We don’t know a whole heckuva lot about who Donald Trump will pick for his Cabinet at this point. So far, the process is heavy on rumors and preliminary lists. For Trump, selecting and vetting his picks isn’t a three-day process, nor should we expect much of it to be done in public.
It’s also important to emphasize upfront that names floated for various positions are sometimes more about expressing gratitude to surrogates, even if they’re unlikely to actually get picked.
That said, some of the early names leaking out are of the sort that could send a real signal about Trump’s path going forward. And some of those paths could really make Democrats squirm.
Here's a rundown of the more controversial names that have been floated.
David Clarke: Homeland security?
This is another pick that is perhaps unlikely. Markon’s story doesn't mention the Milwaukee County sheriff, who was a vocal Trump supporter.
But others have, Politico said a Trump campaign source named Clarke as a possible pick, and a preliminary list of 41 names obtained by BuzzFeed’s John Stanton also includes Clarke. Even Clarke has weighed in, playing it down but not totally dismissing the idea.
Clarke’s rhetoric on law enforcement echoes Arpaio in many ways. A regular surrogate for Trump’s campaign, Clarke, who is black, has compared Black Lives Matter to the Islamic State, a.k.a. ISIS.
Before long, Black Lies Matter will join forces with ISIS to being down our legal constituted republic. You heard it first here.— David A. Clarke, Jr. (@SheriffClarke) October 28, 2015
And on Wednesday night, he called for protests against President-elect Trump to be “quelled.”
Sen. Jeff Sessions: Attorney general, Defense Department, OMB?
Sessions’s name is also on BuzzFeed’s list for three possible slots, and his potential leadership of the Defense Department was explored by The Post’s Dan Lamothe.
He isn’t as much a household name as some others on this list. But from a policy standpoint, he may be the Senate’s foremost immigration hard-liner, and his long-ago political past could come up if he’s nominated. Before resurrecting his political career as Alabama attorney general and then being elected senator in 1996, Sessions was denied a judgeship over allegations of racism.
As Lamothe reports:
In 1986, he was nominated by President Ronald Reagan to serve as a federal-district court judge, but a bipartisan panel of Judiciary Committee senators declined to send his nomination to the Senate floor amid allegations that he had said the NAACP was “un-American” and “Communist-inspired” and that a white civil rights lawyer was a “disgrace to his race.” Sessions vigorously denied the allegations.
In a new interview with Politico’s Glenn Thrush, Sessions responds:
“I don’t feel like I did anything to damage the advancement of racial reconciliation and civil rights,” he told me, voice lowered to a near-whisper. “But I didn’t — I wasn’t any hero in it either.”
Sid Miller: Agriculture secretary?
Miller’s name is on the BuzzFeed list for agriculture secretary. And while, like Sessions, he might not be well known outside of political circles, he’s known to say controversial things on social media.
The Texas agriculture commissioner’s Twitter account recently called Hillary Clinton a “c---" in a tweet. A spokesman suggested the account had been hacked, and the tweet has been deleted.
Miller has also shared on Facebook a doctored photo of President Obama holding up a Che Guevara T-shirt, and in 2015 his social-media team shared an image suggesting a nuclear attack on the Muslim world.
Rudy Giuliani: Secretary of state?
This would seem to be among the more likely potential Cabinet picks on this list. Giuliani has been among the most vocal and outspoken Trump surrogates for months. He was thought to be a top contender for attorney general, but now that buzz is he’s more likely to be secretary of state.
As a Trump surrogate, Giuliani has often gone even further than Trump. Giuliani has said directly that he thought Hillary Clinton looked ill on the campaign trail, pressed the idea that voter fraud could rob Trump of the election, and was among the earliest public advocates for attacking Bill Clinton’s indiscretions in the White House. And here’s more from:
Giuliani, once the beloved, moderate Republican mayor of New York City on 9/11, over the course of this campaign turned himself into a bare-knuckle political brawler, willing to say pretty much anything to help Trump get elected.
Myron Ebell: Environmental Protection Agency?
Ebell is leading Trump’s EPA transition effort and could be his pick to lead the agency. He also happens to be among the most outspoken skeptics of man-made climate change and has often criticized fellow Republicans for being too soft on environmental issues.
When Newt Gingrich, then the speaker of the House, worked on reforming the Endangered Species Act in 1995, Ebell wrote a nine-page memo opposing Gingrich’s effort, saying, “His soft feelings for cuddly little critters is still going to be a big problem.”When Sen. John McCain, working with Sen. Joe Lieberman, proposed cap-and-trade legislation in 2005, Ebell worked furiously to kill the bill, calling it a “a shameless con game.”When Ebell got wind of a private meeting hosted by the American Enterprise Institute in 2012 to consider a carbon tax, he attacked the think tank, going so far as to ask donors to pull their funding.
Laura Ingraham: Press secretary?
The conservative radio firebrand has been a top Trump booster and helped him prepare for the debate. She says she would be “honored” to be his press secretary — though for now it’s just rumors.
“We’ll see what happens,” she said on Fox News on Monday night. “I think people are getting a little far ahead of the narrative.”
Ingraham, who worked early in her career in the Reagan White House, hosts a popular syndicated radio show and is a regular guest-host replacement for Bill O’Reilly. In that role, she has regularly decried the mainstream media outlets with whom she would be working closely as press secretary.
Ken Blackwell: Leader of domestic transition team
This one is in the books — a done deal. And for liberals, it’s an inauspicious start.
Blackwell is a former Ohio secretary of state and GOP nominee for governor, and he is popular among conservatives. He's also someone Democrats love to hate for his comments about the LGBT community and his decisions during the hotly contested 2004 presidential election in Ohio.
Back then, then-Secretary of State Blackwell ruled that provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct should not be counted. Democrats appealed and lost. The following year, the DNC drafted a report alleging voter suppression in the state.
And while running for chairman of the RNC in 2009, Blackwell said that being gay is a choice and compared it to having the proclivity to commit arson or be a kleptomaniac.
Joe Arpaio: Potential homeland security secretary?
ABC News on Wednesday included Arpaio’s name as a possible Trump homeland security secretary, and though it’s not clear how seriously he’s being considered, it would seem to be a good fit for Trump’s immigration platform.
Arpaio is the outgoing sheriff of Maricopa County (he just lost his bid for a seventh term) and is known for his hard-line stances on illegal immigration, his harsh rhetoric and making inmates wear pink underwear. Arpaio has faced accusations of instituting racial profiling for years, and in May a federal judge ruled that he had ignored federal orders to halt the tactics in question.
The Post’s Jerry Markon reports, though, that Arpaio’s selection appears unlikely:
But other people familiar with the deliberations said Arpaio is viewed as unable to win Senate confirmation. He is also 84 years old and facing legal trouble. The longtime sheriff was recently charged with criminal contempt for resisting a judge’s order that he stop detaining people solely on suspicion they were undocumented immigrants. Arpaio, whose wife is battling cancer, could face up to six months in jail if convicted.
Ben Carson: Health and Human Services or Education?
Update: Carson tells The Post’s Robert Costa that he’s unlikely to join Trump’s Cabinet: “The way I’m leaning is to work from the outside and not from the inside. I want to have the freedom to work on many issues and not be pigeonholed into one particular area.”
Back in May, Trump agreed with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly that Carson would make a good pick for HHS, and he has also floated Carson for the Education Department. Carson said himself back in March that Trump offered him a role in a Trump administration, at least in an advisory capacity. And indeed, his name appears on the BuzzFeed list as a possible education or HHS secretary.
Carson rose to prominence in the 2016 GOP primary as a vocal critic of Obamacare, which he has said was the worst thing since slavery and also suggested it was a form of slavery. He has also said liberals would turn the United States into Nazi Germany.
“And if you believe that same thing can’t happen again, you’re very wrong,” Carson said in 2014. “But we’re not going to let it happen.”
And Carson said during the 2016 campaign that he wouldn’t be okay with a Muslim as president, suggesting that a Muslim’s values would be inconsistent with American values.
Sarah Palin: Interior Department?
Palin's name was included on BuzzFeed’s list, for the possible job of interior secretary. Again, it’s not clear how serious her consideration may be, but it’s one that would certainly make liberals' heads spin.
That said, Palin hasn’t been a hugely visible supporter of Trump on the campaign trail.