"I love all people -- rich or poor -- but in those particular positions, I just don't want a poor person," he said at a rally
in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "Does that make sense? If you insist, I'll do it -- but I like it better this way."
Trump named billionaire Wilbur Ross, who has made a fortune cobbling together dying companies, as his commerce secretary, and Todd Ricketts, part of the billionaire family that owns the Chicago Cubs, as deputy commerce secretary.
The Cabinet also includes billionaire Betsy DeVos as his pick for education secretary and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is a former Goldman Sachs executive.
"Somebody said, 'Why'd you appoint rich person to be in charge of the economy,'" said Trump, a billionaire himself
. "I said, 'Because that's the kind of thinking we want.'"
"They're representing the country. They don't want the money. They're representing the country. They had to give up a lot to take these jobs. They gave up a lot," he said.
Trump pointed out that Ross and his chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs president, were at the rally. Trump frequently bashed the investment bank on the campaign trail for having too much influence in politics and for paying Democratic rival Hillary Clinton hundreds of thousands for private speeches.
"When you get the president of Goldman Sachs, smart," Trump said. "Having him represent us, he went from massive paydays to peanuts."
Cohn walked away
from Goldman with roughly $285 million, minus a portion the firm withheld so that he can pay taxes.
Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, rejected Trump's logic about rich people running the economy.
"Being rich doesn't mean that you have wisdom. It doesn't mean that you have compassion. It doesn't mean you understand the lives that most Americans are living," Markey said on CNN's "Newsroom" Thursday morning.
CORRECTION: This story's headline has been updated to more accurately reflect Trump's comments.