Who’s Left to Fill Out Trump’s Cabinet?
President-elect continues to consider members of Congress from both sides of the aisle
Updated Dec. 2, 3:31 p.m.
President-elect Donald Trump has announced who he’ll nominate for several of the high-profile positions for his incoming administration, but there’s much speculation about who he’ll put in the remaining spots.
Some of those Trump is considering worked for his opponents in the Republican primaries. Some even backed his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
He’s already tapped a few members of Congress and is considering more, including some from across the aisle. He’s also gone outside and chosen dealmakers like himself.
Here’s a look at who Trump has chosen and which positions are yet to be filled:
Secretary of State
There has been more speculation about this position than almost any other in a Trump administration because it is one of the most prominent Cabinet positions and the secretary of state is responsible for carrying out the president’s foreign policy agenda.
Trump aides said Wednesday that the president-elect has narrowed his choices to four people: former Massachusetts Gov. and 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, former CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus, and Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker.
Trump has met twice publicly with Romney, dining with him at an upscale Manhattan restaurant on Wednesday night. Romney called Trump a “con man” during the Republican primaries and news that Romney was being considered riled Trump supporters — campaign manager Kellyanne Conway made the rounds of political shows, saying that nominating Romney would be seen as a “betrayal” by those who backed Trump.
Giuliani and Petreaus come with their own problems: Questions linger about Giuliani’s global business ties and Petraeus’ legal issues stemming from his sentencing in 2015 to two years probation and a $100,000 fine for providing classified data to his biographer and mistress.
And Senate Republicans worry Trump and the GOP would look hypocritical for nominating and supporting Petraeus after Trump hammered Clinton during the campaign for her misuse of a personal email server and classified information while secretary of State.
Corker, who had been in the running to be Trump’s vice president, is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. While he voted against the Iran nuclear deal, and wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post about his opposition to it, for some on the alt-right, that wasn’t enough.
Another potential pick is Tennessee GOP Sen. Bob Corker, who had been in the running to be Trump’s vice president and serves as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But Democrats have raised questions about Corker’s own criticized business dealings and disclosure missteps.
Among those who were reportedly considered for the post were John Bolton, the former United Nations ambassador, and California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher,
Secretary of the Treasury
Trump on Wednesday announced former Goldman Sachs partner Steven Mnuchin would be his Treasury secretary. Mnuchin, 53, was Trump’s campaign finance chairman and an early supporter with ties to Wall Street.
Mnuchin, 53, a Yale graduate, is currently chairman and co-chief executive officer of Dune Capital Management, a hedge fund. He has also worked with billionaire financier George Soros, bought assets of a failing bank in California and launched a new lender, and produced movie blockbusters.
“I understand what needs to be done to fix the economy. I look forward to helping President-elect Trump implement a bold economic agenda that creates good-paying jobs and defends the American worker,” Mnuchin said in a statement.
Fierce Wall Street critic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, has called Mnuchin the “Forrest Gump of the financial crisis.”
“His selection as Treasury secretary should send shivers down the spine of every American who got hit hard by the financial crisis,” Warren said in a statement, “and is the latest sign that Donald Trump has no intention of draining the swamp and every intention of running Washington to benefit himself and his rich buddies.”
Also reportedly considered for the post were Texas GOP Rep. Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.
[Hensarling Seen to Vie With Mnuchin for Trump Treasury Pick]
Secretary of Defense
Trump announced Thursday that he would nominate retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis to run the Pentagon.
Mattis, 66, led the United States Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, from 2010 to 2013, but his tour there was cut short by the Obama administration, with which he clashed over Iran.
Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain, R-Arizona, has already signaled that he believes Mattis is the right man for the job, an endorsement that will undoubtedly help with the confirmation process. But he could clash with Democrats in hearings over his views on women in combat and PTSD.
Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton, an Army veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who backed Sen. Bernie Sanders in the presidential race, were also reportedly considered for the position.
Secretary of Labor
One potential choice is outgoing Minnesota Rep. John Kline, who serves as chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. Another possibility is Andrew Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. Puzder frequently publishes op-eds about business and labor. He also recently said he is interested in using automation as an alternative to minimum wage increases.
Rep. Lou Barletta, an early Trump backer and a member of his transition team, said he has spoken to Trump about potentially taking the post.
Another potential pick is Victoria Lipnic, who serves on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Secretary of Education
Trump chose Betsy DeVos, 58, chairwoman of the American Federation for Children, which advocates expanding school choice in K-12 education, to run the Department of Education. She is married to Dick DeVos, the son of Amway co-founder Richard DeVos. The couple donated $2.75 million to Republican candidates during the 2016 election cycle, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
“The status quo in education is not acceptable,” DeVos said in a statement. “Together, we can work to make transformational change that ensures every student in America has the opportunity to fulfill his or her highest potential.”
Pressed for his opinion on DeVos, with whom he had served on the Alliance for School Choice, Democratic Sen. Cory Booker responded, “I’m not saying anything.”
Also considered for Education was former Washington D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, a Democrat who had come under fire for her support of charter schools and Common Core.
Some conservatives have advocated leaving the Education secretary post open so Trump can do away with the position and the department entirely.
Secretary of Health and Human Services
Trump selected Rep. Tom Price, to helm HHS. The Georgia Republican was an early Trump supporter and currently chairs the House Budget Committee. An orthopedic surgeon, Price is a vocal opponent of the health law and has advocated a full repeal on multiple occasions.
Republicans, including Trump, have made repeal of the law and passage of replacement legislation a top priority for next year. As HHS secretary, Price would likely have a large amount of influence over the creation of a new system.
Former Louisiana Gov. and congressman Bobby Jindal was also under consideration for the post. Jindal ran Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals and was an assistant HHS secretary under President George W. Bush.
Secretary of Commerce
Wilbur Ross, 78, one of Trump’s economic advisers who founded his own firm based around reorganizing floundering companies, was named to the post on Wednesday. Ross is an outspoken critic of NAFTA, calling it one of the worst trade deals in recent history.
Ross runs the private equity firm W.L. Ross & Co. and, according to Forbes, has a net worth of $2.9 billion. Ross also worked with Trump to help restructure the debt for Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
PayPal founder Peter Thiel, who spoke on Trump’s behalf at the Republican National Convention in July, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee were also mentioned as possibilities.
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, infamous for once forgetting the Department of Energy when listing the three departments he would cut as president in a 2012 GOP debate, could become its head honcho.
Perry was one of the first well-known GOP leaders to endorse Donald Trump, after he dropped out of the 2016 race.
Other favorites for the job include Trump’s EPA transition man Myron Ebell, who has repeatedly condemned the global consensus on the existence and danger of climate change, and oil and gas investor Harold Hamm.
The person tapped for the position will be in charge of updating energy infrastructure and coordinating with the Defense Department on modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
Veterans Affairs Secretary
Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown said he has talked to Trump about heading the Department of Veterans Affairs. Brown, an early Trump backer, served for more than 30 years in the Army Reserve and served on the Veterans Affairs and Armed Services committees.
Warren has said she would back the nomination of Brown, who she beat in the Senate race in 2012.
Trump has also said he is considering Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Florida, one of Trump’s earliest backers in Congress who headed the Veterans Affairs Committee. Miller, who didn’t run for re-election, said he hasn’t spoken to the transition team but would give an offer “serious consideration.”
Pete Hegseth, a Fox News contributor, has also been floated. Hegseth served as CEO of Concerned Veterans for America.
One potential pick is Sid Miller, who is currently Agriculture Commissioner in Texas. Miller served as co-chairman of Trump’s agriculture advisory team, but he’s not without his problems. During the election, he tweeted a poll which referred to Clinton as the c-word. Miller later blamed the tweet on a third-party vendor and deleted it.
Another potential pick is outgoing Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas. Huelskamp, who represented Kansas’ 1st District. Huelskamp is a member of the House Freedom Caucus but he caught the wrath of former House Speaker John A. Boehner and was booted from the House Agriculture Committee, which would lead to him losing his primary race this year.
Sam Brownback, the Republican governor of Kansas and former secretary of the Kansas Department of Agriculture, is also a possible pick. Brownback served as ranking member of the Senate subcommittee on agriculture before running for governor. He also mounted a brief presidential campaign in late 2006 but withdrew before the primaries, eventually endorsing McCain.
Former two-term Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue also met with Trump in New York Wednesday morning and is regarded as another possible nominee.
Despite earlier reports, Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, said that Trump did not offer him the the top job at the Department of Agriculture.
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Trump tweeted last week that he was seriously considering former presidential candidate and neurosurgeon Ben Carson to serve as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, despite Carson having previously declined interest in a cabinet post. Carson ran against Trump in the Republican presidential primary, but the two became close after Carson dropped out of the race. He was a top Trump surrogate during the general election campaign.
Carson argued against the Obama administration’s fair housing plan, calling for less government involvement in social institutions, and equating the anti-discrimination attempt to “failed socialist experiments.” Carson’s acceptance of the HUD nomination has not been confirmed.
Robert Woodson, head of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, said he was being considered for the position. Woodson has been an adviser to House Speaker Paul D. Ryan on poverty since the end of the 2012 presidential election. He has known Ryan since the 1990s through Ryan’s mentor, the late Rep. Jack Kemp, who served as Housing and Urban Development Secretary during George H.W. Bush’s administration.
Secretary of Transportation
Trump picked Elaine Chao to be his Transportation secretary. Chao served as Labor secretary for George W. Bush’s administration and as deputy Transportation secretary and Director of the Peace Corps for former President George H.W. Bush. She is also married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
Outgoing Rep. John Mica, who lost his race to Democrat Stephanie Murphy after he was redistricted, indicated he was interested in the job. Mica served as chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee at one point during his tenure in the House. He also called Amtrak a “Soviet-style operation.”
Multiple media outlets also reported Trump was considering former Democratic Rep. Harold Ford Jr. Ford, from Tennessee, served five terms in the House before running unsuccessfully for the Senate in 2006. He now serves as a managing director for Morgan Stanley.
Former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board Mark Rosenker was also considered, the Washington Post reported.
Secretary of the Interior
Clues as to who Trump will pick to head the Interior Department are few and far between, though Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin seems to be the current favorite. An outspoken critic of the Obama administration, Fallin met with Trump at Trump Tower last week. She told reporters after the meeting the conversation revolved around Oklahoma’s Native American tribes and the oil and gas industry.
Another potential pick is Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who met with Trump on Monday to discuss “optimization of federal lands, energy exploration and mining.” As chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, McMorris Rodgers has conservative credentials and can build relationships with her colleagues on the Hill.
Politico reported that Forrest Lucas, the co-founder of Indiana-based Lucas Oil, is also under consideration. Lucas was a major donor to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, with him and his wife giving more than $50,000 to Pence’s gubernatorial campaigns. But wife Charlotte Lucas’ inflammatory comments about Muslims and atheists, for which Forrest apologized, could make him a hard sell.
Homeland Security Secretary
Texas Rep. Michael McCaul is the leading candidate to head Trump’s Department of Homeland Security. As chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and a former federal prosecutor, McCaul is a logical pick for an administration short on experience.
McCaul has taken a special interest in matters of cybersecurity, championing last year’s information-sharing bill and repeatedly condemning the Obama administration’s counterterrorism efforts, and is reportedly eager for the job.
Another potential candidate is retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, who has been a vociferous critic of Obama’s attempts to close Guantanamo Bay.
Trump also met with Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke on Monday. Clarke’s extreme approach to combating terrorism has riled civil rights groups. He has advocated for imprisoning terrorist sympathizers at Guantanamo Bay, questioning suspects without an attorney present and feeding cases to military tribunals rather than criminal courts.
Clarke has said he would accept a post in the administration if one was offered to him.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator
Myron Ebell, Trump’s EPA transition chair, is poised to take over the position full-time come January.
Ebell is a famous climate change denier and has criticized everyone from Obama to Pope Francis for perpetuating what he, and the president elect, deem to be an international “hoax.”
A long-time Washington staple, Ebell is director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute which prides itself on questioning “global warming alarmism.” Trump and Ebell will likely try to roll back Obama’s Clean Power Plan and have pledged to dismantle the EPA completely.
Along with Ebell, Trump is rumored to be considering Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt and Kathleen Hartnett White of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, both of whom met with the president-elect earlier this week. Environmental groups have expressed concern over Pruitt and Hartnett White for their critiques of the Obama administration’s plans to address climate change.
Office of Management and Budget
Trump has met with Gary Cohn, president and COO of the bank behemoth and has reportedly considered Cohn for the position as director.
Front-runner Linda Springer served as director of the Office of Personnel Management during George W. Bush’s second term and headed OMB’s Office of Federal Financial Management before that. Springer endorsed Trump in June, citing his “commitment to America” and “fresh perspective.”
Paul Winfree, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Institute for Economic Policy Studies, also is being considered. Winfree is a former Senate staffer, serving as director of income security for the Senate Committee on the Budget.
Former Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn may also be considered. Coburn, a fiscal conservative, is well-known in Republican circles for taking the hard line against “wasteful” government spending.
Cohn would be the third Goldman alum to accept a role in Trump’s administration, joining chief strategist Steve Bannon and Treasury pick Steve Mnuchin.
David Malpass, president of Encima Global, also might be under consideration, as well as South Carolina Republican Rep. Mick Mulvaney, who is to meet with Trump on Monday.
U.S. Trade Representative
Because Trump has promised to renegotiate America’s various international trade deals himself, it’s uncertain who the president-elect will choose to be his official Trade Representative.
Dan DiMicco, former president and CEO of Nucor Corporation, is Trump’s chief trade adviser, and therefore seems poised to become trade rep in the new year. DiMicco is an outspoken critic of free trade and proponent of bringing back U.S. manufacturing jobs, publishing a book in 2015 titled, “American Made: Why Making Things Will Return Us to Greatness.”
After being overlooked for the Commerce job in favor of Wilbur Ross, Louisiana Rep. Charles Boustany became a possible choice for chief trade representative. A senior member of the Ways and Means Committee, Boustany returns to the House after missing out on the runoff in Louisiana’s Senate race, which will be decided on Dec. 10.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
Trump selected Republican South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to serve as his U.N. ambassador, second only to the secretary of State in carrying out U.S. foreign policy.
Haley had been floated as a secretary of State candidate, as well.
The child of Indian immigrants, Haley took a not-so-subtle swipe at Trump in the Republican response to the State of the Union address earlier this year, saying people should resist the temptation to “follow the siren call of the angriest voices” as Trump was emerging as front-runner in the Republican primaries rising a strong anti-immigrant message.
Trump to responded on Fox News that Haley was “very week on illegal immigration,” and that she had asked for “a hell of a lot of money” in campaign contributions.
Haley received praise for her push to remove the Confederate Battle flag from the grounds of the South Carolina State Capitol in the wake of the shooting of nine African-American churchgoers in Charleston.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who lost her race in New Hampshire to Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, was also being considered for the post, as was Richard Grenell, former spokesman for the ambassador under George W. Bush, who would have been the first openly gay American to fill the role.
Council of Economic Advisers
Trump is likely to choose his circle of economic experts from the list he’s been working with for months. Despite promises to “drain the swamp,” Trump has relied heavily on Washington lobbyists, think tank lifers and big business magnates.
Lawrence Kudlow, Stephen Moore and Peter Navarro are possible candidates as all three have advised Trump on economic policy throughout his campaign.
Kudlow is well-known in media circles and has favored Trump’s tax plans since the election cycle’s early days, but hinted he might drop support for the then-Republican nominee following the release of the “Access Hollywood” tapes in October.
Moore is a traditional fiscal conservative with a penchant for the free market, a position somewhat at odds with Trump’s anti-trade rhetoric.
A business professor at the University of California-Irvine, Navarro’s economic and foreign policy opinions align with Trump’s “tough on China” platform.
Small Business Administration
There have not been many names floated for adminstrator of the Small Business Administration. One potential choice is Mary Anne Bradfield, who is leading Trump’s SBA team. Bradfield worked as an assistant to the SBA during the George W. Bush Administration and is a former lobbyist.
Another potential choice is Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, who is chairman of the House Small Business Committee.