Posted: 7:28 am Monday, December 12th, 2016
By Jamie Dupree
President-Elect Donald Trump began his week by picking retired Gen. John Kelly for the job of Homeland Security Secretary, as Mr. Trump still has some big decisions to make on his Cabinet, along with the more tedious process of filling hundreds of lower-level government positions.
“Gen. John Kelly’s decades of military service and deep commitment to fighting the threat of terrorism inside our borders makes him the ideal choice to serve as our Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security,” Mr. Trump said in a morning new release.
“The American people voted in this election to stop terrorism, take back sovereignty at our borders, and put a stop to political correctness that for too long has dictated our approach to national security,” Kelly added in his own statement.
General John Kelly will be a tremendous leader at Homeland Security. His leadership of the Southern Command was the perfect preparation.
— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) December 12, 2016
The Trump Transition still must make announcements on a series of Cabinet jobs:
+ Secretary of State
+ Veterans Affairs
Also, still to be filled are jobs that have a Cabinet-level feel to them, like the U.S. Trade Representative and someone to head the Office of Management and Budget.
There are nearly 700 positions that require confirmation by the U.S. Senate for a new administration, which includes ambassadors, assistant secretaries, deputy secretaries, and other important leadership jobs.
The “biggest” job left to pick on the board at this point is obviously that of Secretary of State – all indications are that post will go to Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, but nothing is official until it happens.
Over the weekend, Mr. Trump made clear he likes Tillerson for a number of reasons.
Whether I choose him or not for "State"- Rex Tillerson, the Chairman & CEO of ExxonMobil, is a world class player and dealmaker. Stay tuned!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 11, 2016
“Everything about Rex Tillerson says excellence,” said Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), though there are some GOP Senators who aren’t sold about Tillerson’s lack of government experience.
Critics of Mr. Trump have not been impressed.
“What concerns me very much is it looks like we have a cabinet of billionaires,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
“I call it the three ‘G’ Cabinet,” said Sen. Clare McCaskill (D-MO). “Goldman, generals and gazillionaires.”
In terms of timing, the Trump Transition is running at about the same time line for filling appointments as the Obama Transition eight years ago.
Mr. Trump will be sworn in on January 20, 2017.
About the Author
Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog. A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989.