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Trump’s shifting Cabinet to introduce new faces

President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump announces new tranche of endorsements DeSantis, Pence tied in 2024 Republican poll Lawmakers demand changes after National Guard troops at Capitol sickened from tainted food 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 SessionsTanden withdraws nomination as Biden budget chief Manchin flexes muscle in 50-50 Senate Udalls: Haaland criticism motivated 'by something other than her record' 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) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump 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 MattisRejoining the Iran nuclear deal would save lives of US troops, diplomats The soft but unmatched power of US foreign exchange programs The GOP senators likely to vote for Trump's conviction 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 ShanahanOvernight Defense: National Guard boosts DC presence ahead of inauguration | Lawmakers demand probes into troops' role in Capitol riot | Financial disclosures released for Biden Pentagon nominee Biden Pentagon pick could make up to .7M from leaving Raytheon Lloyd Austin can lead — as a civilian 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 CottonDeSantis, Pence tied in 2024 Republican poll Republicans blast Pentagon policy nominee over tweets, Iran nuclear deal The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Lawmakers face Capitol threat as senators line up votes for relief bill MORE (R-Ark.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate holds longest vote in history as Democrats scramble to save relief bill Biden helps broker Senate deal on unemployment benefits Senate braces for 'God-awful,' 'stupid' session ahead of COVID-19 relief vote 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 finalizes plan to open 80 percent of Alaska petroleum reserve to drilling | Justice Department lawyers acknowledge presidential transition in court filing | Trump admin pushes for permits for men who inspired Bundy standoff Trump administration pushes for grazing permits for men who inspired Bundy standoff Interior secretary tests positive for COVID-19 after two days of meetings with officials: report 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 BishopGOP's Westerman looks to take on Democrats on climate change House Republicans who didn't sign onto the Texas lawsuit OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Westerman tapped as top Republican on House Natural Resources Committee | McMorris Rodgers wins race for top GOP spot on Energy and Commerce | EPA joins conservative social network Parler 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 LummisSenate confirms Rouse as Biden's top economist OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 | Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change | Biden delays transfer of sacred lands for copper mine Biden picks for financial agencies offer preview of regulatory agenda 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 HaleyNikki HaleyTrump was unhinged and unchanged at CPAC The Memo: Is Trump mounting a comeback — or finally fading? Haley praises Trump CPAC speech after breaking with him over Capitol riot 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 TillersonLawmakers to roll out legislation reorganizing State cyber office New State Department cyber bureau stirs opposition Blinken tells State Department staff 'I have your back' 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 MulvaneyOMB nominee gets hearing on Feb. 9 Republicans now 'shocked, shocked' that there's a deficit Financial firms brace for Biden's consumer agency chief 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 MeadowsTrump attacks Karl Rove: 'A pompous fool with bad advice' How scientists saved Trump's FDA from politics Liberals howl after Democrats cave on witnesses 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 RossFormer Trump officials find tough job market On The Money: Retail sales drop in latest sign of weakening economy | Fast-food workers strike for minimum wage | US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits 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 PruittOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court rules against fast-track of Trump EPA's 'secret science' rule | Bureau of Land Management exodus: Agency lost 87 percent of staff in Trump HQ relocation | GM commits to electric light duty fleet by 2035 Court rules against fast-track of Trump EPA's 'secret science' rule Restoring the EPA: Lessons from the past 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 NielsenLeft-leaning group to track which companies hire former top Trump aides Rosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' House Republican condemns anti-Trump celebrities during impeachment hearing 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 PompeoMike PompeoDeSantis, Pence tied in 2024 Republican poll Pompeo not ruling out 2024 White House bid Houthis: US sanctions prolonging war in Yemen 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 MnuchinBiden cautious in making Trump tax returns decision Biden brings back bipartisan meetings at the White House On The Money: Schumer urges Democrats to stick together on .9T bill | Collins rules out GOP support for Biden relief plan | Powell fights inflation fears 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 ShulkinBiden's nominee for VA secretary isn't a veteran — does it matter? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Congress slogs toward COVID-19 relief, omnibus deal A crisis that unites veterans 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 AcostaOn The Money: Trump slams relief bill, calls on Congress to increase stimulus money | Biden faces new critical deadlines after relief package | Labor rule allows restaurants to require broader tip pooling Labor rule allows restaurants to require broader tip pooling Federal litigator files complaint alleging Labor secretary abused his authority 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 PriceBiden health nominee faces first Senate test Focus on cabinet nominees' effectiveness and expertise, not just ideology Conspicuous by their absence from the Republican Convention 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 CarsonBen CarsonBiden administration buys 100,000 doses of Lilly antibody drug Ben Carson launches conservative think tank Trump's '1776 Report' released on MLK Day receives heavy backlash 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 PerryRepublicans see Becerra as next target in confirmation wars OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Five things to know about Texas's strained electric grid | Biden honeymoon with green groups faces tests | Electric vehicles are poised to aid Biden in climate fight Five things to know about Texas's strained electric grid 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 PerdueSonny PerdueThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Georgia election day is finally here; Trump hopes Pence 'comes through for us' to overturn results Civil war between MAGA, GOP establishment could hand Dems total control Trump administration races to finish environmental rules, actions 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 ChaoDOJ declined to take up Chao ethics probe Parliamentarian strikes down Pelosi priority in aid package The Hill's Morning Report - Biden on COVID-19: Next year Americans will be 'better off' 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 makes failed bid to adjourn Senate after hours-long delay Paul Ryan to host fundraiser for Cheney amid GOP tensions Senate Democrats near deal to reduce jobless boost to 0 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 LighthizerBob 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 CoatsHow President Biden can hit a home run Former Trump intel chief Coats introduces Biden nominee Haines at hearing Senate Intelligence Committee leaders warn of Chinese threats to national security 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 DeVosBetsy DeVosDeVos's student aid chief resigns from Education Department Cardona seeks to pivot from DeVos era at Education Senate confirms Biden's Education secretary 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.