Ten rumored Trump Cabinet picks who didn't get a job

Ten rumored Trump Cabinet picks who didn't get a job
© Getty Images

President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand backs federal classification of third gender: report Former Carter pollster, Bannon ally Patrick Caddell dies at 68 Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job MORE is finished with the vast majority of his top appointments. And with just three Cabinet-level slots to fill, many of the most buzzed-about candidates find themselves without a seat at the table. 

Here are 10 of the top candidates who did not receive a nomination.  

Mitt Romney

A finalist for Trump’s secretary of State position, Romney’s inclusion on the shortlist surprised many because of his tough criticism of Trump during the primary.

Romney, the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee, excoriated Trump in a March speech as a “phony” who can’t be trusted to lead the country. 


After the election, Romney joined Trump for dinner at the flashy Jean Georges restaurant in New York City as he sought to make nice with his former adversary.  

But Romney reportedly refused to apologize to Trump for his earlier comments. Trump ended up picking ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who was only mentioned in the final stages of the process, to lead State. 

Chris Christie

The New Jersey governor may have been one of Trump’s earliest high-profile endorsements, but he ended up out in the cold.  

Once on the vice-presidential short list, Christie was replaced as head of Trump's transition effort by Vice President-elect Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceKamala Harris shopping trip stirs Twitter campaign trail debate Pence met with silence after mentioning Trump in Munich speech Bill Kristol resurfaces video of Pence calling Obama executive action on immigration a 'profound mistake' MORE after the election. Soon after, he lost out on the attorney general and Republican National Committee chairman slots. With those slots off the table, he reportedly chose to turn down other roles within the administration, according to New Jersey Advance Media.

Adding insult to injury, Trump tapped a former top Christie aide, Bill Stepien, as his White House political director. That selection came even after Christie had fired Stepien after the Bridgegate scandal that’s hamstrung the governor’s political career. 

Besides Bridgegate, Christie had another obstacle between him and a choice appointment: Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner. As a U.S. attorney, Christie prosecuted Kushner’s father on tax evasion and witness tampering charges, reportedly inspiring the younger Kushner to carry a grudge against Christie to this day.

So instead of receiving a breath of new political life with a spot in the new administration, Christie returns to New Jersey to serve out the rest of his final term as governor.

Rudy Giuliani

Another member of Trump’s vice-presidential shortlist, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani had publicly angled for the position at State only to see his hopes dashed.

With Tillerson’s stock rising in December, Trump’s transition announced that Giuliani had already pulled his name from consideration in November. That contradicted Trump aides who had publicly acknowledged him as a candidate through early December.

While Giuliani’s work as an international security consultant reportedly hampered his bid, the Trump transition claimed that Giuliani passed an internal vet with “flying colors.”

The former mayor, who had emerged as one of Trump’s most vocal supporters both on cable news and on the campaign trail, was also briefly been floated for attorney general. But top Trump confidante Alabama Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight The Memo: Trump and McCabe go to war McCabe book: Sessions once said FBI was better off when it 'only hired Irishmen' MORE (R) quickly scored that slot. 

Newt Gingrich

Gingrich, a former House Speaker and 2012 presidential candidate, took himself out of the Cabinet running early on, just more than a week after Election Day. 

While he serves as one of Trump’s transition vice chairs and has been spotted traveling to Trump Tower, Gingrich has said he doesn’t want a Cabinet role but instead hopes to be a “senior planner” who can help across the government.  

Sarah Palin

The 2008 vice-presidential nominee and ex-Alaska governor had been viewed as an intriguing possibility for Trump’s cabinet in the months before the election. Trump certainly seemed at times to channel her style of “going rogue” on the trail.

But once Trump won, it soon became clear that Palin was not likely to secure a spot in the administration. 

Palin endorsed Trump early, before the Iowa caucuses. In the days after, Palin told CNN that she would be interested in leading the Department of Energy, but former Texas Gov. Rick Perry ultimately landed that slot. 

She had been floated for other positions, including the open Veterans Affairs spot. But Palin has not visited Trump Tower during the transition phase and isn't seen as likely to end up in the still-unfilled spot.  

David Petraeus 

Ret. Gen. Petraeus’s emergence as a top contender for the State Department sparked serious intrigue as Trump continued to stack his Cabinet with decorated generals. 

But the possible addition of the decorated general to the Cabinet came with a big stumbling block — Petraeus pleaded guilty in 2015 to mishandling classified material by passing it to his biographer, with whom he was also romantically involved. That could have raised eyebrows after his harsh criticism of Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSanders expected to announce exploratory committee next week Bernie Sanders records announcement video ahead of possible 2020 bid Overnight Defense: Trump declares border emergency | .6B in military construction funds to be used for wall | Trump believes Obama would have started war with North Korea | Pentagon delivers aid for Venezuelan migrants MORE’s handling of classified information. 

The two men met at Trump Tower about the position, but the president-elect ended up going with Tillerson. 

Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardDNC punts on measure to reduce role of corporate PAC money NBC, CNN to host first two Democratic presidential primary debates Exclusive: Biden almost certain to enter 2020 race MORE

Trump’s decision to meet with a handful of Democrats, including Hawaii’s Gabbard, sparked questions as to whether he would include a member of the rival party in his Cabinet. 

Gabbard, an outspoken Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSanders expected to announce exploratory committee next week Bernie Sanders records announcement video ahead of possible 2020 bid Bill Maher to Dems: ‘Let’s not eat our own’ in 2020 MORE supporter during the Democratic primaries, is an Army veteran who embraces the populism that Trump tapped into and has clashed with the Obama administration over its handling of the Islamic State. 

The bipartisan approach may have been enticing, but it’s likely that Trump will complete his Cabinet search without including a single Democrat. 

Rep. Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersHillicon Valley: Republicans demand answers from mobile carriers on data practices | Top carriers to stop selling location data | DOJ probing Huawei | T-Mobile execs stayed at Trump hotel as merger awaited approval House Republicans question mobile carriers on data practices Washington governor announces killer whale recovery plan MORE

The highest-ranking woman in Republican Congressional leadership, the Washington state representative and Trump transition vice-chair played into one of the stranger storylines of the transition. 

Sources close to the transition effort told reporters that McMorris Rodgers was the shoo-in to lead the Interior Department. But days later, Trump tapped Montana Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke (R) for the spot instead. 

In the aftermath, McMorris Rodgers told her hometown paper that she had never heard from the Trump team.  

Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteUS, allies must stand in united opposition to Iran’s bad behavior American military superiority will fade without bold national action Five possible successors to Mattis MORE

Some Republicans lobbied Trump to entertain then-Sen. Ayotte (R-N.H.), a defense hawk and ally of Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainPence met with silence after mentioning Trump in Munich speech Mark Kelly's campaign raises over M in days after launching Senate bid The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers wait for Trump's next move on border deal MORE (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamPence met with silence after mentioning Trump in Munich speech The Memo: Trump and McCabe go to war Graham seeks new Rosenstein testimony after explosive McCabe interview MORE (R-S.C.) in the Senate, for his Defense secretary post. 

Facing a tough reelection, Ayotte had attempted to walk a fine line with her support of Trump. She was panned for referring to Trump as a role model for children during a debate, a comment she later walked back. And she withdrew her endorsement after the October release of audio where Trump spoke about groping women.  

After Ayotte lost to Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, a spot in the Trump administration would have been a way for her to stay in the federal government. Instead, Trump went for Ret. Gen. James Mattis for Defense.