homeland security.

DONALD TRUMP (R), President-Elect: Great, great general.

LISA DESJARDINS: And multiple outlets also reported Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as Mr. Trump’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt is known for opposing EPA climate change regulations.

DONALD TRUMP: Mad Dog Mattis.

LISA DESJARDINS: All this after the incoming commander in chief officially introduced retired Marine General James Mattis as his selection for secretary of defense at a rally last night in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Mattis would need a waiver from Congress to accept the position because he’s been out of the service less than seven years.

DONALD TRUMP: What a great guy. He’s going to be incredible. He will get that waiver, right? He’s going to get that. Oh, if he didn’t get that waiver, there would be a lot of angry people.

LISA DESJARDINS: The stop in North Carolina is part of a clear ramp-up of travel for Mr. Trump. Tomorrow, he will be in Columbus, Ohio, to meet with responders to the Ohio State campus attack last week, then a thank you rally in Des Moines, Iowa. Friday, the stops are Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to support the Republican Senate candidate in a runoff, and another thank you rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

President-elect Trump said today he thinks his biggest remaining pick, secretary of state, will come next week. This morning, he also told “The Today Show” he’s getting advice from his predecessor.

DONALD TRUMP: I will say this. I have now gotten to know President Obama. I really like him. We obviously very much disagree on certain policy and certain things, but I really like him as a person.

LISA DESJARDINS: And, today, Mr. Trump met with the president’s first chief of staff, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who said he argued for so-called dreamers, undocumented Americans brought here as children.

For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Lisa Desjardins.

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