President Donald Trump’s picks for his Cabinet and top leadership posts are an eclectic mix of early backers of his campaign, business executives and conservative activists.
Despite his promise to "drain the swamp," the names also show that he and his advisers are drawing heavily from a group of Washington insiders — including Reince Priebus, Newt Gingrich and Elaine Chao. There are also outsiders like Linda McMahon and Scott Pruitt.
National security adviser: Trump named Army Lt. Gen. Herbert Raymond McMaster as his new national security adviser on Feb. 20, 2017, a week after Michael Flynn was ousted from the post. The decorated officer, 54, a military strategist who has a reputation as an intellectual, wrote “Dereliction of Duty,” a 1997 book that was critical of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s approach to the Vietnam War. "I look forward to joining the national security team and doing everything that I can to advance and protect the interests of the American people,” McMaster said at the announcement at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
McMaster previously served as director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center and deputy commanding general of futures at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.
National security adviser: Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, 58, was tapped by Trump on Nov. 17, 2016, to serve as national security adviser. Flynn resigned after three and a half weeks on the job, on Feb. 13, 2017, amid reports that he discussed U.S. sanctions with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. before the inauguration. Trump asked for Flynn’s resignation because Flynn had misled Vice President Mike Pence about his late December call with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said.
In 2014 Flynn retired from the Army after two turbulent years as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency; he said he was forced out from that post. Regarded as one of the best intelligence officers of his generation, he also has been criticized for joining the calls to jail Hillary Clinton. Flynn has called "radical Islam" an existential threat to the United States.
Secretary of labor: Alexander Acosta, the dean of the Florida International University College of Law, was nominated by Trump as his second choice for secretary of labor on Feb. 16, 2017. Acosta was an assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s civil rights division for two years and as U.S. attorney in Miami for three years during George W. Bush administration. "He has a law degree from Harvard Law School, was a great student; former clerk for [Supreme Court] Justice Samuel Alito," Trump said of his pick. The president's first nominee for the post, Andrew Puzder, withdrew the day before.
Secretary of labor: Trump named Andrew Puzder as his choice for secretary of labor on Dec. 8, 2016. Puzder, one of Trump's earliest campaign financiers, heads CKE Restaurants Holdings, the parent company of Carl's Jr., Hardee's and other chains. Puzder became the first of Trump's Cabinet choices to not win approval as he withdrew his nomination on Feb. 15, 2017, amid Republican concerns that he did not have the Senate votes he needed to be confirmed.
Puzder's selection was cheered by some business groups, but drew the ire of workers' rights organizations and labor unions. His net worth is $45 million, Forbes reported in 2016.
Secretary of agriculture: Trump chose Sonny Perdue, a farmer's son who built businesses in grain trading and trucking before becoming the first Republican governor of Georgia since Reconstruction, to lead the Department of Agriculture on Jan. 19, 2017. Perdue, 70, who comes from the small city of Bonaire in rural central Georgia, would be the first Southerner in the post in more than two decades. He is not related to or affiliated with the food company Perdue or the poultry producer Perdue Farms.
Secretary of the interior: Trump named Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke to lead the Department of the Interior on Dec. 15, 2016. Zinke, 55, was an early Trump supporter. He is a former Navy SEAL. The Republican favors increased drilling and mining on public lands. Zinke has expressed skepticism about the urgency of climate change — but during his confirmation hearing on Jan. 17, 2017, he rejected Trump's claim that climate change is a hoax. "The climate is changing; man is an influence," Zinke said. "I think where there's debate is what that influence is and what can we do about it." Zinke's net worth is $800,000, Forbes reported in 2016.
Secretary of defense: Trump named retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis as his choice to lead the Defense Department on Dec. 6, 2016. On Jan. 12 and Jan. 13, 2017, the Senate and House passed a law granting Mattis a waiver to serve in the position, going around a requirement that defense secretaries be out of uniform for at least seven years, Tribune News Service reported. He was confirmed by the Senate on Jan. 20, 2017. Trump praised Mattis, whose nickname is "Mad Dog Mattis," as "very impressive" and "a true general's general" the day after they met in Bedminster, N.J., on Nov. 19, 2016. The former war commander has been critical of some Obama administration policies. Mattis called Russia the nation's "principal threat" and accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of trying to "break" NATO at his confirmation hearing on Jan. 12. He also said the U.S. should try to engage and work with the Russian leader, as Trump has said. Mattis' net worth is $5 million, Forbes reported in 2016.
Cybersecurity adviser: Trump tapped former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, 72, to lead a cybersecurity task force that seeks to improve the nation’s defenses against major hacking threats. The Trump transition team announced the selection on Jan. 12, 2017. "We've let our defenses fall behind," Giuliani said. "Our offense is way ahead of our defense."
Giuliani, who campaigned for Trump, is a longtime political figure often credited with dramatic decreases in crime while he was mayor. He led NYC after the 9/11 attacks. He also has been criticized for allowing broad spying on mosques as mayor. As a lawyer, he has represented controversial clients like big pharmaceutical companies accused of misleading business practices. Giuliani, who has little foreign policy experience, was previously considered for secretary of state.
Senior adviser: The Trump transition team announced his appointment of son-in-law Jared Kushner for the role of an unpaid senior adviser on Jan. 9, 2017. Kushner, 36, the husband of Trump’s daughter Ivanka, was a trusted adviser to Donald Trump during his campaign. The appointment will test the reach of federal anti-nepotism laws; Trump's advisers have argued that those rules do not apply to the White House. Kushner, who is a successful real estate developer himself, plans to step down from his roles as CEO of Kushner Companies and publisher of the New York Observer, and will divest from other real estate holdings to avoid any potential conflicts of interest, his attorneys said.
Secretary of state: Trump named Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his nominee for the nation's top diplomat on Dec. 13, 2016. Barraged by questions about Russia at his confirmation hearing on Jan. 11, 2017, Tillerson promised a far more muscular approach toward the Kremlin, abandoning much of Trump's emphasis on improving ties between the United States and Russia.
Tillerson, who is a Russian Order of Friendship recipient, called the country a "danger" to the United States, and said he would keep U.S. sanctions in place and consider new penalties related to Russian meddling in the presidential election. Tillerson stepped down as the oil giant's CEO at the end of 2016. His net worth is $325 million, Forbes reported in 2016.
Secretary of veterans affairs: David Shulkin could have the rare distinction of being an ex-Obama administration official serving in the Trump administration. Trump announced on Jan. 11, 2017, that he selected Shulkin to lead the beleaguered Department of Veterans Affairs; currently he is the undersecretary of health there. The choice signals a more modest approach to change at the VA after Trump repeatedly pledged an overhaul. He described it as "the most corrupt agency" and "probably the most incompetently run agency" during his campaign.
National intelligence director: On Jan. 7, 2017, President-elect Donald Trump said he'd nominate former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats as national intelligence director.
Trump said in a statement that Coats — a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee before retiring from Congress last year — will lead the new administration's "ceaseless vigilance against those who seek to do us harm." The post requires Senate confirmation.
Counselor to the president: Kellyanne Conway, the respected Republican pollster who joined Trump's team as his third campaign manager and helped him win in November, was named as his White House counselor on Dec. 22, 2016. "She is a tireless and tenacious advocate of my agenda and has amazing insights on how to effectively communicate our message," Trump said in a statement. He has a strong rapport with Conway, who was seen as a positive influence on his often chaotic campaign.
Press secretary: Trump named Republican National Committee communications director Sean Spicer as his press secretary on Dec. 22, 2016. Spicer joined the RNC in 2011, adding the title of chief strategist in 2015. His elevation to the White House was championed by incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus, his longtime ally at the RNC.
Secretary of energy: Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry was named by Trump to lead the Department of Energy on Dec. 14, 2016. Perry led the Lone Star State through "a sustained period of economic growth and prosperity" by developing its energy resources and infrastructure, Trump said in a statement. Perry infamously forgot the Department of Energy was the third federal agency he wanted to eliminate during a 2011 presidential debate. He called Trump a "cancer to conservatism" during his second presidential campaign, before dropping out in September 2015. Perry's net worth is $2 million, Forbes reported in 2016.
Secretary of homeland security: Retired Marine Gen. John Kelly is Trump's pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security, people close to the transition team said on Dec. 7, 2016. He was confirmed by the Senate on Jan. 20, 2017. Kelly, a four-star military officer, served three tours in Iraq. He retired in 2016 after wrapping up a final, three-year post as head of U.S. Southern Command, which included oversight of the Guantanamo Bay detention center. His son, Marine 1st Lt. Robert Kelly, was killed in November 2010 in Afghanistan. John Kelly is the highest-ranking officer to lose a child in combat in Afghanistan or Iraq. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said she hopes "that Gen. Kelly is willing to stand up for facts, families and the Constitution." Kelly's net worth is $4 million, Forbes reported in 2016.
Administrator of the Small Business Administration: Former World Wrestling Entertainment executive Linda McMahon was chosen as the head of the Small Business Administration on Dec. 7, 2016. In a statement announcing McMahon for the position, Trump said she is "one of the country's top female executives advising businesses around the globe."
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt was picked to lead the EPA on Dec. 7, 2016. The selection of Pruitt, who has been a climate-change denier whose policies have helped fossil fuel companies, has drawn harsh questioning and criticism by Democrats. “I do not believe climate change is a hoax," Pruitt said at his confirmation hearing on Jan. 18, 2017, breaking with the president-elect and his own previous statements. However, he hedged on the role of human activity in creating climate change.
Secretary of the Treasury: Steven Mnuchin, 53, who was Trump's campaign finance chairman, was announced as his selection for Treasury secretary on Nov. 30, 2016. Mnuchin is a former Goldman Sachs partner and current CEO of Dune Capital Management. Trump has indicated that he would prefer candidates with business backgrounds, and Mnuchin fits the bill despite the seeming contradiction with the president-elect’s populist message during the campaign. Mnuchin is shown arriving with his fiancee, actress Louise Linton at the premiere of Warner Brothers' "Jupiter Ascending" in Hollywood on Feb. 2, 2015. Mnuchin's net worth is $300 million, Forbes reported in 2016.
Secretary of health and human services: Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), an orthopedic surgeon-turned-congressman who is a leading critic of President Barack Obama's signature health care law, is Trump's choice to run the Department of Health and Human Services. Trump has vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare." Price, 62, carries himself with a surgeon's confidence and is buttoned down and unfailingly polite, but he is not shy about swinging his elbows in the heat of debate. He is deeply knowledgable about health policy, and is one of very few Republicans to actually propose a replacement for Obamacare. Price's net worth is $10 million, Forbes reported in 2016.
Transportation secretary: Former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao was named as Trump's pick to head the Department of Transportation on Nov. 29, 2016. Chao, 63, was the first Asian-American woman to hold a Cabinet position when she led the Department of Labor under President George W. Bush. She was also deputy secretary of transportation under President George H.W. Bush. Chao is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). She graduated from Syosset High School in 1971. Chao's net worth is $24 million, Forbes reported in 2016.
U.S. ambassador to the United Nations: South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who opposed Donald Trump in the Republican presidential primary, said in a statement on Nov. 23, 2016, that she is accepting the post of Trump's United Nations ambassador out of a "sense of duty." The second-term governor endorsed and campaigned with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio before South Carolina's first-in-the-South presidential primary, and later supported Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and continued to criticize Trump. But she told reporters at the Republican Governors Association meeting in Orlando, Fla., on Nov. 15, 2016, that she is "just giddy" about the coming Trump administration, The Washington Post reported. "I've never known what it's like to have a Republican president," said Haley, who is the daughter of Indian immigrants. "I can tell you, the last six years, Washington was the hardest part of my job."
Chief of staff: Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, 44, was named Trump's White House chief of staff on Nov. 13, 2016. The consummate political insider, who became a close confidant in the last months of Trump's campaign, may help repair the president-elect's relationships with party leaders and lawmakers. Priebus has led the RNC since 2011.
Chief strategist and senior counselor: Stephen Bannon was named to these top roles on Nov. 13, 2016. Bannon, the executive chairman of conservative news outlet Breitbart News, was Trump's campaign CEO in the final three months of the race. Breitbart News has been regarded as a leading platform for the “alt-right” movement, which critics say comprises white supremacists and other racist and nationalist groups.
Attorney general: Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), 69, was announced as Trump's pick for attorney general on Nov. 18, 2016. Sessions is a former federal prosecutor who also would bring extensive legislative experience to the job. He once voted against banning U.S. government and military torture practices and has opposed hate crime legislation. Sessions has apologized several times in his political career for racist and other offensive remarks. Sessions' net worth is $6 million, Forbes reported in 2016.
Secretary of education: Betsy DeVos is "a brilliant and passionate education advocate," Trump said as he named her for the top education job in a statement on Nov. 23, 2016. His pick faces criticism from conservatives who warned that DeVos previously supported Common Core, which Trump railed against during the campaign. The longtime advocate for charter schools and school vouchers leads American Federation for Children. DeVos, who is from Michigan, called the status quo in education unacceptable, saying in a statement, "Together, we can work to make transformational change that ensures every student in America has the opportunity to fulfill his or her highest potential." DeVos' net worth is $1.25 billion, Forbes reported in 2016.
CIA director: Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) has been selected by Trump to lead the CIA as its director, an official said on Nov. 18, 2016. Pompeo is a conservative Republican and a fierce critic of President Barack Obama's nuclear deal with Iran.
Commerce secretary: Wilbur Ross, 78, a billionaire investor called the "king of bankruptcy," was announced as Trump's choice to lead the Department of Commerce on Nov. 30, 2016. Ross made his fortune buying distressed industrial companies and quickly reselling them for big profits, The Washington Post reported. Ross helped craft Trump's tax cut and infrastructure plans. His art collection, worth more than $100 million, includes works by the noted Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte. Ross' net worth is $2.5 billion, Forbes reported in 2016.
Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development: Trump named former 2016 GOP primary rival Ben Carson, 65, as his choice for the top post at HUD on Dec. 5, 2016. Carson, who previously said he was not interested in serving in Trump's administration, is the retired director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland. The Republican candidate was popular among evangelical conservative voters and has been a steady Trump backer since he endorsed him in May. He also made headlines for some of his theories, including one that the Egyptian pyramids were granaries and not burial tombs. Carson's net worth is $29 million, Forbes reported in 2016.
Strategic planning: Newt Gingrich, 73, an early and important supporter of Trump’s campaign, said Nov. 17, 2016, that he would not serve in his administration in an official role. “I intend to be focused on strategic planning," Gingrich said. He told reporters Monday, Nov. 21, 2016, that he is interested in being a "senior planner" to coordinate Republicans' long-term political efforts. Gingrich served as speaker of the House from 1995 to 1999 and ran for president in 2012. Like Trump, he has often spoken of creating a new Republican Party. He has been a strong supporter of Trump’s proposals for combating terrorism, and has drawn criticism for calling for a test for Muslims entering the United States.