January 31, 2017

Chao confirmed as Transportation Secretary

Former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao was confirmed by the Senate 93-6, marking the first domestic policy appointment to be approved.  Chao will lead President Trump’s efforts on the $1 billion infrastructure package.

January 24, 2017

Haley confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was confirmed by the Senate 96-4, adding to President Trump’s Cabinet of national security and foreign affairs officials. Haley is the forth Senate confirmation so far.

January 23, 2017

Pompeo confirmed as CIA Director

Kansas Congressman Mike Pompeo was confirmed by the Senate 66-32 on Monday evening.  Pompeo joins President Trump’s national security team and aims to mend the relationship between the President and the intelligence community.

January 20, 2017

Mattis and Kelly confirmed and assume office on Day 1

Retired Marine Generals James Mattis and John Kelly were confirmed by the Senate following President Trump’s inauguration on Friday.  Mattis received a vote of 98-1 for Defense Secretary; Kelly received a vote of 88-11 for Homeland Security Secretary.  Vice President Pence swore in both men Friday night.

January 19, 2017

Sonny Perdue tapped for Agriculture Secretary

President-elect Trump will nominate former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue as the next head of the USDA.  Perdue served as Governor from 2003 to 2011, then founded a global agribusiness trading company.  He will be charged with implementing farm policy, food inspections, the food stamp program, and USDA-led research and development efforts all housed in the large department.  Ag Secretary is the last Cabinet position to be nominated by the Trump Transition.

January 13, 2017

Confirmation Recap – Week 1

Sessions and Tillerson hearings were the most contentious

Sessions’ hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee was adversarial, with Rep. John Lewis, Sen. Cory Booker, the president of the NAACP and others testified about Sessions’ civil rights record.  Booker’s appearance was the first time in history that a U.S. Senator testified against another sitting Senator.  Sessions pledged to enforce the law, not make it.

Tillerson’s hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was widely anticipated as one of the more dramatic hearings. Sen. Marco Rubio and Tillerson clashed over the issue of whether or not Vladimir Putin is a war criminal. Tillerson also refused to take a stance on whether or not he would impose sanctions on Russia.  When asked about climate change, Tillerson answered that the risk of climate change does exist.  His history as the CEO of ExxonMobil had many curious about his stances on energy and climate change.

Mattis and Pompeo addressed defense

Mattis appeared before the Senate Arms Services Committee.  Mattis called Russia one of the largest threats to the United States, accusing Putin of attempting to break the NATO alliance and indicating that he does not have high expectations about the feasibility of Russia and U.S. cooperation. Mattis also broke with Trump by saying the U.S. should abide the Iran deal.  After his hearing, a waiver of the seven-year gap requirement between active duty service and civilian roles in the Pentagon was approved.

Pompeo appeared before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence during a sensitive time between the incoming Administration and the intelligence community.  Pompeo affirmed that the CIA would look into information about Russia’s election interference.  He agreed with intelligence that Putin tried to promote Trump’s candidacy at the expense of Clinton.  Pompeo reversed his previous position approving of the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program, saying he would not endorse torture including waterboarding.

Chao and Carson spoke domestic policy

Chao experienced a relatively calm confirmation hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee.  Her husband, Senate Majority Leader McConnell, offered an enthusiastic introduction.  Chao received questions on the contentious issue of privatizing air traffic controller at the FAA, an issue that will be examined in the FAA reauthorization.  She simply answered that she is open to all ideas but wants to get confirmed before answering the question concretely.  She did concede that a much-discussed $1-trillion infrastructure package would contain direct federal spending.

Carson had a relatively smooth hearing before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. Carson dodged questions about what Obama Administration rules he would roll back. Sen. Elizabeth Warren questioned his ability to navigate potential conflicts with Trump’s business interests.  Carson said he plans to take a holistic approach to tackling poverty by adding clinics in neighborhoods to save emergency healthcare costs and using public-private partnerships for affordable housing.

January 11, 2017

David Shulkin selected as VA Secretary

President-elect Trump announced Dr. David Shulkin as his nominee to serve as Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Shulkin is currently Under Secretary for Health at the VA, leading the Veterans Health Administration.  President Obama appointed Shulkin to that post in 2015.  Shulkin will be charged with improving VA medical care delivery which became a repeated bipartisan campaign issue in 2016.

January 3, 2017

Robert Lighthizer Selected as U.S. Trade Representative

This morning, President-elect Trump picked Robert Lighthizer to serve as U.S. Trade Representative.  A former Deputy U.S. Trade Representative under President Reagan, Lighthizer is experienced in implementing the executive branch trade agenda.  Lighthizer will work with White House National Trade Council head Peter Navarro and Secretary of Commerce-designate Wilbur Ross to enact Trump’s foreign trade policy.  For years Lighthizer has worked as an attorney representing American companies on trade issues, including antidumping and countervailing duty cases.

December 19, 2016

Trump Nominates Vincent Viola as Secretary of the Army

President-elect Trump announced billionaire Army veteran Vincent Viola as his pick for Army Secretary.  Viola, who is a former chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange and current owner of the NHL Florida Panthers, founded a high-frequency trading firm called Virtu Financial.  Viola is a West Point graduate who has publicly pressed for military advancements in cyber warfare.  In this role, Viola has promised to ensure that soldiers have the resources necessary for the United States to win engagements overseas.

December 17, 2016

Trump Selects Rep. Mick Mulvaney to Head the Office of Management and Budget

President-elect Trump announced Representative Mick Mulvaney (R-SC05) as his pick to direct of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  Mulvaney, a Tea-Party Republican elected to Congress in 2010, is an outspoken fiscal conservative.  Rep. Mulvaney was instrumental in securing federal budget caps 2011.  His selection is a nod to those who favored Trump’s promise to cut spending and eliminate the budget deficit if elected President.  As OMB Director, Mulvaney will have an important role in the Trump Administration, helping to set policy related to infrastructure investments, tax and regulatory reform, and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

December 16, 2016

Trump Chooses David Friedman to be U.S. Ambassador to Israel

President-elect Trump has selected David Friedman, one of his campaign advisors, to be the American Ambassador to Israel.  Friedman, a real estate and bankruptcy lawyer by trade, holds hardline, conservative positions on Israel.  Friedman opposes an Israel/Palestine two-state solution and supports building Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. Trump has not yet made clear what his administration will pursue in regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to which Friedman will act toward as ambassador.

December 15, 2016

Ryan Zinke selected as Secretary of the Interior

President-elect Trump has offered the Secretary of the Interior position to freshman Representative Ryan Zinke (R-MT At-large District), who is an ex-Navy Seal Commander.  Zinke has a strong track record on conservation and public land issues, even breaking party lines and voting against the GOP’s FY16 budget because it sold public lands.  As Secretary, Zinke will manage approximately one-fifth of America’s public lands, including areas where development for drilling, mining, wind and solar development, and oil and gas pipelines are proposed.

December 14, 2016

Gov. Rick Perry to be Secretary of Energy

President-elect Trump has officially named former Texas Governor Rick Perry as his pick to lead the Department of Energy.  Although Perry attacked Trump early in the 2016 race, he also enthusiastically campaigned for Trump in the months leading up to the election.  During Perry’s own campaign for President in 2011, he promised to eliminate the Department of Energy.  Perry’s experience in energy-rich Texas could serve him well as the head of Department of Energy.  Additionally the DOE devotes a significant portion of its annual budget to the National Nuclear Security Administration, which maintains America’s nuclear weapons stockpile.

December 13, 2016

Rex Tillerson to Serve as Secretary of State

President-elect Trump chose Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon Mobil, as Secretary of State.  This pick could require lengthy Senate confirmation hearings, the result of which will put a focus on Exxon’s business dealings with Russia.  The U.S. has enacted sanctions against Russia which prevented Exxon from moving forward on billions of dollars in oil contracts.  There is bipartisan concern that Tillerson’s role at Exxon and the oil company’s link to Russia’s energy industry could create conflicts of interest.

December 12, 2016

Gary Cohn chosen as Director of the National Economic Council

On Monday, Trump named Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn as Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Director of the National Economic Council.  Cohn will advise Trump on foreign and domestic economic policy.  Cohn would coordinate initiatives with Trump appointments at the Treasury and Commerce Departments. Cohn, who is originally from Shaker Heights, Ohio, is the No. 2 executive at Goldman Sachs and the third Wall Street executive to join the Administration.

December 8, 2016

Scott Pruitt to serve as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency

President-elect Trump has selected Scott Pruitt, the Attorney General of Oklahoma, as his EPA Administrator.  Oklahoma is one of the country’s largest producers of oil and natural gas.   A notable climate-change skeptic, Pruitt has been particularly critical of the EPA and President Obama’s Clean Power Plan.  As the Attorney General of Oklahoma, Pruitt has sued the agency several times over power plant regulations.

Andrew Puzder to Lead the Department of Labor

President-elect Trump has named Andrew Puzder as his pick to head the Department of Labor.  Puzder is CEO of CKE Restaurants Inc., which owns Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s. Puzder, who has been advising Trump and was co-chairman of Trump’s California finance team, has been publicly critical of the Affordable Care Act and minimum wage increases.  In 2012 Puzder was an advisor and spokesman for Mitt Romney.

December 7, 2016

Terry Branstad to be American Ambassador to China

President-elect Trump has asked Terry Branstad, the Governor of Iowa, to represent the United States as ambassador to China.  While Trump has been critical of China’s economic relationship with the U.S., Branstad has been friendlier, even describing China’s President Xi Jinping as an “old friend.”  China, which is a large market for Iowa’s agriculture sector, has publicly embraced the choice.

Linda McMahon to Serve as Administrator of Small Business Administration

President-elect Trump has announced Linda McMahon to be the Administrator of the Small Business Administration.  McMahon is the former CEO of World Wresting Entertainment.  McMahon twice ran unsuccessfully for a U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut in 2010 and 2012.  Although McMahon was a large benefactor for the Trump’s presidential campaign, she was forthcoming with her criticism of the President-elect’s public comments toward women.

General John Kelly to Lead the Department of Homeland Security

President-elect Trump he has selected retired Marine General John Kelly to head the Department of Homeland Security.  Kelly, whose son was killed serving in Afghanistan, retired from his post as the head of U.S. Southern Command in January.  In that role, Kelly was in charge of the military jail at Guantánamo Bay.  His U.S. Southern Command position provided Kelly with exposure to the flow of immigrants and contraband through the Caribbean, which were prominent topics with Trump during his campaign.

December 5, 2016

Trump Nominates Ben Carson to Lead the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development

On December 5th, President-elect Trump selected retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson to lead HUD.  Although Dr. Carson has previously expressed his desire to work as an informal advisor to Trump’s administration, Carson said he would reconsider if Trump insisted on nominating him.  During Carson’s campaign, he stated that he was opposed to many government-run anti-poverty programs.  Instead, Carson has suggested an increase in more church-based and community initiatives to combat poverty.

December 2, 2016

Trump chooses General James “Mad Dog” Mattis for Secretary of Defense

On December 1st, President-elect Donald Trump held a victory rally in Cincinnati, which was his first stop on a post-election “thank-you” tour.  There he publicly stated his choice for the Secretary of Defense: retired Marine Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis.  Given the doctrine of civilian control of the military, federal law doesn’t allow for Defense Secretaries to have been on active duty within the previous seven years, so Congress will be required to pass legislation to waive the rules should the appointment go forward. In 1950, Congress granted a similar exemption for the appointment of General George Marshall.

November 30, 2016

Trump selects Steven Mnuchin as Secretary of the Treasury

On November 30th, President-elect Donald Trump selected Steven Mnuchin to serve as Secretary of the Department of the Treasury. Previously, Mnuchin has served as Chief Information Officer at Goldman Sachs.  He is currently the chief executive of Dune Capital Management. Mnuchin was also the finance director for Trump’s presidential campaign, where he helped develop Trump’s tax reform proposals.

Trump Announces Wilbur Ross as Secretary of Commerce

On November 30th, President-elect Trump announced his choice of 79-year-old billionaire Wilbur Ross as Secretary of the Department of Commerce.  Ross, who is a longtime associate of Trump, was a large donor to the Trump presidential campaign.  Ross’s experience involves buying and restructuring troubled companies to make them profitable again.  Ross was a former Democrat but has been a loyal Trump supporter who has been vocally skeptical about global trade agreements.

Trump Picks Todd Ricketts as Deputy Secretary of Commerce

On November 30th, President-elect Trump announced that Todd Ricketts would serve under Wilbur Ross as Deputy Secretary of Commerce.  Ross, who is the son of one of Trump’s top donors, is a co-owner of the Chicago Cubs.  Ricketts has managed the political spending of his billionaire family.

November 29, 2016

Trump Announces Seema Verma as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid

On November 29th, President-elect Trump nominated Seema Verma as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  Like Vice President-elect Mike Pence, Verma is a resident of Indiana.  Verma is the CEO of a health policy consulting firm and has advised several Republican governors expanding Medicaid under the ACA while adding conservative elements.

Trump Selects Elaine Chao as Secretary of Transportation

On November 29th, President-elect Trump picked Elaine Chao, wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and a former Labor Secretary, to be his choice for Transportation Secretary.  Trump has touted transportation and infrastructure improvements throughout the campaign, and Chao would have a very important role in helping pass an infrastructure bill in a Congress wary of budget deficits and the growing national debt.

November 25, 2016

Trump Chooses Deputy National Security Advisor and Assistant to the President and White House Counsel

On November 25th, President-elect Trump announced that Kathleen Troia “KT” McFarland as his selection to serve as Deputy National Security Advisor and Donald F. McGahn as Assistant to the President and White House Counsel.  McFarland is a Fox News national security analyst and host of its DEFCON program.  McGahn is a partner at Jones Day and a former commissioner and chairman of the FEC.

November 23, 2016

Trump Selects Secretary of the Department of Education

On November 23rd, President-elect Trump announced Betsy DeVos as his nominee for Secretary of the Department of Education.  DeVos is a former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party and currently chairs the American Federation for Children, which promotes “school choice” in the form of education vouchers and scholarship tax credits.  Her husband is Amway heir Dick DeVos Jr., who ran as a Republican candidate for governor of Michigan in 2006.

Trump Chooses U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations 

On November 23rd, President-elect chose South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley as his Ambassador to the U.N.  Gov. Haley spent time in the national spotlight recently when she ordered the Confederate flag be removed from the grounds of the state capitol following a racially motivated mass-shooting in Charleston at an African-American church.

November 18, 2016

Trump chooses Representative Mike Pompeo to Head the Central Intelligence Agency

On November 18th, President-elect Donald Trump selected Rep. Pompeo (R-KS04), a Tea-Party favorite, to head the CIA.  Pompeo, who is a member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, initially supported Sen. Marco Rubio’s bid for presidency until Trump became the GOP nominee.

Trump Selects Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn for National Security Advisor

On November 18th, retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn was offered the role of National Security Advisor.  Flynn, who was dismissed from his role as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency by President Obama in 2014, was a high-profile advisor to Trump during his campaign.  National Security Advisors are crucial White House advocates to all of the agencies and departments involved in national security.

Trump Announces Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General

On November 18th, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) was offered the position of Attorney General.  Sen. Sessions, who was the first senator to endorse President-elect Trump in February, is considered one of the most conservative members of the Senate. If he is confirmed, he will be an advocate for the Administration’s policy positions on immigration, terrorism, crime, drugs and guns.  Sen. Sessions has served many years on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and has served in the Senate since 1997.

November 11, 2016

Trump Replaces Chris Christie with Mike Pence as Chairman of Transition; Announces Stephen Bannon as Chief Strategist and Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff

On November 11th, Gov. Chris Christie has been replaced by Vice President-elect Mike Pence as the Chairman of Trump’s transition team.  This role is crucial in helping to select cabinet officials and important West Wing posts, and Pence’s establishment contacts will serve the Administration well.

Stephen Bannon was announced as Trump’s selection for Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to the President-elect.  Bannon is the chairman of the Breitbart News website, a very conservative online publication known for publishing contentious and provocative content.  Although the role of Chief Strategist isn’t well defined, the position typically involves directly advising the President’s daily decisions while keeping the long-term goals of the Administration in mind.

Trump also announced Reince Priebus to serve as White House Chief of Staff.  Priebus is the Chairman of the Republican National Committee.  In this role, Priebus will be responsible for helping to advise the President and shape the strategy of the White House, supervising White House staff and executing the vision of the President, and acting as a gate-keeper to the President.

Trump Selects Myron Ebell to Lead Environmental Protection Agency Transition

On November 11th, President-elect Trump announced Myron Ebell as his choice to lead the EPA transition team.  Ebell is the director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian advocacy group.  Ebell, who is a prominent climate-change skeptic, has been critical of Obama’s Waters of the U.S. rule (WOTUS).