On Friday, under the new logo of his presidential transition team, Donald Trump released the names of the people who would lead his efforts to cobble together his administration's executive leadership team. He's got until Jan. 20, when Barack Obama hands over the keys to the White House and lights out for the territories — so the group below has 70 days to figure out what it's going to do.
Who are these people and why were they picked? What can we learn about where the government is likely to head? In short, Trump's transition team is heavy on staunch conservatives who demonstrated early loyalty to his candidacy. It's often been noted that Trump values loyalty; that's reflected in his picks.
Stephen K. Bannon
Campaign CEO, head of Breitbart News
Bannon officially joined Team Trump in August, shortly before campaign chairman Paul Manafort was resign/fired. But Bannon had been on Team Trump for months before that as the power behind Breitbart News, the Web network whose unabashed advocacy for Trump (and disparagement of Trump's allies) helped reinforce Trump's campaign messaging through the spring and summer. On the campaign, he's credited with helping to refine Trump's message and, to some extent, get the candidate to stick to it.
Bannon's inclusion in the campaign was fairly stunning simply by virtue of his background. Breitbart's casual interest in accuracy and embrace of the nationalist, anti-immigrant and often racist “alt-right” provided fodder for Hillary Clinton's campaign for months (not that it did a lot of good). Bannon is being mentioned as a possible chief of staff in a Trump White House.
U.S. representative for Pennsylvania's 11th district (east-central part of the state)
Like many of the elected officials on Trump's transition team, Barletta came out for Trump fairly early in the process. Barletta made his bones in politics while the mayor of Hazleton, Pa., implementing a sweeping anti-immigration rule that sought to uproot immigrants in the country illegally. The law included removing undocumented immigrants from rental properties and cracking down on employment.
U.S. representative for Tennessee's 7th district (west-central Tennessee)
Blackburn is a staunchly conservative legislator who is best known for her positions on social issues, such as her opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion. In July, she insisted that global warming was a hoax and that, actually, the world was cooling.
Attorney general of Florida
Bondi came to national attention this year when questions were raised about how timing of a contribution Trump made to Bondi overlapped with her decision not to investigate Trump University for fraud. There was more smoke than fire, but Trump was fined since the donation came from his nonprofit foundation and not from Trump personally.
U.S. representative for New York's 27th district (western New York)
Collins was the first member of Congress to endorse Trump, which came as something of a shock given his fairly moderate politics. Collins is also the representative for Carl Paladino, a big donor in the state and fervent Trump backer, who Collins at one point said had been pushing Republicans to endorse the presidential candidate.
Owner of the New York Observer, Ivanka Trump's husband
Kushner has emerged as Trump's Svengali, according to numerous reports. The Observer — a small publication notable mostly these days for its owner — endorsed Trump in the primaries, and Kushner has been frequently mentioned as the guiding hand for many key decisions within the campaign.
U.S. representative for Pennsylvania's 10th district (northeastern Pennsylvania)
Director of the Mercer Family Foundation
Mercer and her father, Robert, have spent millions of dollars to build and bankroll the conservative infrastructure that powered Trump's rise — including Breitbart News. The Mercers backed Ted Cruz in the Republican primary, hiring Kellyanne Conway to run a super PAC supporting the Texas senator. It was they who, in August, convinced Trump to upend his leadership for the second time and give Bannon and Conway the reins.
Our Matea Gold profiled Mercer earlier this year.
Wall Street executive
Once Trump decided to start actively raising money for the general election, he asked Mnuchin to lead the effort. A veteran of Goldman Sachs, Mnuchin supported Mitt Romney in 2012 and has supported Hillary Clinton in past campaigns. (“I wouldn’t in any way say I distanced myself from Wall Street. I have very good friends on Wall Street,” he told the New York Times earlier this year.)
U.S. representative for California's 22nd district (California's Central Valley)
Nunes represents rural Tulare County in California and serves as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. He's staked out a position in firm opposition to Obama's foreign policy and his state's powerful liberal politics, including environmental interests.
Chairman of the Republican National Committee
Priebus's relationship with Trump had been rocky for some time, thanks largely to how Trump's candidacy was deepening the rift between the GOP's establishment wing and its upstarts. Priebus stuck with the nominee and the long bet paid off — fairly amazingly, given that Priebus also helped develop the post-2012 guideline for reforming the party so that it could retake the White House. Trump did the opposite of what the so-called “autopsy” recommended, and Priebus helped him leverage that strategy to success.
Wall Street executive
In 2012, Scaramucci co-chaired Romney's fundraising efforts.
His entree into Trump politics was by excoriating the eventual Republican nominee. He backed Scott Walker and then Jeb Bush before backing Trump. Last year, he sat down for an interview with Gawker during which he acknowledged that Trump's rhetoric on hedge fund managers (of which he was one) was just political talk.
Speaking of Gawker! Thiel is a Silicon Valley venture capitalist who gained infamy this year when it was revealed that he was bankrolling various lawsuits aimed at crippling the gossip website. (Thiel was mad about a 2007 article in which it was revealed that he was gay, something widely known by his colleagues at the time.) Against all odds, Thiel's lawsuit was successful, resulting in a sort of alternate-universe reflection of Trump's campaign: A guy sets out to upend a hated establishment and suddenly discovers that he has.
For those who believe in such things as the First Amendment, Thiel's victory — leveraging the power of the pocketbook and an unusual jury trial in Florida — is not an entirely welcome one. (Trump has pledged to levy punishments against oppositional media in his own way.)
The Trump kids: Ivanka, Eric and Donald Jr.
Trump's three oldest children will play an active role in the transition team, according to the day's announcement. They have also been tapped to run Trump's business interests while he's serving in the White House. We therefore recommend that you go read this look at how stark a conflict that could end up being.