Meet the Cabinet

By Abby Hoyt, Co-Editor-in-Chief

President-Elect Donald Trump’s transition team has been faced with its first major task: nominating over 4,000 people for positions throughout the federal government. These positions will help determine the direction of the country in major areas like health care, military action and international relations. His appointments will be crucial in determining the success of the Trump Administration in pushing their agenda for the next four years.

Most of his nominees will have to be confirmed by the Senate two weeks before Trump’s inauguration in January. Just three of these positions will not require the Senate’s confirmation: chief of staff (Reince Priebus), national security adviser (Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn), and chief strategist (Stephen Bannon).  

The following is a list of his nominees so far.

Treasury Secretary: Steven Mnuchin

The role of the Treasury Secretary is to oversee government involvement in financial markets and advise the President on financial policy.

Perhaps one of the most surprising nominations President-elect Trump has announced so far is Steven Mnuchin, whose lengthy resume on Wall Street has drawn criticism for contradicting Trump’s “drowning the swamp” rhetoric during the campaign. Mnuchin worked at Goldman Sachs for 17 years and bought IndyMac during its decline in the 2008 financial crisis.

During Trump’s campaign, Mnuchin was a loyal and heavy donor despite his lack of previous involvement in politics. His main goals in office include reducing financial regulations and reviewing trade agreements abroad.

Transportation Secretary: Elaine Chao

The role of the Transportation Secretary is to oversee infrastructure efforts, such as the building of roads, bridges and public transit systems.

Elaine Chao served as Secretary of Labor under Former President George W. Bush. She brings to the cabinet the perspective of a female immigrant from Taiwan. During the campaign, she was a member of Trump’s Asian Pacific American Advisory Council. Additionally, she has worked for Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and The Heritage Foundation, and she sits on the Board of Directors at FOX Broadcasting.

Health and Human Services Secretary: Tom Price

The role of the Health and Human Services Secretary is to advise the President on national health and welfare through agencies such as the FDA, NIH, and CDC.

Representative Tom Price has been serving in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2005. He has rebuked any legislation regarding a woman’s right to choose and has supported the defunding of Planned Parenthood. He adamantly opposes the Affordable Care Act and proposed a bill in 2015 to cut the nation’s federal health care programs.

Trump has expressed particular interest in Price’s ability to help him complete his goal of repealing the Affordable Care Act in the first 100 days in office.

Commerce Secretary: Wilbur Ross

The role of the Commerce Secretary is to develop business and industries both at home and abroad.

Wilbur Ross has a long history of buying troubled companies in the manufacturing industry, helping them get back on their feet, and then selling them. His plans in office include changing regional agreements like NAFTA into bilateral agreements and keeping American companies on American soil by getting rid of tariffs on American exports.

Education Secretary: Betsy DeVos

As head of the U.S. Department of Education, the Education Secretary helps draft and propose education policy to Congress.

DeVos advocates for a “school choice” proposal where students who prefer to have a private education over a public education are given a “voucher” from the federal government to help offset the costs of the transfer. While the intention of this program is to help all students have an equal opportunity to afford private education, critics say the reality is that private education is often times still unobtainable even with the voucher. These vouchers can result in less funding for public schools, leaving them with less to offer their existing students. In the past, DeVos has supported policy that minimizes the power of teachers unions through the controversial “right to work” legislation.

U.N. Ambassador: Nikki R. Haley

The U.N Ambassador represents the United States in all U.N. General Assembly meetings.

South Carolina Governor Haley rose to national recognition in 2015 after a shooting in Charleston where a white supremacist attacked an African-American church, killing nine. She responded by removing the confederate flag from the grounds of the state capitol. During the primaries she backed Senator Marco Rubio and was attacked by the Trump campaign via Twitter after she criticized the real estate mogul.

Governor Haley has never held a federal position, nor does she have any foreign policy experience, but President-Elect Trump released a statement praising her for her ability to “bring people together regardless of background or party affiliation.”

C.I.A Director: Mike Pompeo

The Director of the C.I.A heads the C.I.A and reports to the Director of National Intelligence.

While in Congress, House Representative Mike Pompeo served on both the Intelligence Committee and the Select Committee on Benghazi. He was one of the interrogators that invested Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s involvement in Benghazi.

Pompeo’s original plans for 2016 involved running against Kansas Senator Jerry Moran, but the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan took drastic efforts to deter him from doing so. Pompeo has expressed concern for Muslim Americans who do not report potential threats to national security and has accused them of being “potentially complicit” with the outcomes of the attacks. Additionally, his close connections to the Koch brothers and his desire to return to former C.I.A detention and interrogation techniques has raised concerns within both parties.

Attorney General: Senator Jeff Sessions

The role of the Attorney General is to act as legal counsel to the President and serve as the head of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Senator Sessions, who has been an active member of the Trump campaign since February, is most well known for his stringent approach to immigration. In 2014, he was dubbed “amnesty’s worst enemy” by the National Review.

This nomination has raised concerns nationwide due to the Senator’s behavior under the Reagan Administration. Sessions was denied a federal judgeship in 1986 due to multiple accounts of racist language and behavior. However, this did not end his political career; he was elected Senator and has held the position for the past twenty years.  

National Security Adviser: Michael Flynn

Along with the National Security Council, the National Security Adviser researches intelligence reports and advises the President on issues of national security.

Lt. Gen Michael Flynn served in the Asia-Pacific region during his time in the military and was chosen by Trump for his determination to fight ISIS. Flynn recently published a book called “The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Isla and Its Allies,” in which he claims that there is an alliance between “radical Islamist terrorists” and the governments of countries like North Korea, China, Russia, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

He has been called out for past Islamophobic behavior, particularly a tweet from 2013 that stated, “Fear of Muslims is Rational.”

White House Chief of Staff: Reince Priebus

The White House Chief of Staff is in charge of the day-to-day operations of the Executive Office of the President.

Former head of the Republican National Party, Reince Priebus came highly recommended by prominent Republicans like Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Some view the choice as Trump’s attempt to strengthen ties with the Republican Party.

After the primaries, Priebus began to work with Trump on his presidential image and tried to help him formulate concrete policy plans. He has never served in the capacity of an elected official, but he was Head of the Republican National Party for five years.


Chief Strategist: Stephen Bannon

The Chief Strategist’s role is relatively undefined but is primarily to act as an assistant to the Chief of Staff and a close confidant of the President.

Stephen Bannon, head of the conservative news outlet, was originally in the running for Chief of Staff but was instead appointed to Chief Strategist due to his harsh comments towards the Republican Party during the 2016 election. Breitbart was pro-Trump throughout most of the election and is often dubbed by Bannon as the “platform for the alt-right,” an ideology frequently associated with white nationalistic and misogynistic viewpoints.

From the print edition published Dec. 7, 2016

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *