State: Rex Tillerson
Tillerson, 64, is the outgoing chairman of ExxonMobil after 41 years with the energy giant. Has a history of close business ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin, who bestowed the Order of Friendship on Tillerson in 2013. He signed a 2011 agreement giving his energy company access to the huge resources under the Russian Arctic in return for giving the giant state-owned Russian oil company, OAO Rosneft, the opportunity to invest in ExxonMobil’s operations overseas. He is a climate change skeptic. According to regulatory filings, Tillerson retains a huge financial interest in the energy company, owning $151m in company stock. He may face questions from senators over the potential benefits to ExxonMobil from US foreign policy if sanctions imposed on Russia after its annexation of Crimea were lifted. Senators from both parties have also raised concerns about Tillerson’s lack of government experience and close ties to Putin. Read further.
Defense: James N. Mattis
Mattis, 66, is a retired Marine Corps general. He led troops in combat in both Afghanistan and Iraq and rose to top military commands. He stepped down as commander of US Central Command in 2013. He is hawkish, especially on Iran, and this put him at odds with the Obama administration. He has called for a “new security architecture for the Mideast built on sound policy… Iran is a special case that must be dealt with as a threat to regional stability, nuclear and otherwise.” Because he is only three years out of active duty a congressional waiver of a federal law requiring a seven-year cooling off period for defense would be required for him to be confirmed. He is affectionately nicknamed “Mad Dog” by the Marines who served under him. Read further.
Homeland Security: John F. Kelly
Kelly, 66, is a retired Marine Corps general. After a 45-year military career, Kelly stepped down in January 2016 as commander of the US Southern Command, a role in which he was responsible for US military activities and relationships in Latin America and the Caribbean, including the controversial detention facility at Guantánamo Bay. He has warned about border security. His son Robert, a first lieutenant in the Marines, was killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2010, making Kelly the most senior US officer to have lost a child in the “war on terror.” Read further.
CIA Director: Mike Pompeo
Pompeo, 52, is a third-term congressman from Kansas. After the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, Pompeo falsely claimed that US Muslim organizations and religious leaders had not condemned terrorism. He called those at the CIA who participated in torture “heroes, not pawns in some liberal game being played by the ACLU and [former intelligence committee chair] Senator [Dianne] Feinstein.” He is an opponent of closing the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, a vocal critic of the Iran nuclear deal, and a supporter of NSA bulk data collection. He has called for “the traitor Edward Snowden” to be executed. Read further.
Treasury: Steven Mnuchin
Mnuchin, 53, is a campaign finance chairman. He is a former Goldman Sachs employee, hedge funder, and Hollywood producer (Sully, American Sniper, The Legend of Tarzan). Son of a Goldman Sachs employee, he is also a Yale grad. He swooped on doomed IndyMac bank as it sunk in the 2008 housing crash, acquired it, and scored when the federal government bailed out the bank. He is often referred to as the “foreclosure king.” Democratic senator Sherrod Brown said: “This isn’t draining the swamp – it’s stocking it with alligators.” Announced he would oversee “the largest tax change since Reagan” and said his “No 1 priority is tax reform.” Read further.
Attorney General: Jeff Sessions
Sessions, 69, is a US senator from Alabama in his fourth term. He is a former US attorney and state attorney general. An immigration hardliner who was an early Trump adopter, he became the first senator to back the eventual winner. Sessions’ last confirmation hearing, for a federal judgeship under Ronald Reagan in 1986, was derailed when former colleagues testified that he used the N-word, called a black assistant US attorney “boy” and joked that he thought the Ku Klux Klan was “OK until I found out they smoked pot.” He has emphasized “law and order,” seen by some liberals as a coded phrase for discriminatory policing of minorities. Read further.
US Trade Representative: Robert Lighthizer
Lighthizer, 69, is a former deputy US trade representative in the Ronald Reagan administration. Trump’s pick is intended to add muscle to US trade policy, particularly with regard to China. Lighthizer, in his current incarnation as a Washington trade lawyer with a top-flight corporate clientele, has testified before Congress that the US-China trade deficit is “a major threat to our economy” and recommended “a much more aggressive approach in dealing with China.” “Bob Lighthizer is very smart, very strategic, and totally fearless,” a Washington attorney, who has worked with him for three decades but asked not to be named, told Reuters. “You can expect him to use every tool available to create leverage to get China and anyone else to stop the cheating. He is no fan of the [World Trade Organization].”
Director of National Intelligence: Dan Coats
Coats, 73, was first elected to Congress in 1980 and just concluded a term as a senator from Indiana. He is a former US ambassador to Germany. He is a former member of the Senate intelligence community, but otherwise does not have a deep background in intelligence issues. Has “swung back and forth between government service and lobbying, the type of Washington career that Trump has mocked,” the AP noted.
Labor: Andrew F. Puzder
Puzder, 66, is a restaurant executive who has operated fast-food chains, including Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s. He is a vehement critic of government regulation and staunch opponent of minimum wage laws and the Fight for $15 movement. He blames Obamacare for increased labor costs and has diagnosed a “government-mandated restaurant recession.” Read further.
Health and Human Services: Tom Price
Price, 62, is a six-term Republican congressman from Georgia. He is an orthopedic surgeon who is staunchly opposed to Obamacare. He became chair of the House budget committee in 2015. He attempted to defund Planned Parenthood in 2015 through a budget maneuver. He is seen as an opponent of women’s health programs. Price is described as having “a 100% pro-life record.” Read further.
Energy: Rick Perry
Perry, 66, the longest-serving governor in Texas history, is a former two-time presidential candidate and Dancing with the Stars contestant. Perry, along with Secretary of State pick Rex Tillerson and EPA administrator pick Scott Pruitt, is a climate change skeptic. Perry attempted in a 2011 presidential debate to say that he would, as president, eliminate the Department of Energy, but he forgot the name of the department. He once called Trump “a cancer on conservatism.” Read further.
Housing and Urban Development: Ben Carson
Carson, 65, is a retired pediatric neurosurgeon. His mother, one of 24 children, raised Carson and a brother in poverty in Detroit and then in Boston, occasionally relying on food stamps and other programs. Carson, a critic of government welfare, has called for private charities to shoulder welfare needs. He ran the department of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins for 30 years but has no government experience. He has compared abortion to slavery and same-sex marriage to pedophilia. His bestseller, Gifted Hands, was made into a movie starring Cuba Gooding Jr. Read further.
Environmental Protection Agency: Scott Pruitt
Pruitt, 48, is a former Oklahoma state attorney general. He is a climate change denier and longtime enemy of the EPA, whose rule he has called “unlawful and overreaching.” He was part of legal action waged by 28 states against the EPA to halt the Clean Power Plan, an effort by Barack Obama’s administration to curb greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants. On scientific evidence that human activity is causing the planet to warm, he said in May: “That debate is far from settled. Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.” Environmental groups say that Pruitt has been a “puppet” of the fossil fuel industry. Read further.
Commerce: Wilbur Ross
Ross, 79, is a billionaire investor known for aggressive moves to agglomerate and sell failing steel- and coal-industry interests. Like Trump, he is a critic of US trade deals who has lamented the decline of American manufacturing. He has a net worth of $2.9bn, according to Forbes. Critics have dubbed him a “vulture” and “king of bankruptcy” because of his knack for extracting a profit from failing businesses. He helped Trump keep control of his failing Taj Mahal casino in the 1990s by persuading investors not to push him out. An explosion at a mine in West Virginia, which his company had bought a few weeks earlier, killed 12 miners in 2002. Read further.
Transportation: Elaine Chao
Chao, 63, is a former secretary of labor and deputy secretary of transportation. She is married to the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell. Daughter of a shipping magnate, she made more than $1 million from serving on the boards of News Corp, Wells Fargo, Ingersoll Rand, and Vulcan Materials in 2015, public records show. Read further.
US Ambassador to the UN: Nikki Haley
Haley, 44, is the governor of South Carolina. She is the youngest governor in the country, the first woman, and the first Indian American to hold the job in the Palmetto state. Her popularity has fluctuated. She is praised for signing legislation to remove the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the state capitol and for her leadership after a 2015 mass shooting at a historic African American church in Charleston. She endorsed Marco Rubio in the Republican primaries and jabbed at Trump in a reply to the State of the Union address she delivered for the Republican party in January 2016. Read further.
Interior: Ryan Zinke
Zinke, 55, is a Montana congressman in his second term, former Navy Seal commander and decorated Iraq combat veteran. Born in Montana, he is described as a lifelong outdoorsman. A conservationist who favors the protection of federal lands and access for recreational use – but who also has voted in favor of oil and gas drilling projects on federal lands and who has supported controversial energy projects such as the Keystone XL pipeline. Read further.
Education: Betsy DeVos
DeVos, Secretary of Education. She is the daughter-in-law of Richard DeVos, co-founder of marketing company Amway. The family has a net worth of $5.1bn, according to Forbes. Her lobbying for school vouchers has been criticised for undermining public sector schools (which critics note neither she nor her children attended). DeVos’s brother is Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, a private security contractor notorious for its lucrative and deadly role in the Iraq war. Read further.
Small Business Administration: Linda McMahon
McMahon, 68, is an entertainment executive. For decades she ran the premier pro-wrestling league in the country, now called World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), with husband and founder Vince McMahon, whose net worth Forbes pins at about $1bn. Spent tens of millions of dollars on a couple of unseccessful bids for a seat in the Senate runs. She donated millions to Trump’s campaign and has given millions to his foundation as well.
Office of Management and Budget: Mick Mulvaney
Mulvaney, 49, is a conservative Republican congressman from South Carolina who is known as a budget “hawk.” The revelation that he failed to pay taxes on a household employee – a babysitter for his triplets – could damage his confirmation hopes. Read further.
Agriculture: Sonny Perdue
Perdue, 70, is a former governor of Georgia. His background includes trade issues in addition to agriculture policy.
Veterans Affairs: David Shulkin
Shulkin, 57, is the current Undersecretary of Health for the Department of Veterans Affairs. He is an internist with decades of experience leading private hospitals, including Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. “I’ve always approached my job first as a physician,” Shulkin told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I’m here to help and take care of patients. I’m an administrator second.”
Cabinet-level jobs not requiring confirmation
The following positions do not require senate confirmation to fill.
National Security Adviser: Michael Flynn
Flynn, 57, is a retired US Amy general and former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. A close Trump adviser known for his broad-brush criticism of Islam and flirtation with conspiracy theories. He is a vocal critic of the Obama administration. Flynn has claimed that Sharia law is spreading across the US and that the nation is in the midst of a world war with radical Islamists. “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL,” he tweeted earlier this year. His son was recently booted from the Trump transition team after tweeting about fake news. Read further.
Chief of Staff: Reince Priebus
Priebus, 44, is Chairman of the Republican National Committee. Wisconsin native and a steady hand when things get weird. Once criticized for a failure to stand up to Trump, in retrospect praised for winning over his party’s insurgent and ascendant president-elect. It’s pronounced Rynz like “pints” or “Eins” and Pree-bus. Read further
Chief Strategist: Steve Bannon
Bannon, 63, is a campaign CEO and former chairman of Breitbart News. His background includes Harvard, Goldman Sachs, documentary film-maker, and Seinfeld, of all things. He boasted that he made Breitbart the “platform for the alt-right,” in reference to the far-right movement in the US. His web site was a clearinghouse for hate speech of all kinds including white nationalism, anti-semitism, immigrant-hatred and misogyny. Seen as an opponent of the institutional Republican party, he is a former sharp critic of House speaker Paul Ryan. Read further
Counselor: Kellyanne Conway
Conway, 49 (her birthday is inauguration day), is Trump’s former campaign manager. A Republican pollster who initially backed Ted Cruz for president, Conway joined the Trump campaign last July and quickly became one of her boss’s most visible – and tenacious – surrogates. She has friends in high places, in the form of conservative megadonors Bob and Bekah Mercer. She has a tendency of making veiled threats – or weren’t those really threats? – against Trump’s political opponents. She is the first woman in history to run a successful presidential campaign.
Press Secretary: Sean Spicer
Spicer, 45, is communications director of the Republican National Committee. In transition briefings he has been heard to refer reporters’ questions to his boss’s Twitter account. He is a pugnacious critic of the notion that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee or that the Trump administration’s trade policies are undercooked. Prepare for a punchy press room.
Regulatory Czar: Carl Icahn
Icahn, 80, is the founder of Icahn Enterprises. Forbes estimates his net worth at $17.6bn. Like Trump, he is from Queens. He is staunchly anti-regulation. He made a fortune as an “activist investor” using minority stakes in companies to do battle with corporate boards in order to wring out short-term profits. He is said to advise Trump closely in his pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, which Icahn has criticized, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Trade Czar: Peter Navarro
Navarro, 67, is an economics professor and former Trump campaign economics adviser. Author of Death by China, about the loss of US jobs at the hands of the Chinese, and director of a movie with the same title.
Homeland Security Adviser: Thomas Bossert
Bossert is the former deputy homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush. He is a senior cybersecurity fellow at the Atlantic Council. He argued in a 2015 op-ed that the use of military force in Iraq “was and remains just” and has argued for a more muscular approach in Syria, writing of Barack Obama: “He is seeking now to avoid in Syria the use of ground forces for full-scale occupation and stabilization. History will decide if unending civil war and global mass migration are less costly and disruptive.”
White House Counsel: Donald McGahn II
Known as “Don,” He was the top counsel on the Trump campaign. A George W. Bush appointee to the Federal Elections Commission from 2008-2013. Before that, he served as counsel for the National Republican congressional committee and the Illinois Republican party. He is the head of McGahn & Associates PLLC, based in Washington, specializing in election law. Read further.