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Obama picks attorney Mary Jo White to lead SEC

President Obama will nominate Mary Jo White to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission, tapping an attorney with broad experience in prosecuting white-collar crimes to lead an agency that has a central role in implementing Wall Street reform. 

A White House official said the president would announce White's nomination during a ceremony in the State Dining Room Thursday afternoon. 

At the same event, Obama will renominate Richard Cordray to serve as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the official said. The president used a recess appointment last year to circumvent Congress and install Cordray as head of the bureau. That appointment expires at the end of this year. 

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss the nominations ahead of the president. 

White spent nearly a decade as the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, building a reputation as a tough prosecutor with an expertise in pursuing white collar crimes and complex securities and financial fraud cases. White House officials say that experience makes her well positioned to implement Obama's Wall Street reform legislation. 

While serving as U.S. attorney, White also won convictions related to the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. 

If confirmed by the Senate, White would take over the helm at the SEC from Elisse Walter, who is serving out the rest of former SEC chair Mary Schapiro's term. Schapiro resigned in December. 

Cordray has run the consumer bureau since last year, when Obama used a recess appointment to install him in the job. Senate Republicans had opposed Cordray, as well as the concept of the consumer bureau. 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., first conceived of the idea of a consumer protection bureau. Obama considered naming her to lead the bureau, but her nomination would likely have run into deep opposition on Capitol Hill.