As the controversies surrounding the 2016 presidential election continue, president-elect Donald Trump has started the process of selecting his cabinet. As is common for the political landscape of 2016, Trump’s actions have been met with a slew of controversy.
According to Whitehouse.gov the president’s cabinet consists of the vice president and 15 executive positions that the president-elect picks before he or she takes office. The cabinet’s purpose is to work under the president as administrators of the various departments of government, and to report, inform and advise the president with their expertise in their respective administrative fields.
These positions are the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, Veterans Affairs, as well as the position of Attorney General. In tandem with these administrative positions, Trump also decides who to pick for White House managerial positions such as Chief of Staff and Chief Strategist.
The president-elect has, at the time this article was written, only picked seven of his 15 positions. Trump’s picks are: Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama for Attorney General, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao as Transportation Secretary, six-term Georgia congressman and orthopedic surgeon Tom Price as Health and Human Services Secretary, billionaire Wilbur Ross as Commerce Secretary, former Michigan Republican Party secretary Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary, South Carolina governor Nikki Haley as UN Ambassador, and Trump presidential campaign finance chairman Steve Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary.
The president-elect has also chosen Stephen Bannon as his White House Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor, as well as his White House Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus. Soon, Trump is rumored to announce his pick of former Republican primary candidate Dr. Ben Carson as his choice for Housing and Urban Development Secretary.
Although a solid cast of—mostly—experienced politicians, Trump’s picks have brought about a stream of controversy. Although some critics on the Left have excoriated nearly all of Trump’s picks for one reason or another, two of the president-elect’s choices have been singled out for particular scrutiny.
The first pick to pique controversy was Bannon. A former executive chairman at Breitbart.com, Bannon has been heavily criticized for the relationship the website has had with the alt-right, a movement generally regarded as white nationalist in its views. Bannon himself has been personally criticized for alleged anti-Semitic statements he made about Jewish children that his kids went to school with.
The second member to arouse a fracas was Sessions. Sessions, a former Attorney General of Alabama, had his nomination as a cabinet member staunchly questioned due to supposed racist comments that he had made during his tenure as the U.S. attorney of Alabama.
Supporters of the nominations have excoriated the criticisms. Bannon has been defended by many coworkers and friends who claim that they have never heard him make any such statements. Sessions has been defended on his record of desegregating schools in Alabama and for obtaining the death penalty for a Klansman that murdered an African-American teenager at whim.