At 12:30 pm ET, Donald Trump will convene an open press conference, the first since Michael Flynn resigned as national security adviser and Andrew Puzder withdrew his nomination as Secretary of Labor. Trump promised that he would reveal Puzder’s replacement at the presser, but NBC reported that he has chosen former NLRB commissioner Alexander Acosta as his next nominee. As Josh Kraushaar notes, Acosta would become the first Hispanic Cabinet nominee by Trump:
BREAKING: NBC News confirms President Trump will announce Alexander Acosta as his pick for Labor Secretary.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) February 16, 2017
First Hispanic in the Cabinet, if confirmed… https://t.co/r8ynQ4eY3C
— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) February 16, 2017
Who is Alexander Acosta? Heavy’s Brendan Morrow notes that he served as NLRB director during the Bush 43 administration for just under two years, and then another two years at the Department of Justice to head up its Civil Rights Division. In 2011, Acosta told Congress that it needed to work harder to safeguard the civil rights of Muslims in America:
In 2011, Acosta testified before Congress about the importance of protecting the civil rights of Muslim Americans. He said to the committee that “we are a nation build on principles of freedom, and high on the list of freedoms is freedom of religious expression. Indeed, as is well known to this Committee, this freedom pre-dates our Constitution.”
Acosta spoke about a variety of cases he has dealt with involving the civil rights of Muslims, including one instance where he instructed the Justice Department to intervene when a young girl was asked to take off her hijab in school. He goes on to talk about the importance of the president speaking up to defend Muslims.
“Our nation is strong because we respond to attack with resolve,” he said. “History has shown the need, however, for leadership that tempers resolve with wisdom. President George W. Bush understood this, when on September 17, 2001, he visited the Islamic Center of Washington D.C. to remind a resolute nation that ‘[t]hose who feel like they can intimidate our fellow citizens to take out their anger…should be ashamed of that kind of behavior.’ This was not the message many Americans wanted to hear at that time, but the President chose to lead, rather than to be led.”
Acosta appears to be a much more traditional candidate to push through a balky Senate. One of the early knocks on Puzder was his lack of public-sector experience, but Acosta has plenty of that on his resumé. The shift from Puzder to Acosta would signal a pullback on outside-the-box candidates, and perhaps a pressing need to get people in place to get to work.
Update: Fox News confirms it’s Acosta:
— Fox News (@FoxNews) February 16, 2017
Update: Here’s another question — will Trump announce Flynn’s replacement? It’s been widely reported now that Vice Admiral Robert Harward has been offered the job, so if there’s no announcement today on it, it would seem to indicate that the White House needs to keep looking. Harward, like Acosta, represents a shift to the conventional.