Mr. Lighthizer has three decades of experience arguing for punitive tariffs on overseas companies. Given Mr. Trump’s deep skepticism of trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, or Nafta, Mr. Lighthizer probably wouldn’t prioritize major new trade agreements, at least in the early days of the administration, according to people following Mr. Trump’s trade plans.
Still, Mr. Lighthizer has negotiating experience from his time in the Reagan administration, and if confirmed, he would take the lead in talks that could culminate in the bilateral deals that Mr. Trump’s team prefers—a departure, for instance, from President Barack Obama’s focus on a 12-nation Pacific deal.
Mr. Trump’s advisers have said his pick for Commerce secretary—billionaire investor Wilbur Ross—also could play a leading role on trade policy, as well as economist Peter Navarro, who will lead a new trade council at the Trump White House.
Here is Lighthizer’s 2008 NYT Op-Ed criticizing free trade. None of this is good news.