As his transition team prepares for the upcoming inauguration on Jan. 20, President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination announcements for members of his cabinet are seeing scrutiny by analysts and news outlets that are predicting the shape and ideology of the coming administration.
On Thursday, Dec. 1, Trump announced his nomination of former Marine General James “Mad Dog” Mattis as Secretary of Defense at a rally in Cincinnati.
Mattis led the United States Central Command before retiring from the Marine Corps on May 22, 2013. His terse military-man reputation precedes him, as his self-described directive in the San Diego Union Tribune to “Find the enemy that wants to end this experiment (in American democracy) and kill every one of them until they’re so sick of the killing that they leave us and our freedoms intact,” may be comforting for some, but concerning for civilian officials.
Also concerning is the fact that, due to the National Security Act of 1947 as amended in 2008, the Secretary of Defense is required to be a civilian who has been out of the military for seven years. As Mattis has only been retired for less than four years, he would require a waiver from Congress, in addition to confirmation from the Senate. “While I deeply respect General Mattis’s service,” N.Y. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand stated, “I will oppose a waiver. Civilian control of our military is a fundamental principle of American democracy, and I will not vote for an exception to this rule.”
Other nominations made in the three weeks following the election include Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) for Attorney General, billionaire education activist Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) as Secretary of Health and Human Services, Bush Administration Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao as Secretary of Transportation, former Goldman Sachs banker and Trump’s campaign finance chairman Steven Mnuchin as Secretary of the Treasury and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross as Secretary of Commerce.
As Trump surrounds himself with major players from Wall Street, Senate Democrats and other critics are accusing him of reneging on his promise to “drain the swamp,” choosing instead to dive right in. “It’s kind of a billionaire’s club,” Robert Shapiro, undersecretary of commerce for economic affairs in the Clinton administration, told Business Insider on Friday. “This is not a roster that says ‘the economy is rigged and we’re going to unrig it for working people.”
Trump revealed in an interview with Fox & Friends that he will announce “almost all” of his other selections this upcoming week. “We have some other announcements coming up literally very soon…We’ll start next week bigly. We have tremendous people that are coming on…You’ll be seeing almost all of them next week.”