President-elect Donald Trump doesn't have the traditional group of Washington insiders and donors to pull from for his Cabinet appointments but his transition team has spent the past several months building a list of executives from various industries in the private sector as well as conservative activists who could ultimately comprise one of the more eclectic presidential Cabinets in modern history. While many Washington "insiders" refused to support his campaign, which probably helped him in the end, Trump is also expected to reward the surrogates who stood by him, including Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie.
So far, the Trump campaign and transition teams have been quiet about their potential cabinet picks but the speculation is starting to swirl. Per Politico, here’s some insight, based on conversations with policy experts, lobbyists, academics and congressional staffers on who might be picked for the key jobs:
Secretary of state
Former House Speaker Gingrich, a leading Trump supporter, is a candidate for the job, as is Corker, current chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The Tennessee senator has said he’d “strongly consider” serving as secretary of state.
Trump is also eyeing former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton.
Trump himself has indicated that he wants to give the Treasury secretary job to his finance chairman, Mnuchin, a 17-year-veteran of Goldman Sachs who now works as the chairman and chief executive of the private investment firm Dune Capital Management. Mnuchin has also worked for OneWest Bank, which was later sold to CIT Group in 2015.
Secretary of defense
Among the Republican defense officials who could join the Trump administration: Sessions (R-Ala.), a close adviser, has been discussed as a potential defense secretary. Former National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and former Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.) have also been mentioned as potential candidates.
Top Trump confidant retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, would need a waiver from Congress to become defense secretary, as the law requires retired military officers to wait seven years before becoming the civilian leader of the Pentagon. But Trump’s chief military adviser is likely to wind up in some senior administration post, potentially national security adviser. And other early endorsers, like Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), could be in line for top posts as well.
People close to Trump say former New York City Mayor Giuliani, one of Trump’s leading public defenders, is the leading candidate for attorney general. New Jersey Gov. Christie, another vocal Trump supporter and the head of the president-elect’s transition team, is also a contender for the job — though any role in the cabinet for Christie could be threatened by the Bridgegate scandal.
Another possibility: Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, though the controversy over Trump’s donation to Bondi could undercut her nomination.
Lucas, the 74-year-old co-founder of oil products company Lucas Oil, is seen as a top contender for Interior secretary.
Trump’s presidential transition team is also eyeing venture capitalist Robert Grady, a George H.W. Bush White House official with ties to Christie. And Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr., is said to be interested in the job.
Meanwhile, a person who spoke to the Trump campaign told POLITICO that the aides have also discussed tapping Sarah Palin for Interior secretary. Trump has said he’d like to put Palin in his cabinet, and Palin has made no secret of her interest.
Other possible candidates include former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer; Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin; Wyoming Rep. Cynthia Lummis; and Oklahoma oilman Harold Hamm.
Meanwhile, Kellyanne Conway, who became a near constant television presence in the campaign’s final two months after being named campaign manager in the summer could be White House press secretary. Per Politico, a source from within the Trump campaign said “I think that job is hers if she wants it. No one was more effective at carrying our message than her."
Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s original campaign manager who is still working as a CNN contributor, has remained close to the candidate since his firing in June and was spotted leaving Trump Tower on Wednesday afternoon. He, too, is jockeying for a prominent position either in the West Wing or possibly at the RNC if Trump blesses him as his chairman of choice should Priebus move over to the White House, according to sources close to Lewandowski.
While details are still sparse the only thing that is certain is that Trump's cabinet, like his presidential campaign, will be anything but traditional.