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Trump’s shifting Cabinet to introduce new faces

President TrumpDonald John TrumpPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Biden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Sunday shows preview: US health officials brace for post-holiday COVID-19 surge MORE will enter 2019 with several fresh faces in his Cabinet, setting up high-profile confirmation hearings.

Here's a breakdown of where Trump’s Cabinet stands heading into 2019.

Attorney general

Trump has nominated former Attorney General William Barr to replace Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsAlabama zeroes in on Richard Shelby's future Tuberville incorrectly says Gore was president-elect in 2000 Next attorney general must embrace marijuana law reforms MORE

Barr’s confirmation battle will be one to watch in 2019, as Democrats are sure to turn the hearing into a referendum on how the nominee will handle special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE’s investigation. Barr has said little publicly about the probe. 

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Barr previously served as attorney general under former President George H.W. Bush, where he sought to crack down on crime.

Barr also would be tasked with carrying out Trump’s desired policies on law enforcement and efforts to crack down on illegal immigration.

If confirmed, Barr’s relationship with Trump will be under a microscope as the president has regularly railed against the special counsel's investigation and questioned why Democrats haven't been investigated. 

Matthew Whitaker is currently running the Justice Department in an acting capacity. 

Defense secretary

Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisBiden under pressure to remove Trump transgender military ban quickly Progressive House Democrats urge Biden against Defense chief with contractor ties Trump fires Defense chief Mark Esper MORE announced his plans to leave the administration in a letter of resignation on Dec. 20.

While Trump attempted to portray Mattis’s exit as a retirement, the secretary’s letter informing the president of his resignation made clear that was not the case. 

Mattis’s note was filled with implicit criticism of Trump’s foreign policy, emphasizing the need to maintain relationships with NATO allies and stand up to authoritarian powers like Russia and China.  

Trump said on Twitter that he will nominate a replacement “shortly.” Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanProgressive House Democrats urge Biden against Defense chief with contractor ties Trump fires Defense chief Mark Esper House Armed Services chairman expresses confidence in Esper amid aircraft carrier coronavirus crisis MORE will take over on an acting capacity in the new year.

The president’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria and reported decision to lower the number of troops in Afghanistan were seen as a factor in Mattis’s exit and are sure to come up in the confirmation hearings for his successor.

Retired Army Gen. Jack Keane and Sens. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonBiden's Cabinet a battleground for future GOP White House hopefuls The Memo: GOP mulls its future after Trump O'Brien on 2024 talk: 'There's all kinds of speculation out there' MORE (R-Ark.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamBiden's Cabinet a battleground for future GOP White House hopefuls Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden Let's give thanks to Republican defenders of democracy MORE (R-S.C.) have reportedly been considered potential replacements, though Graham has indicated he has no desire to join Trump’s Cabinet and all three have been critical of the Syria withdrawal.

Interior secretary

Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior shortlist puts focus on New Mexico lawmakers | Progressives criticize Biden transition over volunteer who represented Exxon | Trump DOJ appointees stalled investigation into Zinke: report Trump DOJ appointees stalled investigation into Zinke: report GOP Rep. Greg Gianforte wins Montana governor's race MORE will leave the Cabinet at the end of the year under a cloud of alleged ethics rules violations.

The former congressman had come under scrutiny over alleged conflicts of interest in land deals his department oversaw, as well as concerns over his government spending and use of charter flights.

Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, who will serve as the acting secretary in Zinke’s absence, is considered a potential full-time replacement. 

Other candidates include Rep. Rob BishopRobert (Rob) William BishopRepublicans in campaign mode for top spots on House environmental committees Hillicon Valley: House votes to condemn QAnon | Americans worried about foreign election interference | DHS confirms request to tap protester phones House approves measure condemning QAnon, but 17 Republicans vote against it MORE (R-Utah), outgoing Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Lobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE (R-Nev.) and former Rep. Cynthia LummisCynthia Marie LummisNext Congress expected to have record diversity Republican Cynthia Lummis wins Wyoming Senate election Chamber of Commerce endorses McSally for reelection MORE (R-Wyo.), who has expressed interest in the job.

The eventual nominee will likely face opposition from Democrats, who have expressed concerns about the administration’s environmental and land use policies.

Ambassador to the United Nations

Trump has nominated Heather Nauert, the spokeswoman for the State Department, to replace outgoing Ambassador Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyThe Memo: GOP mulls its future after Trump O'Brien on 2024 talk: 'There's all kinds of speculation out there' New administration, House turnover raise prospects for more diversity on K Street MORE.

Nauert will be a central figure in advancing Trump’s foreign policy, but her credentials for the job are likely to be a main focus of her looming confirmation hearing.

Nauert has worked as the State Department’s chief spokeswoman since April 2017, when she was hired by then-Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonBiden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Biden's State Department picks are a diplomatic slam dunk President Trump: To know him is to 'No' him MORE. She was later promoted to acting under secretary for public diplomacy and public affairs.

Prior to her job at the State Department, Nauert worked as an anchor and reporter at Fox News.

Chief of staff

John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE is on the way out after a little more than a year as White House chief of staff, and he is being replaced on an acting basis by Office of Management and Budget chief Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyMick Mulvaney 'concerned' by Giuliani role in Trump election case On The Money: Senate releases spending bills, setting up talks for December deal | McConnell pushing for 'highly targeted' COVID deal | CFPB vet who battled Trump will lead Biden plans to overhaul agency Consumer bureau vet who battled Trump will lead Biden plans to overhaul agency MORE.

Mulvaney has been a conservative stalwart dating to his time as a member of the House Freedom Caucus.

The president had a series of top contenders for the job turn him down in recent weeks, including Vice President Pence’s top aide, Nick Ayers, Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump holds his last turkey pardon ceremony Overnight Defense: Pentagon set for tighter virus restrictions as top officials tests positive | Military sees 11th COVID-19 death | House Democrats back Senate language on Confederate base names Trump administration revives talk of action on birthright citizenship MORE (R-N.C.) and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R).

Others said to be in the running for the full-time position who have yet to publicly decline the job are former deputy campaign chairman David Bossie and Whitaker, the acting attorney general. 

If Trump picks a full-time chief of staff other than Mulvaney, he will have cycled through four top aides in his first two years in office. The position does not require Senate confirmation.

Office of Management and Budget

The White House has confirmed that Mulvaney will continue in his job as budget director even as he serves as the acting chief of staff. 

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Deputy Director Russ Vought will handle the agency’s day-to-day operations while Mulvaney works as Trump’s top aide. 

Commerce secretary

Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossSupreme Court to hear arguments on Trump administration's attempt to exclude undocumented immigrants from census Central Asia is changing: the Biden administration should pay close attention Census Bureau can't meet Trump's deadline for data on undocumented immigrants: report MORE has served in Trump’s Cabinet since the beginning of the administration but has been dogged by reports that the president may replace him.

Potential successors included Small Business Administration head Linda McMahonLinda Marie McMahonApril's dumbest and most dangerous coronavirus declarations Trump convenes sports commissioners in hopes of filling stadiums Senate confirms Trump pick for small business chief MORE, or Overseas Private Investment Corporation President Ray Washburne. 

Ross was one of the president’s earliest supporters and an adviser on the campaign trail, but Trump has reportedly mocked his age and energy during White House staff meetings. Ross is 81. 

He has also been plagued by multiple ethics complaints about meetings he held with companies he invested in, as well as his failure to divest from stocks he claimed he sold off.

Environmental Protection Agency administrator

Trump has tapped acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler to lead the agency full-time, setting him up as the replacement to scandal-plagued former Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittMajor unions back Fudge for Agriculture secretary Biden to enlist Agriculture, Transportation agencies in climate fight Democratic lawmaker calls for DOJ investigation of entire Trump administration MORE.

Wheeler, a former lobbyist and lawyer for coal companies, previously served as the deputy administrator. He was confirmed to that post by a 53-45 vote.

While his ties to the coal industry have raised concerns among Democrats, Wheeler has avoided the toxic headlines that ultimately doomed Pruitt’s tenure.

Pruitt resigned in July amid mounting ethics scandals that detailed numerous instances of misuse of government funds and resources. 

Trump has touted the agency’s efforts to roll back Obama-era regulations on emissions, water protections and coal.

Secretary of Homeland Security

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenBiden picks first Latino to lead Homeland Security Judge says acting DHS secretary appointment unlawful, invalidates DACA suspension Biden's hard stand on foreign election interference signals funding fight MORE was reportedly on the outs in the aftermath of the midterms, but she has managed to keep her job even as others around her head for the exits.

Her relationship with Trump has been contentious. The president has singled her out for failures to implement stricter immigration policies, and increases in apprehensions at the southern border late in the year are likely to stoke those frustrations.

Furthermore, Nielsen’s top ally in the West Wing and her predecessor at DHS, John Kelly, is on his way out as chief of staff.

Nielsen has earned Trump’s scorn despite embracing one of his most divisive policies. She defended the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that led to the separation of thousands of migrant families at the border.

Secretary of State

Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoBiden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Biden faces challenges, opportunities in Middle East O'Brien on 2024 talk: 'There's all kinds of speculation out there' MORE has served two roles in Trump’s Cabinet: first as CIA director, and currently as secretary of State.

Pompeo has been a staunch advocate of Trump’s agenda internationally and has been the lead figure in negotiations to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. Pompeo has made four separate visits to Pyongyang. 

Since his confirmation in April, Pompeo has said he hopes to bring a sense of “swagger” back to the State Department. His relationships with other diplomats and his rapport with the president are marked differences from his predecessor, Rex Tillerson.

Tillerson was fired in March after a rocky tenure that resulted in depleted morale and staffing levels at State.

In an interview this month, Tillerson called Trump undisciplined and indicated the president regularly pushed for measures that were illegal. Trump responded by calling Tillerson “dumb as a rock” and “lazy as hell.”

CIA director

Gina Haspel, then the deputy CIA director, was elevated to the agency’s top post in April upon Pompeo’s shift to State. 

She became the first woman to head the agency when the Senate voted, 54-45, to confirm her. Her nomination was dominated by discussion over her involvement in an interrogation program conducted during the George W. Bush administration.

Haspel has maintained a low profile in the time since taking office, though she appeared on Capitol Hill earlier this month to brief lawmakers on the killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Senators left their meeting with Haspel expressing confidence that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for Khashoggi’s death, a connection Trump administration officials had not publicly made. 

Treasury secretary

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinBiden's Treasury pick will have lengthy to-do list on taxes On The Money: Initial jobless claims rise for 2nd week | Dow dips below 30K | Mnuchin draws fire for COVID-19 relief move | Manhattan DA appeals dismissal of Manafort charges Mnuchin to put 5B in COVID-19 relief funds beyond successor's reach MORE has consistently been one of the most prominent Cabinet officials for a president who ties much of his administration’s image to the economy.

Mnuchin was at the forefront of pushing through the GOP tax-cut bill in late 2017 and has said he plans to spend the upcoming year working on correcting some areas of the legislation. 

As the markets sagged toward the end of the year, Trump pushed back on a report that he was unhappy with Mnuchin’s performance.

Mnuchin was reportedly under consideration to replace Kelly as chief of staff. 

Secretary of Veterans Affairs 

Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie has led the department since July, when he became the second permanent head of the sprawling agency during the Trump administration.

Prior to leading the agency, Wilkie ran military personnel policy at the Pentagon. 

The VA has been rife with scandal in recent years over the quality of its care and treatment of veterans. Wilkie himself has recently come under scrutiny for his past ties to pro-Confederate events and symbols.

Wilkie is Trump’s second VA secretary, following David ShulkinDavid Jonathon ShulkinVA inspector general says former top official steered M contract to friend Schumer demands answers in use of unproven coronavirus drug on veterans Former Trump VA secretary says staffer found plans to replace him in department copier MORE. Trump fired Shulkin in March amid an investigation into alleged misuse of taxpayer funds and reported clashes over privatizing the agency. 

Trump initially tapped former White House physician Ronny Jackson for the post, but his nomination was sunk over allegations of professional misconduct.

Secretary of Labor

Secretary of Labor Alex AcostaAlex Alexander AcostaFederal litigator files complaint alleging Labor secretary abused his authority Appeals court to review legality of Epstein plea deal Appeals court finds prosecutors' secret plea agreement with Epstein didn't break law MORE has touted the low unemployment numbers that have rolled in during Trump’s presidency but could soon face some trouble of his own.

A group of Democratic lawmakers have called for an investigation into Acosta’s role in a 2007 plea deal he helped negotiate as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida with an alleged serial sex offender. 

Acosta could be summoned to Capitol Hill for hearings when Democrats officially take over the House majority in January. 

Acosta has been in good standing with Trump, as he was reported to be in the running for attorney general prior to Trump picking Barr as his nominee.

Health and Human Services Secretary

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar was confirmed in early 2018 as Trump’s second official to lead the agency after former Secretary Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PriceConspicuous by their absence from the Republican Convention Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Chris Christie Trump flails as audience dwindles and ratings plummet MORE resigned amid reports that he misused taxpayer funds.

Azar, a former pharmaceutical executive, was criticized by Democrats during his confirmation hearing over his ties to the drug industry and over questions about his views on the Affordable Care Act.

The HHS chief will be a major player in the next session of Congress, as Democrats have identified drug pricing as an area of concern that they intend to tackle. 

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development 

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonBen Carson says he's 'out of the woods' after being 'extremely sick' with COVID-19 Ben Carson says he used unproven COVID-19 treatment recommended by MyPillow CEO Chelsea Clinton blames Trump for Secret Service officers in quarantine MORE’s job appeared to be in some jeopardy earlier this year when he was embroiled in an ethics scandal over a furniture purchase for his office.

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The former brain surgeon came under fire after it was reported his department spent $31,000 on a new dining set for his office. Carson later announced he had canceled the order and went on to blame his wife for the purchase.

The White House reportedly scolded Carson over the incident, but he appears to have returned to good standing with Trump.

Secretary of Energy

Secretary of Energy Rick PerryRick PerryChip Roy fends off challenge from Wendy Davis to win reelection in Texas The Memo: Texas could deliver political earthquake The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump, Biden blitz battleground states MORE has been at the center of Trump's push to maintain coal jobs and promote American energy production.

The former Texas governor, who once said while running for president he wanted to abolish the Department of Energy, has promoted the use of fossil fuels and investment in nuclear energy, despite concerns from environmentalists.

Perry's tenure has not been without controversy, as he endured criticism for comments that appeared to tie fossil fuels to sexual assault prevention, and over his wife's travel.

Some recent reports mentioned that Perry's name was floated as a potential chief of staff pick, though Trump opted to go with Mulvaney on an acting basis. 

Secretary of Agriculture

Agriculture Secretary Sonny PerdueGeorge (Sonny) Ervin PerdueTrump administration races to finish environmental rules, actions OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee | Forest Service finalizes rule weakening environmental review of its projects | Biden to enlist Agriculture, Transportation agencies in climate fight Forest Service finalizes rule weakening environmental review of its projects MORE, another Trump appointee who has been in the Cabinet since early 2017, has dealt with the fallout of the president’s tariff policies and his efforts to expand work requirements for government programs.

Perdue has overseen the disbursement of nearly $10 billion in aid to farmers in recent months who have lost profits because of retaliatory tariffs levied on the U.S. in response to the Trump administration’s tariffs.

Republicans and Democrats have criticized the payments as “bailouts,” and suggested the tariff policy is the root issue.

Perdue is also leading a proposal to expand work requirements in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, he announced earlier this month.

Transportation Secretary

Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoWomen set to take key roles in Biden administration New administration, House turnover raise prospects for more diversity on K Street Reinvesting in American leadership MORE is likely to play a key role in the next session of Congress should Democrats and the White House seek a deal on infrastructure.

Infrastructure is one area where Democrats may be able to find common ground with the administration. There is some reason for skepticism, as Trump indicated on the campaign trail he hoped to pass an infrastructure package, only to see that effort stall in Congress.

Chao is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell halts in-person Republican lunches amid COVID-19 surge Biden and reproductive health rights Biden's Cabinet a battleground for future GOP White House hopefuls MORE (R-Ky.).

Small Business Administration

Linda McMahon has led the agency tasked with bolstering financing and resources for small businesses since she was easily confirmed in February 2017. 

The World Wrestling Entertainment co-founder and former CEO has had an uncontroversial tenure thus far. She has been reported as a possible replacement for Ross, the Commerce secretary.

U.S. Trade Representative

Trump has made trade a cornerstone of his economic agenda, placing U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerWhiskey, workers and friends caught in the trade dispute crossfire GOP senator warns quick vote on new NAFTA would be 'huge mistake' Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 MORE squarely in the spotlight.

The 71-year-old was involved in talks with Canada and Mexico to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump had dubbed one of the worst deals of all time. The countries reached an agreement on the revised U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement in October, though Congress must still ratify the deal.

Lighthizer has been similarly prominent in ongoing negotiations with China over tariffs. The Trump administration and Beijing have exchanged billions in tariffs on the other country’s imports, despite objections from many lawmakers.

Lighthizer was reportedly under consideration to replace Kelly as chief of staff, but indicated he preferred to stay in his current role.

Director of National Intelligence

Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsBiden soars as leader of the free world Lobbying world President Trump: To know him is to 'No' him MORE has been a central figure in the administration’s efforts to push back on foreign meddling in U.S. elections, and has been willing to publicly break with Trump when the president has cast doubt on the intelligence community’s findings that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.

Prior to Trump’s much-maligned July meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Coats warned that lights were “blinking red” to indicate Russia was preparing a cyberattack against the U.S.

Weeks after Trump’s meeting, Coats told reporters he was “not in a position to either fully understand or talk about what happened” between the two leaders. 

Coats is likely to remain a key player within the Cabinet as the focus on election security shifts to the 2020 campaign.

Education Secretary

Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosNational reading, math tests postponed to 2022 amid coronavirus surge Women set to take key roles in Biden administration America has a civic education problem — here's how to fix it MORE was a controversial pick due to her support for charter schools, and required an unprecedented tie-breaking vote from Vice President Pence to be confirmed in February 2017.

Since then, DeVos’s tenure has been highlighted by numerous efforts to dial back Obama-era policies on student loan regulations, penalties aimed at for-profit colleges, campus sexual assault rules and more.

She was also appointed to lead Trump’s school safety commission that was created in the wake of a mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school. The commission’s final report did not call for raising the age requirement to purchase a firearm, but supported laws that allow guns to be taken away from dangerous individuals and an increased focus on mental health.

Vice President

Vice president is an elected position and cannot be removed from the Cabinet by the president. Trump has said Pence will remain on as his running mate in 2020.