The Worst Wing: Meet Trump's Potential Cabinet
Trump's cabinet administration will likely include finance and oil executives, at least a couple famous cheaters, and a lot of white men.
Steve Bannon. Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty
Donald Trump, the president-elect of the United States, made a lot of noise about how he would arrive in Washington, DC, and "drain the swamp," putting an end to the corruption that has strangled the government and hurt ordinary Americans. But Donald Trump also lies a lot. So as news trickles out about who Trump is consideringfor hiscabinet, it shouldn't come as a shock that the people in a Trump White House will likely be a collection of Washington hacks, longtime Republican operatives, and representatives of America's most toxic industries.
Trump is often said to value loyalty, so that means that the collection of right-wing hangers-on and has-beens who have been supporting him for months in a nothing-to-lose kind of way are now poised to cash in.
What follows is a list of these losers made winners by the most surprising election in modern times. A lot of them have said racist things, or expressed hostility to civil rights. The vast, vast majority are white men; the only non-white person on this list is famous for his unhinged hostility to Black Lives Matter. An odd number of them are, like Trump, older men who are famous for cheating on their wives. Chris Christie is not on this list because his behavior is too sleazy even for Trump.
The worst-case scenario for Trump's cabinet has an oil executive–running Interior, a racist as attorney general, a psuedo fascist at Homeland Security, a warmonger as secretary of state, a finance executive at the Treasury, and an advisor beloved by white supremacists at Trump's elbow. The best case is that it's just corrupt in the ordinary DC way, and neither better nor worse than the George W. Bush administration. But this is not a list that inspires confidence:
Who Is He? The former CEO of Breitbart News, a website Bannon once admitted is "the platform for the alt-right," the section of the right that is more comfortable with white nationalism and anti-Semitism than most Republicans.
Why Him? He was Trump's campaign chairman and so is naturally stepping into a role as a senior White House advisor.
What Will His Job Be? He's Trump's new "chief strategist and senior counsel."
What's His Deal? Though anticipated, news that Bannon is stepping into such a major role made a lot of people very upset, since his last job was running a news organization that is basically the Huffington Post for teenagers who think racism is funny. An ex-wife once accused him of choking her and wanting to pull their daughters out of a school because there were too many Jewish students there; he's also been accused of violating election law by being registered to vote at a Florida address where he didn't live and of sexual harassment. (Bannon has denied all of this.)
Who Is He? The Republican National Committee chairman is being rewarded for shepherding his party through the most contentious election in memory by becoming Trump's chief of staff.
Why Him? I guess Priebus must really have done some shit in a previous life, because he's still stuck dealing with the messes that Trump and his band are going to create.
What Will His Job Be? Chief of staff, a thankless role that tends to chew up and spit out the poor souls who have to fill it.
What's His Deal? He's a member of the Party Establishment, and when you're in his role, your job is to elect Republicans and serve them once they get into office.
Who Is He? The vice president–elect and governor of Indiana, a standard-issue Christian conservative—strident anti-gay views and all—poured into a suit and topped off with a thin layer of white hair.
Why Him? Trump's selection of Pence as VP was widely seen as a bone thrown to the religious right.
What Will His Job Be? Vice president, a role that, given Trump's mercurial managing style, could wind up with a lot of responsibility.
What's His Deal? Pence is most famous for his long history of opposing gay rights, but that shouldn't obscure his other bad ideas, like the taxpayer-funded "news organization" he wanted to create before it was ridiculed by everyone, or his ongoing court battle to keep the contents of his emails out of the public record.
Who Is He? The former speaker of the House, a lover of science fiction and adultery.
Why Him? He's been politically irrelevant for years, but his longtime support of Trump makes him a candidate for a number of cabinet positions.
What Would His Job Be? Maybe secretary of state, maybe secretary of the Interior.
What's His Deal? Gingrich is a hypocritical windbag but pretty benign compared to some of the people populating this list—like, the rumor about him asking his wife for a divorce while she was dying isn't even true! His capacity to bullshit, however, shouldn't be underrated: He recently denied Trump was connected to the alt-right, even though Bannon has open, obvious links to the movement. During the same interview, Gingrich said Bannon couldn't be anti-Semitic because he had worked in finance.
Who Is He? Bolton is most famous for being the US ambassador to the United Nations under George W. Bush, and for hating the UN.
Why Him? His experience and his hatred of international institutions make him a natural fit for the incoming Trump administration.
What Would His Job Be? Secretary of state.
What's His Deal? His main deal is war, more particularly war with Iran. On Sunday, he published a New York Post op-ed that advocated for canceling the recent agreement with Iran over its nuclear weapons. What should go in its place? He doesn't say in the Post, but he did offer a hint in the New York Times last year: He thinks the US or Israel should bomb Iran.
Who Is She? A New Hampshire senator who is also solidly in the neocon wing of the GOP. She recently lost her reelection bid, so she has plenty of time on her hands.
Why Her? The Washington Post theorized that her appointment could be a gesture of reconciliation to the traditional Foreign Policy Establishment.
What Would Her Job Be? She's something of a dark horse contender for secretary of state.
What's Her Deal? The most famous moment of her Senate campaign came when Ayotte said that Trump was a "role model" during a debate. Then, realizing that that would link her to the controversial candidate, backtracked and clarified that she didn't think the man who would become the president-elect and her potential future boss wasn't a good example for children.
Who Is He? The former mayor of New York City and a onetime US attorney, now a talking head who goes on television to say vaguely racist things.
Why Him? Trump loves people who kiss his ass and Giuliani has been doing that for months. That plus Giuliani's legal experience makes him a strong contender for some kind of position.
What Would His Job Be? Attorney general is the most likely spot for him if he's in the cabinet, but ABC News has him down as a possibility for State or Homeland Security.
What's His Deal? Giuliani has always subscribed to a racially tinged pro-police politics, but his race-baiting has been getting less and less subtle over the years. In 2015, he claimed Obama didn't love America; in October, during a speech before a financial services trade group, he supposedly said nasty things about the "Mexicans in the kitchen."
Who Is He? A Tennessee senator who is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Why Him? He's been in Trump's orbit for a while and has a pretty high-ranking Senate post.
What Would His Job Be? Secretary of state.
What's His Deal? Corker is one of a few mainstream Republican politicians who appears to have played this presidential campaign exactly right. He hopped on the Trump train while still calling the candidate's pussy-grabbing comments "inappropriate and offensive" and taking himself out of the running for the VP slot—presumably to avoid being tarnished forever should Trump have lost.
Who Is He? Another Republican senator who was one of Trump's earliest supporters and loudest backers.
Why Him? The guy is so loyal that he said that grabbing women by the pussy wasn't sexual assault. Sessions is now on the Trump transition team and will presumably be in the cabinet in some capacity.
What Would His Job Be? Attorney general, or secretary of defense, or secretary of homeland security.
What's His Deal? His first brush with prominence came in 1986, when he was nominated by Ronald Reagan for a judgeship but got shot down when it came out that as a US attorney in Alabama he prosecuted three activists who were registering black people to vote. He also allegedly called a black subordinate "boy" and referred to the Voting Rights Act as a "piece of intrusive legislation."
Who Is He? A former Goldman Sachs banker turned Hollywood executive who was the Trump campaign's national finance chairman and is on the transition team.
Why Him? He's Trump's money guy.
What Would His Job Be? Treasury secretary.
What's His Deal? A rich Wall Streeter taking over at the Treasury is pretty much business as usual, though Mnuchin doesn't have any government experience. One company that he ran, OneWest, was criticized for aggressive foreclosure practices—meaning that if Trump taps him for the cabinet, the supposed outsider candidate will be picking a guy with deep ties to both the finance industry and the worst of the real estate industry.
Who Is He? The former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lieutenant General Flynn is one of the few people on this list with federal government experience.
Why Him? Given that he's been advising Trump on national security matters since the primary campaign, it's widely expected he'll get some kind of top post.
What Would His Job Be? National security advisor, or CIA director, or secretary of defense, or maybe even secretary of vet.
What's His Deal? Flynn told theWashington Post that he was kicked to the curb by his superiors for his views on Islam, but other accounts say it was because he repeatedly fought with his bosses. Since his forced retirement, Flynn has advocated closer ties with Russia, been photographed sitting next to Russian president Vladimir Putin at a banquet, and compared RT, a Russian government-funded propaganda outfit, to CNN and MSNBC. A lobbying group he founded was recently hired by a company with ties to the Turkish government, and he coincidentally wrote an op-ed defending Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan from criticism about his cracking down on dissidents.
Who Is He? David Clarke, the only non-white person on this list, and a registered Democrat, is the sheriff of Milwaukee County. His motto is if you can't say anything nice, say it extremely loudly on FOX News and then mention ISIS.
Why Him? His main qualification is that he's repeatedly praised Trump on TV.
What Would His Job Be? Homeland security secretary or attorney general; either position would give him a frightening amount of power.
What's His Deal? He's said Black Lives Matter is made up of "subhuman creeps" and bizarrely theorized that they would team up with ISIS. After anti-Trump protests broke out following the election, he called for a state of emergency to be declared and for the protests to be broken up with tear gas and "ALL non lethal force." A jail under his control allowed an inmate to die of dehydration and the death was ruled a homicide. In response to budget cuts in 2013, he made a radio ad telling people to buy guns and take their protection into their own hands.
Who Is He? He's the current Texas agriculture commissioner and a former member of the Texas Legislature. He always wears a cowboy hat.
Why Him? Like most people on this list, he was for Trump early and loudly.
What Would His Job Be? Agriculture secretary.
What's His Deal? He gets called "colorful," a.k.a. his Twitter account referred to Hillary Clinton as a "cunt" (he says that was a subordinate screwing up), his Facebook page once featured a post about nuking "the Muslim world," nearly faced criminal charges over using taxpayer funds to travel to Oklahoma and receive a psuedo-scientific treatment called a "Jesus Shot."
Who Is She? The short version is that she was elected governor of Alaska, got nominated as John McCain's running mate, got excoriated by the media for lying all the dang time, and then quit her job as governor because it was easier and more profitable to just go around the country telling Tea Party types what they wanted to hear.
Why Her? Bannon once made a documentary about this failed vice-presidential candidate and governor called The Undefeated. Her appointment would also follow the pattern of a cabinet filled with right-wing media stars without a lot of policy experience—it's the Kardashians for people with a shitload of Confederate flags in their house, and Palin is Kim.
What Would Her Job Be? Interior secretary.
What's Her Deal? Man, I dunno.
Who Is He? A former FBI agent and Michigan congressman who headed up the House Intelligence Committee.
Why Him? He has law enforcement and congressional experience; he got his foot in the door probably because he's Chris Christie's friend.
What Would His Job Be? CIA director or national security advisor.
What's His Deal? He's actually disliked by a lot of conservatives for producing a report on the 2012 Benghazi attack that concluded that there weren't any intelligence failures. Also, one time he said during a discussion on the NSA, "You can't have your privacy violated if you don't know your privacy is violated."
Who Is He? The founder of Lucas Oil.
Why Him? Lucas is an Indiana native and a big donor to Trump and Pence.
What Would His Job Be? He's being considered for secretary of the interior.
What's His Deal? So putting an oil executive in charge of the government department that looks after the national parks is obviously a signal to that industry that it should feel free to do whatever the hell it likes. But there's more to Lucas than that. For instance, did you know that he had to apologize for his wife (who is also the co-founder of Lucas Oil) going on a Facebook rant against atheists and Muslims?
Who Is He? You might know the famous Arizona sheriff for being viciously cruel to inmates in his charge, or for failing to investigate sex crimes, for spearheading a ridiculous volunteer investigation into Obama's birthplace (it was Hawaii, if anyone in that "posse" is reading this, you're welcome), or for running a department that repeatedly racially profiled Latinos and wouldn't stop even after repeated court orders. Or maybe you know him for arresting journalists who had investigated his finances—they sued and won millions from Maricopa County, just one of many court cases that Sheriff Joe has been involved in. One 2015 article said his legal tab (including court costs and payouts from insurers) was $142 million and counting.
Why Him? Trump has no problem with any of that.
What Would His Job Be? Homeland security secretary.
What's His Deal? The silver lining here is that Arpaio is 84 and so will probably be dead soon.
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