Donald Trump's Cabinet Picks So Far

Posted at 11:14 AM, Dec 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-12 12:19:54-05

President-elect Donald Trump is building out his Cabinet with allies, old friends, and even some former rivals. Here's a look at who Trump has picked so far:

Image: Jeff Sessions
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. speaks to media at Trump Tower in New York. Carolyn Kaster / AP

Sen. Jeff Sessions, Attorney General— The Alabama senator became the first member of the upper chamber to endorse Trump in February. As the chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, Sessions helped Trump craft a hardline immigration plan that he touted would prevent people from entering the country illegally.

Though respected by his Republican colleagues in the Senate, Sessions will likely face Democratic opposition during his nomination hearing for past controversial remarks. Sessions was appointed by President Ronald Reagan for a federal district judgeship in the 1980s, but was blocked by the Senate after being accused of making racially insensitive comments about a former colleague. Thomas Figures, an African-American, said Sessions told him to be careful what he said to "white folks" and once made a comment sympathetic to the KKK. Sessions claimed he had been joking.

Image: File picture of Gen. James Mattis testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing
General James Mattis served as Commander of U.S. Central Command until his retirement in 2013. YURI GRIPAS / Reuters

Retired Gen. James Mattis, Secretary of Defense — Mattis, a former commander of U.S. Central Command, is known for his blunt, outspoken style and his selection likely signals Trump will take an increasingly hardline stance with Iran. U.S. officials told NBC News that Mattis' philosophy clashed with the Obama administration when it came to handling Iran and U.S. adversaries around the globe.

Mattis, known by the nickname "Mad Dog," aggressively led a Marine division into Baghdad during the 2003 invasion in Iraq. He has openly talked about enjoying war and "brawling." But he is also considered a "warrior monk" with a deep understanding of military strategy and planning.

Mattis, who retired in 2013, will need a Congressional waiver before he can be confirmed. A 1947 law requires a seven-year wait before an active general can head the Pentagon.

Image: John Kelly
Gen. John Kelly has been nominated to head homeland security. Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Retired Gen. John F. Kelly, Secretary of Homeland Security — The retired four-star general led the U.S. Southern Command and commanded Marines during some of the most intense fighting in Iraq. Kelly's son, Robert, was killed in combat in Afghanistan, making him the highest-ranking military officer to lose a child during the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. As head of homeland security, Kelly will be responsible for overseeing Trump's controversial immigration plans. As Southern Command chief, Kelly oversaw U.S. military operations in South and Central America -- including the southern border. He, like Trump, has expressed concerns over drug trafficking across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Image: Chairman of the House Budget Committee Tom Price (R-GA) announces the House Budget during a press conference
Chairman of the House Budget Committee Tom Price (R-GA) has been nominated to head the Department of Health and Human Services. JOSHUA ROBERTS / Reuters

Rep. Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services — Georgia Rep. Tom Price has been one of the fiercest opponents of the Affordable Care Act and his nomination signals Trump intends to make major changes to Obama's signature legislative accomplishment. The six-term Congressman is an orthopedic surgeon and has written a proposal that would drastically alter the health care law by offering tax credits to purchase insurance based on age.

Price describes himself as a member of the Tea Party and opposes both abortion and gay marriage. His nomination drew swift rebuke from advocates of those causes in addition to proponents of Obamacare.

Image: File picture of Ben Carson listening to a question from a reporter during a campaign stop in Las Vegas
Ben Carson was nominated as HUD secretary. STEVE MARCUS / Reuters

Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development - Trump's former rival finally accepted Trump's offer to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development after first being approached about the position before Thanksgiving. Carson rivaled Trump at the top of the polls for a time during the GOP primaries, but he ultimately fell short and endorsed the eventual nominee despite the heated rhetoric Trump directed his way.

Before his 2016 run, Carson was best known for his work as a neurosurgeon. At 33 years old, Carson became the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children's Center. He gained international fame for his role in helping to separate infant conjoined twins.

Image: Donald Trump Holds Weekend Meetings In Bedminster, NJ
President-elect Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos pose for a photo after their meeting at Trump International Golf Club in Bedminster Township, New Jersey. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Betsy DeVos, Secretary of the Department of Education — DeVos, a 58-year-old billionaire philanthropist, heads the American Federation for Children. Her group advocates for charter school education and she has been an advocate for school vouchers.

DeVos donated to Carly Fiorina and Jeb Bush during the Republican primaries, though she ultimately endorsed Marco Rubio. Bush praised Trump's pick, saying in a statement she has, "a long and distinguished history championing the right of all parents to choose schools that best ensure their children's success."

Groups like the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers have opposed her nomination, arguing her work promoting charter schools has undercut public education and corporatized the nation's school systems.

The Michigan native is married to Dick DeVos, an heir to the Amway fortune, and is the sister of Erik Prince, founder of the government-contracted security company formerly known as Blackwater.

Image: File photo of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley speaking at the National Press Club in Washington
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has been nominated by Trump to lead the U.S. delation to the United Nations. KEVIN LAMARQUE / Reuters

Gov. Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations — South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley quickly accepted Trump's offer to become the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations after the two spent much of 2016 in a tiff. Haley endorsed Marco Rubio in the lead up the Palmetto State Primary back in February, and at one point called Trump "everything a governor doesn't want in a president." She then backed Ted Cruz after Rubio ended his run, and only tepidly endorsed Trump at the Republican National Convention in July.

Haley became the first woman Trump appointed to his Cabinet, though the 44-year-old's nomination to lead the U.S. delegation to the UN raised some eyebrows since her foreign policy experience is limited. Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants, served three terms in the South Carolina State House before becoming governor in 2010.

Former US Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao has been nominated to head the Department of Transportation. EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ / AFP - Getty Images

Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation — Trump tapped Chao, a former labor secretary, to head the Department of Transportation. Chao became the first Asian-American woman to hold a Cabinet position when President George W. Bush appointed her labor secretary. She stayed in the post for eight years, becoming the only Cabinet member to serve during Bush's entire time in office.

Chao is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and has served as director of the Peace Corps, CEO of the United Way of America. She was the deputy secretary of transportation under President H.W. Bush.

Image: Steven Mnuchin arrives at Trump Tower,
Steven Mnuchin, the national finance chair for Trump's campaign, has been nominated as Secretary of the Treasury. ANDREW GOMBERT / EPA

Steve Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury — Mnuchin served as the Trump campaign's national finance chair and was largely considered the frontrunner for the job. He began his career at Goldman Sachs, where he spent 17 years and rose to become a partner. He left to start his own hedge fund and went on to become a financier of Hollywood films like "Avatar" and "American Sniper." Throughout his career, Mnuchin showed only a limited interest in politics and remained mostly behind the scenes during Trump's run.

Image: Donald Trump Holds Weekend Meetings In Bedminster, NJ
Billionaire Wilbur Ross was selected to head the Commerce Department. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce— The 79-year-old billionaire made his fortune by buying up and restructuring companies in industries like steel and coal, the kinds of jobs that Trump has pledged to bring back. He also has been an outspoken critic of free trade agreements, which was a hallmark of Trump's campaign. His relationship with Trump goes back decades. Ross helped Trump keep control of his failing Taj Mahal casino in the 1990s by persuading investors not to push out the real estate mogul.

Ross is expected to face questions during his confirmation about his role in the 2006 Sago Mine disaster in West Virginia. Twelve miners were killed after an explosion there shortly after his company purchased the mine. Ross said he was aware of the mine had multiple violations but said he felt comfortable sending workers into what he thought was a safe situation.

Image: Andy Puzder
CKE Restaurants CEO Andy Puzder has been selected as Trump's secretary of labor. Jack Plunkett / AP Images for Carl's Jr.

Andy Puzder, Secretary of Labor — The head of CKE Restaurants, which includes Carl's Jr. and Hardee's, favors rolling back restaurant regulations and has suggested replacing fast-food employees with robots. Puzder staunchly opposes raising the minimum wage, arguing that doing so would result in fewer jobs. He was criticized earlier this year for lauding the benefits of replacing humans with automated employees because they "never take a vacation, they never show up late, there's never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case." Puzder's selection also drew rebuke from conservative Breitbart News for pro-immigration views that contrast those the president-elect campaigned on.

Still Outstanding

Secretary of State: ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson is expected to be nominated secretary of state, two sources close to the transition process told NBC News.

Secretary of the Interior: Mary Fallin and Cathy McMorris Rodgers are believed to be a finalists and Sarah Palin has expressed interest.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs: Palin expressed interest in the position as well, and Rick Perry is a potential pick.

Secretary of Agriculture: Perry and Sid Miller are believed to be under consideration.

Secretary of Energy: Perry, Heidi Heitkamp, and Joe Manchin are believed to be under consideration.