Secretary of Defense
Gen. James Mattis
Retired Marine general
A key figure in the Iraq war, Gen. James Mattis led troops and ultimately oversaw US Central Command. In Gen. James Mattis, Trump has a candidate who was held in high regard throughout the ranks of the Marine Corps during his 44 years of service. A seasoned combat commander, he led a task force into southern Afghanistan in 2001 and a Marine division at the time of the Iraq invasion in 2003. The retired four-star general, who was known as “Mad Dog,” was lauded for his leadership of Marines in the 2004 Battle of Falluja in Iraq — one of the bloodiest of the war. But he attracted controversy in 2005 when he said “it’s fun to shoot some people” while addressing service members in San Diego. He ultimately rose to oversee US Central Command. Mattis would require a waiver from Congress to be eligible for the position — servicemembers must usually wait seven years before being eligible. With Republicans in control on Capitol Hill and the general praise for the general’s career, a waiver would likely be a formality to obtain.
Past controversy: “It’s fun to shoot some people,” he once said.
Key conversation: He may have already changed Trump’s mind about waterboarding.
Chief of Staff
Republican National Committee chairman
Reince Priebus has served as director of the Republican National Committee since 2011. Previously, he served as the committee’s general counsel. Priebus has the backing of establishment Republicans like House Speaker Paul Ryan, a fellow Wisconsinite, and Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader. He could help Trump negotiate with Congress. His appointment was reported November 13.
Secretary of the Treasury
Co-chairman and CEO of Dune Capital Management
Steven Mnuchin, who worked at Goldman Sachs for 17 years, joined the Trump campaign as finance chairman in May. These days Mnuchin is a Hollywood producer, putting out films including this past summer’s “Suicide Squad,” as well as “American Sniper” and “The Lego Movie.” His latest film, due in theaters this month, is called “Rules Don’t Apply.” Mnuchin has contributed to both Republican and Democratic candidates, including Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaigns and 2008 presidential run. He gave to Barack Obama’s Senate and presidential campaigns and to Charles Schumer, the new Democratic leader in the Senate. Mnuchin also worked with George Soros, the billionaire financier who has bankrolled liberal candidates and causes — and who was depicted as a villain in Trump’s last campaign ad. In 2009, during the real estate collapse, Mnuchin led a group that bought failed subprime lender IndyMac for pennies on the dollar.
Controversy: He made billions off the 2008 housing crisis
US Senator from Alabama
Sen. Jeff Sessions has represented Alabama in the US Senate since 1997. He was the first sitting senator to endorse Trump’s presidential campaign and was a main surrogate for him on the campaign trail. Sessions was nominated to be a federal judge earlier in his career, but could not get past Senate confirmation after allegations, which he denied, that he had made racist comments. He’s been a key opponent of comprehensive immigration reform on Capitol Hill. Trump offered Sessions the job of attorney general on November 18.
Secretary of Commerce
Wilbur Ross fits the mold of the type of administration officials he pledged to appoint during the campaign: businessmen with long resumes and billions in their bank accounts, sitting at the ready to negotiate for U.S. Interests around the world. Ross, 78, had been a vocal Trump supporter before the election, citing the need for a “more radical, new approach to government” that would help middle class and lower middle class Americans.
Ross, chairman of WL Ross & Co., has made a career of resurrecting dying companies. Fittingly, some of Ross’s biggest hits have been in the same demoralized industries that Trump wants to revive: steel and coal. For instance, Ross’s firm scored huge returns last decade by cobbling together bankrupt steel makers including Bethlehem Steel to form International Steel Group. Ross then flipped the conglomerate in a $4.5 billion sale two years later.
Collector: He’s worth an estimated $3 billion and has an impressive art collection worth a reported $150 million.
Philosophy: Like Trump, who famously called himself the “king of debt,” Ross is not afraid to borrow money and used debt to finance his acquisitions, a trend known as leveraged buyouts.
Priority: NAFTA re-negotiation could start day one
Secretary of Labor
CEO of CKE Restaurants
The head of the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s fast food restaurants, Andrew Puzder, 66, is a vocal critic of government regulation and opposes a $15 minimum wage, broader overtime pay and the Affordable Care Act. The Labor Department oversees America’s job market, regulates the workplace, and produces statistics like the unemployment rate that underpin economic policy. Puzder has been the CEO of CKE Restaurants since 2000. He’s credited with turning around the Hardee’s brand, but his company has been accused of labor violations and fielded complaints about sexist commercials. His nomination comes at a time when restaurants and other low-wage industries are feeling pressure to increase pay. Puzder would likely resist those pressures as Labor secretary.
Secretary of Education
Republican donor, school choice activist
Betsy DeVos chairs the American Federation for Children, a group that promotes charter school education. She also served on the board of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a group led by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — one of Trump’s GOP primary opponents — which promoted both school choice and the Common Core education standards that Trump opposes.
Related: Read more about Betsy DeVos
Secretary of Health and Human Services
Chairman, House Budget Committee
One of Tom Price’s top priorities as health secretary would be to dismantle the sweeping health reform law that his two predecessors spent six years implementing. Price, an orthopedic surgeon who chairs the House Budget Committee, has long decried Obamacare as a threat to quality and affordable health care. Before entering politics, Price spent nearly 20 years in private practice as an orthopedic surgeon. He also served as medical director of the orthopedic clinic at Grady Memorial Hospital and as an assistant professor at Emory University’s School of Medicine. Price then spent four terms in the Georgia State Senate. In 2004, he was elected to the House of Representatives. He was named Budget Committee chair in 2015.
Price has authored several iterations of an Obamacare replacement plan, which bears many similarities to Trump’s vision for health care reform and to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s overhaul proposal. Price’s most recent bill, the Empowering Patients First Act of 2015, calls for giving refundable tax credits to those who buy policies in the individual market. The credits would be adjusted by age, ranging from $1,200 for those age 18 to 35 to $3,000 for those age 50 and up.
The plan would also offers more incentives for Americans to use Health Savings Accounts, including a one-time $1,000 tax credit for making contributions. It caps the tax exclusion on employer-sponsored plans at $20,000 for family coverage, and it allows insurers to sell coverage across state lines. Price’s bill also pushes states to create high-risk pools to insure those rejected by carriers on the individual market — usually those who have costly, pre-existing conditions.
Also, it limits using federal funds to pay for abortions and protects health care providers who don’t want to perform abortions for religious reasons.
National Security Advisor
Retired US Army Lieutenant General
Michael Flynn served as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012-2014. He’s also served as assistant director of National Intelligence and served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Trump offered him the job of National Security Advisor November 17. An area of controversy for Flynn will be his complicated history at the Pentagon, particularly with classified information, and his work with foreigners after leaving the military.
Controversies: Flynn’s handling of classified info has been investigated
Trump campaign senior communications adviser
Jason Miller has advised the Trump campaign on communications strategy since June. He previously worked on Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 presidential bid.
Trump campaign senior communications adviser
Jason Miller has advised the Trump campaign on communications strategy since June. He previously worked on Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 presidential bid.
Chief Strategist and Communications Director at the Republican National Committee
Sean Spicer serves as chief strategist and communications director at the Republican National Committee, where he’s worked since 2011. Previously, he worked as the assistant US trade representative for media.
Conservative pundit, radio host
Luara Ingraham is a provocative voice in conservative circles, although she has also worked as an attorney and clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. She was a Trump supporter and spoke at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
Secretary of State
Trump is reportedly intrigued by the oil man’s view of the world. “He is much more than a business executive. He is a world class player. He is in charge of, I guess, the largest company in the world,” Trump told Fox News’ Chris Wallace of Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson. “And to me, a great advantage is that he knows many of the players. And he knows them well.” How well Tillerson knows some of the players could be an issue, even among Republicans, on Capitol Hill. “He does massive deals in Russia. He does massive deals — for the company, not for himself, for the company,” the Trump has said. As head of the world’s most valuable oil company, Tillerson could be a controversial pick due to concerns about climate change and his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. In 2011, Exxon signed a deal with Russian oil giant Rosneft to provide access to lucrative oil resources in the Arctic. Rosneft’s largest shareholder is the Russian government. Putin attended the Exxon signing ceremony and later awarded Tillerson the country’s Order of Friendship.
Friend of Russia: Behind the deep ties between Exxon CEO Tillerson and Russia
Confirmation battle: Trump could face Capitol Hill showdown over CEO
Secretary of Homeland Security
Gen. John Kelly, retired
Former Marine general
The former head of U.S. Southern Command, retired Gen. John Kelly was previously responsible for managing security threats posed by criminal drug networks based in south and central America — an issue that Trump highlighted in his campaign. Kelly also oversaw operations at the controversial Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba. The outspoken general clashed with the Obama administration’s push to close the facility, and told the Military Times in an interview that “there are no innocent men down there.”
Kelly served over 40 years in the Marine Corps, moving steadily through the ranks since enlisting in 1970, and taking over as commander of U.S. Southern Command in 2012. He is also a Gold Star father, having lost his eldest son, Marine 1st Lt. Robert Kelly, in combat in Afghanistan in 2010.
Kelly — who would likely play a significant role in the planning and implementation of Trump’s proposed border wall as the director of Homeland Security — has publicly discussed potential threats along the southern border of the U.S. In a March 2015 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Kelly talked about “the relative ease with which human smugglers moved tens of thousands of people to our nation’s doorstep” and cautioned that “these smuggling routes are a potential vulnerability to our homeland.”
In the same testimony, Kelly warned against complacency toward the spread of human smugglers and drug traffickers in south and central America. “Unless confronted by an immediate, visible or uncomfortable crisis, our nation’s tendency is to take the security of the Western Hemisphere for granted. I believe this is a mistake,” Kelly told the panel.
Military theme: Trump interviews generals
Director of National Intelligence
Admiral Mike Rogers
Director, National Security Agency
As head of the NSA, Admiral Mike Rogers oversees one of the largest and most important pieces of the US national security infrastructure. His tenure there has not been without controversy. The Washington Post reported recently that both the current Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, and Defense Secretary Ash Carter recently recommended that President Obama replace Rogers as head of the NSA. Their issues include a desire to change the leadership structure of the NSA to put more in civilian hands, concerns specifically about his management style and issues of security at the NSA during his tenure. But moving a top military figure from heading the NSA to a civilian intelligence job is not without precedent. Michael Hayden went from the NSA to leadinng the CIA during the George W. Bush Administration.
CNN National Security Commentator
A congressman for 14 years, Rogers is also a former FBI agent. He was Chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He was a part of Trump’s transition team, but left November 15. It’s not clear if leaving the transition team meant he was no longer in the running for a post.
A former Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Hoekstra represented Michigan for 18 years on Capitol Hill. Since leaving office he has run unsuccessfully for both governor and senator.
Lt. Gen. Joseph Kellogg, retired
Reitired Lieutenant General, Defense contractor
Reitred Lt. General Joseph Kellogg has a distinguished military service record, including command of the 82nd Airborne Division. He retired from the military in 2003 and worked at a number of defense contractors before becoming an adviser to Donald Trump.
Former mayor of New York City
Rudy Giuliani served as mayor of New York City from 1994-2001 and has acted as an informal adviser to the Trump campaign.
Secretary of Energy
Former Governor of Texas
Rick Perry was among the first 2016 Republicans to criticize Trump, but he dropped out of the race early and was also among the first former rivals to endorse him. As longest-serving governor of the oil state of Texas — Perry left office 2015 — he has a natural interest in the Department of Energy. But when he ran for president in 2012, it was one of the three departments Perry said he’d eliminate from the federal government. Actually, in a bit of irony, the Department of Energy was the department he forgot he’d want to eliminate during a fateful 2011 debate performance. “Oops,” he said at the mistake, which likely ended his presidential aspirations.
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Former presidential candidate, retired surgeon
Ben Carson was a onetime rival turned campaign surrogate for Trump. The retired brain surgeon was also eyed as a potential Health and Education secretary. Like Trump, Carson has never had a government position before and he ran for president largely on his qualifications as a surgeon and his up-from-the-bootstraps life story. A onetime leader in the GOP primary polls, Carson clashed with Trump before ultimately endorsing him.
Related: Read more about Ben Carson
Secretary of Transportation
Former Labor Secretary
She has a long history in Washington and Elaine Chao made history as the first woman of Asian descent in a presidential Cabinet when she became President George W. Bush’s labor secretary. She has also been CEO of the United Way and director of the Peace Corps. Chao, who comes from a wealthy shipping family, immigrated to the US from Taiwan at 8. Before her work in government, Chao worked at banks in San Francisco and New York. She is also one half of one of the most powerful couples in Washington; her husband is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Related: Trump picks Elaine Chao
Secretary of Interior
Zinke, a 55-year-old ex-Navy SEAL commander and recipient of two Bronze Stars for combat missions in Iraq, was a Trump supporter. He’s also faced criticism from environmental and conservation groups since joining the House in 2015. In the House, Zinke was a member of the Armed Services and Natural Resources committees. “President-elect Donald Trump and I had a very positive meeting where we discussed a wide range of Montana priorities,” Zinke told The Billings Gazette in a statement afterward. “We are both very hopeful for the future.” His selection is major political break for Democrats. Zinke was the top Republican prospect to challenge Minnesota Sen. Jon Tester in 2018 — and his removal from the race would substantially improve Democrats’ chances of holding the seat in the midterms.
Secretary of Agriculture
Founder, Lucas Oil Products
Forrest Lucas founded Lucas Oil and, like Vice President-elect Mike Pence, he hails from Indiana. In addition to being a former long-haul trucker, he’s an anti-animal rights activist — which is to say he founded a non-profit organization to combat the “radical” animal rights movement. The motto of Protect the Harvest is “keeping America free, fed and fun.”
Donald Trump campaign CEO
Stephen Bannon went on leave from his position as executive chairman of Breitbart News in August 2016 to helm Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. He’s a controversial figure in the media world since Breitbart has been a key part of the “alt-right” movement that trades in conspriacy theories like questioning Hillary Clinton’s health. They have also been major proponents of Trump’s border wall proposal. Groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League have argued he should not be included in the White House staff.
Related: Read more about Steve Bannon
Donald Trump campaign manager
Kellyanne Conway founded The Polling Company in 1995, and has consulted on polling for major corporations and Republican politicians. She served as a senior adviser to New Gingrich’s 2012 presidential bid.
Donald Trump deputy campaign manager
David Bossie became the president and chairman of the conservative advocacy group Citizens United in 2000.
Donald Trump campaign press secretary
Hope Hicks served as the press secretary for the Trump campaign. Previously she worked at a PR firm and represented Ivanka Trump’s brands.
Real estate developer, newspaper owner, husband of Ivanka
Jared Kushner helped take charge of Trump’s presidential campaign and has been one of his top advisers. He’s also Trump’s son-in-law and has three children with his wife, Ivanka. Kushner is wealthy in his own right and runs his own family’s real estate development business. He also owns the New York Observer, a newspaper. Kushner’s father, Charles, a Democrat, served jailtime for making illegal campaign contributions. It was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, now a Trump adviser, who prosecuted Kushner’s father. There are federal laws against the employment of family members, so it could be difficult for Kushner to serve in an official capacity.
Former Trump campaign manager
Trump’s first campaign manager and a true believer from the beginning of the Trump campaign, Lewandowski was fired by the campaign in June over differences about the direction of the campaign. He remained a loyal surrogate for Trump and his message, however, during appearances on CNN during the presidential campaign.
Director, Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
Congressman from South Carolina
Mulvaney, if confirmed by the Senate, would manage the White House’s annual proposed budget, program and policies. The director also sets up the federal government’s purchase of goods and services, called procurement, and oversees the performance review for government agencies and federal employees.
Mulvaney called the appointment a “great honor.”
“The Trump administration will restore budgetary and fiscal sanity back in Washington after eight years of an out-of-control, tax and spend financial agenda, and will work with Congress to create policies that will be friendly to American workers and businesses,” Mulvaney said in a statement. Mulvaney is a member of the House Financial Services Committee and is a co-founder of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative lawmakers who have clashed with party leadership.
He didn’t initially support Trump for president — he first endorsed Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul during the primaries. But he endorsed Trump a few hours after House Speaker Paul Ryan did in June, saying at a candidates’ forum in Gaffney, South Carolina, that Trump could advance the Republican agenda. Mulvaney also told reporters in May that the one issue he wants Trump to detail his plans on is federal spending and debt.
Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency
Oklahoma attorney general
Scott Pruitt is a fierce EPA critic — Pruitt had sued the agency over its regulations of power plants. Pruitt is a prominent denier of climate science, writing in the National Review in May that “the debate is far from settled” over whether human activity has contributed to the warming of the earth.
Congressman from Kansas
A member of the Tea Party class of 2010, Pompeo also has establishment bona fides; he graduated from West Point and Harvard Law School. He formed an aerospace company, which he since sold. He served ont he special House committee tasked with investigating Hillary Clinton and the attacks on Benghazi. Trump offered Pompeo the position of CIA Director November 18.
Governor of South Carolina
She was sharply critical of Trump’s rhetoric during the GOP primary, but Nikki Haley is an important voice in the GOP. She’s one of the few women mentioned as a possible Trump cabinet official and the one of the few ethnic minorities — Haley is of Indian descent, but was born in South Carolina. She’s the first woman governor in South Carolina’s history, but could run into road blocks in this position since she has no foreign policy experience.
Bygones: Trump looks to critics for top jobs
Related: Trump appoints three women of color
Small Business Administration
former CEO of WWE
Linda McMahon is co-founder of the professional wrestling franchise WWE along with her husband, Vince McMahon, and twice a former Republican Senate candidate from Connecticut.