Meet the Cabinet Picks

President-elect Donald Trump has chosen many of the advisors for his cabinet

December 14, 2016

Former Govenor Rick Perry of Texas smiles as he leaves Trump Tower in New York on December 12. President-elect Donald Trump has selected Perry to be the U.S. Secretary of Energy.

Since he was elected president on November 8, Donald Trump has spent the last few weeks choosing people to serve in his cabinet. A cabinet is a group of advisors closest to the president. There are 16 members: the vice president and 15 heads of government departments, including Defense, Education, Energy, and Labor.

Here are 10 of Trump’s cabinet selections. He still has four more to name. Each pick will require confirmation by the U.S. Senate. The confirmation process can begin when the newly elected 115th Congress meets on January 3, 2017—two weeks before Trump’s inauguration.

President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, attends an economic meeting in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on June 16.

President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, attends an economic meeting in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on June 16.

State: Rex W. Tillerson

Tillerson is the president and chief executive of the U.S. oil and gas corporation Exxon Mobil. He has ties with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin. Many people have concerns about this pick because Russia has been accused of hacking the 2016 presidential election. (Learn more here.)

Energy: Rick Perry

Rick Perry is the former Republican governor of Texas. In 2011, while running for president, he said he would get rid of the Energy Department. Perry was among the first of the 2016 Republican presidential candidates to criticize Trump, but then supported him later in the race. He is a controversial pick because he is a board member of the Texas-based company Energy Transfer Partners, which operates a natural gas pipeline.

Labor: Andrew F. Puzder

Puzder is the chief executive of CKE Restaurants, the owner of the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s fast-food restaurant chains. He donated money to Trump’s campaign and criticized labor policies under the Obama administration. Puzder is against a $15 minimum wage, broader overtime pay, and the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Homeland Security: John F. Kelly

Kelly is a retired four-star general who served in the U.S. Marine Corps for more than 40 years. His son was killed in combat in Afghanistan. Kelly has disagreed with the Obama administration on a number of issues. He is said to oppose women serving in combat and the plans to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, in Cuba. Trump was reportedly drawn to Kelly because of his warnings about drugs, terrorists, and other threats coming across the Southwest border into the U.S. If appointed, Kelly would oversee Trump’s proposed crackdown on illegal immigration, a hotly debated issue.

Defense: James N. Mattis

Mattis is a retired U.S. Marine Corps general. His 44-year military career is held in high regard. Mattis, who was known as “Mad Dog,” commanded troops in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. From 2010 to 2013, he served as head of U.S. Central Command. For Mattis to serve as Secretary of Defense, Congress would have to exempt him from a federal law that says that defense secretaries cannot have been on active military duty within the previous seven years.

Treasury: Steven Mnuchin

Mnuchin served as Trump’s campaign finance chairman. He worked at Goldman Sachs, a U.S. finance company, for 17 years, but does not have government experience. Mnuchin is a Hollywood producer who has worked on films including The Lego Movie. He has donated money to both Republican and Democratic candidates in the past.

Education: Betsy DeVos

DeVos is a former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party. She currently chairs the American Federation for Children, a group that promotes private school education. She has also served on the board of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, which has supported both school choice and Common Core education standards. Trump opposes Common Core, and DeVos has said that she is not a supporter of the standards.

President-elect Donald Trump has picked former U.S. .Labor Secretary Elaine Chao as his Secretary of Transportation.

President-elect Donald Trump has picked former U.S. .Labor Secretary Elaine Chao as his Secretary of Transportation.

Transportation: Elaine Chao

Chao has had a long career in Washington D.C. She made history as the first Asian-American woman in a presidential cabinet when she became the labor secretary under President George W. Bush. Before her work in government, Chao worked at banks in San Francisco and New York. Her husband is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Attorney General: Jeff Sessions

Sessions has served as a U.S. Senator from Alabama since 1997. He believes in strict immigration enforcement. Sessions was nominated for a federal judgeship in 1986, but was rejected because of racially charged comments that he had made. These comments are expected to be an issue for Sessions again when he faces Senate confirmation.

Housing and Urban Development: Ben Carson

Carson, a retired brain surgeon, was one of Trump’s rivals for the Republican nomination for president during the 2016 election. Carson has no government experience. But he became the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, in Baltimore, Maryland, at the age of 33—the youngest person to head a major division in the hospital's history. The Department of Housing and Urban Development oversees programs for housing development, rental assistance for low-income families, and improving urban areas.


Trump’s Other Advisors

There are other top positions that do not require Senate confirmation. They are appointed directly by the president and work closely with the president and the cabinet. Here are Trump’s picks for the spots.

Chief of Staff: Reince Priebus

Priebus has been chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) since 2011. He was re-elected twice, in 2013 and 2015, making him the longest-serving RNC chairman in modern history. Priebus is credited with having rescued the organization’s finances during his first term. He has the support of House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and has been praised for uniting the Republican Party and helping to get Trump elected. Many experts say Priebus will be able to help Trump’s relationship with Congress.

President-elect Donald Trump's chief of staff Reince Priebus, left, talks with his chief strategist, Steven Bannon, during a rally in Wisconsin on December 13.

President-elect Donald Trump's chief of staff Reince Priebus, left, talks with his chief strategist, Steven Bannon, during a rally in Wisconsin on December 13.

Chief Strategist: Stephen K. Bannon

Bannon is the former executive chair of the news and opinion website Breitbart, which is often criticized for its extreme views. He is also a former investment banker at Goldman Sachs. During his seven-year career in the U.S. Navy, Bannon worked at the Pentagon as a special assistant to a top admiral. In the closing months of the 2016 presidential election, he became the chairman of Trump’s campaign. Critics oppose Bannon’s appointment to Trump’s cabinet, accusing him of having views that are racist, anti-Semitic, and hateful towards women.

National Security Advisor: Mike Flynn

Flynn, a retired lieutenant general in the U.S. Army, was the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012-2014. He also served as assistant director of National Intelligence and served in Iraq and Afghanistan as Director of Intelligence for the Joint Special Operations command. Flynn has received some criticism for the way he handled classified, or private, information.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Scott Pruitt

Pruitt is the attorney general of Oklahoma, a state known for its oil and gas production. In the past, Pruitt has been opposed to the work of the EPA, which is in charge of protecting the environment. He has sued the agency over its regulations on greenhouse gas emissions. Pruitt rejects many scientific findings on human-caused climate change.

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