By Brian Kulpan
After the divisive presidential election on November 8, President-elect Donald Trump has begun vetting top candidates to serve in his administration. While the process of selecting an incoming president’s cabinet is by no means easy affair, the current transition team has encountered a considerable amount of obstacles. According to the New York Times, Vice President-elect Mike Pence will take over as leader of Donald Trump’s transition team, casting aside New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who will now function as vice chairman of the transition effort.
In assuming this new leadership position, Pence takes up the role of bridge builder between the alt-right conservative wing of the Republic party and the Republican establishment on Capitol Hill. Trump, while acknowledging the need for party reconciliation, is still keen on maintaining relations with his circle of loyal advisers, most of whom have long been skeptical of Washington. Pence, former Governor of Indiana, retains connections with top establishment figures that will be essential for navigating such a tumultuous transition period.
Since the election results were announced early November 9, speculation concerning potential cabinet appointees across the media. No concrete list has emerged, however, and only a few cabinet positions have been officially confirmed. The first being Reince Priebus for Chief of Staff. Priebus served as chairman of the Republican National Committee since 2011, and will utilize his status as a prominent Washington insider to help bolster relations between the Trump administration and established party leaders. The second confirmed position is that of Steve Bannon for Chief Strategist and Senior Council. Although his position is not a cabinet appointment, Bannon will project far reaching influence as one of Trump’s top White House strategists. The former Breitbart News executive will act as the President’s senior advisor and will work alongside Priebus, creating a dichotomy of power in the White House. Many critics have accused Bannon, a former banker for Goldman Sachs, of being a staunch white supremacist. The charismatic conservative helped transform Breitbart into a leading voice of the anti-establishment wing of the Republican Party.
Retired Army Lieutenant General Michael T. Flynn, a top campaign adviser and high-profile surrogate who once served as the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, was offered the role of national security advisor, according to CNN . CNN also confirms that Representative Mike Pompeo of Kansas was appointed director of the CIA, and Alabama Senior Senator Jeff Sessions was appointed Attorney General. Although Sessions would bring decades of experience to the Trump administration, his appointment is not without serious controversy. A recent article from the AP notes that in 1986 he made racially charged comments and had a poor record of defending civil rights as an attorney, which prevented his nomination as a U.S. federal judge in a GOP-majority Senate.
The appointees have already accepted their new positions and will prepare for rigorous Congressional hearings to confirm them. The coming weeks will see the remainder of Trump’s cabinet positions filled, including the important role of Secretary of State. A source close to the president-elect told NBC News that the short list for Secretary of State includes former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, former Mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani, and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.