Trump’s Cabinet: Who it might be

Greg Nash

Attorney General Chris Christie? Energy Secretary Sarah Palin? Health Secretary Ben Carson?

Donald Trump’s resounding primary victories this week have put him a step closer to capturing the GOP presidential nomination — and to the task of filling out a Cabinet that would guide his administration.

{mosads}The New York billionaire has floated several names for Cabinet positions, with the list including political allies, rivals turned backers, business leaders and even Democrats. He’s mentioned Warren Buffett, for instance, who endorsed President Obama in the last two election cycles.

The only common thread, if there is one, seems to be that Trump is looking for “winners,” successful people with a records of accomplishment.

“I’m going to find the smartest and most successful people to do those jobs,” he vowed recently. “They will be winners, that I can tell you.”

Based on Trump’s comments and interviews with his supporters, here’s who could find themselves part of a Trump Cabinet in 2017.

Attorney general

A number of onetime presidential opponents could land spots in a Trump administration. A leading contender to lead the Justice Department is Christie, the New Jersey governor and former federal prosecutor who shocked pundits by endorsing Trump shortly after bowing out of the race in February.

Before he was elected governor, Christie served as U.S. attorney in New Jersey in the George W. Bush administration. In Trenton, he earned a reputation for picking fights with political foes, reporters and critics.

His once-promising presidential campaign never took off, and several of his top New Jersey aides were implicated in a political retribution scandal dubbed “Bridgegate.” 

But on the trail, Christie helped clear a path for Trump, whom he’s known for years. The term-limited governor dealt a knockout punch to presidential rival Marco Rubio, accusing the Florida senator during a debate of memorizing canned lines and acting robotic. 

Another possibility for attorney general is Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions, the only senator to throw his support behind Trump. Sessions served as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Alabama and went on to win election as state attorney general before joining the Senate.

Treasury secretary

Trump has long suggested that Carl Icahn, a major investor and fellow businessman, would be the perfect fit to head his Treasury Department. The GOP front-runner suggested Icahn as a possible Treasury secretary back in June, alongside other business hotshots Jack Welch, the former head of General Electric, and Henry Kravis.

Icahn has been a vocal Trump backer, calling him the only man who can break the gridlock in Washington. The activist investor was with Trump earlier this month to help him celebrate his New York primary victory.

Icahn may not want the Treasury job, however. He has repeatedly said he’s not interested, though he said following an August GOP debate that he was willing to fill the role.

Defense secretary

Trump has kept a tight lid on his list of national security advisers, but he has previously expressed support for retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Flynn, who left his position in 2014, told The Daily Beast earlier this year that the two men have “met informally,” and he often tweets messages that appear to match up with Trump’s philosophy.

“We have forgotten how to win: this must be fixed ASAP,” Flynn wrote recently. “1st step, we need a new leader in the WH who knows how 2 win.”  

In a Trump administration, Flynn could be called upon to serve in a senior role at the White House, Pentagon or in the intelligence community.

Another Pentagon pick could be Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), a member of the Marine Corps Reserve who served in the Iraq War and is now a member of the powerful Armed Services Committee. Hunter and New York Reps. Tom Reed and Chris Collins are among the real estate mogul’s backers in the House who could play a role in a Trump administration.

Energy secretary 

Trump’s energy policy has been tough to pin down. He initially said he’d immediately approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline, for instance, only to backtrack by threatening to reject the deal if TransCanada Corp. doesn’t grant the U.S. a “big chunk” of the profits. But he is clearly a strong opponent of Obama’s efforts to combat climate change and an advocate of tapping more of the nation’s fossil fuel reserves. And in those positions he has a strong ally in Palin.

Trump said early in his campaign that he’d welcome the GOP’s 2008 vice presidential nominee into his administration — “I’d love that,” he said in July — and Palin wasted little time specifying the post she’d want. The former Alaska governor said she’d like to head the Energy Department — for the opportunity to dismantle it.

“I think a lot about the Department of Energy, because energy is my baby — oil and gas and minerals, those things that God has dumped on this part of the Earth for mankind’s use instead of us relying on unfriendly foreign nations,” Palin told CNN last fall. “I’d get rid of [the DOE], and I’d let the states start having more control.”

Rep. Kevin Cramer is another Trump supporter with a heavy focus on energy policy. The Republican from fossil-fuel-rich North Dakota is in only his second term, but he sits on the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee and checks all the boxes when it comes to fighting Obama’s climate change efforts.

Health and Human Services secretary

Carson is among the former GOP presidential contenders Trump says he’d welcome into his administration, leading to speculation that the celebrated neurosurgeon could find his way into the Health and Human Services Department or surgeon general’s office.

“I can tell you that Ben Carson is a terrific guy,” Trump said recently.

Carson, like Trump, is a vocal critic of Obama’s healthcare policies, vowing to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a system of private accounts. And his staunch opposition to abortion rights could prove a boost to Trump’s standing with evangelicals.

Rep. Renee Ellmers could be another possibility. The North Carolina Republican is a Trump supporter and registered nurse whose ardent opposition to Obama’s healthcare law propelled her quickly up the leadership ladder.  

Homeland Security secretary

As mayor of New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, Rudy Giuliani was a public face of the U.S. response to the terror attacks on the World Trade Center.

Homeland Security secretary would be an obvious fit.

A failed presidential contender in 2008, Giuliani endorsed Trump shortly before the business tycoon dominated his home state’s primary.

“I think we may have preferred somebody else, but he’s going to be the candidate,” Giuliani said. “And we have to do the best we can to defeat Hillary Clinton.”

 Peter Schroeder and Julian Hattem contributed.

Tags Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Jeff Sessions Marco Rubio

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