Trump's trade rep: Lawyer Robert Lighthizer is top pick

America's complicated, critical trade relations with China
America's complicated, critical trade relations with China

President-elect Donald Trump might be settling on another member of his trade policy team.

Lawyer Robert Lighthizer is a leading contender for the post of U.S. Trade Representative, according to two sources with knowledge of the transition.

Lighthizer was deputy U.S. trade representative during the Reagan administration. He is currently a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom.

The office of U.S. trade representative, which was created in 1962, is typically the government's chief negotiator for trade deals and disputes.

The top job at USTR requires Senate confirmation and is part of the president's cabinet. But under Trump, it is not expected to have as much power as it has in the past, several sources said.

Instead, the incoming administration aims to give the Commerce Department a bigger role on trade policy and negotiations, according to the sources.

Trump has tapped billionaire investor Wilbur Ross as Commerce secretary.

Earlier this week, Trump added another wrinkle to the issue of trade policy when he named economist Peter Navarro to lead the newly created White House Trade Council.

Related: America's biggest trade partners

The current trade rep, Michael Froman, was the Obama administration's lead negotiator on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a deal that Trump has said he will withdraw from.

--Jamie Gangel, Jim Acosta, Elise Labott and Heather Long contributed reporting to this report.

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