Donald Trump's cabinet so far: Wealthy, white and war-tested

US President-elect Donald Trump
Four billionaires, three generals, a handful of women and nothing but conservatives: President-elect Donald Trump is building a super-rich, unorthodox and largely white inner circle to run the United States from January 20.

They include a retired general whose salty language and warrior's determination earned him the nickname "Mad Dog"; a professional-wrestling magnate whose husband was once body-slammed by Trump himself; and the wife of the most powerful member of the US Senate.

Trump has yet to announce his picks for some key posts -- most notably secretary of state -- but several of his choices strongly suggest he is prepared to upset the political order that has dominated Washington for the last eight years.

Many incoming cabinet members have railed against the worker protections and environmental and corporate regulations that President Barack Obama has enacted.

Of the 13 people so far chosen for his cabinet or for cabinet-rank positions, most are white males, like his base supporters. Three are women, two are Asian-American, one is black, and none are Hispanic.

Trump has offered cabinet posts to several billionaires and multi-millionaires, sending a strong signal that he is happy with Wall Street exerting a renewed influence over the US economy.

They include Wilbur Ross, a private equity financier who made a fortune buying bankrupt companies and flipping them for huge profits, for secretary of commerce.

Future education secretary Betsy DeVos is a megadonor who has long promoted taxpayer-funded alternatives to public schools, while Linda McMahon, tapped to head the Small Business Administration, helped grow her husband's WWE wrestling promotion operation into a global phenomenon.

A fourth billionaire in Trump's inner circle, Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts, will serve as deputy secretary of commerce.

Multi-millionaire Steven Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs partner who has funded Hollywood blockbusters, is the soon-to-be Treasury secretary, while the wealthy fast food executive Andrew Puzder has been picked as secretary of labor.

Trump defended his decision to put "some of the most successful people in the world" into his cabinet.

"One newspaper criticized me: why can't they have people of modest means?" Trump told supporters in Iowa on Friday.

"Because I want people that made a fortune! Because now they're negotiating with you, okay?"

The military men he is bringing into the cabinet indeed have vast experience, which could help a political neophyte like Trump find his footing on the international stage.

But with three retired generals already chosen for his cabinet or inner circle, and a fourth -- David Petraeus -- in the running for secretary of state, Trump is being criticised for militarising an executive branch that has prided itself on civilian leadership.

This week Trump reportedly decided on retired four-star Marine general John Kelly to head the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees several critical areas including immigration and border control -- signature issues for Trump.

Earlier he named outspoken retired Marine general James Mattis as defence secretary, a move that would require Congress to pass a waiver to a law that requires officers to be out of the military for seven years before taking up cabinet posts. Mattis, who commanded US forces in Afghanistan, retired in 2013.

Trump's national security advisor will be retired general Michael Flynn, a former military intelligence chief who sees militant Islam as the biggest threat to global stability.

Trump sees top military veterans as "straight talking" advisors well-placed to streamline government operations, improve efficiency and multitask on problems, Timothy Hagle, who teaches political science at Iowa University, told AFP.


Dear Reader,


Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel