AP Source: Trump to choose Acosta to lead Labor

Donald Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with House Republicans in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump moved to fill vacancies in his new administration on Thursday, selecting a Florida law school dean and former Justice Department attorney to lead the Labor Department.

A senior White House official said that Trump planned to announce that R. Alexander Acosta, the dean of the Florida International University law school and a former member of the National Labor Relations Board, would be his nominee for Labor secretary.

Acosta was chosen a day after fast-food executive Andrew Puzder withdrew his nomination for labor after losing support among Republican senators. Puzder pulled out after it was revealed that he once employed a housekeeper who was not authorized to work in the U.S.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of Trump’s announcement at a White House news conference. If confirmed, Acosta would be the first Hispanic member of Trump’s Cabinet.

Trump was also expected to soon name a new national security adviser following this week’s ouster of Michael Flynn, who misled Vice President Mike Pence about Flynn’s contacts with Russia.

Trump is said to favor Vice Admiral Robert Harward, a former Navy SEAL, as his next national security adviser, according to a White House official. Harward met with top White House officials last week and has the backing of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. He is slated to meet with officials later Thursday.

Trump was expected to face questions about his national security adviser’s ouster, intelligence leaks and other issues at the White House news conference on Thursday.

Trump announced the hastily arranged appearance at a breakfast meeting with some of his staunchest House supporters, one day after he held a joint news conference with Israel’s leader.

Trump opened Thursday’s “listening session” with House members by saying he would announce a replacement labor secretary candidate at the news conference.

“The man I’ll be announcing for labor is a star, great person,” said Trump, who has blamed Senate Democrats for complicating the confirmation process for several of his Cabinet nominees.

At Wednesday’s news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump blamed the media and “illegally leaked” intelligence information for Flynn’s downfall.

The White House has said Trump asked for Flynn’s resignation because Flynn had misled Pence over his dealings with Russia and whether he had discussed sanctions with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. before Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration. Flynn previously had denied those conversations to Pence and other top officials.

Trump appeared Wednesday to side with his former aide, saying it was “really a sad thing that he was treated so badly.”

On Thursday, he warned in a pair of tweets that “low-life leakers” of classified information will be caught. As journalists were being escorted out of the breakfast meeting, Trump responded to a reporter’s question on the subject by saying: “We’re going to find the leakers” and “they’re going to pay a big price.”

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