Cabinet selections signal pointed shift post Obama
Propelled by populist energy, President-elect Donald Trump’s candidacy broke long-standing conventions and his incoming Cabinet embodies a sharp turn from the outgoing Obama administration. Trump, a Republican who pledged major changes after eight years of a Democratic White House, has assembled nominees for a Cabinet that includes many business executives who have never served in government, and military leaders are in line to oversee defense and homeland security. In one case, Trump has named someone who once called for dismantling the agency he’d lead.
A change of political parties at the White House almost always brings policy adjustments. But Trump’s Cabinet expects to carry the outsider flair of his campaign, a role reversal compared with more conventional teams under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama that were heavy on former lawmakers, governors and veterans of past administrations. A look at the expected shift in the federal government:
Trump’s decision to nominate Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state means the department could be run by a lifelong oil executive with deep ties to Russia and no government experience. Outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry, a former senator who was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, spent much of his tenure seeking agreements to fight climate change, restrain Iran’s nuclear program and pressure foreign adversaries through financial penalties. But if Tillerson wins Senate confirmation, he would have a big say over whether the Trump administration withdraws from the Paris climate treaty and the Iran nuclear pact, along with the future of US relations with Russia.
James Mattis retired from the Marine Corps as a four-star general in 2013 and had been a battlefield commander for most of his career. Compare that with current Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who worked for years at the Pentagon and in academia but never served in uniform. To take the defense secretary job, Mattis needs Congress to pass a law allowing him to serve. Current law requires a Pentagon chief to have been out of the military for at least seven years to uphold the commitment to civilian control of the military. The law was last waived for George Marshall in 1950. Trump has praised Mattis’ effectiveness at “thank you” rallies around the country and has promised a major buildup of the country’s defense capabilities.
Obama’s Treasury Department was in crisis mode from the moment he took office, dealing with massive job losses and the meltdown of the housing market. Eight years later, Trump has nominated Steven Mnuchin to lead the department, turning to a former Goldman Sachs executive who invested in a bank that foreclosed on thousands of homeowners after the housing crisis. Democrats are expected to press Mnuchin on his role in IndyMac, which was rebranded OneWest, and the deal that left the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation responsible for taking as much as 80 percent of the losses on former IndyMac assets. Mnuchin has promised “the most significant middle-income tax cut” since President Ronald Reagan. —AP
BEDMINSTER, New Jersey: In this Nov 20, 2016 file photo, President-elect Donald Trump talks to media as he stands with National Security Adviser-designate, retired Marine Gen John Kelly at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse. — AP