US Elections 2016, the day after: Transiting to the White House

Well-known names tipped for Cabinet jobs

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich giving a thumbs up after speaking before the arrival of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a campaign rally at the Germain Arena, on Sept 19, 2016, in Estero, Florida.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich giving a thumbs up after speaking before the arrival of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a campaign rally at the Germain Arena, on Sept 19, 2016, in Estero, Florida. PHOTO: AFP

Trump likely to reward inner circle and allies with plum roles, but is also turning to corporate world for key posts

As President-elect Donald Trump goes to Washington to meet President Barack Obama to discuss succession plans, he has also been busy trying to assemble his Cabinet while his transition team hastens to fill as many as 4,000 positions to run the government.

Already, several well-known names have been tipped to fill the top jobs. The political outsider and property mogul is also turning to the corporate world for his administration's key posts, in what could be the most untraditional bureaucracy in American history.

Those among his inner circle are likely to be rewarded with the plum roles: Former speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich, 73, is touted as a possible secretary of state. An early Trump supporter, Mr Gingrich, now an influential political consultant, was instrumental in ending four decades of Democratic control of the House. He was forced to resign as speaker in 1998 over ethics violations. He ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, 72, is also said to be in the front of the queue to be attorney- general. Credited for helping his city get back on its feet after the 9/11 attacks, Mr Giuliani also built a reputation for lowering violent crime rates and dealing with Wall Street corruption. He withdrew from running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 because of prostate cancer.

Another name that has been tossed up as attorney-general, or possibly commerce secretary, is Mr Chris Christie, 54. The New Jersey Governor, a former US attorney, was among those shortlisted to be Mr Trump's running mate, as was Mr Gingrich. He was later picked to head Mr Trump's transition team.

Pundits say the Bridgegate scandal involving Mr Christie could thwart his chances of moving up the political ladder. Two of his former aides were convicted of causing massive traffic jams in 2013 at one of the country's busiest bridges linking New Jersey to New York, presumably over political revenge. He, too, made a bid for the Republican nomination without success, then backed Mr Trump.

Mr Reince Priebus, 44, is reported to be Mr Trump's choice for White House chief of staff. The lawyer and chairman of the Republican National Committee played a key role in getting the party's resources behind Mr Trump.

One of Mr Trump's closest allies, Mr Jefferson Sessions, 69, is tipped to be the next secretary of defence. The senator from Alabama was a staunch Trump supporter, whom the President-elect described as "the first man, first senator, first major, major politician" to endorse him.

Known as one of the Senate's most right-wing members, Mr Sessions has opposed almost every Democratic initiative under President Obama, including Obamacare and the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", the policy on gays serving in the military, reported Agence France-Presse. Mr Sessions also supported the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

From the private sector, Mr Trump has looked to Wall Street veteran Steven Mnuchin, 54, who could be the next Treasury secretary.

 

The former Goldman Sachs banker, who is Mr Trump's campaign finance chairman, is also a movie producer. His company has been involved in several box office successes such as the X-Men franchise, Avatar and American Sniper.

Several other names have been floated to form Mr Trump's team - retired lieutenant-general Michael Flynn, 57, who helped the New York billionaire gain some credibility with war veterans. He is tipped as a possible national security adviser. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, 65, who endorsed Mr Trump after giving up his own Republican nomination bid, has been singled out as a possible education secretary.

Then there is also Mrs Sarah Palin, former Republican nominee for vice-president in 2008. In a list of 41 names compiled by Mr Trump's transition team obtained by BuzzFeed News, the 52-year-old former governor of Alaska is one of seven candidates for secretary of the interior.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2016, with the headline 'Well-known names tipped for Cabinet jobs'. Print Edition | Subscribe