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Trump’s picks: the new administration takes shape

Donald Trump has begun putting together his transition team and naming the cabinet members who will come to power in Washington after the inauguration on January 20. Follow the FT’s guide to the main players he has already picked — and the positions yet to be filled — here. 

Trump’s choices:

MIKE PENCE

Vice-president

© AFP

Mike Pence, the Indiana governor and former congressman, was picked as Donald Trump’s running mate for having what the property tycoon lacked: experience of governing and knowledge of Washington. After his victory Mr Trump asked Mr Pence, a Washington insider, to head the transition team filling hundreds of posts in the White House and elsewhere, offering hope to lawmakers and lobbyists eager to see familiar faces in power.

It is a turnround for Mr Pence to be embraced as a force of moderation. He was a rigid social conservative during a decade in Congress and sparked a furore in 2015 for pushing a law that backed religious freedom in Indiana at the expense of gay rights.

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REINCE PRIEBUS

White House chief of staff

A Wisconsin-raised lawyer who has never held elected office, Mr Priebus has run the Republican National Committee for a record six years. He has been credited with improving the party’s financial position and investing in the kind of data operations that President Barack Obama used to beat John McCain and Mitt Romney in their 2008 and 2012 election races.

The appointment of Mr Priebus catapults him to one of the most powerful positions in Washington. But he will have to share his place near the top of the power pyramid with Stephen Bannon.

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STEPHEN BANNON

Chief strategist

© Reuters

The president-elect is drawing fire for choosing Stephen Bannon as a top White House adviser, with critics from both left and right arguing that the former head of Breitbart News has helped propel a divisive strain of white nationalism. Democrats, human rights groups and a handful of Republicans have attacked the appointment. 

Among those welcoming Mr Bannon’s appointment was David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader. “You have an individual, Mr Bannon, who’s basically creating the ideological aspects of where we’re going,” Mr Duke told CNN. “And ideology ultimately is the most important aspect of any government.”

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JARED KUSHNER

Confidant

© AP

The president-elect’s son-in-law and young property mogul has a firm place in the Trump inner circle. Jared Kushner, 35, has demonstrated the qualities that have helped make him a political power — first as a confidant in the Trump campaign, now as a player in the president-elect’s transition effort and possibly as a White House adviser starting next year. 

Exactly how Mr Kushner will serve Mr Trump in the White House remains unclear. A US law — enacted in the 1960s after John Kennedy made his brother Robert attorney-general — bars presidents from employing relatives, including in-laws, in federal agencies. The suggestion has been made that Mr Kushner could work in an informal capacity, but that raises other legal issues.

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MICHAEL FLYNN

National security adviser

© EPA

Michael Flynn, a decorated intelligence officer who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, was previously head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. The role of national security adviser is seen as even more important than usual given Mr Trump’s lack of foreign policy experience.

The choice attracted criticism because of some of the extreme views that the brash Irish-American has taken, including his belief that the terror group Isis poses an existential threat to the US, and because he was fired from the DIA over his leadership style.

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JEFF SESSIONS

Attorney-general

© AFP

Jeff Sessions, Mr Trump’s nominee for attorney-general, is a four-term Republican senator from Alabama. The 69-year-old did a stint in the Army Reserve before launching a law career. After serving two years as a federal prosecutor, he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 to serve as US attorney for the Southern District of Alabama.

Five years later, Mr Reagan tapped Mr Sessions for a seat on the federal judiciary in Alabama. But the nomination was withdrawn amid criticisms over Mr Sessions’ comments about the NAACP, ACLU and Ku Klux Klan — which were seen as racially insensitive — and his record on civil rights cases.

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MIKE POMPEO

CIA director

© EPA

Mr Trump’s pick to head the spy agency has represented a district in Kansas for three terms in the US House of Representatives. The 52-year-old is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, and “served as a cavalry officer patrolling the Iron Curtain before the fall of the Berlin Wall,” according to his official biography.

He is a fierce critic of the Iran nuclear deal and wants to restore surveillance programmes stopped after the Edward Snowden revelations. The hawkish member of the House Republican caucus on foreign affairs was one of the harshest critics of Hillary Clinton over the 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

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Positions that have yet to be filled

Secretary of State

Secretary of the Treasury

Secretary of Defense

Secretary of the Interior

Secretary of Agriculture

Secretary of Commerce

Secretary of Labor

Secretary of Health and Human Services

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

Secretary of Transportation

Secretary of Energy

Secretary of Education

Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Secretary of Homeland Security

Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency

Director of the Office of Management & Budget

United States Trade Representative

United States Ambassador to the United Nations

Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers

Administrator of the Small Business Administration

Via FT