In the wake of his victory, Donald Trump is faced with the task of appointing about 1,300 positions in his presidential cabinet. So far, he has nominated 17 candidates for leadership positions, all of whom await Congressional approval. The Senate approval process began on January 3, 2017, just two weeks before Trump’s inauguration.
President-Elect Trump has already begun appointing his staff. His Chief of Staff is former head of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus. Priebus is a veteran in government affairs and legislative procedures. This pick most likely aimed to reassure “establishment” conservatives, a group that Trump excoriated during the campaign. Additionally, Steve Bannon, former head of the alt-right media website Breitbart news, was selected as Trump’s chief strategist. The President-Elect’s decision has drawn fire from critics due to some of Bannon’s racially inflammatory remarks. Former army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn has been appointed as Trump’s national security advisor. Flynn is an outspoken critic of radical Islamic terrorism and has been a staunch supporter of Donald Trump throughout the campaign.
Trump’s pick for the Department of Education, Betsy DeVos, is known for her work in expanding private and religious school systems through voucher programs that give taxpayer dollars to individual families in order for them to pay for these types of schools. During the campaign, Donald Trump was a supporter of the “school choice” movement, which aims to disrupt the public education system, one that Mr. Trump has called a “government-run- monopoly.” Thus, Mrs. DeVos is a pick that represents the President Elect’s ambitions to reform the education system in the United States, as part of his larger vision to “Make America Great Again”.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) the nominee for the Attorney General (chair of the Department of Justice) was the first Senator to back Trump. He has made somewhat controversial remarks on supporting the Muslim ban as well as on the Obama administration’s opposition to a federal ban on gay marriage, calling it “shameful”. In addition, he has drawn criticism for his comments on the NAACP, calling the group “un-American” for their “trying to force civil rights down the throats of people”. The issues surrounding Mr. Sessions’ appointment could become troublesome for Trump’s administration, as Sessions will be leading an agency that is expected, according to its mission statement, to “ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.”
The current nominee for the director of the CIA is Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan) a decorated military veteran with degrees from West Point and Harvard, and a relentless critic of Hillary Clinton. According to the NY Times, “Mr. Pompeo would become one of the most overtly partisan figures to take over the C.I.A.”, should he be confirmed by Congress. Considering the CIA usually operates outside the realms of politics, this pick could have significant ramifications in the future. Pompeo is also an advocate for a return to the bulk collection of Americans’ calling records, which was curtailed by Congress in 2015, and has criticized Obama’s closing of CIA Black Site prisons, which have been criticised for alleged abuses of human rights and the use of torture.
Perhaps one of the more idiosyncratic picks made by President-Elect Trump is the appointment of Former Republican Presidential Candidate Dr. Ben Carson to lead the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Dr. Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who has never held political office, is a stalwart Trump’s supporter and confidant. Dr. Carson is an odd choice considering he has publicly called into question his own qualifications for this position. Mr. Carson’s appointment can yield important results in working towards achieving Trump’s goals for inner city reforms and creating more opportunities for people in poverty-stricken communities.
Overall, the framework for Trump’s cabinet has been formulated, but is still evolving. Most of the cabinet positions are still subjected to a process of congressional approval, which may create turmoil and difficulties for a smooth transition for Mr. Trump’s administration.
Graphics: Jessica Chang