President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has provided detailed instructions to congressional Republicans on how to defend his Cabinet picks, including directions to portray his attorney general nominee, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), as a strong defender of civil rights and to play up South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s Indian heritage as evidence of Trump’s purported commitment to a diverse administration.

The memo, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, urges GOP lawmakers to describe Trump’s latest picks — former Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin for treasury secretary and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross for commerce — as “world-class” financial talents with “ideal,” “extraordinary” qualifications for their posts. The memo did not directly address concerns from some Trump supporters about the nominees’ elite backgrounds and ties to the finance industry.

The memo, transcribed, is posted below in full:


Appointment of Steven Mnuchin — Secretary of the Treasury

  • Mr. Mnuchin is a world-class financier whose decades of experience with financial and monetary matters make him the ideal candidate to serve as US Treasury Secretary, President-elect Trump’s principal economic advisor.
  • Mr. Mnuchin will spearhead President-elect Trump’s plan to develop a dynamic, booming economy that will create 25 million new jobs over the next decade.
  • We will do this by:
  • Mr. Mnuchin was the finance director of Donald Trump’s successful presidential campaign, leading the President-elect’s highly successful and groundbreaking fundraising operation that helped propel him to the presidency.
  • Since 2004, Mr. Mnuchin has been the CEO of Dune Capital Management, one of the country’s premier privately-owned hedge funds, specializing in public equity markets, real estate and the entertainment industry.
  • Mr. Mnuchin co-founded RatPac-Dune Entertainment, which has produced wildly successful films, including Avatar, the highest grossing film in history ($2.8B worldwide), American Sniper, the X-Men series and many more.
  • Prior to that, Mr. Mnuchin worked for 17 years at Goldman Sachs, where he oversaw trading in government securities and mortgage bonds and rose to become the company’s Chief Information Officer.

Appointment of Wilbur Ross — Secretary of Commerce


  • Mr. Ross’s extraordinary business career and history of bringing struggling companies back to profitability make him the ideal person to lead the Commerce Department and to implement President-elect Trump’s America-first economic agenda.
  • The selection of Mr. Ross for Commerce Secretary once again shows that President-elect Trump is surrounding himself with world class talent — the very best people from both the public and private sectors.
  • Mr. Ross agrees with President-elect Trump that the United States must free itself from the “bondage” of “bad trade agreements.” He is a world-class negotiator and can be counted on to be a forceful advocate for America’s interests in the global economy.
  • Mr. Ross agrees with President-elect Trump that we must roll back the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and forge bilateral trade deals that protect American workers and consumers.
  • Mr. Ross agrees with President-elect Trump that cutting taxes for working Americans, reducing burdensome government regulations, and unleashing America’s energy resources will create a booming economy that works for EVERYONE.
  • Mr. Ross has been a savior for struggling U.S. industries in the private sector, and he will now do the same in his new post on behalf of the American people.
  • Mr. Ross’s business record shows he places significant value on US production. While other investors would have allowed foreign interests to devour US manufacturers, Mr. Ross doubled-down on his belief in American workers, savings numerous companies and tens of thousands of jobs.

Appointment of Todd Ricketts — Deputy Secretary of Commerce

  • Mr. Ricketts’ record of success in private business and deep understanding of the finance industry make him an outstanding pick to serve as President-elect Trump’s Deputy Secretary of Commerce.
  • In 2016, Mr. Ricketts helped deliver a World Series Championship to the people of Chicago as a key member of the Cubs ownership group. He is known as a “turnaround artist” and will now work to deliver those kinds of results for American workers.
  • Mr. Ricketts is one of the country’s foremost advocates for fiscal responsibility in government. He has led the “Ending Spending” Super PAC, which is dedicated to educating taxpayers on wasteful and excessive government spending.
  • He will work closely with Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to spur growth and create an economy that works for all Americans.
  • Mr. Ricketts and his family care deeply about their country. They are passionate activists who have championed conservative causes and candidates for many years.

Appointment of Elaine Chao — Secretary of Transportation

  • Secretary Chao is one of the most successful Cabinet officials in American history, having been the longest tenured Secretary of Labor since World War II. She was also Deputy Secretary of Transportation during the George H.W. Bush Administration. Her vast experience and unquestioned abilities make her the perfect choice to lead the Transportation Department into what promises to be a period of significant modernization and improvement.
  • Secretary Chao agrees with President-elect Trump that America’s dilapidated infrastructure must be drastically improved to spur economic growth.
  • Secretary Chao will implement President-elect Trump’s bold, visionary plan for a cost-effective system of roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, railroads, ports, waterways and pipelines in the proud tradition of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who championed the interstate highway system.
  • Secretary Chao will work to:
  • Transform America’s crumbling infrastructure into a golden opportunity for accelerated economic growth and productivity with a deficit-neutral plan targeting substantial new infrastructure investments.


  • Secretary Chao in 2001 became the first American woman of Asian descent to become a Cabinet official when President George W. Bush appointed her Secretary of Labor.
  • Secretary Chao was the only member of President Bush’s original cabinet to have served the entire eight years of his Administration, a testament to her extraordinary competence and deep commitment to public service.
  • As President and CEO of United Way of America, she restored public trust and confidence in one of our nation’s premier charitable institutions after it had been tarnished by financial mismanagement and abuse.
  • As Director of the Peace Corps, she established the first programs in the newly liberated Baltic nations and the independent states of the former Soviet Union.
  • Secretary Chao’s government service also includes serving as Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Transportation, Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission, Deputy Maritime Administrator, and White House Fellow.
  • Prior to her government service, she was Vice President of Syndications at BankAmerica Capital Markets Group and a banker with Citicorp in New York.
  • Secretary Chao earned her MBA from the Harvard Business School and an economics degree from Mount Holyoke College. She is also the recipient of 36 honorary doctorate degrees from colleges and universities across the globe.
  • She is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Appointment of Congressman Tom Price — Secretary of Health and Human Services

  • Congressman Price, a renowned physician, has earned a reputation for being a tireless problem solver and the go-to expert on quality health care policy, making him the perfect choice to serve in President-elect Trump’s cabinet as Secretary of Health and Human Services.
  • Congressman Price authored the Empowering Patients First Act, legislation to fully repeal Obamacare and replace it with patient-centered solutions.
  1. Solutions found in this legislation included:
  • Individual health pools
  • Expanded health savings accounts
  • Tax credits for the purchase of coverage
  • Lawsuit abuse reforms to reduce the costly practice of defensive medicine.
  • For nearly twenty years, Congressman Price worked in private practice as an orthopedic surgeon. As a professor at Emory University Medical School before being elected to Congress, he taught resident doctors in training at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.
  • Congressman Price is currently chairman of the House Budget Committee, giving him a deep understanding of the budgetary impact of US health care policy.
  • Congressman Price has served as Chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee and Chairman of the Republican Study Committee, two posts in which he was elected by his colleagues to lead the charge on crafting conservative policy solutions.
  • Congressman Price is a champion of pro-life issues, receiving a 100% score from National Right to Life.
  • Congressman Price has been a fierce opponent of government waste and devoted to limited government and lower spending.

Appointment of Seema Verma — Administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services


  • Ms. Verma’s knowledge of the inner workings of healthcare systems across the country is unparalleled, and her appointment once again illustrates President-elect Trump’s commitment to surrounding himself with world-class talent.
  • Ms. Verma has led Medicaid reform efforts across the country, including in the states of Iowa, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Maine and Indiana.
  • Ms. Verma agrees with President-elect Trump that Medicaid should be block-granted to the states. The state governments know their people best and can manage the administration of Medicaid far better without federal overhead. States should have the incentives to seek out and eliminate fraud, waste and abuse to preserve our precious resources.
  • Ms. Verma is the architect of then-Governor Mike Pence’s “Healthy Indiana Plan,” the consumer-driven insurance program for low-income Hoosiers which is touted nationally as a free-market alternative to Obamacare.
  • As the State of Indiana’s health reform lead, Ms. Verma prepared the state for Obamacare’s implementation. Her role included interpreting and implementing regulatory changes and understanding the impact of the health exchanges on state insurance markets, expertise that will serve her well in this new role.


  • Ms. Verma’s body of work shows that she is a staunch advocate for free-market alternatives to the burdensome and unruly regulations of government-led health care programs, like Obamacare.
  • The Healthy Indiana Plan contained elements championed by conservatives, including health savings accounts, that promoted fiscal and personal responsibility.
  • Indiana Hospital Association President Doug Leonard praised the State of Indiana for adopting Ms. Verma’s ideas, saying “all Hoosiers will reap tremendous benefits from this decision.”

Appointment of Ms. Betsy DeVos — Secretary of the Department of Education

  • Betsy has been a proven leader in the national school reform movement for more than two decades.
  • A native of Michigan, Betsy has spent decades advocating for school choice reforms and helping underserved children gain access to quality education.
  • Ms. DeVos is chairman of the American Federation for Children whose mission is to “improve our nation’s K-12 education by advancing systemic and sustainable public policy that empowers parents, particularly those in low-income families, to choose the education they determine is best for their children.”
  • Ms. DeVos is chair of the Windquest Group and has also served on national and local charitable and civic boards, including the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, American Enterprise Institute, The Philanthropy Roundtable, Kids Hope USA, and Mars Hill Bible Church.
  • Under her leadership, President-elect Trump trusts we will reform the U.S. education system and break the bureaucracy that is holding our children back.

Appointment of Gov. Nikki Haley — U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

  • Gov. Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants, is one of the Republican Party’s brightest young stars. She will bring the kind of tough, energetic leadership to the United Nations that the United States needs.
  • Gov. Haley’s nomination once again shows that President-elect Trump is serious about assembling a diverse group of leaders from both the public and private sectors to serve in his Cabinet.
  • Gov. Haley agrees with President-elect Trump that the United States needs to turn the page on the failed diplomacy of the past and introduce a bold new, America-first agenda on the international stage.
  • During her time as governor, Gov. Haley has taken numerous trips overseas on economic development missions. This experience interacting with global business and government leaders will ensure she is ready to make an immediate impact as President-elect Trump’s representative before the United Nations.
  • After the 2015 Charleston church shooting, Gov. Haley showed herself to be a strong leader as she guided her state through an extraordinary tragedy. Her calm, steady leadership will serve the American people well as she represents their interests before the United Nations

Appointment of U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions — Attorney General

  • Senator Sessions has dedicated his life to public service.
  • He has a distinguished legal career and has served as both the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama (12 years) and Alabama Attorney General (2+ years) prior to his service in the U.S. Senate.
  • He has been one of President-elect Trump’s trusted advisors on the campaign and will now continue his service as our nation’s chief law enforcement officer.
  • Sen. Sessions worked inside the Department of Justice for 15 years and loves the department, its people and its mission.
  • Sen. Sessions is known for his deep respect and adherence to the rule of law, the cornerstone of American democracy.
  • Sen. Sessions’ strong civil rights record includes a host of desegregation lawsuits he filed in Alabama while he was U.S. Attorney, voting in favor of the 30-year extension of the Civil Rights Act, voting to confirm Attorney General Eric Holder, spearheading the effort to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Rosa Parks, and much more.
  • Even individuals who voted against Sen. Sessions’ confirmation 30 years ago ultimately regretted it. The late Senator Arlen Specter said, “My vote against candidate Sessions for the federal court was a mistake because I have since found that Sen. Sessions is egalitarian.”

Appointment of U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo — Director of the Central Intelligence Agency

  • Congressman Pompeo has been a vocal critic of the Obama administration’s disastrous Iran nuclear deal, and has proposed multiple pieces of legislation that would bolster sanctions over Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
  • He has tirelessly advocated for our intelligence community to be given the tools it needs to do their jobs effectively on behalf of the American people.
  • Congressman Pompeo proposed the Liberty Through Strength Act II, which empowered the intelligence community to utilize metadata, wiretaps and other tools to intercept the communications of potential terrorists and thwart attacks on the American homeland.
  • Congressman Pompeo agrees with President-elect Trump that securing our borders is a top national security priority.