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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Bill Donaldson President Bush's Choice to Lead SEC

Aired December 10, 2002 - 10:33   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: After we got word coming from Washington that President Bush has tapped a new person to head the SEC.
Let's go down to our John King, who's standing by in Washington. He's got more on this now -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Leon, once again, as he did yesterday, President Bush reaching back to a veteran of the Ford administration, as he rounds out his economic team, has a shakeup in his economic team. Yesterday it was the new choice Treasury Secretary John Snow. Today, it is a gentlemen by the name of William Donaldson.

He served under Henry Kissinger in the State Department back in the Nixon and Ford administrations. He is much better known for his work on Wall Street. He was the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange. There is an investment banking firm that bears his name, Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette, familiar to anyone who follows the markets and investment banking. He was chairman of the New York Stock Exchange for quite some time, also chairman of the big Aetna insurance companies. Senior administration officials describing him as a very senior, respected, reassuring figure, just the type of person they think they need now to replace the controversial Harvey Pitt, who was forced to resign as head of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Democrats said from the beginning they thought Harvey Pitt was the wrong man to have at the SEC at this time of the WorldCom, the Enron accounting scandals, because Harvey Pitt once was an attorney who represented the accounting industry. The final straw for the White House was when Harvey Pitt withheld some information about his choice to head the new accounting oversight board that Congress created in the wake of Enron and WorldCom.

So the president trying to move quickly in the final month of this year to give his economic team a good look. We have a new treasury secretary picked, named yesterday. This new Security and Exchange Commission head, William Donaldson, will be introduced here at the White House, we are told, this afternoon. The president still has one more vacancy to fill, a top economic position within the White House staff. We're told to look for that one over the next several days as well -- Leon.

HARRIS: Thanks, John. That's a lot of information you were able to dig up in a couple of minutes. We appreciate it.

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