President Trump’s Executive Office & Cabinet
As of mid-February, President Donald Trump has yet to build a complete Presidential Cabinet, and many of his nominees have been controversial. The Executive Office of the President, overseen by the White House Chief of Staff, provides support for the president as his closest advisors. These appointments do not require confirmation from Senate except for a select few positions. The Cabinet consists of fifteen heads of executive departments, all of which need approval by the Senate. Cabinet secretaries are the President’s closest confidants. The Cabinet consists of the Departments of: Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs.
Below are President Trump’s choices for his executive office and cabinet.
Rex Tillerson was confirmed as the Secretary of State with a vote of 56-43. He is a former CEO of Exxon Mobil, where Trump once owned stock. He has a history of close ties to Russia and Putin, having received the Order of Friendship from Putin in 2013. Tillerson has no prior government experience.
Betsy Devos was confirmed as the Secretary of Education with a vote of 51-50, a decision decided by Vice President Pence after Senate’s vote ended on a tie. Devos is a former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party. She led the advocacy group American Federation for Children and she supports the expansion of charter schools. Devos did not attend public schools and did not send her children to public schools. She is a former proponent of Common Core, but has since opposed it. When asked about guns in schools, Devos did not give a definitive answer, but said that for schools in Wyoming, “I would imagine that there’s probably a gun in the school to protect from potential grizzlies.” Devos has no prior government experience, but she has been a large donor for the Republican party.
Elaine Chao was confirmed as the Secretary of Transportation with a vote of 93-6. She served two terms as Secretary of Labor under former president George W. Bush and as deputy secretary in the Department of Transportation under George H. W. Bush. Chao has directed the Peace Corps and led United Way.
James Mattis was confirmed as the Secretary of Defense with a vote of 98-1. Mattis spent over forty years in the military. He led the U.S. Central Command from 2010-2013 and was Commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command from 2007-2009. He was nicknamed “Mad Dog” and “Monk Warrior” due to his dedication.
John Kelly was confirmed as the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security with a vote of 88-11. Retired General Kelly spent more than forty years in the Marine Corps and is a former Commander of the U.S. Southern Command. Kelly gained extensive knowledge of border control during his years of service.
Nikki Haley was confirmed as the Ambassador to the United Nations with a vote of 96-4. Haley spent six years as South Carolina Governor and another six years as a South Carolina state legislator. Haley is a daughter of Indian immigrants, and was also the first female governor of South Carolina. She worked for her mother’s business, Exotica International, an extremely successful and wealthy clothing store. Haley also served as the President of the National Association of Women Business Owners in 2004. She is known for supporting stronger immigration laws, being pro-life, and supporting the flight of the confederate flag up until the Charleston church shooting. She signed a bill to remove the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Capitol building in 2015. Haley has no formal foreign policy experience.
Mike Pompeo was confirmed as the Director of the CIA with a vote of 66-32. Pompeo spent six years in the U.S. House of Representatives, was a member of the House Benghazi Committee, served as an army captain, and was CEO of Thayer Aerospace before selling the company in 2006. In 2014, after the CIA’s use of torture was reported regarding detainees from 2001-2006, Pompeo stated that “these men and women are not torturers, they are patriots.”. He voted yes on banning federal health coverage including abortions, and signed the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. He wrote an article for USA Today opposing the Affordable Care Act, referring to it as a “train wreck.” In 2013, Pompeo told Congress that Muslim leaders who don’t condemn radical Islam terror attacks are “potentially complicit in these acts, and more importantly still, in those that may well follow.” He has no solid position on climate change, but dodged questions regarding the issue during an exchange with Senator Kamala Harris of California.
Jeff Sessions was confirmed as the Attorney General with a vote of 52-47. Sessions has served in the U.S. Senate since 1997 and held public office in Alabama for many years before that. Allegations were made against Sessions in 1987 that he praised the KKK and criticized the NAACP and the ACLU, but nothing came of it. He voted yes on the Marriage Protection Amendment in 2006 that would ban same-sex marriage. He’s also voted against the Affordable Care Act in 2009, and against additional funding to the VA medical system in 2014. He said during a Senate hearing in April of 2016 that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” He opposed Senator John McCain’s legislation prohibiting the army from using torture, and has voted in favor of barring the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases. Sessions earned a zero rating from the Human Rights Campaign, who score Congress members on how they vote on issues of equality.
Tom Price was confirmed as the Secretary of Health and Human Services with a vote of 52-47. Price spent twelve years in Congress and eight years as Georgia State Senator. He supported the proposed Protect Life Act of 2011, which would have restricted the Affordable Care Act from supporting abortions. He has voted against federal funding for Planned Parenthood. He has voted against federal farming regulations, voted to extend the Patriot Act, and voted to prohibit federal funding to NPR. Price voted in favor of job discrimination based on sexual orientation, and also received a zero rating by the Human Rights Campaign.
Steven Mnuchin was confirmed as Secretary of the Treasury with a vote of 53-47. Mnuchin is a former senior executive at Goldman Sachs. He is a Hollywood producer, known for movies such as Avatar, Mad Max: Fury Road, and The Lego Movie among many others. Mnuchin said during an interview with CNBC that he would like to simplify the tax system and would rather have trade deals with individual countries than with larger regions. Mnuchin has no prior government experience.
David Shulkin, a member of the Independent Party, was confirmed as Secretary of Veteran Affairs with a unanimous vote. He was Under Secretary for Health at the VA. He was president of Beth Israel Medical Center, Morristown Medical Center, and the Atlantic Health System Accountable Care Organization. Shulkin spent one and a half years as Senior Official at the Department of Veterans Affairs. He is a former Vice Dean of Drexel University College of Medicine. Shulkin has written numerous journal articles and other publications regarding his field.
Mick Mulvaney was confirmed as Office of Management and Budget Director with a vote of 51-49. He was a South Carolina Senator from 2009-2011 and a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives for two years before that. He is a founding member of the Freedom Caucus. He supports overhauling Medicare and Social Security and does not support funding Planned Parenthood. He resists increases to defense spending and opposes stronger gun control.
Linda McMahon is President Trump’s nominee for Administrator of Small Business Administration. She was the CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment until 2009 when she resigned so that she could run for Connecticut Senate, although she lost the race. She ran unsuccessfully again in 2012. While with WWE, she launched the Get R.E.A.L. program, which encouraged viewers to pursue education. She has been a supporter of the Special Olympics since 1986 and has been part of the Governor’s Council for the World Special Olympics since 1995. McMahon was named a “Wonder Woman” by Multichannel News in 2007 and was a member of the State Board of Education from 2009-2010.
Wilbur Ross is the nominee for Secretary of Commerce. He was the chairman of a private equity firm he founded but later sold, and led Rothschild Inc. for twenty five years. He is known as the “King of Bankruptcy” due to his ability to sell companies for profit. Ross said during a hearing before the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee that he is “pro-trade, but I’m pro-sensible trade.” He was involved with Trump’s bankrupt casinos in Atlantic City during the 1980s. Ross has no prior government experience and was registered as a Democrat up until 2011.
Dr. Ben Carson is President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Carson ran against Trump for the republican presidential nomination in 2016. He was the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital from 1984-2013, when he retired. He has spoken in favor of abolishing the Electoral College, saying that the Electoral College is “disregarding the will of the people.” Although he has no formal experience in housing policy, he has the personal experience of growing up poor in Detroit. Carson has no prior government experience.
Ryan Zinke is the nominee for Secretary of the Interior. Zinke is a retired Navy Seal, having served from 1986-2008. He was Montana Senator from 2009-2011. He has always been a strong supporter of public lands. He has no solid stance on climate change, but admitted that he does “not believe it’s a hoax” during a confirmation hearing. He said in 2008 that “the difficult decision to abort a child is the providence of God and family, not government.” He referred to Hillary Clinton as the “anti-christ” and the “real enemy” during the 2016 primaries. Zinke founded the super PAC Special Operations for America in 2012.
Rick Perry is the nominee for Secretary of Energy. Perry was Texas Governor from 2000-2015, ran twice unsuccessfully for presidency, and has served eight years as Texas Agriculture Commissioner. Perry refused Medicaid funds from the Affordable Care Act in 2012 and left millions of Texans uninsured. While governor, two hundred and thirty-four death row executions have occurred. Perry signed a law in 2009 for automatic arrest for cannabis possession. He supported the ban on same-sex marriage in Texas in 2005. In his book On My Honor, he said that “gays should simply choose abstinence.” He issued an executive order while Governor that all Texas girls were to receive the HPV vaccine, an order which was later overruled by Texas Legislature. Perry previously stated that he wanted to eliminate the Energy Department.
Sonny Perdue is the nominee for Secretary of Agriculture. He was the Governor of Georgia from 2003-2011. He has a doctorate in veterinary medicine and grew up on a farm. He was a captain in the U.S. Air Force from 1971-1974. While Governor, Perdue aimed to cut waste in government, having the state agency compile an inventory of assets owned by Georgia. He founded Perdue Partners, which deals with exports of U.S. goods and services. Perdue sued the EPA in 2004 over regulations on reformulated gasoline.
Scott Pruitt is the nominee for Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. He is the Attorney General of Oklahoma, and ran unsuccessfully for Lieutenant Governor in 2006. Pruitt has voiced doubts about the science behind climate change and has sued the EPA unsuccessfully thirteen times. He unsuccessfully sued the Obama Administration over the Affordable Care Act. He was grilled by Senator Bernie Sanders during a confirmation hearing on beliefs towards climate change, responding “my personal opinion is immaterial.” Pruitt has referred to himself as “a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.”
Alexander Acosta is the nominee for Secretary of the Department of Labor. Acosta served under George W. Bush as a member of the National Labor Relations Board from 2002-2003, the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights from 2003-2005, and the Attorney for the Southern District of Florida from 2005-5009. He was a senior fellow at Ethics and Public Policy Center from 1998-2000 and became chairman of U.S. Century Bank in 2013. Acosta has been the Dean of Florida International University College of Law since 2009.
Dan Coats is the nominee for Director of National Intelligence. He served in the U.S. Army from 1966-1968. He was an Indiana State Senator from 1989-1999 and from 2011-2017. Coats was a member of the House of Representatives from 1981-1989 and served as U.S. Ambassador to Germany from 2001-2005. Coats voted in favor of the Biden-Thurmond Violent Crime Control Act of 1991, but voted against the expansion of background checks for gun buyers in 2013.
Robert Lighthizer is the nominee for U.S. Trade Representative. He worked for the law firm Covington & Burling from 1973-1978 and is a partner of the law firm Skadden, Arps, Meagher & Flom, which works for U.S. corporations to gain access to foreign markets. He was the Deputy Trade Director under Ronald Reagan in 1983. Lighthizer asked “how does allowing China to constantly rig trade in its favor advance the core conservative goal of making markets more efficient?” in his 2011 article published in the Washington Times about unfair trade practices.
NO REQUIREMENT FOR SENATE CONFIRMATION
Reince Priebus was appointed as the Chief of Staff by President Donald Trump. Priebus is the longest serving RNC chairman, having served since 2011. He ran unsuccessfully for Wisconsin State Senator in 2004. Wisconsin was previously a democratically held state, but Priebus helped convert Wisconsin into a republican state as chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party.
Stephen K. Bannon was appointed as Chief Strategist. During President Trump’s campaign, Bannon was chief executive. Bannon served in the U.S. Navy from 1976-1983, and left as a Lieutenant. He was a media executive for far-right winged Breitbart News and was CEO of Affinity Media from 2007-2011. He worked as an investment banker for Goldman Sachs and is a Hollywood producer known for documentaries such as Generation Zero and The Undefeated. In a January interview with The New York Times, Bannon said that “the media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while.” Bannon was involved in the creation of Executive Order 13769, in which Trump indefinitely suspended entry of Syrian refugees, suspended entry of any people from six mainly Muslim countries, and temporarily suspended U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.
Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, was appointed as Senior Adviser. He is the grandson of Holocaust survivors who immigrated into the U.S. from Poland. He was the CEO of Kushner Companies from 2008-2017 and bought the New York Observer in 2006. Kushner’s father paid $2.5 million to Harvard College and $3 million to New York University where Kushner received his A.B. in Government and his J.D. and M.B.A respectively.
Michael T. Flynn, a Democrat, was appointed as National Security Advisor, but resigned from the position on February 13, 2017 after it was revealed he misled top officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. He was the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012-2014 and served in the U.S. Army from 1981-2014. According to the New York Times, while he was Director of the DIA, subordinates referred to Flynn’s dubious statements as “Flynn facts.” During July of 2016, he told ABC News he believed “women have to be able to choose” when it came to abortion, and then described himself as a “pro-life Democrat” on Fox News the next day. Flynn tweeted “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL” during February of 2016.
Thomas P. Bossert was appointed as Homeland Security Adviser. He served as Deputy Homeland Security Advisor under George W. Bush. Bossert is president of a risk management consulting firm, Civil Defense Solutions.
Kellyanne Conway was appointed as Counselor to the President. Conway was Trump’s third and final campaign manager and became the first female to run a successful political campaign. She was the former president and CEO of The Polling Company Inc. and Woman Trend. Conway coined the use of the term “alternative facts” during a Meet the Press interview after Trump’s inauguration, referring to Sean Spicer’s false statements regarding crowd size. Public Citizen and Citizens for Responsibility filed complaints with the Office of Governmental Ethics regarding Conway’s endorsing Ivanka Trump’s clothing line. “I’m going to give a free commercial here: Go buy it today everybody. You can find it online,” she said during an appearance on Fox & Friends in early February.
Carl Icahn was appointed as Special Advisor to the President on Regulatory Reform. Icahn is a billionaire investor famed as the “corporate raider.” He is the founder of Icahn Enterprises, formerly known as American Real Estate Partners and a chairman of Federal-Mogul. Icahn’s investment operations in Atlantic City were criticized by Senator Bernie Sanders.
Donald McGahn II was appointed as White House Counsel. He is a Washington lawyer, having established a legal practice, McGahn & Associates PLLC, in 2004. He was Chief Counsel for the National Republican Congressional Committee from 1999-2008. McGahn served as Trump’s campaign counsel.
Peter Navarro was appointed as Director of the National Trade Council. He is a professor of economics and public policy at the University of California, Irvine. He served as policy analyst to Urban Services Group, the United States Department of Energy, and the Massachusetts Energy Office in the 1970s. According to Forbes, Navarro and President Trump are responsible for forming “Stupid Economics” due to their prepared economic plan for the United States.
Sean Spicer was appointed as Press Secretary and White House Director of Communications. Spicer was the RNC’s Communications Director from 2011-2017 and their Chief Strategist from 2015-2017. He was the Communications Director and spokesman for the House Budget Committee from 2003-2005. Spicer was the Assistant U.S. Trade Representative under George W. Bush from 2009-2011. He co-founded and partnered at Endeavor Global Strategies.