World·Feature

Tracking U.S. President Donald Trump's cabinet nominees

U.S. President Donald Trump's cabinet nominees are facing intense scrutiny while moving through a series of Senate confirmation hearings amid staunch opposition from the Democrats. Here's a look at all of Trump's picks, their qualifications and the opposition they face.

Controversial nominees Jeff Sessions, businesswoman Betsy DeVos confirmed

U.S. President Donald Trump's cabinet nominees are facing intense scrutiny while moving through a series of Senate confirmation hearings amid staunch opposition from the Democrats.

Trump has nominated business people, politicians and Republican donors to serve in his inner circle. Some have been confirmed quickly, while others have faced tougher lines of inquiry.

Here's a look at all of Trump's nominees, their qualifications and the opposition they faced proceeding through the confirmation hearings.


Wilbur Ross is chairman of private equity firm WL Ross & Co., which buys up struggling businesses and flips them for a profit. His net worth was pegged by Forbes at about $2.9 billion US. Ross blames NAFTA for causing massive U.S. factory job losses.

Trump says: "Wilbur Ross is a champion of American manufacturing and knows how to help companies succeed. Most importantly, he is one of the greatest negotiators I have ever met — and that comes from me, the author of The Art of the Deal. Together, we will take on the special interests and stand up for American jobs." 

Critics say: "I guess, probably, Canada should worry," said Gary Hufbauer, a former U.S. federal official and now a fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Status: Ross was confirmed on Feb. 27 in 72-27 vote.

(Mike Segar/Reuters)

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a climate change skeptic, is Trump's pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt has filed many lawsuits against EPA regulations. He has also sought to dismantle the agency's Clean Power Plan. He recently said he believes climate change is real, but remains skeptical of the science linking it to the burning of fossil fuels.

Trump says: "[My administration] strongly believes in environmental protection, and Scott Pruitt will be a powerful advocate for that mission while promoting jobs, safety and opportunity."

Critics say: Pruitt is too closely tied to the fossil fuel industry to be impartial. They also reject his skepticism about climate change. "Having Scott Pruitt in charge of the US Environmental Protection Agency is like putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires," said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, in a release.

Status: Pruitt was confirmed on Feb. 17 in a 52-46 vote.

(Alonzo Adams/Associated Press)

South Carolina Congressman Mick Mulvaney founded the House Freedom Caucus, a group of Republicans who opposed raising the debt ceiling without implementing deep cuts in 2013.

Critics say: Democrats have warned putting Mulvaney at the helm of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which oversees the federal budget, might result in the overhaul of benefits programs including Social Security and Medicare. Republican Senator John McCain has also criticized Mulvaney, saying he played a key role in the 2013 government shutdown.

Trump says: "With Mick at the head of OMB, my administration is going to make smart choices about America's budget, bring new accountability to our federal government, and renew the American taxpayer's trust in how their money is spent."

Status: Mulvaney was confirmed on Feb. 16 in a 51-49 vote.

The chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants (Carl's Jr. and Hardee's), Andy Puzder has argued that higher minimum wages would hurt workers by forcing restaurants to close, and he praises the benefits of automation.

Trump says: "Andy Puzder has created and boosted the careers of thousands of Americans, and his extensive record fighting for workers makes him the ideal candidate to lead the Department of Labour. Andy will fight to make American workers safer and more prosperous by enforcing fair occupational safety standards and ensuring workers receive the benefits they deserve." 

Critics say: His record is one of "fighting against working people."

Status: Puzder withdrew his name from consideration on Feb. 15, amid concerns he could not secure enough Senate votes to be confirmed. Trump later named Acosta as the new labour secretary nominee.

(Stephen Osman/CKE/EPA)

Linda McMahon, along with her husband Vince, co-founded the pro-wrestling company World Wrestling Entertainment. McMahon donated $6 million US to a pro-Trump super PAC in 2016.

Trump says: "[McMahon] helped grow WWE from a modest 13-person operation to a publicly traded global enterprise with more than 800 employees in offices worldwide. Linda is going to be a phenomenal leader and champion for small businesses and unleash America's entrepreneurial spirit all across the country."

Critics say: McMahon's only previous government experience is a 2009 appointment to the Connecticut Board of Education.

Status: The Senate voted 81-19 on Feb. 14 to confirm McMahon.

(Jessica Hill/Associated Press)

Co-chairman and CEO of Dune Capital Management, Steven Mnuchin is a private equity investor and hedge fund manager who spent 17 years at Goldman Sachs before leaving in 2002. He is also a Hollywood producer of films including Suicide Squad and American Sniper.

Trump says: "Steve Mnuchin is a world-class financier, banker and businessman, and has played a key role in developing our plan to build a dynamic, booming economy that will create millions of jobs. He purchased IndyMac Bank for $1.6 billion and ran it very professionally, selling it for $3.4 billion plus a return of capital. That's the kind of people I want in my administration representing our country."

Critics say: He made billions off the 2008 housing crisis by preying on struggling homeowners.

Status: Mnuchin was confirmed on Feb. 13 in a 53-47 vote.

(Andrew Gombert/EPA/CBC)

David Shulkin has been undersecretary for health at the Veterans Affairs Department since 2015, making him the only holdover so far from the Obama administration.

A board-certified internist, Shulkin has managed hospitals and held academic positions in medicine, according to his official VA bio. He has also published peer-reviewed articles for medical journals and a book titled Questions Patients Need to Ask. Between 1999 and 2003 he was CEO of a company called DoctorQuality which developed software to identify, track and analyze adverse medical events.

Trump says: His team interviewed "at least 100 people" for the job, and Shulkin is a "fantastic" choice.

Critics say: The choice is likely to soothe some of the largest veterans' organizations and pave an easy path to confirmation in the Senate, where Shulkin was approved unanimously for his current position, but it's unclear why Trump would retain an Obama-era appointee in a department he has criticized heavily for mismanagement and for mistreatment of veterans.

Status: Shulkin was confirmed Feb. 13 in a 100-0 vote.

(Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

Georgia congressman Tom Price is chairman of the House budget committee. He was an orthopedic surgeon in private practice for 20 years prior to entering politics, and has crafted several different plans for replacing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

Trump says: "Price, a renowned physician, has earned a reputation for being a tireless problem solver and the go-to expert on health-care policy. He is exceptionally qualified to shepherd our commitment to repeal and replace Obamacare and bring affordable and accessible health care to every American."

Critics say: He will dismantle Obamacare, leaving millions without health care they qualified for under the act, and offer alternatives that will hurt lower-income Americans. He vowed during his Senate confirmation hearings not to "pull the rug out" from Americans insured under Obamacare.

Status: Price was confirmed on Feb. 10 in a 52-47 vote, after a lengthy debate launched by the Democrats that ran into the early morning hours.

(Michael Reynolds/EPA)

Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions was rejected by the Senate in 1986 for a federal judgeship over what were considered racist comments that came to light during his hearings. One witness testified that Sessions was overheard saying he used to think the Ku Klux Klan was "OK" until he found out some of them were pot smokers. Sessions has vehemently denied making the statements.

Trump says: "He is a world-class legal mind and considered a truly great attorney general and U.S. attorney in the state of Alabama. Jeff is greatly admired by legal scholars and virtually everyone who knows him." 

Critics say: Based on his record, Sessions can't be trusted to uphold federal civil rights, among other laws.

Status: Sessions was confirmed on Feb. 8 in a 52-47 vote. His confirmation was particularly contentious and Senator Elizabeth Warren was silenced after she tried to read a 1986 letter from Coretta Scott King, the widow of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., that opposed Sessions's nomination to the federal bench. Republicans interrupted Warren's reading of the letter, saying she had violated rules that prohibit "impugning the motives" of a fellow senator. Republicans defended Sessions, saying the allegations of racism were unfounded.

(Molly Riley/Associated Press)

Billionaire Republican donor Betsy DeVos advocates for the privatization of education. She is chair of the American Federation for Children, which promotes charter schools.

Critics say: DeVos is seen as the driver behind disastrous reforms of the Detroit school system. Her appointment is a signal that public funds are likely to be directed toward private and charter schools.

Status: DeVos was confirmed on Feb. 7, when Vice-President Mike Pence cast the vote in favour, breaking a 50-50 tie.

( Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Rex Tillerson has spent his entire career at Exxon Mobil Corp., where he has been chairman and CEO since 2006. A civil engineer by training, the Texan led several company operations in the U.S. as well as in Yemen, Thailand and Russia. He has maintained close ties with Moscow and opposed U.S. sanctions against Russia for its incursion into Crimea.

Trump says: "He does massive deals in Russia. He does massive deals for the company — not for himself, for the company," the president-elect said on Fox News Sunday.

Critics say: He is too close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who awarded him the Order of Friendship after he inked a deal with Russian oil company Rosneft, majority-owned by the Russian government. 

Status: The Senate confirmed Tillerson in a 56-43 vote on Feb. 1.

(Alessandro Della Bella/EPA)

Elaine Chao was the first woman of Asian descent appointed to a U.S. presidential cabinet when she became George W. Bush's labour secretary. She was formerly CEO of the United Way and director of the Peace Corps, and is married to Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican senator from Kentucky.

Trump says: "Secretary Chao's extensive record of strong leadership and her expertise are invaluable assets in our mission to rebuild our infrastructure in a fiscally responsible manner. She has an amazing life story and has helped countless Americans in her public service career."

Critics say: It is unclear whether Chao will be in the position of negotiating with her husband, who plays a key role in dealing with the administration over issues like transportation funding. 

Status: Chao was confirmed 93-6 on Jan. 31.

(Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)

Nikki Haley, the first Indian-American and first female governor of South Carolina, was elected to the office in 2011. Haley had a testy relationship with Trump whom she deemed one of the Republican party's "angriest voices."

Trump says: Haley is "a proven deal-maker, and we look to be making plenty of deals."

Critics say: Haley lacks foreign policy experience and has never held a federal post.

Status: The Senate voted 96-4 to confirm Haley on Jan. 24.

(Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

Mike Pompeo, a Kansas congressman, serves on the House intelligence committee, which oversees the CIA, National Security Agency and cybersecurity. He's a retired army officer and a Harvard Law School graduate. He has broken step with Trump in siding with the intelligence community's allegations of Russian interference in the U.S. election.

Trump says: "He has served our country with honour and spent his life fighting for the security of our citizens."   

Critics say: Pompeo supports the U.S. government's sweeping collection of Americans' communications data and wants to scrap the nuclear deal with Iran. 

Status: Pompeo was confirmed on Jan. 23 in a 66-32 vote.

(Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)

A retired four-star general, James (Mad Dog) Mattis served in the Marine Corps for 44 years, at one time heading U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East and South Asia. Congress has approved a waiver allowing him to be confirmed as secretary of defence even though he has not yet been out of military service for seven years, normally a condition.

Trump says: "A true general's general!"

Critics say: His short time out of active duty does not provide sufficient distance for a position that is meant to ensure civilian control of the military. He was also criticized for saying in 2005, "It's fun to shoot some people."

Status: Mattis was confirmed on Jan. 20 with a 98-1 vote.

(Matt Dunham/Associated Press)

Retired general John Kelly is the former head of the U.S. Southern Command, responsible for military activities and relationships in Latin America and the Caribbean, and oversaw operations at Guantanamo Bay. He served 40 years in the Marine Corps,, and lost his eldest son Robert in combat in Afghanistan in 2010.

Trump says: "He is the right person to spearhead the urgent mission of stopping illegal immigration and securing our borders, streamlining TSA and improving co-ordination between our intelligence and law enforcement agencies." 

Critics say: Not much. Kelly is probably the least controversial of Trump's appointees so far.

Status: Kelly was confirmed on Jan. 20 in an 88-11 vote.

(Gary Cameron/Reuters)

Former Texas governor and two-time presidential candidate Rick Perry was a harsh critic of Trump during the 2016 race. He called Trump a "cancer on conservatism" and his policies "a toxic mix of demagoguery and nonsense," before he dropped out of the race and endorsed Trump. One of Perry's best-remembered moments from his first White House run, in 2012, was when he couldn't remember, in a debate, one of three federal agencies he promised to eliminate if elected. The one he forgot: the Energy Department.

Trump says: "As the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry created created a business climate that produced millions of new jobs and lower energy prices in his state, and he will bring that same approach to our entire country as Secretary of Energy."

Critics say: Perry is a Big Oil man who has serious conflicts of interest as energy secretary given that he's a director of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the controversial Dakota Access pipeline, as well as of Sunoco Logistics Partners, which intends to buy ETP. He has since resigned from both boards.

(Paul Vernon/Associated Press)

Ben Carson had a distinguished career as a neurosurgeon, but Trump's former rival for the Republican presidential nomination has never held elected office. He was reluctant to take a position in the incoming administration because of his lack of experience in the federal government. Carson is the first African-American picked for a cabinet spot by Trump.

Critics say: Carson appears to lack any qualifications for the job. He has made questionable comments about poverty and housing policy. Carson called Obamacare the worst thing to happen to the U.S. since slavery and said it was, in fact, slavery "in a way." He also said Adolf Hitler would not have been able to "accomplish his goals" if the people had been armed.

(Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun/Reuters)

Ryan Zinke, the one-term Montana congressman and former Navy SEAL commander is a proponent of coal development on federal lands, a large swathe of which he will oversee if confirmed by the Senate. He also supports the Keystone XL pipeline. Zinke made headlines in 2014 when he called Hillary Clinton the "antichrist."

Trump says: "America is the most beautiful country in the world, and he is going to help keep it that way with smart management of our federal lands. At the same time, my administration's goal is to repeal bad regulations and use our natural resources to create jobs and wealth for the American people, and Ryan will explore every possibility for how we can safely and responsibly do that."

Critics say: With the aim of using public forests, parkland anpd waterways in pursuit of an energy-independent U.S., Zinke might unravel Obama's protections of the environment and federal lands.

(Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

Sonny Perdue, Trump's nominee for secretary of agriculture, served two terms as Georgia's governor from 2003 to 2011. Among his more controversial acts in office, Perdue led a prayer service for rain outside the state capitol during a period of drought.

Trump says: "From growing up on a farm to being governor of a big agriculture state, he has spent his whole life understanding and solving the challenges our farmers face." 

Critics say: Perdue hasn't relied on science to help farmers, said Kari Hamerschlag, deputy director of food and technology at Friends of the Earth. "Farmers need a champion in the USDA who will fight for conservation programs to help farmers be more resilient in the face of extreme weather, not pray for rain," she said in a release.

(Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

Alexander Acosta is dean of the Florida International University law school. He also served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. If confirmed, Acosta would become the first Hispanic to serve in Trump's cabinet.

Critics say: Acosta's nomination was largely praised, given his long record of government service. He also notably defended the rights of Muslim Americans in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. But while serving as the U.S. attorney for Florida's southern district, Acosta was criticized for a deal his oversaw with financier Jeffrey Epstein. The FBI was investigating Epstein for sexual misconduct with underage girls. In 2008, Epstein pleaded guilty in state court but was protected from federal prosecution.

Trump says: "He has a law degree from Harvard Law School, was a great student; former clerk for Justice Samuel Alito. And he has had a tremendous career. He's a member and has been a member of the National Labor Relations Board, and has been through Senate confirmation three times, confirmed; did very, very well."

(Alan Diaz/Associated Press)

With files from Reuters, The Associated Press and The Canadian Press

now