Trump’s Cabinet: How it is shaping up

Donald Trump appears set to keep his friends close. Very close.

While the president-elect has yet to announce any nominations to his Cabinet, sources in and around his circle say a number of the allies who stuck with the businessman through thick and thin are under consideration.

Here’s what we know so far:


Rudy Giuliani, who is among Trump’s most loyal allies, wants to run Trump’s State Department, according to a source who has spoken to the former New York City mayor.

{mosads}“He’s made no secret that this is his goal and that he thinks he’d be great at the job,” said the source, who worked at a senior level in Trump’s campaign.

A second source corroborated that Giuliani has expressed strong interest in being secretary of State.

That same source said Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson has been strongly advocating for Giuliani to have a major foreign policy or national security role inside the Trump administration.

Giuliani is a pro-Israel hawk, which would make him a good fit for Adelson, the billionaire Las Vegas casino owner.

He and his wife, Miriam, gave $10 million to a super PAC supporting Trump.

Adelson is also advocating for former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton to have a big foreign policy or national security role in the Trump administration.

Bolton is under consideration for secretary of State, according to a source with direct knowledge.

Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, is personally close to Bolton and admires his uncompromising stance against radical Islam.

Yet Bolton’s history seems at least partly at odds with Trump’s worldview. He was a Bush-era neoconservative who advocated for a more aggressive response to Russia.

Trump, however, has been at war with the GOP’s neoconservative wing. And Trump has scarcely had a bad thing to say about Russian President Vladimir Putin. The president-elect and his inner circle see potential to work more closely with Russia to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in an op-ed published Tuesday warned against a Bolton nomination.

Other names being discussed for secretary of State include former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, according to the same source with direct knowledge.

Bloomberg Politics was the first to report Armitage and Paulson.


Steven Mnuchin, the former Goldman Sachs banker who became Trump’s national finance chairman, is seen as having the inside track to head the next administration’s economic policy.

Trump is turning to investment allies for top business-friendly positions. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, a longtime Trump ally, said as much Tuesday.

“Spoke to @realDonaldTrump. Steve Mnuchin and Wilbur Ross are being considered for Treasury and Commerce. Both would be great choices,” he tweeted.

Two other Trump campaign sources believe Mnuchin is favored for the position.

Mnuchin has made no secret of his ambitions to be Treasury secretary, according to one of these sources, who talks to Mnuchin regularly.

Ross, who runs his own private equity firm, is also reportedly in the running for the Treasury job. He was an early and vocal supporter of Trump’s presidential bid.

In the immediate days following Trump’s election, there was chatter that Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, could be an option at Treasury secretary. Hensarling has close ties to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, dating back to their shared time as lawmakers.

But industry sources believe the chatter was just that.

Hensarling and Trump met in New York in June, after the free-market lawmaker unveiled his broad bill to overhaul the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. Trump was warm to Hensarling’s approach, and many believe the bill could be the starting point for any GOP-led effort to dramatically rework rules on Wall Street.

Facing the prospects of new life for his bill, Hensarling has kept Cabinet conversation at arm’s length.

“Serving in his Cabinet is not something I’ve indicated an interest in and it’s not something I am pursuing,” he said in a statement. “I’ve got enough on my plate.”

A source involved in Trump’s transition effort said that while Hensarling is on the list, it’s unlikely that he gets the nod over Mnuchin.


The word inside Trump World is that Jeff Sessions will get whatever he wants inside the new administration.

A source who’s spoken to Sessions over the past week said the Republican Alabama senator expressed interest in the work of three agencies: Defense, Justice and Homeland Security.

Nobody inside the Senate is closer to Trump and to the president-elect’s political apparatus than Sessions. He was an early and outspoken Trump backer, and two of the Alabaman’s senior staffers, Stephen Miller and Rick Dearborn, moved into positions of influence inside Trump’s campaign.

Handling immigration would be a natural step for Sessions.

Sessions and his team wrote Trump’s immigration plan. Miller has been writing speeches for Trump and directing his policy team. Hardline immigration proponents including Ann Coulter regularly sing his praises.

Sessions also has a close relationship with Bannon.

Miller, in particular, kept in almost constant contact with Breitbart’s senior reporters. Miller fed the Breitbart team a steady stream of statistics on illegal immigration. Sources who know Miller well say he’s obsessed with Muslim immigration and has savant-like abilities to recall reams of statistics.

One question could be how much Sessions wants to be at Homeland Security.

The Defense and Justice spots are generally seen as more favorable posts. At Homeland Security, Sessions could be in charge of building Trump’s wall. But that department is also an amalgamation of several agencies and has been difficult to manage. It also includes the Transportation Security Administration, a bugbear for conservatives.


Two names high on Trump’s list for Education secretary are Michelle Rhee and Betsy DeVos, according to a source with direct knowledge.

Both are vocal advocates of allowing parents to use school vouchers to seek alternative schools and other policies strongly opposed by teachers unions.

Rhee has a rocky history in Washington, as she once was a much-touted chancellor of D.C. Public Schools under Mayor Adrian Fenty who ended up mired in controversy.

She was given broad powers to overhaul the District’s struggling public school system, but dramatic changes pursued during her tenure led to repeated tension among school administrators, the teachers union and parents.

Rhee was out of D.C. after Fenty lost his reelection bid in 2010 and became an education advocate pushing for charter schools and school vouchers.

In prior years, Rhee had expressed support for Common Core, the set of states-based education standards that Trump had assailed on the campaign trail.

DeVos is a billionaire GOP donor, and her family has been a mainstay in party politics for decades. She once served as the head of the Michigan Republican Party and is the current chairwoman of the American Federation for Children, an education advocacy group pushing school-choice-friendly policies.

The DeVos family made its wealth by helping found the direct-selling company Amway. And while the family has given millions to Republican causes, it was not an early Trump backer.

A source familiar with DeVos’s thinking said that while she originally supported Common Core standards at the state level — and funded a group, the Great Lakes Education Project, that promoted such standards — she opposed Common Core once it became federalized.

A number of prominent Republicans have made a similar shift in recent years, as the standards were embraced by the Obama administration.


There have been bumps in Trump’s transition.

Ben Carson, the former neurosurgeon and GOP presidential candidate, withdrew his name from consideration for any top spots. Carson’s name had been floated for a range of positions in a Trump administration, but Carson said he was not an option, citing his lack of government experience.

And former Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who headed the Intelligence Committee while in office, abruptly left the Trump transition Tuesday. Rogers had been a widely respected voice on national security among many Republicans.

Much of the turnover is coming days after a major shakeup at the top of the transition.

Leading up to the election, the effort was led by GOP New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. But days after winning the White House, Pence was handed the reins, setting off a fresh set of internal jockeying that has slowed the transition effort.

The Trump transition has yet to take the legal step of signing a memorandum of understanding giving the team access to federal employees and documents. That means teams tasked with reviewing work across a swath of federal agencies still cannot begin that work amid the shakeup at the top of the transition.

“Following the change in leadership of President-elect Trump’s transition team, we are now in the process of working with the new transition team Chair, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, to sign the Memorandum of Understanding, which governs the process by which transition officials work with current administration staff,” White House spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine said in response to questions.

And it remains unclear whether Trump will get sufficient buy-in to clear his Cabinet picks.

Paul said Tuesday that he would oppose both Bolton and Giuliani for secretary of State.

Assuming a Republican is elected to fill Louisiana’s Senate seat, the GOP would have a 52-48 edge next year.

That means the party could afford just two defections, if Democrats are unified in blocking a Trump pick, to win confirmation battles.

Tags Breitbart News Donald Trump Jeff Sessions Mike Pence Rand Paul
See all Hill.TV See all Video