Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:
Corporations and billionaires have their own media. Shouldn't we? When you “follow the money” that funds our independent journalism, it all leads back to this: people like you. Our supporters are what allows us to produce journalism in the public interest that is beholden only to people, our planet, and the common good. Please support our Mid-Year Campaign so that we always have a newsroom for the people that is funded by the people. Thank you for your support. --Jon Queally, managing editor

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Yup, her too. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/cc/flickr)

Yup, her too. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/cc/flickr)

As Trump Transitions to Power, 'Cabinet of Horrors' Takes Shape

Climate skeptics, oil tycoons, campaign loyalists, war hawks, and law enforcement enthusiasts top the list of potential appointees

Lauren McCauley

As President-elect Donald Trump began his transition to power on Thursday, early reporting has opened a window into what the nation can expect as his "cabinet of horrors," as AFP put it, takes shape.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Rudy Giuliani, Ben Carson, Newt Gingrich, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, and former Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin are among the more high-profile individuals named on a shortlist of potential appointees leaked to several news outlets.

On Wednesday, BuzzFeed News published a list of 41 names suggested for 13 positions, including attorney general, secretary of state, White House chief of staff, and White House counsel.

And while some, like Christie, were unsurprising, as Salon's Brendan Gauthier wrote, "The people whose names you don't recognize are as bad or worse as those whose names you're sick of hearing."

For example, Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who is being considered to head the Department of Defense, "was fired from his post as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014, which he attributed to his hawkishness," Gauthier reports.

Oil executive Forrest Lucas is favored to take over the Department of the Interior, multiple outlets have reported. "That's a position that oversees land management, national parks and wildlife reserves, and Lucas at the helm would represent a nightmare scenario for environmentalists," AFP reported.

Also being considered for that position is Palin, the former vice presidential candidate made famous for her love of hunting and frequent chants of "drill, baby, drill."

It has previously been revealed that top climate skeptic Myron Ebell, who serves as director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, is spearheading transition plans for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—a department Trump repeatedly vowed to dismantle during his run-up to the election.

"In some cases," BuzzFeed reports, "it appears the transition team is looking to find a home for a particularly loyal ally—Ben Carson, for instance, is listed as a potential candidate to be the secretary of education and secretary of health and human services, while Sen. Jeff Sessions is listed as a possible attorney general, head of the Office of Management and Budget, or secretary of defense."

As for the heavy-hitters, former Republican House speaker Gingrich is being floated for the position of secretary of state, which AFP notes, "would have major implications for U.S. foreign policy and Washington’s role in the international community."

Gingrich, who has lauded Trump's approach to foreign policy, has had his own international views described as "unpredictable," "hawkish," and "shameless."

Meanwhile, Christie and Giuliani—each with their own questionable interpretations of the law—are reportedly in competition for the role of attorney general. This particular appointment, Maurice Chammah wrote at the criminal justice-focused Marshall Project on Wednesday, is "poised to upend...[o]ne of the Obama administration's most aggressive civil rights tactics—the investigation and forced reform of local police departments."

"Under a new attorney general," Chammah wrote, "priorities could shift practically overnight. New investigations could grind to a halt, and court-ordered consent decrees could stall as career [Department of Justice] lawyers are ordered to abandon their efforts"—which would be a serious blow to the criminal justice reform movement.

The list provided to BuzzFeed is included below, but these 41 names only scratch the surface of a Trump administration. As the recently-launched transition website notes, the incoming administration is responsible for selecting candidates for "approximately 4,100 presidential appointments."

List of Potential Trump Cabinet Nominees:

Attorney General:

  • NJ Gov. Chris Christie
  • Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi
  • Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions
  • Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani

Secretary of Commerce:

  • NJ Gov. Chris Christie
  • Former Nucor CEO Dan DiMicco
  • Businessman Lew Eisenberg
  • Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee
  • Georgia Sen. David Purdue
  • Former Missouri Sen. Jim Talent

Agriculture Secretary:

  • Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback
  • National Council of Farmer Cooperatives CEO Chuck Conner
  • Former Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman
  • Texas Agricultural Commissioner Sid Miller
  • Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue

Secretary of Education:

  • Ben Carson
  • Hoover Institution fellow William Evers

Secretary of Energy:

  • Venture Capitalist Robert Grady
  • Businessman Harold Hamm

Secretary of Health and Human Services:

  • Former New Jersey state Sen. Rich Bagger
  • Ben Carson
  • Former US House Speaker Newt Gingrich
  • Florida Gov. Rick Scott

Secretary of Homeland Security:

  • NJ Gov. Chris Christie
  • Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke

Secretary of the Interior:

  • Former Arizaona Gov. Jan Brewer
  • Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin
  • Venture Capitalist Robert Grady
  • Businessman Harold Hamm
  • Oil Executive Forrest Lucas
  • Rep. Cynthia Lummis
  • Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin

Secretary of Defense:

  • Retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn
  • Former Bush National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley
  • Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr.
  • Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions
  • Former Missouri Sen. Jim Talent

Secretary of State:

  • Former UN Ambassador John Bolton
  • Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker
  • Former US House Speaker Newt Gingrich

Treasury Secretary:

  • US Rep. Jeb Hensarling
  • Businessman Carl Icahn
  • Former Goldman Sachs Banker Steven Mnuchin

Chief of Staff:

  • Reince Priebus

Director of Office of Management and Budget:

  • Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions

Secretary of Labor:

  • EEOC Commissioner Victoria Lipnic

Veterans Affairs:

  • Florida US Rep. Jeff Miller

White House Counsel:

  • Former Chair of Federal Elections Commission Donald McGahn

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.


Amnesty Report Demands Biden Take Action to End Death Penalty

"The world is waiting for the USA to do what almost 100 countries have achieved during this past half-century—total abolition of the death penalty," said the group.

Julia Conley ·

Pointing to 'Recently Obtained Evidence,' Jan. 6 Panel Calls Surprise Tuesday Hearing

The announcement came less than a week after the House panel delayed new hearings until next month, citing a "deluge" of fresh evidence.

Common Dreams staff ·

Looming US Supreme Court Climate Decision Could 'Doom' Hope for Livable Future

"The immediate issue is the limits of the EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gases," said one scientist. "The broader issue is the ability of federal agencies to regulate anything at all."

Jessica Corbett ·

Supreme Court Takes 'Wrecking Ball' to Separation of Church and State With Prayer Ruling

After decades of affirming that prayers led by school officials are unconstitutional, said Justice Sonia Sotomayor, "the court now charts a different path."

Julia Conley ·

Louisiana Judge Blocks State's Post-Roe Abortion Ban

"Abortion care will resume in the state and a hearing has been set for July 8th," said the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo