WASHINGTON (CNN) - President-elect Barack Obama is likely to name Dr. Steven Chu, a physicist who runs the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, as his new Energy Secretary, three Democratic officials close to the transition told CNN.
The three officials said the announcement is expected to come next week in Chicago and that Obama will also unveil Carol Browner, former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in the Clinton administration, as the newly-created "climate czar" inside the White House itself.
Chu won the 1997 Nobel prize in physics and is highly respected in energy circles. But some Democrats have privately expressed concern that Chu has no political experience as he takes on the monumental task of passing a landmark energy reform bill early next year.
While Browner is seen as a shrewd inside player who could help the incoming Energy Secretary navigate Capitol Hill, Obama will face questions about how effective his team will be going up against oil companies and other special interests that do not want to change the status quo.
(CNN) - President-elect Barack Obama Wednesday joined calls for Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to resign.
"The president-elect agrees with [Illinois] Lt. Governor Quinn and many others that under the current circumstances it is difficult for the governor to effectively do his job and serve the people of Illinois," Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
On Tuesday Blagojevich was arrested on federal conspiracy charges. Prosecutors alleged in their complaint that Blagojevich pressured candidates to replace Obama in the Senate for campaign contributions and other benefits.
Gibbs said Obama also supported legislation that will be considered by Illinois lawmakers on Monday to authorize a special election to choose his successor.
Obama believes Illinois lawmakers should "put in place a process to select a new senator that will have the trust and confidence of the the people of Illinois," Gibbs said.
CHICAGO (CNN) - The Obama transition team has just set up a special team to interact with the State Department’s Operations Center as well as the office of the Director of National Intelligence, according to an Obama aide. That information is then being filtered to President-elect Obama, who is getting regular updates at his residence here in Chicago. He is scheduled to be home all day Thursday celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends.
An Obama spokesman told reporters the president-elect had spoken by phone with both Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Indian Ambassador Ronen Sen.
(CNN) - Two sources close to the transition tell CNN that on Tuesday, President-elect Barack Obama will officially unveil Peter Orszag as his nominee for director of the Office of Management and Budget at a press conference in Chicago.
Obama hinted at this at an event Monday, when he suggested his Tuesday event would focus on finding cuts in the federal budget to help dig the nation out of the fiscal crisis.
“Full recovery will not happen immediately,” Obama told reporters. “And to make the investments we need, we’ll have to scour our federal budget, line by line, and make meaningful cuts and sacrifices as well, something I will be discussing further tomorrow."
(Updated 6:25 p.m.: Bill Richardson is still on track to be named Commerce Secretary, but not Tuesday.)
CHICAGO (CNN) - The logistics for today's economic team rollout had a taste of Chicago baseball mixed in. The room was divided into two sides: reporters on the south side of the room have small White Sox tickets on their seats. Those on the north have tiny Cubs scraps of paper, complete with semi-official MLB insignias. The President-elect, of course, is a South Sider who roots for the Sox.
(CNN) - Two Democrats close to the transition tell CNN that New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is now expected to be nominated as Secretary of Commerce by President-elect Barack Obama, pending the final vetting process.
Richardson, one of the leading Hispanics in the Democratic Party, had been seeking the Secretary of State post but lost out to Sen. Hillary Clinton. Obama aides have told CNN that Obama is “on track” to nominate Clinton as his secretary of state after Thanksgiving.
The precise timing on the announcement of Richardson’s appointment is unclear.
Two Richardson advisers said privately that Richardson had been hoping State would be his prize after facing political heat for picking Obama over Clinton, but the governor is willing to accept another post in hopes that he will move up in the Cabinet later in the administration.
Richardson served as Energy Secretary and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in the Clinton administration.
Obama’s pick will now mean that at least three former rivals from the Democratic presidential primaries will be in senior posts in the Obama administration - Richardson, Clinton and Vice President-elect Joe Biden.
(CNN) - Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter confirms to CNN the Obama daughters will attend Sidwell Friends school in Washington, DC.
"They looked at a lot of great schools but they felt Sidwell fit their best interests," spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter told CNN.
Chelsea Clinton also attended the school when her father was in the White House.
CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) - Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico is a serious contender for commerce secretary in the Obama administration, two sources close to the transition said Friday.
The same sources, however, cautioned that Richardson could be tapped for another senior post as well. They do not consider Richardson's appointment to the Commerce Department to be a done deal.
Richardson, 61, was a candidate for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. Currently in his second term as New Mexico's governor, he previously served as ambassador to the United Nations and energy secretary in the Clinton administration.
CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) - Two sources close to the Obama transition team tell CNN retired Marine Gen. Jim Jones has emerged as President-elect's leading choice to become national security adviser in the White House.
The sources said Jones has been given the impression by the President-elect that the job is his if he wants it. But the officials said there are still private discussions underway and no final decision has been made.
The discussions are focused on precisely how much power Jones will have in the staff job since he is used to being in a command role. Among his many posts, Jones served for several years as the operational commander for NATO.
In the third and final presidential debate, Obama noted that he deeply values advice from Jones, who has four decades of military service.
One person close to the transition noted Jones is a bipartisan figure who has warm relationships with both current Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who may stay on the job for at least a brief period, as well as Sen. Hillary Clinton, who is now on track to be nominated as Secretary of State after Thanksgiving.
CNN first reported last week that Jones was getting serious consideration for either national security adviser or Energy Secretary.
CHICAGO (CNN) - Three sources close to the transition and in a position to know tell CNN that former Sen. Tom Daschle is President-elect Barack Obama's choice to be Secretary of Health and Human Services and the former Senate Majority Leader has indicated he wants the job.
Most significantly, Daschle negotiated that he will also serve as the White House health "czar" - or point person - so that he will report directly to the incoming President. The significance is this guarantees that by wearing two hats Daschle, and not White House staffers, will be writing the health care plan that Obama submits to Congress next year.
The sources said the precise timing of the announcement has not been worked out, but Daschle is likely to officially join the Obama transition team as the lead adviser on health issues in the next few weeks. An Obama transition official had no comment.
Daschle is billed as a "special public policy advisor" in the Washington office of the lobbying firm Alston Bird, though he is technically not a federally registered lobbyist. But his wife, Linda Daschle, is a registered lobbyist at the powerful firm Baker Donelson, which does have some health clients.