Roberts' staff chief to lead Trump's USDA transition team

By Philip Brasher

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WASHINGTON, Nov. 21, 2016 - Joel Leftwich, Republican staff director for the Senate Agriculture Committee,will lead President-elect Donald Trump's transition effort at the Agriculture Department. 

Separately Monday, Trump released a video in which he pledged to file a formal notice of intent to withdraw from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, “a potential disaster for our country.” He said he would only pursue bilateral trade deals, a pledge he made during the campaign. 

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In the video, he also said his administration would “formulate a rule” to require the elimination of two existing rules for every new one that is proposed. 

Michael Torrey, who had been the transition adviser on USDA, resigned last week because of a five-year lobbying ban imposed by Trump.

Myron Ebell, who has been director of global warming and international environmental policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, was named to lead Trump's landing team at the Environmental Protection Agency. Ebell has been serving as the EPA transition adviser. 

Doug Domenech, a former deputy chief of staff at the Interior Department during the George W. Bush administration, will lead the transition at that department. Domenech has directed the Fueling Freedom Project of the Texas Public Policy Foundation since 2015.

The Homeland Security Department transition will be led by James Carafano, a vice president of the Heritage Foundation, and Mike Dougherty, who was director of operations of Immigration and Customs Enforcement during the George W. Bush administration.

Sharon Brown-Hruska, a former chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, will lead the transition at that agency as well as the Farm Credit Administration.

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Leftwich, a longtime adviser to Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan. joined the committee staff in January 2015 from PepsiCo, where he was senior director for its public policy and government affairs team. Leftwich previously served as deputy staff director for the Senate committee and also served Roberts as a legislative assistant covering agriculture, energy and transportation policy.

The transition operation will fund Leftwich's salary while at USDA. 

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who have been mentioned in connection with Cabinet positions, also met Monday with Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence, said transition spokesman Jason Miller. 

A readout of the meetings released by the transition team said that Fallin discussed Indian and energy issues, suggesting she was under consideration for Interior. Perry's discussions focused on matters under Homeland Security, according to the readout. 

A full list of landing team leaders for domestic agencies is here.  

(Updated Nov. 22.)

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