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Meet Trump’s Cabinet-in-waiting

Trumpworld has started with a mandate to hire from the private sector whenever possible. | AP Photo

President-elect Donald Trump does not have the traditional cadre of Washington insiders and donors to build out his Cabinet, but his transition team has spent the past several months quietly building a short list of industry titans and conservative activists who could comprise one of the more eclectic and controversial presidential cabinets in modern history.

Trumpworld has started with a mandate to hire from the private sector whenever possible. That’s why the Trump campaign is seriously considering Forrest Lucas, the 74-year-old co-founder of oil products company Lucas Oil, as a top contender for Interior secretary, or donor and Goldman Sachs veteran Steven Mnuchin as Treasury secretary.

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He’s also expected to reward the band of surrogates who stood by him during the bruising presidential campaign including Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie, all of whom are being considered for top posts. A handful of Republican politicians may also make the cut including Sen. Bob Corker for secretary of State or Sen. Jeff Sessions for secretary of Defense.

Trump’s divisive campaign may make it difficult for him to attract top talent, especially since so many politicians and wonks openly derided the president-elect over the past year. And Trump campaign officials have worried privately that they will have difficulty finding high-profile women to serve in his Cabinet, according to a person familiar with the campaign’s internal discussions, given Trump’s past comments about women.

Still, two Trump transition officials said they’ve received an influx of phone calls and emails in recent weeks, as the polls tightened and a Trump White House seemed more within reach.

So far, the Trump campaign and transition teams have been tight-lipped about their picks. (The Trump campaign has declined to confirm Cabinet speculation.) But here’s the buzz from POLITICO’s conversations with policy experts, lobbyists, academics, congressional staffers and people close to Trump.

Secretary of State

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a leading Trump supporter, is a candidate for the job, as is Republican Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.), the current chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Corker has said he’d “strongly consider” serving as secretary of State.

Trump is also eyeing former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton.

Treasury secretary

Donald Trump himself has indicated that he wants to give the Treasury secretary job to his finance chairman, Steven Mnuchin, a 17-year-veteran of Goldman Sachs who now works as the chairman and chief executive of the private investment firm, Dune Capital Management. Mnuchin has also worked for OneWest Bank, which was later sold to CIT Group in 2015.

Secretary of Defense

Among the Republican defense officials who could join the Trump administration: Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), a close adviser, has been discussed as a potential Defense Secretary. Former National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and former Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.) have also been mentioned as potential candidates.

Top Trump confidante retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, would need a waiver from Congress to become defense secretary, as the law requires retired military officers to wait seven years before becoming the civilian leader of the Pentagon. But Trump’s chief military adviser is likely to wind up some senior administration post, potentially national security adviser. And other early endorsers like Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) could be in line for top posts as well.

Attorney general

People close to Trump say former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump’s leading public defenders, is the leading candidate for attorney general. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, another vocal Trump supporter and the head of the president-elect’s transition team, is also a contender for the job — though any role in the Cabinet for Christie could be threatened by the Bridgegate scandal.

Another possibility: Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, though the controversy over Trump’s donation to Bondi could undercut her nomination.

Interior secretary

Forrest Lucas, the 74-year-old co-founder of oil products company Lucas Oil, is seen as a top contender for Interior Secretary.

Trump’s presidential transition team is also eyeing venture capitalist Robert Grady, a George H. W. Bush White House official with ties to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. And Trump’s son, Donald Trump, Jr., is said to be interested in the job.

Meanwhile, a person who spoke to the Trump campaign told POLITICO that the aides have also discussed tapping Sarah Palin for Interior Secretary. Trump has said he’d like to put Palin in his Cabinet, and Palin has made no secret of her interest.

Other possible candidates include: former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer; Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin; Wyoming Rep. Cynthia Lummis; and Oklahoma oilman Harold Hamm.

Agriculture secretary

There are several names being considered by Trump aides for Agriculture secretary, according to multiple sources familiar with the transition. The president elect has a deep bench to pull from with nearly 70 leaders on agricultural advisory committee.

The most controversial name on the transition’s current short list is Sid Miller, the current secretary of agriculture in Texas, who caused a firestorm just days ago after his campaign’s Twitter account referred to Clinton as a ‘c—.‘ Miller said it was a staffer mistake and apologized.

Other names include Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback; Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman; former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue; former Texas Gov. Rick Perry as well as Charles Herbster, Republican donor and agribusiness leader; and Mike McCloskey, a major dairy executive in Indiana, according to Arabella Advisors, a firm that advises top foundations and is closely tracking both transition efforts.

Bruce Rastetter, a major Republican donor in Iowa, and Kip Tom, a farmer who ran for Congress in Indiana this year but was defeated in the primary, are also among those being considered, Arabella said.

Other top Republican insiders expect that Chuck Connor, president and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, Don Villwock, president of the Indiana Farm Bureau and Ted McKinney, the current director of the Indiana Department of Agriculture in the Pence Administration, are also likely to be in the running for the post.

Source: POLITICO – TOP Stories

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