Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State
As the former CEO of ExxonMobil, and an engineer who worked his way up from humble origins, Tillerson is the kind of worldly businessman that President Trump so often praises. His experience negotiating tough deals in all corners around the world should serve him well in this position, as will his Eagle Scout work ethic and American values. As Trump tweeted, “The thing I like best about Rex Tillerson is that he has vast experience at dealing successfully with all types of foreign governments.”
Elaine Chao, Transportation Secretary
Having formerly served as Labor Secretary for two full terms during the George W. Bush administration, Chao has the most federal government experience of any Trump nominee. With stints directing the Peace Corps and United Way, she has an impeccable track record of leading organizations, and with virtually no liabilities or riffs within her party. She is seen as the key player for jumpstarting Trump’s plans to improve infrastructure across the nation.
James N. Mattis, Defense Secretary
A four-star marine Corps general who led the U.S. Central Command from 2010 to 2013, Mattis is widely viewed as one of the strongest and more popular picks in Trump’s cabinet. With more than four decades of military experience, including stints commanding forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, Mattis literally wrote the book on battling terrorist insurgencies. Trump has called Mattis “the closest thing to George Patton that we have,” and Mattis’s no-nonsense attitude has endeared him to the president. Most importantly, Mattis isn’t afraid to oppose the president, most notably on issues of torture, which Mattis vehemently opposes.
John F. Kelly, Homeland Security Secretary
Kelly is yet another military man with more than four decades of experience under his belt, having served as commander of the U.S. Southern Command during his last three years of service. He holds the sad distinction of being the only general to lose a child in the recent wars, after his son, Lt. Robert Michael Kelly, was killed in Afghanistan in 2010. It was because of this loss, however, that Trump saw Kelly as the man who understands the true consequences of an unstable and permeable nation, and will count on Kelly to implement America’s border security plans in the next few years.
Mike Pompeo, CIA Director
Now in his fourth term in Congress and with vast experience on the House Intelligence Committee, Pompeo is likely best known for his refusal to let then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton brush off questions about the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya that left four Americans dead, including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Pompeo’s strong stance on that issue reportedly appealed to Trump. Pompeo has gone on record opposing torture, while also calling for forceful actions against Russian hacking. He stands firmly in line with traditional Republican views on international affairs.
Betsy DeVos, Education Secretary
With years of experience leading charitable organizations and outreach efforts to impoverished communities, DeVos has long viewed education as the pillar of an uplifting society. She views school choice as the only logical step forward to save America’s failing school systems and eliminate pockets of educational dysfunction and blight. Trump’s choice of DeVos was not surprising, given his affinity for bringing in movers and shakers from outside professional politics. Teachers’ unions will likely oppose her at every turn, but she is on the right path to usher in real change when it comes to our nation’s educational system.
Nikki Haley, United Nations Ambassador
A rising star in the Republican Party, Haley was elected governor of South Carolina in 2010. Before serving as governor, she was a state legislator for six years. Despite endorsing Marco Rubio during the Republican primary, she appealed to Trump because of her diverse background, strong work ethic and uplifting story. She was an early pick for the president’s cabinet.