Trump Tower has seen some familiar political figures, media members and pundits moving in and out at a dizzying pace, but who will be offered an official role in the new Trump administration? Despite early reports of “turmoil” within Team Trump, the president-elect is actually ahead of schedule in making appointments. Below is a list of the key positions in the administration—White House staff, Cabinet and Sub-Cabinet positions—including those for which Trump has officially named someone for the role and those for which names have been floated as strong possibilities.
Here are the names we know so far, followed by their profiles below:
WHITE HOUSE STAFF
- Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor — Steve Bannon
- National Security Advisor — Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn
- Deputy National Security Advisor — K.T. McFarland
CABINET (listed in order of succession to the presidency)
- Vice President — Mike Pence
- Secretary of State — Rex Tillerson
- Secretary of Treasury — Steven Mnuchin
- Secretary of Defense — Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis
- Attorney General — Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
- Secretary of Commerce — Wilbur Ross Jr
- Secretary of Labor — Andrew Puzder
- Secretary of Health and Human Services — Rep. Tom Price (R-GA)
- Secretary of Housing and Urban Development — Dr. Ben Carson
- Secretary of Transportation — Elaine Chao
- Secretary of Education — Betsy Devos
- Secretary of Homeland Security — John F. Kelly
- Chief of Staff — Reince Priebus
- Environmental Protection Agency Chief — Scott Pruitt
- Ambassador to the United Nations — Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC)
- Deputy Secretary of State — John Bolton
- Central Intelligence Agency Director — Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS)
WHITE HOUSE STAFF
Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor — STEVE BANNON
Chief strategist, a relatively new White House position, plays a key role in the administration, advising the president on messaging and implementing the administration’s agenda. The role has been filled in past administrations by the likes of Karl Rove, David Plouffe and Dan Pfeiffer. No Senate confirmation is required for the position.
Bannon is by far the most controversial figure in the new Trump administration. A self-styled “economic nationalist,” Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News, has pitted himself not only against the Left on many issues but has also announced that his protectionist and big-spending policies will enrage Conservatives. Bannon has become the focus of some anti-Trump activists who accuse him of being a “white nationalist” and demand he be replaced.
National Security Advisor — LT. GEN. MICHAEL FLYNN
The national security advisor leads the White House national security staff and advises the president on national security affairs. No Senate confirmation is required for the position.
Retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn has been a steadfast supporter of Trump from early in his campaign. As the Daily Wire reported, Flynn has an extensive military intelligence background, is strong on combating radical Islam (in fact, Flynn says it is because of his hard-line stance on the issue that he was forced to resign from the Obama administration), has sent mixed signals on his stance on Russia, and was once rumored to have been Trump’s Vice President pick. Read the Daily Wire’s profile of Flynn.
Deputy National Security Advisor — K.T. McFARLAND
A deputy national security advisor is a key advisor to the president on national security issues. The position does not require Senate confirmation.
Kathleen Troia McFarland, better known as K.T. McFarland, has an impressive national security background, having held several national security positions in the federal government. Fox News provides some career highlights:
Ms. McFarland held national security posts in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations: as an aide to Dr. Henry Kissinger, senior speechwriter to Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and later a principal deputy assistant secretary of defense Pentagon spokesman. She wrote the Weinberger Principles of War which laid out the Reagan administration’s policy regarding use of force: in essence, only go to war if it is in America’s vital national interest, and then only to win. Ms. McFarland received the Defense Department’s highest civilian award for her work in the Reagan Administration.
She has been heavily critical of President Obama’s handling of ISIS and the Iran deal, perspectives she has made clear on Fox News, where she has served as a national security analyst. Read the Daily Wire’s profile of McFarland.
Press Secretary — (LAURA INGRAHAM?)
Press secretary speaks on a regular basis with the White House press corps, explaining the key actions of the president and the administration and fielding questions. No Senate confirmation is required for the position.
One high profile name floated as a possible press secretary is conservative pundit Laura Ingraham, who has been vocal in her defense of Trump, particular against the #NeverTrump movement. “I am honored to be considered for that job and other jobs. So we’ll see what happens,” Ingraham said on Fox News, adding, “I think people are getting a little far ahead of the narrative.”
Communications Director —
The communications director promotes the administration’s agenda through messaging strategy, overseeing the president’s public appearance schedule and often serving as a key spokesperson for the administration. No Senate confirmation is required for the position.
White House Counsel —
White House counsel advises the president and the administration on legal matters. No Senate confirmation is required for the position.
Secretary of State — REX TILLERSON
The secretary of state heads up the administration’s foreign policy and serves as the key diplomat to foreign countries. The position requires Senate confirmation.
After a series of interviews with high-profile candidates, including Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, Trump selected Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson. The choice has resulted in some strong pushback from both sides of the aisle in large part because of Tillerson’s cozy relationship with Putin. As John Hamre, former deputy defense secretary under Bill Clinton, said, “[Tillerson] has more interactive time with Vladimir Putin than probably any other American with the exception of Henry Kissinger.” Tillerson helped establish a lucrative oil deal with Russia which was ultimately blocked by sanctions but it nonetheless won Tillerson the Order of Friendship from Putin. Many conservatives are also deeply concerned about Tillerson’s support of global warming legislation and his left-leaning stance on social issues. To counter the pushback, former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates have come forward to defend Tillerson; however, as Ben Shapiro points out, one of the clients of the consulting firm Rice and Gates run is Exxon Mobil. Read Daily Wire’s profile of Tillerson.
Secretary of Treasury — STEVEN MNUCHIN
The secretary serves as the head of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, which handles all financial and monetary matters related to the federal government. The position requires Senate confirmation.
Steve Mnuchin, who served as Trump’s campaign finance chair, is a Wall Street banker, having worked with Goldman Sachs for 17 years. He is the CEO of the privately owned hedge fund Dune Capital Management. “Mnuchin, 53, joined the Trump campaign in April when the organization’s fundraising campaign barely existed,” reports NPR. “He also was involved deeply in developing the president-elect’s tax proposals, which could deliver as much as $6 trillion in tax reductions over 10 years, but might also contribute to much larger budget deficits.” Mnuchin has been a key financier in some Hollywood projects, including Mad Max: Fury Road, Suicide Squad, and American Sniper. NPR notes that he has contributed to both Republicans and Democrats, including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. A potential stumbling block for his appointment was his involvement with OneWest Bank in the 2008 crash. Read the Daily Wire’s profile of Mnuchin.
Secretary of Defense — GEN. JAMES “MAD DOG” MATTIS
The secretary is the chief officer of the Department of Defense, with authority over the military only second to the president. The position requires Senate confirmation.
Retired Marine Gen. James N. Mattis, 66, is a widely respected and popular figure among the armed forces with extensive credentials, including serving as the supreme allied commander of transformation for NATO (2007 – 2010) and chief of the U.S. Central Command until 2013. To be confirmed, however, he will first have to be granted an exemption by Congress. The law requires that anyone who served in the armed forces must have been retired for at least seven years before serving as Secretary of Defense; Mattis retired less than four years ago. Such an exemption has only been granted once, to Gen. George C. Marshall in 1959. Mattis’ position on Iran is complicated: he has openly condemned Iran as the “single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East,” but he has also expressed reluctant support of President Obama’s Iran deal. Though Mattis has described the deal as “an imperfect arms control agreement” that is only a “pause” in Iran’s nuclear goals, he maintains that walking away from the deal now would not benefit the U.S. Mattis has also been vocal in his warnings about the threat posed by Russia. Read the Daily Wire’s profile of Mattis.
Attorney General — SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R-AL)
The attorney general of the U.S. is head of the Department of Justice and the primary law enforcement officer of the country. This position requires Senate confirmation.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has a proven track record as a strong advocate for conservative priorities, including blocking amnesty efforts and promoting the proper enforcement of immigration law. He has also been a strong advocate for cracking down on budgetary issues. The Left has attempted to smear Sessions as racist, but, as the Daily Wire has highlighted, such charges are unfounded. Read the Daily Wire’s profile of Sessions.
Secretary of Commerce — WILBUR ROSS JR.
Secretary of Commerce is charge with promoting economic growth. This position requires Senate confirmation.
Wilbur Ross is a billionaire investor who has worked with Trump in the past and, like the Republican president-elect, spent most of his life as a registered Democrat and donating to many Democrat politicians. Despite his Democrat-leanings, he has recently been critical of some Democratic proposals, including Hillary Clinton’s plan to raise taxes, increase regulations and diminish American energy resources. Ross has also been highly critical of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement. Read the Daily Wire’s profile of Ross.
Secretary of Labor — ANDREW PUZDER
The secretary heads the U.S. Department of Labor, which sets standards for wages and hours worked, occupational safety, unemployment benefits and reemployment programs, among other important labor-related regulations and services.
Andrew Puzder is the CEO of CKE Restaurants Holdings Inc. He has an impressive background in business and law, really making a name for himself when he effectively saved the Carl’s Jr. franchise by helping organize a financial deal between owner Carl Karcher and William Foley, CEO of Fidelity National Financial, Inc. Since, Puzder has served as executive vice president and general counsel for GKE and Fidelity as well as CEO of Hardee’s Food Systems. He opposes many progressive initiatives, including the Obama administration’s overtime regulations, Obamacare, and raising the minimum wage. He has also taken pro-life stances, most notably as an attorney in St Louis. One major criticism of Puzder from the Right is his soft stance on immigration, having supported the Gang of Eight bill in 2013, arguing that amnesty would benefit the U.S. economically. Read the Daily Wire’s profile of Puzder.
Secretary of Health and Human Services — REP. TOM PRICE (R-GA)
The secretary heads the Department of Health and Human Services, which controls federal programs dealing with public health, welfare and income security. The position requires Senate confirmation.
Tom Price (R-GA), a physician who has served as representative for Georgia since 2005, has been an ardent supporter of repealing and replacing Obamacare, and has presented some replacement options, including the “Empowered Patients First Act, which, as NPR outlined, is based on the following five pillars: 1) Tax credits for people to purchase private insurance; 2) Increasing the availability of health savings accounts; 3) Pre-existing conditions can’t be denied coverage if “they had continuous insurance for 18 months prior to selecting a new policy”; 4) States can establish high-risk pools with federal money for those who can’t afford to buy private insurance; 5) Reducing the tax deduction on employer health insurance.
Price also strongly supports defunding Planned Parenthood, his voting record on abortion earning him a 100 percent rating from the National Right to Life. While many conservatives view his appointment as a positive sign about the administration’s commitment to dismantling Obamacare and potentially defunding the abortion provider, Price has garnered mixed reviews on other issues.Conservative Review‘s liberty score rates him at a 62, with Price’s increasingly “establishment” voting record earning him some push back from the Right. Democrats appear to be preparing to block his appointment, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) responding to the announcement that Price was chosen by saying, “There ought to be bipartisan support against a secretary who’s going to privatize Medicare and not fund Planned Parenthood.” Read the Daily Wire’s profile of Price.
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development — BEN CARSON
The secretary directs the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The position requires Senate confirmation.
Dr. Ben Carson, renowned brain surgeon and former primary opponent of Trump, is the president-elect’s choice to head up HUD. Carson has often discussed the challenges for inner city communities, highlighting his own experiences being raised by a single mother in Detroit. He has been highly critical of many progressive government programs focused on inner cities and minorities, arguing they often build dependency on the government and damage families. “[W]e cannot have a strong nation if we have weak inner cities, and we have to get beyond the promises and start really doing something,” Carson said in a recent interview on Fox News. Read the Daily Wire’s profile of Carson.
Secretary of Transportation — ELAINE CHAO
The secretary heads the U.S. Department of Transportation, which oversees national transportation, including national highways, railroad and airline travel safety issues. The position requires Senate confirmation.
Elaine Chao, the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has a lengthy career in the federal government, having served in the Reagan administration and both Bush administrations. Under Reagan, Chao served as the deputy administrator and chair of the Federal Maritime Commission. She served as the Transportation Department’s deputy secretary from 1989 to 1991 under George H.W. Bush, and as the Labor Secretary under President George W. Bush throughout his two terms. She also directed the Peace Corps for a year under the elder Bush. From 1992 to 1996, she was a highly effective president and chief executive officer of United Way of America. Chao has also recently produced several conservative publications for the Heritage Foundation. Despite her impressive resume, many conservatives see the selection of Chao as a betrayal of Trump’s “drain the swamp” promise and likely guaranteeing Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan. Read the Daily Wire’s profile of Chao.
Secretary of Education — BETSY DEVOS
The secretary heads the Department of Education, which is in charge of all federal education programs, including federal education grants and financial aid provided to students. The position requires Senate confirmation.
DeVos is a leader in the charter school and school voucher movement, and thus an enemy of all of the most powerful educators’ unions. She has made clear that her goal is to make sweeping changes to education, declaring, “The status quo in education is not acceptable.” While she formerly supported Common Core, she has apparently changed her position on that hot-button issue. All of this is welcome news for conservatives, as the Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro explains:
“One of Trump’s better proposals during the campaign was redirecting federal public school money directly to low-income parents, who could use their market power to choose a better education for their children. DeVos will likely oversee that program. Breaking the stranglehold of the public sector teacher’s unions over education won’t only raise standards among kids, it will help destroy the left’s dominance of the educational system as a whole, meaning a broader variety of views among those teaching children. That’s a great thing.”
Secretary of Homeland Security — GEN. JOHN F. KELLY
The secretary heads the Department of Homeland Security, which coordinates efforts to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, responds to attacks and other disasters, and enforces and administers immigration laws. The position requires Senate confirmation.
Retired Marine Gen. John F. Kelly served in the Marines for 40 years, has an exemplary service record, including earning four stars during his service and heading the U.S. Southern Command. He is a Gold Star father, his son Robert being killed by a mine in 2010 in Afghanistan. He is also considered “a border security hawk.” In 2015, Kelly testified that immigration is “a national security” issue, citing the threat of terrorists using the southern border to gain access to the country. “The terrorist group Lebanese Hezbollah, which has long viewed the region as a potential attack venue against Israeli or other Western targets, has supporters and sympathizers in Lebanese diaspora communities in Latin America, some of whom are involved in lucrative illicit activities like money laundering and trafficking in counterfeit goods and drugs,” said Kelly. He has also defended the use of Guantanamo Bay to hold foreign terror suspects. Another Obama administration agenda item Kelly has criticized is the push to give women military combat jobs. Read the Daily Wire’s profile of Kelly.
Chief of Staff — REINCE PRIEBUS
Chief of Staff is the highest ranking employee in the White House, managing day-to-day operations of key personnel and often controlling access to the president. No Senate confirmation is required for the position.
One of Trump’s first announcements was that Reince Preibus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, would be his Chief of Staff, a move many interpreted as intended in part to balance the “outsider” influence of Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. Priebus’ ability to maintain healthy relationships between both Trump and the Republican establishment, particularly House Speaker Paul Ryan, will likely prove essential in Trump’s negotiations with Congress.
Environmental Protection Agency Chief — SCOTT PRUITT
The chief administrator of the EPA is tasked with creating policies, enforcing regulations, and coordinating programs designed to protect the environment and human health. The position requires Senate confirmation.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has a strong background in environmental law and a long record of fighting against government overreach, particularly by the very department Trump has chosen him to head up. As AG, Pruitt has filed several lawsuits against the EPA for what he deemed government overreach and overregulation, including attempts to effectively federalize most bodies of water, the so-called “Clean Power Plan,” overly burdensome regional haze, ozone, greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide regulations, and the ethanol mandate. He has also defended free speech, pushing back against a coalition attempting “to criminally investigate oil and gas companies that have disputed the science behind man-made global warming.” Pruitt was the first state AG to challenge the Obama administration’s efforts to bend the law to provide federal Obamacare subsidies to states without exchanges. He was also pivotal in forcing the halt of Obama’s executive amnesty and backed the Hobby Lobby religious freedom case. Read the Daily Wire’s profile of Scott Pruitt.
Ambassador to the United Nations — GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R-SC)
The ambassador leads the U.S. delegation to the United Nations. The position requires Senate confirmation.
Haley has been a widely popular and nationally influential governor, who has managed complex situations, including racial unrest in her state, in a manner that has generally earned her praise. As the Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro notes, while Haley does not have a strong foreign policy background, she has consistently displayed a hawkish worldview. Appointing Haley, a woman of Indian descent, also helps Trump in a number of ways, including giving him a high-profile female and minority appointment, removing her as a potential political challenger, and promoting the strongly pro-Trump South Carolina Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster. Read the Daily Wire’s profile of Haley.
OTHER KEY CABINET POSITIONS YET TO BE FILLED:
- Secretary of the Interior
- Secretary of Agriculture
- Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Deputy Secretary of State — JOHN BOLTON
The deputy secretary is the chief assistant to the secretary of state. This position requires Senate confirmation.
In what some are interpreting as Trump’s attempts to allay concerns about his secretary of state pick Tillerson, Trump has selected former ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton, a hardliner on protecting American sovereignty, as the Tillerson’s chief assistant. Some of the Republicans defending Tillerson’s appointment are resisting Bolton as his deputy, apparently including Tillerson. Bolton is an Ivy League-educated lawyer with a lengthy foreign policy record that demonstrates his commitment to opposing the erosion of American sovereignty through international institutions, like the U.N., and any deals with foreign governments that potentially undermine America’s leverage, like the Iran Deal. His hard line, protectionist stance carries over to immigration as well, which falls in line with Trump’s campaign rhetoric. The editors of the National Review aptly describe Bolton as “an experienced, straight-talking yet nuanced foreign-policy hand, who also fits the Trump sensibility on national security. Bolton is an American internationalist who believes in the importance of American power. He is a hard-headed realist whose focus is always the national interest.” Read the Daily Wire’s profile of Bolton.
Central Intelligence Agency Director — REP. MIKE POMPEO (R-KS)
The CIA director oversees the agency, which is tasked with protecting American national security through the collection and analysis of foreign intelligence.This position requires Senate confirmation.
Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) has been a vocal critic of the Iran deal, a hard-liner on national security issues, particularly regarding radical Islam, and was a member of the Benghazi committee. Read Daily Wire’s profile of Pompeo.
OTHER SUB-CABINET POSITIONS YET TO BE FILLED:
- National Security Agency Director
- Director of National Intelligence
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director
- Customs and Border Protection Commissioner
- FEMA Director
- Federal Housing Administrator
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director
- NOAA Administrator
- Transportation Security Administrator
- Bureau of Land Management Director
- National Park Service Director
- Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator
- National Institutes of Health Director
- Food and Drugs Commissioner
This article will be updated as positions are filled.