|18th United States Trade Representative|
May 15, 2017
|Preceded by||Michael Froman|
|Born||Robert Emmet Lighthizer
October 11, 1947
Ashtabula, Ohio, U.S.
|Education||Georgetown University (BA, JD)|
Robert Emmet Lighthizer (born October 11, 1947) is an American attorney and government official who is the current United States Trade Representative. After he graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in 1973, Lighthizer joined the firm of Covington and Burling in Washington, D.C. He left the firm in 1978 to serve as chief minority counsel and later Staff Director and Chief of Staff of the Senate Committee on Finance under Chairman Bob Dole (R-Kan.). In 1983, Lighthizer was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as Deputy U.S. Trade Representative for President Ronald Reagan. In 1985, Lighthizer joined the Washington office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, as a partner and led the firm’s International Trade group. On January 3, 2017, President-Elect Donald J. Trump announced that he intended to nominate Ambassador Lighthizer as his U.S. Trade Representative. Lighthizer was confirmed by the Senate on May 11, 2017 by a vote of 82-14.
After graduating from Georgetown, Lighthizer joined Covington and Burling in Washington D.C. as an associate attorney. In 1978, Lighthizer left Covington & Burling to work for Senator Bob Dole (R-Kan.), who at the time was the Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee. When Senator Dole became Chairman of the Finance Committee in 1981, Lighthizer became the committee’s Staff Director and Chief of Staff. In the 1980s, Lighthizer hired fellow Georgetown Hoya Patrick Ewing as an intern.
In 1983, during the administration of President Ronald Reagan, Lighthizer was nominated and confirmed to serve as Deputy U.S. Trade Representative under Ambassador William Brock. During his tenure, Lighthizer negotiated over two dozen bilateral international agreements, including agreements on steel, automobiles, and agricultural products. As Deputy USTR, Lighthizer also served as Vice Chairman of the Board of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.
In 1985, Lighthizer joined the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP (Skadden), as a partner. He practiced international trade law at Skadden for over 30 years, representing American workers and businesses ranging from manufacturing to financial services, agriculture and technology. While at Skadden, Lighthizer worked to expand markets to U.S. exports and defended U.S. industries from unfair trading practices.
Lighthizer served in a senior position in the 1988 presidential campaign of Senator Robert Dole. In 1996 he served as the Treasurer of the Dole Campaign.
On January 3, 2017, Donald Trump announced that he planned to nominate Lighthizer as U.S. Trade Representative, a cabinet-level position. On January 23, press reports speculated that Lighthizer’s nomination may require a waiver of section 141(b)(4) of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended, due to his brief representation of a foreign government in litigation 25 years before. In March, White House Counsel Donald McGahn sent a letter to Senate leadership citing a Clinton-era opinion by the White House Counsel arguing that the statute was an unconstitutional limit on the President’s ability to appoint his cabinet. 
At his confirmation hearing, Lighthizer was introduced by former Senator Bob Dole and Senators Brown and Portman. In introducing Lighthizer, Senator Brown said, “Mr. Lighthizer is eminently qualified, as Senator Dole said, for this job. He has a long history of fighting on behalf of American manufacturers, and I would add, American workers.” 
On April 25, the Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved Lighthizer’s nomination to serve as the U.S. Trade Representative as well as a waiver of section 141(b)(4) of the Trade Act of 1974.
Three days later on May 18th, Lighthizer notified Congress that President Trump intended to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), making him the first USTR to renegotiate a major U.S. free trade agreement.
Lighthizer wrote that using tariffs to promote American industry was a Republican tenet dating back to the pro-business politicians who established the party.
Lighthizer has accused China of unfair trade practices. He wrote: “The icon of modern conservatism, Ronald Reagan, imposed quotas on imported steel, protected Harley-Davidson from Japanese competition, restrained import of semiconductors and automobiles, and took myriad similar steps to keep American industry strong. How does allowing China to constantly rig trade in its favor advance the core conservative goal of making markets more efficient? Markets do not run better when manufacturing shifts to China largely because of the actions of its government.”
Lighthizer suggested that the U.S. should bring more cases against China for failure to comply with the regulations of the World Trade Organization. In testimony before the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission in 2010, Lighthizer stated that "USTR (U.S. Trade Representative) should pursue WTO litigation with respect to all such examples of non-compliance. If necessary, Congress should give USTR additional resources to increase its ability".
Lighthizer has stated "I try to be friendly in negotiations. I'm not the theatrical type. The art of persuasion is knowing where the leverage is".
Lighthizer’s brother, O. James Lighthizer, is one of the United States’ most respected experts on the American Civil War. James Lighthizer is the president of The Civil War Trust, a battlefield preservation society, and a former member of the Maryland House of Delegates.
Lighthizer lives in Florida. He has two children, Robert and Claire, and three grandchildren. 
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|United States Trade Representative
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