Donald Trump Cabinet Picks: Who Are the Possibilities?

ASTON, PA - SEPTEMBER 13: Republican presidential hopeful Donald J. Trump arrives for a campaign event with his daughter, Ivanka, at the Aston Township Community Center on September 13, 2016 in Aston, Pennsylvania. Recent national polls show the presidential race is tightening with two months until the election. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Donald Trump. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

President-elect Donald Trump.

Once we all get used to saying that, we must contemplate the next question: Who will be in his cabinet?

You can assume that Trump will reward loyalists. He will pick a mixture of insiders who can navigate the system as well as a few unorthodox picks. His children will be his confidantes.

“We will call on the best and brightest to leverage their tremendous talent,” Trump said in his victory speech after surprising the political establishment – again – by flipping a series of rust-belt states, winning Florida, and basically defying all expectations.

Before the election, some names of possible cabinet picks were floated to NBC News by anonymous campaign advisers.

You can also look at the Republican National Convention list of speakers for ideas. It’s a good bet many of the cabinet picks are on there. It’s also a good bet that a lot of them were singled out by Trump during his victory speech. The New York Times ran a story the day after the election that repeated some of the earlier names as possibilities. Since then, other possibilities have leaked, and Trump chose his chief of staff.

Here are the top possibilities for a Trump cabinet:

Secretary of State

Newt Gingrich or John Bolton

Newt Gingrich Prediction markets: 14 percent At the moment, it seems that the VP race is down to Mike Pence and Newt Gingrich, although on PredictWise, Gingrich's odds are 39 points lower than Pence's. It appears the former speaker of the house really wants the job of VP, though, and according to CNN, Gingrich is actively lobbying for it. On the other hand, CNN reports that Mike Pence is not actively lobbying for the VP nod, as it is not his style. It has been confirmed that Gingrich has been vetted for VP, and he recently said that if offered the nomination, he would accept. "If Trump offers the position and is serious about it, which I think he would be after our conversations, listen, I would feel compelled to serve the country," Gingrich said. While Mike Pence would be seen as a way of reaching out to conservative Christians who previously backed Ted Cruz, Gingrich would be more an appeal to establishment Republicans who are worried by Trump's lack of experience. Gingrich would bring plenty of Washington insider experience to the table, as well as a more moderate set of viewpoints on certain issues. In response to recent police shootings, for example, Gingrich said that, "If you are a normal white American, the truth is you don't understand being black in America and you instinctively under-estimate the level of discrimination and the level of additional risk." (Getty)

Newt Gingrich. (Getty)

Why Newt? He was a fairly early and consistent Republican supporter of Trump. He’s erudite, a former professor, and experienced in government as the former House Speaker. Trump is likely to reward loyalists and punish enemies, if his campaign style is predictive.

Gingrich called Trump a “genuine phenomenon” and worked for him behind the scenes as well as publicly expressing support for the Trump message. He did criticize Trump for his comments about a judge’s Mexican heritage.

Bolton was U.S. ambassador to the UN under George W. Bush.

Runner-up: Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions.

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Attorney General

Rudy Giuliani

Rudy Giuliani trump, Rudy Giuliani 9/11, Rudy Giuliani trump rally

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani introduces speaks to the crowd before introducing Trump at a campaign event. (Getty)

Giuliani is a former U.S. Attorney. Another person often talked about for this post was too: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Both of them have been fervent supporters of Trump and constantly hit the campaign trail at his side. More recently, Christie disappeared from the campaign trail to deal with Bridgegate. That could make AG Christie less likely. Giuliani is a good guess, though. He’s also the former New York mayor, a nationally known name, and well-regarded for his handling of the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Trump did praise both Giuliani and Christie during his victory speech. (An alternative possibility: Rudy for Homeland Security, and Christie for AG).

Hot Air noticed the absence of Christie from the anonymous campaign advisers’ lists, but also noted that he was helping run Trump’s transition team. Christie fell from favor, though, when two of his aides were convicted for their role in the Bridgegate controversy.

Runner up: Rep. Trey Gowdy, who led the Benghazi committee.

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Defense Secretary

Michael Flynn or Sen. Jeff Sessions

Michael Flynn Prediction markets: 6 percent A new name this week is Michael Flynn, who has never before been discussed as a potential VP but who is now ahead of candidates like Jeff Sessions and John Kasich. Like Trump, Flynn has no experience in politics; instead, he's a retired U.S. army general who sources tell The Washington Post is being considered in order to bring foreign policy experience to the table. If Trump wants to hit Hillary Clinton's foreign policy background throughout the general election campaign, bringing on board someone who is quite experienced in this area would make a lot of sense. Also interesting is the fact that Flynn isn't even a Republican; he's a registered Democrat. He has been critical of the Obama administration in the past, but it's already become clear that some of his viewpoints do not match the Republican party's, as he recently said he is pro-choice. In addition to the foreign policy expertise, it would fit with Trump's perspective as an outsider candidate to go with someone who also does not have Washington experience. However, on Monday, Trump implied to The Washington Post that he is leaning towards someone with political experience, saying that ""I don’t need two anti-establishment people."(Getty)


Lt. General Michael Flynn has been a strong supporter of Trump’s. He’s railed against Trump’s enemies on Twitter and in television appearances, and he’s written a book about Islamic terrorism. He spoke at the Republican National Convention. Flynn is an outspoken critic of President Barack Obama and “radical Islam.”

NBC said Congress would have to give Flynn a waiver because he hasn’t been out of the military for seven years. As for Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, the conservative Alabama senator has also been listed as a possible Secretary of State or Attorney General. One theory is he would be defense secretary, and Flynn would become national security adviser.

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Chief of Staff

Reince Priebus 

Reince Priebus, RNC Speakers Day 4, Republican National Convention, RNC Chairman

Reince Priebus. (Getty)

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has been named as Trump’s chief of staff. Some had argued that Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager, would then become RNC head. Priebus left the door open in interviews from the start.

Priebus is an attorney from Wisconsin who kept the RNC working to elect Trump even as other Republicans bolted. Trump even dragged Priebus on stage during his victory speech to praise how fantastic and wonderful he is (to use Trump speak).

On November 10, The New York Times and other media outlets reported that Steve Bannon was under consideration as Trump’s chief of staff. Bannon ran the far-right website, Breitbart, until being brought on board Trump’s campaign this summer.

Runners-up: Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, who said on Twitter that she had been offered a job in the White House. David Bossie, a conservative activist who served as Trump’s deputy campaign manager. Bossie has also worked for Citizens United, the organization that produces conservative films like Hillary: The Movie. And Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager. Steve Bannon, Trump’s campaign CEO who came from Breitbart, was floated as a possible chief of staff but named as a top adviser instead.

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Education Secretary or Health and Human Services

Ben Carson

MANCHESTER, IA - JANUARY 31: Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks at a campaign event at Fireside Pub and Steak House on January 31, 2016 in Manchester, Iowa. The Democratic and Republican Iowa Caucuses, the first step in nominating a presidential candidate from each party, will take place on February 1. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Ben Carson

Ben Carson

He’s a doctor. He was one of the earliest supporters of Trump. Trump praised him during his victory speech in effusive terms. He brings diversity to Trump’s cabinet. This one is obvious.

The question is where he will end up. The most recent stories say Education Secretary.

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Treasury Secretary

Steve Mnuchin

Mnuchin is Trump’s finance chairman. Who is Steve Mnuchin?

Reuters says Mnuchin is Trump’s campaign finance chairman. Mnuchin is also “a former partner at Goldman Sachs Group Inc who also founded and runs the hedge fund company Dune Capital Management LP,” said Reuters.

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Commerce Secretary

Lew Eisenberg

Eisenberg is the finance chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Runner-up: Peter Thiel.

Now some unorthodox picks for fun:

Labor Secretary

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

wisconsin returns

Donald Trump and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. (Getty)

Walker’s known for his ferocious battles with labor, of course, but Trump might want to reward him for helping deliver Wisconsin (if begrudgingly until the end). Trump could make him Secretary of Transportation, but Walker is no fan of trains.

FBI Director

James Comey

James Comey fired , James Comey Hillary Clinton email, FBI Director James Comey, Hillary Clinton email, Hillary Clinton private server, Comey influence election

FBI Director James Comey. (Getty)

You need to ask why?

FBI directors serve 10-year terms but can be fired by presidents, by the way. Trump told 60 Minutes on November 13 that he wants to talk to Comey before deciding whether to keep him.

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Homeland Security

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke. (Facebook/Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department)

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke. (Facebook/Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department)

The former police homicide detective and commander rides around on a horse, wears a cowboy hat, is a darling of conservative talk radio, was at Trump’s side during the campaign, spoke during the convention, and would help diversify Trump’s cabinet. They both like to tweet too.

Runner up: U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, who is chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

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Press Secretary

Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, Kellyanne Conway, or Scott Baio

Actor Scott Baio was one of the early speeches of the night. Baio told CNN that he was added to the speakers list last week when he ran into Trump at an event. Baio emphasized restoring a work ethic into the country that he believes has deteriorated. (Getty)

Actor Scott Baio was one of the early speeches of the night. Baio told CNN that he was added to the speakers list last week when he ran into Trump at an event. Baio emphasized restoring a work ethic into the country that he believes has deteriorated. (Getty)

The name being floated most recently is Laura Ingraham, the pro-Trump conservative talk show host.

Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, was often his face in the news media. Hannity was one of the biggest media Trump boosters.

Scott Baio vocalized support for Trump during the campaign. Yeah, that’s a pretty ridiculous choice. But America just elected a former reality star president, so why not? (No one’s really talking about Baio. But you have to add someone in to keep things lighthearted).

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Interior Secretary

Sarah Palin or Jan Brewer

Sarah Palin GOP, Sarah Palin talking, Sarah Palin pointing

Palin at 2014 Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans. (Getty)

Alaska. Enough said. (Plus, she was an early and vocal supporter). Brewer is the former Arizona governor.

Small Business Administration

La Toya Jackson, Omarosa, Celebrity Apprentice

The former Apprentice contestant was at Trump’s New York party railing against Trump’s enemies. She’s now Trump’s director of African-American outreach.

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    • Agreed…West and Gowdy reside at the top of my wanted list. Regardless of who gets appointed though, I’m so excited for this presidency. The more days that go by, and the more I hear the lefties crying and bashing President Trump, the more I truly love that man.

  1. Its the 2nd tier appointments that are going to be filled by the gutless Bush and Romney fails…Beware America Republican Establishment is the same as Democrats

  2. Didn’t the Donald said he was going to ‘drain the swamp’? Well, he should start with Rudy, Newt, Mitch and Huckabe just to start…. This list smells like the old rotten swamp is still well and alive!

    • Not all the swamp was bad. Just most. But they made it easy to find the good from the bad early on. The only one I suspect in this list is Priebous. He always seemed a little smarmy to me.

  3. Attorney General must go to the Best of the Best, and that would be Rep. Trey Gowdy. He is as brilliant and ferocious as they come. The videos on the internet of Trey have become legendary. He is a feared and outspoken man. America deserves the best, and Trey Gowdy is that man.

    • True, but the real investigators into the Clinton Foundation and the Lolita Express/Clinton connection are the NYPD. Having Giuliani in there, at least for the first term would be very helpful. Not sure how well the NYPD would like working with a southerner. ;-) Besides, having Trey in Congress is really needed. There is only he and Jason Chaffetz that are doing much. We don’t want to take anyone of the the Congress that we have now that is doing a good job.

  4. This doesn’t look like draining the swamp to me. Newt Gingrich ??? He’s the dude who increased lobbyist’s and fundraising to a non-stop activity ! He needs to bring in outsiders or he IS the same old establishment bullshit.

    • DO NOT dismiss Gingrich. He is a washington insider, yes. but he has been on our side for a very, very long time. He knows more about how washington really works than anyone. I am not sure I’d put him in a cabinet position, but I would keep him very close. He is a very valuable asset.