Trump's cabinet nominees

By CNN Staff

Updated March 02, 2017

President-elect Trump has about 4,000 government positions to fill, including some of the most important posts in the US government. He has focused on people with business, instead of government experience as he aims to make good on his promise to shake up Washington. But he has also picked a less racially diverse Cabinet than his predecessors. See the nominees below.

Secretary of Defense

Gen. James Mattis

Retired Marine general


A key figure in the Iraq war, Gen. James Mattis led troops and ultimately oversaw US Central Command. In Gen. James Mattis, Trump has a candidate who was held in high regard throughout the ranks of the Marine Corps during his 44 years of service. A seasoned combat commander, he led a task force into southern Afghanistan in 2001 and a Marine division at the time of the Iraq invasion in 2003. The retired four-star general, who was known as "Mad Dog," was lauded for his leadership of Marines in the 2004 Battle of Falluja in Iraq -- one of the bloodiest of the war. But he attracted controversy in 2005 when he said "it's fun to shoot some people" while addressing service members in San Diego. He ultimately rose to oversee US Central Command. Mattis would require a waiver from Congress to be eligible for the position -- servicemembers must usually wait seven years before being eligible. With Republicans in control on Capitol Hill and the general praise for the general's career, a waiver would likely be a formality to obtain.

Past controversy: "It's fun to shoot some people," he once said.

Key conversation: He may have already changed Trump's mind about waterboarding.

Nickname: He got his nickname after the battle of Fallujah and kept it for his plain spoken nature.

Attorney General

Jeff Sessions

US Senator from Alabama


Sen. Jeff Sessions has represented Alabama in the US Senate since 1997. He was the first sitting senator to endorse Trump's presidential campaign and was a main surrogate for him on the campaign trail. Sessions was nominated to be a federal judge earlier in his career, but could not get past Senate confirmation after allegations, which he denied, that he had made racist comments. He's been a key opponent of comprehensive immigration reform on Capitol Hill. Trump offered Sessions the job of attorney general on November 18.

In-depth: Transcripts, interviews shed light on allegations of racism against Sessions

Impact: How Jeff Sessions could change the Justice Department

Secretary of the Treasury

Steven Mnuchin

Co-chairman and CEO of Dune Capital Management


Steven Mnuchin, who worked at Goldman Sachs for 17 years, joined the Trump campaign as finance chairman in May. These days Mnuchin is a Hollywood producer, putting out films including this past summer's "Suicide Squad," as well as "American Sniper" and "The Lego Movie." His latest film, due in theaters this month, is called "Rules Don't Apply." Mnuchin has contributed to both Republican and Democratic candidates, including Hillary Clinton's Senate campaigns and 2008 presidential run. He gave to Barack Obama's Senate and presidential campaigns and to Charles Schumer, the new Democratic leader in the Senate. Mnuchin also worked with George Soros, the billionaire financier who has bankrolled liberal candidates and causes -- and who was depicted as a villain in Trump's last campaign ad. In 2009, during the real estate collapse, Mnuchin led a group that bought failed subprime lender IndyMac for pennies on the dollar.

Explained: Who is Steven Mnuchin? The US economy as explained by GIFs from Steve Mnuchin's movies

Promised: Mnuchin pledges biggest tax cuts since Reagan

Controversy: He made billions off the 2008 housing crisis

Chief of Staff

Reince Priebus

Republican National Committee chairman


Reince Priebus has served as director of the Republican National Committee since 2011. Previously, he served as the committee's general counsel. Priebus has the backing of establishment Republicans like House Speaker Paul Ryan, a fellow Wisconsinite, and Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader. He could help Trump negotiate with Congress. His appointment was reported November 13.

Secretary of Commerce

Wilbur Ross



Wilbur Ross fits the mold of the type of administration officials he pledged to appoint during the campaign: businessmen with long resumes and billions in their bank accounts, sitting at the ready to negotiate for U.S. Interests around the world. Ross, 78, had been a vocal Trump supporter before the election, citing the need for a "more radical, new approach to government" that would help middle class and lower middle class Americans.

Ross, chairman of WL Ross & Co., has made a career of resurrecting dying companies. Fittingly, some of Ross's biggest hits have been in the same demoralized industries that Trump wants to revive: steel and coal. For instance, Ross's firm scored huge returns last decade by cobbling together bankrupt steel makers including Bethlehem Steel to form International Steel Group. Ross then flipped the conglomerate in a $4.5 billion sale two years later.

Collector: He's worth an estimated $3 billion and has an impressive art collection worth a reported $150 million.

Philosophy: Like Trump, who famously called himself the "king of debt," Ross is not afraid to borrow money and used debt to finance his acquisitions, a trend known as leveraged buyouts.

Priority: NAFTA re-negotiation could start day one

Secretary of Labor

Andrew Puzder

CEO of CKE Restaurants


The head of the Carl's Jr. and Hardee's fast food restaurants, Andrew Puzder, 66, is a vocal critic of government regulation and opposes a $15 minimum wage, broader overtime pay and the Affordable Care Act. The Labor Department oversees America's job market, regulates the workplace, and produces statistics like the unemployment rate that underpin economic policy. Puzder has been the CEO of CKE Restaurants since 2000. He's credited with turning around the Hardee's brand, but his company has been accused of labor violations and fielded complaints about sexist commercials. His nomination comes at a time when restaurants and other low-wage industries are feeling pressure to increase pay. Puzder would likely resist those pressures as Labor secretary.


Related: Puzder out as Labor nominee 

Alexander Acosta

Dean of the Florida International University School of Law


Alexander Acosta's nomination comes one day after Andy Puzder, Trump's first pick to lead the department, withdrew his nomination. Acosta, who is currently the dean of the Florida International University School of Law, is a former member of the National Labor Relations Board, a position he was nominated to by former President George W. Bush. If confirmed, Acosta -- the son of Cuban immigrants - would be the first Hispanic member of Trump's Cabinet. He clerked for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito when he sat on the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and practiced law at Kirkland & Ellis in Washington.

Related: Trump taps Acosta after Puzder drops out

Secretary of Education

Betsy DeVos

Republican donor, school choice activist


Betsy DeVos chairs the American Federation for Children, a group that promotes charter school education. She also served on the board of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a group led by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush -- one of Trump's GOP primary opponents -- which promoted both school choice and the Common Core education standards that Trump opposes. 

Related: Read more about Betsy DeVos 


Secretary of Health and Human Services

Tom Price

Chairman, House Budget Committee


One of Tom Price's top priorities as health secretary would be to dismantle the sweeping health reform law that his two predecessors spent six years implementing. Price, an orthopedic surgeon who chairs the House Budget Committee, has long decried Obamacare as a threat to quality and affordable health care. Before entering politics, Price spent nearly 20 years in private practice as an orthopedic surgeon. He also served as medical director of the orthopedic clinic at Grady Memorial Hospital and as an assistant professor at Emory University's School of Medicine. Price then spent four terms in the Georgia State Senate. In 2004, he was elected to the House of Representatives. He was named Budget Committee chair in 2015.

Price has authored several iterations of an Obamacare replacement plan, which bears many similarities to Trump's vision for health care reform and to House Speaker Paul Ryan's overhaul proposal. Price's most recent bill, the Empowering Patients First Act of 2015, calls for giving refundable tax credits to those who buy policies in the individual market. The credits would be adjusted by age, ranging from $1,200 for those age 18 to 35 to $3,000 for those age 50 and up.

The plan would also offers more incentives for Americans to use Health Savings Accounts, including a one-time $1,000 tax credit for making contributions. It caps the tax exclusion on employer-sponsored plans at $20,000 for family coverage, and it allows insurers to sell coverage across state lines. Price's bill also pushes states to create high-risk pools to insure those rejected by carriers on the individual market -- usually those who have costly, pre-existing conditions.

Also, it limits using federal funds to pay for abortions and protects health care providers who don't want to perform abortions for religious reasons.

Agenda: How Price could replace Obamacare

Past: Orthopedic surgeon has written several Obamacare alternative plans

National Security Advisor

Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster

Military officer


After Michael Flynn was asked to resign and retired Vice Adm. Robert Harward turned the job down, President Trump turned to another career military officer, but this time an officer still on active duty. McMaster wrote a respected book on leadership failures that led to the Vietnam war and has on-the-ground experience in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Related: Trump taps Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster for National Security Adviser


Michael Flynn

Retired US Army Lieutenant General


Michael Flynn served as Trump's National Security Advisor for less than a month. He resigned Feb. 13 after it became clear he had talked to the Russian ambassador to the US about sanctions imposed against Russians by the Obama administration before Trump was sowrn into office. Flynn had not told other members of the Trump administration he discussed the sanctions with the Russian ambassador.


Related: Flynn resigns amid scandal

Communications Director

Mike Dubke

Crossroads Media founder


The appointment of Crossroads Media founder Mike Dubke could rankle some inside the White House, with longtime Trump loyalists inside and outside the West Wing saying they would have preferred a veteran from the campaign. "Dubke and his Crossroads friends did everything they could to kill the Trump movement and failed," one loyalist said. Former Trump transition spokesman Jason Miller was originally tapped to serve as communications director for the White House, but Miller stepped aside before Inauguration Day to spend more time with his family. Dubke founded Crossroads Media in 2001 and brought it to a level of national prominence during the 2008 presidential campaign. It is "the premier Republican media services firm," according to a description on its website. And Dubke has "a unique understanding of the relationship between political strategy and public policy development," the website explains.



Press Secretary

Sean Spicer

Chief Strategist and Communications Director at the Republican National Committee


Sean Spicer serves as chief strategist and communications director at the Republican National Committee, where he's worked since 2011. Previously, he worked as the assistant US trade representative for media.

Secretary of State

Rex Tillerson

Exxon CEO


Trump is reportedly intrigued by the oil man's view of the world. "He is much more than a business executive. He is a world class player. He is in charge of, I guess, the largest company in the world," Trump told Fox News' Chris Wallace of Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson. "And to me, a great advantage is that he knows many of the players. And he knows them well." How well Tillerson knows some of the players could be an issue, even among Republicans, on Capitol Hill. "He does massive deals in Russia. He does massive deals -- for the company, not for himself, for the company," the Trump has said. As head of the world's most valuable oil company, Tillerson could be a controversial pick due to concerns about climate change and his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. In 2011, Exxon signed a deal with Russian oil giant Rosneft to provide access to lucrative oil resources in the Arctic. Rosneft's largest shareholder is the Russian government. Putin attended the Exxon signing ceremony and later awarded Tillerson the country's Order of Friendship.

Friend of Russia: Behind the deep ties between Exxon CEO Tillerson and Russia

Confirmation battle: Trump could face Capitol Hill showdown over CEO


Secretary of Homeland Security

Gen. John Kelly, retired

Former Marine general


The former head of U.S. Southern Command, retired Gen. John Kelly was previously responsible for managing security threats posed by criminal drug networks based in south and central America -- an issue that Trump highlighted in his campaign. Kelly also oversaw operations at the controversial Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba. The outspoken general clashed with the Obama administration's push to close the facility, and told the Military Times in an interview that "there are no innocent men down there."

Kelly served over 40 years in the Marine Corps, moving steadily through the ranks since enlisting in 1970, and taking over as commander of U.S. Southern Command in 2012. He is also a Gold Star father, having lost his eldest son, Marine 1st Lt. Robert Kelly, in combat in Afghanistan in 2010.

Kelly -- who would likely play a significant role in the planning and implementation of Trump's proposed border wall as the director of Homeland Security -- has publicly discussed potential threats along the southern border of the U.S. In a March 2015 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Kelly talked about "the relative ease with which human smugglers moved tens of thousands of people to our nation's doorstep" and cautioned that "these smuggling routes are a potential vulnerability to our homeland."

In the same testimony, Kelly warned against complacency toward the spread of human smugglers and drug traffickers in south and central America. "Unless confronted by an immediate, visible or uncomfortable crisis, our nation's tendency is to take the security of the Western Hemisphere for granted. I believe this is a mistake," Kelly told the panel.

Military theme: Trump interviews generals

Director of National Intelligence

Dan Coats

Retired senator from Indiana


Dan Coats just retired from the Senate after a comeback. He's served on both the defense and intelligence committees. He'll assume a role that some in the Trump administration want to de-emphasize. The Director of National Intelligence is a position that was created after 9/11 to see the entire landscape of intelligence and speak to the administration and to Congress for the 16 front-line intelligence agencies. Trump himself has expressed skepticism about the intelligence community's insistence that the Russian government hacked Democrats during the presidential election.

Coats was elected to the Senate in 2010, returning to the legislative body 11 years after leaving the first time. He was appointed to the Senate in 1989 when then-Sen. Dan Quayle became Vice President and was reelected to a full term in 1992.

Between his Senate terms, Coats served as U.S. ambassador to Germany.

RELATED: Trump team looking at ways to limit power of DNI, sources say

Secretary of Energy

Rick Perry

Former Governor of Texas


Rick Perry was among the first 2016 Republicans to criticize Trump, but he dropped out of the race early and was also among the first former rivals to endorse him. As longest-serving governor of the oil state of Texas -- Perry left office 2015 -- he has a natural interest in the Department of Energy. But when he ran for president in 2012, it was one of the three departments Perry said he'd eliminate from the federal government. Actually, in a bit of irony, the Department of Energy was the department he forgot he'd want to eliminate during a fateful 2011 debate performance. "Oops," he said at the mistake, which likely ended his presidential aspirations

Rewind: Rick Perry endorses Trump for President

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

Ben Carson

Former presidential candidate, retired surgeon


Ben Carson was a onetime rival turned campaign surrogate for Trump. The retired brain surgeon was also eyed as a potential Health and Education secretary. Like Trump, Carson has never had a government position before and he ran for president largely on his qualifications as a surgeon and his up-from-the-bootstraps life story. A onetime leader in the GOP primary polls, Carson clashed with Trump before ultimately endorsing him.

Related: Read more about Ben Carson

Secretary of Transportation

Elaine Chao

Former Labor Secretary


She has a long history in Washington and Elaine Chao made history as the first woman of Asian descent in a presidential Cabinet when she became President George W. Bush's labor secretary. She has also been CEO of the United Way and director of the Peace Corps. Chao, who comes from a wealthy shipping family, immigrated to the US from Taiwan at 8. Before her work in government, Chao worked at banks in San Francisco and New York. She is also one half of one of the most powerful couples in Washington; her husband is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Related: Trump picks Elaine Chao

Related: Cabinet picks pull from DC establishment

Secretary of Interior

Ryan Zinke

Montana congressman


Zinke, a 55-year-old ex-Navy SEAL commander and recipient of two Bronze Stars for combat missions in Iraq, was a Trump supporter. He’s also faced criticism from environmental and conservation groups since joining the House in 2015. In the House, Zinke was a member of the Armed Services and Natural Resources committees.  "President-elect Donald Trump and I had a very positive meeting where we discussed a wide range of Montana priorities," Zinke told The Billings Gazette in a statement afterward. "We are both very hopeful for the future." His selection is major political break for Democrats. Zinke was the top Republican prospect to challenge Minnesota Sen. Jon Tester in 2018 -- and his removal from the race would substantially improve Democrats’ chances of holding the seat in the midterms.




Secretary of Agriculture

Sonny Perdue

Former governor of Georgia


He was the first Republican governor since reconstruction when he won election to his first of two terms in 2003. A veterninarian by trade, Perdue once prayed for rain on the statehouse steps during a drought in 2007. He will have one very familiar face on the Senate Agriculture Committee; his cousin David is a current senator from Georgia.

Trump's final Cabinet nominee is Sonny Perdue

Secretary of Veterans Affairs

David Shulkin

VA undersecretary for health


David Shulkin is the VA's current undersecretary for health, a position in which he oversaw more than 1,700 health care sites across the United States. Before joining the VA, Shulkin was president and CEO of the Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City and president of the Morristown Medical Center. He was also the chief medical officer of the University of Pennsylvania Health System. This was a hard post for Trump to fill. He told reporters his team interviewed more than 100 people for the role.

Read more about Trump's VA pick

Senior advisers

Stephen Bannon

Donald Trump campaign CEO


Stephen Bannon went on leave from his position as executive chairman of Breitbart News in August 2016 to helm Donald Trump's presidential campaign. He's a controversial figure in the media world since Breitbart has been a key part of the "alt-right" movement that trades in conspriacy theories like questioning Hillary Clinton's health. They have also been major proponents of Trump's border wall proposal. Groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League have argued he should not be included in the White House staff.

Related: Read more about  Steve Bannon

Related: White Nationalists see advocate in Steve Bannon

Jared Kushner

Real estate developer, newspaper owner, husband of Ivanka


Jared Kushner helped take charge of Trump's presidential campaign and has been one of his top advisers. He's also Trump's son-in-law and has three children with his wife, Ivanka. Kushner is wealthy in his own right and runs his own family's real estate development business. He also owns the New York Observer, a newspaper. Kushner's father, Charles, a Democrat, served jailtime for making illegal campaign contributions. It was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, now a Trump adviser, who prosecuted Kushner's father. There are federal laws against the employment of family members, so it could Kushner's role could test those rules. 

Roles for Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner come into focus

Kushner explains his role in Trump victory

Director, Office of Management and Budget (OMB)

Mick Mulvaney

Congressman from South Carolina


Mulvaney, if confirmed by the Senate, would manage the White House's annual proposed budget, program and policies. The director also sets up the federal government's purchase of goods and services, called procurement, and oversees the performance review for government agencies and federal employees.

Mulvaney called the appointment a "great honor."

"The Trump administration will restore budgetary and fiscal sanity back in Washington after eight years of an out-of-control, tax and spend financial agenda, and will work with Congress to create policies that will be friendly to American workers and businesses," Mulvaney said in a statement. Mulvaney is a member of the House Financial Services Committee and is a co-founder of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative lawmakers who have clashed with party leadership.

He didn't initially support Trump for president -- he first endorsed Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul during the primaries. But he endorsed Trump a few hours after House Speaker Paul Ryan did in June, saying at a candidates' forum in Gaffney, South Carolina, that Trump could advance the Republican agenda. Mulvaney also told reporters in May that the one issue he wants Trump to detail his plans on is federal spending and debt.

Related: Trump taps conservative Mulvaney to head OMB

Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency

Scott Pruitt

Oklahoma attorney general


Scott Pruitt is a fierce EPA critic -- Pruitt had sued the agency over its regulations of power plants. Pruitt is a prominent denier of climate science, writing in the National Review in May that "the debate is far from settled" over whether human activity has contributed to the warming of the earth.

CIA Director

Mike Pompeo

Congressman from Kansas


A member of the Tea Party class of 2010, Pompeo also has establishment bona fides; he graduated from West Point and Harvard Law School. He formed an aerospace company, which he since sold. He served ont he special House committee tasked with investigating Hillary Clinton and the attacks on Benghazi. Trump offered Pompeo the position of CIA Director November 18.

UN Ambassador

Nikki Haley

Governor of South Carolina


She was sharply critical of Trump's rhetoric during the GOP primary, but Nikki Haley is an important voice in the GOP. She's one of the few women mentioned as a possible Trump cabinet official and the one of the few ethnic minorities -- Haley is of Indian descent, but was born in South Carolina. She's the first woman governor in South Carolina's history, but could run into road blocks in this position since she has no foreign policy experience.

Bygones: Trump looks to critics for top jobs

Related: Trump appoints three women of color

Small Business Administration

Linda McMahon

former CEO of WWE


Linda McMahon is co-founder of the professional wrestling franchise WWE along with her husband, Vince McMahon, and twice a former Republican Senate candidate from Connecticut.

US Trade Representative

Robert Lighthizer



Robert Lighthizer is a partner at the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom, and he previously served as deputy US trade representative during Ronald Reagan's administration. Lighthizer has represented American companies in cases accusing foreign companies of dumping their products on the U.S. market at unfairly low prices. The office of U.S. trade representative, created in 1962, is typically the government's chief negotiator for trade deals and disputes.