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Is Donald Trump Backtracking on Campaign Pledge by Hiring Goldman Sachs Alumni?

President-elect Donald Trump promised to clean up Washington, D.C. But if his choices in advisers provide any signs of what’s to come, he has no plans to clear out the Goldman Sachs executives who have staffed finance positions from one administration to the next.

Steve Bannon, a former Goldman Sachs banker (among other things), will be the chief White House strategist. Steven Mnuchin, who ran Trump’s campaign finance operation and worked at Goldman, has been tapped to run the Treasury Department. And it’s possible that Gary Cohn, the president of the financial company, will be fingered to lead the Office of Management and Budget.

For a president-elect whose campaign was rife with attacks on Wall Street, the list of Goldman appointments appears surprising and at odds with his pledge to “drain the swamp.”

Filled with attacks on elite power, the ad pictured George Soros, Fed chairman Janet Yellen and Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein, implying that all three were part of “a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.” At another point, Trump said that his rival Hillary Clinton “meets in secret with international bankers to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty.”

But there might be an explanation for Trump’s current or potential Goldman picks, two of them Jewish, from a firm that has served as fodder for anti-Semitic conspiracy theories — Jews are the only people he trusts to manage the purse strings.

“The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day,” he once said, according to a memoir about Trump written in the ‘90’s by his former associate John O’Donnell.

Contact Daniel J. Solomon at solomon@forward.com or on Twitter @DanielJSolomon

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