Trump announces AG and UN ambassador nominees

President Donald Trump announces the nominations of William Barr as attorney general and former Fox News host Heather Nauert as UN ambassador.

Posted: Dec 7, 2018 8:57 PM
Updated: Dec 7, 2018 9:17 PM

After a few weeks of quiet, the Cabinet reshuffle President Donald Trump teased in the days surrounding the midterm election has kicked into gear.

On Friday, Trump announced nominations to fill his most high-profile vacancies. Separately, CNN reported chief of staff John Kelly is expected to resign within days.

It's anyone's guess whether more changes are to come. What's clear, though, is that Trump is presiding over the most tumultuous Cabinet in recent memory. In his nearly two years in office, Trump has fired or forced out six Cabinet officials, shuffled two others into different posts and seen the most high-profile woman in his administration announce her resignation.

Here's a look at where things stand with Trump's entire Cabinet, including who's under fire, who seems safe, and who is off the radar, first as a group and then by category:

The replacements

On Friday, Trump told reporters he would nominate William "Bill" Barr, a former attorney general during the George H.W. Bush administration to replace former Attorney General Jeff Sessions on a permanent basis. The news came just days after Trump attended the former President's funeral at the National Cathedral in Washington. Barr has previously defended Trump's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey and been critical of the Russia probe, but his strong reputation in Washington suggests he could have an easy confirmation.

Trump also said he would replace outgoing US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, one of the most popular women in his Cabinet, with State Department spokeswoman (and former Fox News host) Heather Nauert. The catch is that the position will be downgraded and removed from Trump's Cabinet. Nauert's lack of traditional experience could lead to a tough confirmation.

Under fire from Trump

CNN reported Friday that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly could resign within days and that he and the President were barely on speaking terms. That follows months of speculation over how long Kelly would last in the job, and numerous reports of tension between the two men.

A Kelly departure could also spell trouble for Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who is linked to Kelly. One possible replacement for Kelly could be Vice President Mike Pence's top aide Nick Ayers.

In an interview with Fox News after the election, Trump didn't sound very high on either Nielsen or Kelly.

"I want her to get much tougher, and we'll see what happens there," he said of his DHS chief.

And of Kelly: "There are a couple of things where it's just not his strength. It's not his fault, it's not his strength."

Under fire from outside

There's a big difference between drawing public scrutiny and drawing scrutiny from Trump. He's shown a willingness to stick with someone amid public scandals if he's otherwise happy with the job they're doing.

That's how Scott Pruitt, the former EPA administrator, hung on for months despite a growing list of investigations into possible abuse of his power. But former HHS Secretary Tom Price was gone relatively quickly over his use of private planes, which happened to coincide with Republicans' failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is the subject of a DOJ investigation, while Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta is under scrutiny for his previous role in a plea deal for multimillionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

Education Secretary Betsy Devos and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson have also faced public scrutiny, though that's died down recently.

Filling a vacancy

One thing that could complicate a shakeup is that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made it clear that no Republican senators can be spared for Cabinet roles. When Jeff Sessions became Trump's attorney general, Republicans subsequently lost Sessions' old seat in the reliably red state of Alabama.

There are two acting secretaries in Trump's Cabinet. Andrew Wheeler has carried on in Pruitt's mold on the policy front at the EPA. While Trump has announced his intent to name Wheeler to the job permanently, he hasn't yet filed the necessary paperwork.

The situation for acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is more tenuous. The White House broke protocol to put him in the role, bypassing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. It's unclear how extensively Whitaker was vetted, considering the amount of heat he has drawn over his ties to a patenting company shut down by the government this year over allegations of fraud. His days in the administration are numbered now that Trump has said he'll nominate Barr to the position.

In the game

There remains a core group of cabinet officials and top advisers whose jobs appear to be safe. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is among those closest to Trump, taking the lead on negotiations with North Korea and the response to the Jamal Khashoggi murder. National security adviser John Bolton, the third man to hold the job under Trump, has consolidated power since coming on board in March and has dictated much of the administration's hardline foreign policy. Bolton reports directly to the President.

Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is negotiating with China and enforcing Trump's tariffs while OMB Director Mick Mulvaney has been tasked with additional jobs like overseeing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And then there's Vice President Mike Pence, who has taken on a wide portfolio, including standing in for Trump on the campaign trail, while also projecting stalwart loyalty.

It's complicated

There's nothing to indicate that people like Defense Secretary James Mattis or Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats are on their way out. But both men have not been afraid to make their differences with Trump known at times, Coats on the issue of Russian meddling and Mattis on issues like US troops at the border with Mexico.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is also not often discussed as a trouble spot for the President, but he hasn't exactly been the most forceful Cabinet secretary. Plus, he is the lone remaining Goldman Sachs alum (now that Gary Cohn is out) with free trade tendencies visible on the President's economic team. Mnuchin recommended Jay Powell to lead the Fed and Trump has said he now regrets the decision, given Powell's interest rate hikes.

Gina Haspel is the first woman to lead the CIA and Trump has not publicly split with her, but the CIA has clearly split with Trump on Khashoggi and her briefing for senators has helped fuel their momentum to penalize Saudi Arabia for the murder despite Trump's wishes.

Under Trump's radar

You don't hear quite as much about these Cabinet secretaries, either because their agencies are not at the top of national headlines or because they aren't pushing their way to the front.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has pleased Trump with the new drug pricing plan. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue helped placate aggravated farmers after tariffs and is overseeing billions in payments to help offset their difficulties.

While Carson was the subject of an early scandal over expensive furniture purchased for his office, the issue blew over and news around Carson is scarce these days.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry has been busy promoting nuclear power abroad, including in Saudi Arabia, and propping up the US coal industry. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is among the quietest of Trump's Cabinet secretaries. Mitch McConnell's influential wife is the keeper of the infrastructure plan Trump has long promised.

DeVos suffered some initial stumbles, but has remained out of the broader conversation, though she's come under fire from activists recently, particularly over her efforts to reform Title IX.

Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon is quietly running the SBA but may have higher aspirations, while Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie has helped stabilize an agency in turmoil after the firing of former Sec. David Shulkin.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 98447

Reported Deaths: 2072
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin27557932
Ramsey11167323
Dakota7692126
Anoka6281137
Stearns409424
Washington391855
Scott264833
Olmsted253528
Nobles197916
Blue Earth17366
St. Louis172542
Wright17017
Carver14467
Clay142441
Rice13478
Mower13446
Sherburne117714
Kandiyohi10563
Winona92018
Lyon7334
Waseca7228
Benton5633
Steele5552
Crow Wing55418
Nicollet54717
Freeborn5464
Watonwan5354
Chisago5171
Todd5072
McLeod5022
Le Sueur4764
Otter Tail4694
Beltrami4605
Martin44611
Goodhue3899
Pine3550
Douglas3522
Itasca35215
Polk3274
Isanti3191
Becker2842
Carlton2791
Morrison2702
Dodge2610
Pipestone23810
Chippewa2321
Cottonwood2290
Meeker2132
Wabasha2060
Sibley2023
Yellow Medicine1982
Brown1962
Cass1864
Rock1810
Redwood1783
Murray1742
Mille Lacs1693
Renville1618
Jackson1531
Unassigned15352
Faribault1470
Swift1441
Fillmore1330
Houston1300
Kanabec1288
Roseau1260
Koochiching1233
Hubbard1221
Pennington1201
Lincoln1180
Stevens1071
Pope1000
Aitkin841
Big Stone830
Wadena730
Wilkin713
Lac qui Parle681
Grant634
Lake600
Norman560
Marshall531
Mahnomen491
Red Lake451
Traverse340
Clearwater310
Lake of the Woods241
Kittson120
Cook70

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 87828

Reported Deaths: 1332
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk16113264
Woodbury559768
Johnson517927
Black Hawk454192
Linn4163114
Story348517
Dubuque340242
Scott309528
Dallas282938
Pottawattamie220139
Buena Vista200312
Marshall179434
Sioux17073
Wapello134157
Webster131714
Plymouth118221
Clinton113921
Muscatine112855
Crawford11086
Cerro Gordo106421
Warren9696
Jasper87034
Des Moines8068
Henry7734
Marion7728
Tama75332
Carroll6955
Lee6527
Wright5971
Dickinson5426
Boone5268
Bremer5067
Washington48511
Delaware4413
Louisa43415
Mahaska42720
Lyon3754
Jackson3583
Floyd3573
Franklin35218
Clay3434
Winneshiek3408
Benton3381
Hamilton3343
Winnebago32313
Hardin3111
Poweshiek3118
Buchanan2921
Jones2893
Kossuth2860
Butler2792
Emmet27510
Chickasaw2701
Shelby2701
Clarke2693
Clayton2683
Sac2670
Allamakee2656
Guthrie2649
Harrison2593
Cherokee2572
Cedar2531
Fayette2382
Madison2342
Grundy2294
Iowa2221
Palo Alto2080
Hancock1992
Mitchell1970
Humboldt1943
Howard1927
Mills1911
Page1910
Calhoun1883
Osceola1770
Cass1762
Pocahontas1662
Monona1621
Monroe16211
Lucas1566
Appanoose1443
Union1423
Jefferson1401
Taylor1341
Davis1284
Ida1281
Fremont1220
Keokuk1191
Van Buren1181
Worth1090
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Wayne882
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