Trump nominates two women to cabinet
> Haley tapped for UN envoy, DeVos for education secretary
WASHINGTON: Donald Trump began to broaden the base of his future cabinet yesterday, nominating two conservative women including a critic, after his earlier picks rewarded campaign loyalists.
Trump’s nomination of South Carolina’s 44-year-old governor, Nikki Haley, as US ambassador to the United Nations will be seen as a sign he is ready to forgive some foes to raise a bigger tent.
But his choice of wealthy activist Betsy DeVos, a champion of alternatives to local government schools, as education secretary was another victory for social conservatives.
Trump’s one-time presidential rival, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, appeared to be next in line for the nod – reportedly as housing secretary – after he posted on social media that an announcement was imminent.
Trump’s choice of Haley for the UN was announced amid reports that Trump is considering another vocal critic – former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney – for the key post of secretary of state.
And it followed a cordial chat between Trump and The New York Times, a newspaper he considers hostile, in which he softened his stance on climate change, torture and prosecuting his defeated rival Hillary Clinton.
The 70-year-old property tycoon also told the Times that he is “seriously, seriously considering” appointing widely respected retired Marine general James Mattis as his defence secretary.
The UN ambassador post is of cabinet rank and if Haley – a staunch conservative with no foreign policy experience – is confirmed by the Senate she will become a powerful figure in world diplomacy, despite previously clashing with Trump.
As one of two women tapped so far for Trump’s cabinet, the daughter of Indian immigrants also injects a measure of diversity in a group that until now consisted solely of men.
Last year, after a white supremacist murdered nine black churchgoers in South Carolina, Haley supported a decision by legislators to remove the Confederate flag from the state house.
The decision drew protests from racist groups. This year, while campaigning for Trump’s primary rival Marco Rubio, Haley called Trump out for his failure to repudiate the Ku Klux Klan.
“I will not stop until we fight a man that chooses not to disavow the KKK. That is not a part of our party,” she declared.
Trump, true to form, responded with one of his trademark Twitter insults, declaring: “The people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley!”
Trump’s choice of Steve Bannon, head of the right-wing news platform Breitbart, as his chief strategist delighted white supremacists.
But on Tuesday, after a video emerged of fans of the so-called alt-right making straight-armed salutes and chanting “Hail Trump,” the president-elect disavowed the movement. – AFP