Difference between revisions of "Trump Administration"

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== [[File:notification.png | left | 50px | Updates | link= ]] Recent Updates ==
 
== [[File:notification.png | left | 50px | Updates | link= ]] Recent Updates ==
 
  
 
*3/10/2017 [[#Michael Flynn|Michael Flynn]], who was forced to resign over conversations with Russians about sanctions, is now under investigation because he failed to register as a Foreign Agent with the Department of Justice for his work as a lobbyist advocating on behalf of Turkey which he performed while part of Trump’s campaign. On August 9th he signed a contract with a firm connected to the Turkish government for $600,000 for 90 days of work.[https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/10/us/politics/michael-flynn-turkey.html?_r=0] Turkey’s president Recep Erdogan instituted a brutal crackdown in July of 2016 after a failed coup, which Erdogan believes was lead by a cleric who lives in the US. Flynn’s job for Turkey was to investigate this cleric and he advocated for the cleric’s extradition to Turkey where he would surely be executed.[http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/what-mike-flynn-did-for-turkey][http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/07/17/erdogan-calls-on-us-to-extradite-pennsylvania-based-cleric-after-failed-turkey-coup.html][http://www.newsweek.com/michael-rubin-why-general-flynn-taking-erdogan-side-521633]
 
*3/10/2017 [[#Michael Flynn|Michael Flynn]], who was forced to resign over conversations with Russians about sanctions, is now under investigation because he failed to register as a Foreign Agent with the Department of Justice for his work as a lobbyist advocating on behalf of Turkey which he performed while part of Trump’s campaign. On August 9th he signed a contract with a firm connected to the Turkish government for $600,000 for 90 days of work.[https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/10/us/politics/michael-flynn-turkey.html?_r=0] Turkey’s president Recep Erdogan instituted a brutal crackdown in July of 2016 after a failed coup, which Erdogan believes was lead by a cleric who lives in the US. Flynn’s job for Turkey was to investigate this cleric and he advocated for the cleric’s extradition to Turkey where he would surely be executed.[http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/what-mike-flynn-did-for-turkey][http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/07/17/erdogan-calls-on-us-to-extradite-pennsylvania-based-cleric-after-failed-turkey-coup.html][http://www.newsweek.com/michael-rubin-why-general-flynn-taking-erdogan-side-521633]

Revision as of 21:48, 19 March 2017

This is a collaborative knowledge base; feel free to propose edits/additions that you believe are important for others to know. Contributions will be reviewed and approved based on quality and accuracy.

Contents

Updates
Recent Updates

  • 3/10/2017 Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign over conversations with Russians about sanctions, is now under investigation because he failed to register as a Foreign Agent with the Department of Justice for his work as a lobbyist advocating on behalf of Turkey which he performed while part of Trump’s campaign. On August 9th he signed a contract with a firm connected to the Turkish government for $600,000 for 90 days of work.[1] Turkey’s president Recep Erdogan instituted a brutal crackdown in July of 2016 after a failed coup, which Erdogan believes was lead by a cleric who lives in the US. Flynn’s job for Turkey was to investigate this cleric and he advocated for the cleric’s extradition to Turkey where he would surely be executed.[2][3][4]
  • 3/10/2017 President Trump abruptly ordered 46 US Attorney’s, appointed by President Obama, to resign and while it isn’t unusual for an incoming President to replace US attorneys, Trump did so without having replacements and after promising one of them, Preet Bharara, that they would continue in that position.[5]
  • 3/17/2017 Preet Bharara, when he was ordered to resign, refused and forced Trump to fire him, which he did on 3/11/2017.[6]Reporting on 3/17/2017 reveals that Bharara was overseeing and investigation into alleged insider trading by Tom Price, head of Health and Human Services.[7]Between 2012 and 2016 Price traded more than $300,000 in healthcare stocks while he was advocating or sponsoring bills in that same sector while he was a senator.[8]
  • See how each senator voted on Trump's nominees: the New York Times.

The Executive Branch/Administration

The national, or federal, government of the United States is divided into three separate and independent parts: the Congressional, Judicial, and Executive (or Administrative) branches. The President is responsible for managing the entire Executive branch.[9] When a new President takes office, they must nominate candidates to serve as Cabinet Secretaries and to lead the major agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but this group comprises a small number of the 553 appointees that need Senate confirmation.[10] Each new President also has to hire 4,100 to 9,000 people who don’t need Senate confirmation, to staff the entire Administrative Branch of the federal government.[11] This number fluctuates depending on a number of factors, including how many career civil service employees are asked to remain, whether the incoming administration wants to shrink or expand the federal government workforce, and the economic situation of the nation.[12]

Trump / GOP Strategy
Trump / GOP Strategy

The term “administrative state” describes the parts of the government that carry out the programs, rules, laws, and orders that have passed Congress or were authorized by the President. Steve Bannon, in a recent speech, identified the goal of the Trump administration to deconstruct the federal government. This point of view is a more extreme version of the standard Republican platform that calls for small government.[13]

Why This Is the Goal

Traditionally, Republicans have had two arguments against the growth of the federal government:[14]

  • To reduce spending and taxes.
  • To reduce what they see as governmental interference in society.

The Trump administration has two additional reasons for supporting the deconstruction of the federal government:

  • They believe in a conspiracy theory about something called the "deep state," which states that there is a shadow government being operated by President Obama and people opposed to the Trump administration and agenda.[15][16]
  • They want to discredit the federal intelligence agencies because they have reported on and continue to investigate Russian involvement in the US.[17]

Actions to Achieve These Goals

  • The Trump administration’s budget proposes a significant contraction of the federal government’s involvement in many areas, including the environment (through the EPA) and foreign affairs (through the State Department).
  • Trump has failed to nominate people to fill many of the more than 1,200 positions that require Senate approval. Out of 553 key positions in the executive branch that require Senate approval, he has made nominations for only 56.[18]
  • Trump has failed to fill more than 4,000 positions across the government that require presidential appointments.[19]
  • Instead, Trump has installed more than 400 people across government agencies who are loyal to him and his agenda. These people have quietly begun to deconstruct essential functions of these agencies.[20]
  • Usually when a new President enters office, all previous presidential appointees submit letters of resignation and then continue to serve while they await replacements. Trump accepted every resignation by US ambassadors around the world and recently forced the resignation of US attorneys.[21][22]
  • Trump issued an Executive Order that instructs agency leaders to identify ways to cut programs, staff, organizations, and overall costs.[23]

Trump Administration

Confirmed

Waiting Senate Confirmation

Appointments

  • Vice PresidentMike Pence, former Governor of Indiana
  • Chief of StaffReince Priebus, former Chairman of the Republican National Committee[24]
  • Chief Strategist and Senior CounselorSteve Bannon, former Chairman of Trump's campaign and former Executive Chairman of Breitbart News
  • National Security AdvisorH.R. McMaster
  • Senior White House AdvisorJared Kushner
  • White House Counsel—Donald McGahn, former Chairman of the Federal Elections Commission, former Chief Counsel to the National Republican Congressional Committee[25]
  • CounselorKellyanne Conway, former Trump campaign manager[26]
  • Senior Advisor, PolicyStephen Miller, Senior Policy Advisor to Trump's campaign and former Communications Director for Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
  • Press Secretary—Sean Spicer, former Chief Strategist and Communications Director of the Republican National Committee[27]
  • Director of White House Communications—Mike Dubke, founder of Crossroads Media[28]
  • National Trade Counsel Director—Peter Navarro, Professor of Economics and Public Policy, UC Irvine[29]
  • Special Advisor on Regulatory Reform—Carl Icahn, billionaire investor[30]
  • Director of Legislative Affairs—Marc Short, former aid to then US Representative Mike Pence and former employee of Freedom Partners, a nonprofit associated with the Koch brothers[31]
  • White House Counselor—Donald McGahn, former Federal Elections Commission chairman[32]
  • Chair of the Federal Communications Commission—Ajit Pai, former FCC Republican Commissioner[33]
  • Commissioner Food and Drug Administration-Scott Gottlieb, M.D.,former FDA appointee under President Bush[34]
  • Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)-Thomas D. Homan, thirty year veteran immigration enforcement[35]
  • Asst. Attorney General, Civil Rights Division-John M. Gore, former partner of Jones Day law firm[36]
  • Deputy Asst. for Strategic Initiatives-Sebastian Gorka, contributor Breitbart and Fox News[37]

Withdrawn

Ways to Resist

Call your Senator by dialing tel:844-6-RESIST and tell them to oppose nominees.

The Case Against The Nominees

Sonny Perdue

George Ervin “Sonny” Perdue III, soon to be confirmed as Secretary of the Department of Agriculture (USDA), is a former governor of Georgia and a former Democrat. He was the last Cabinet nominee announced by Trump, which caused concern for many of Trump’s rural voters who are tied to the agriculture economy.[38] Perdue has some experience in agriculture, citing the fact that his father was a farmer and he trained as a veterinarian, but Georgia is not among the nation’s top agricultural producers.[39] Perdue will take over one of the largest federal agencies, with a budget of $155 billion and 100,000 employees.[40] Perdue’s most urgent issue may be to address a dramatic decline in farm income, from $120 billion in 2013 to $66 billion in 2016—from within an administration set to cut government spending.[41] Perdue will be largely responsible for the massive Farm Bill for 2018, which will include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides nutritional support to 45 million people and regulates the nation’s school lunch program, providing meals for students across the country.[42][43]

Perdue will also have to deal with several threads running through the Trump administration: immigration, which provides crucial farm labor; deregulation of the agricultural sector’s use of pesticides, which currently ensures food safety; and trade policies, which have a direct impact on rural communities.[44]

An element of Perdue’s successful bid for the Georgia governorship was based on challenging the 2001 change to the Georgia state flag, which removed the Confederate Battle cross, a symbol of white supremacists.[45] He also once held an hour-long prayer service during a serious drought to “pray up a storm” and to “appeal to Him who can and will make a difference.”[46] In holding the prayer service, he used state resources to support a religious action on behalf of the State of Georgia, in clear violation of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, which states that the government cannot endorse or promote religion.[47][48]

Alex Acosta

Alex Acosta currently serves as Dean of Florida International University law school, and has served on the National Labor Relations Board from 2002 to 2003 and as a federal prosecutor in South Florida. He was the assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Department of Justice under George W. Bush, and clerked for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito when he was an appeals judge.[49] Acosta's business ties include serving as a chairman of US Century Bank, a community bank in Florida.[50]

In 2004, Acosta, then at the Justice Department, sent a letter to a federal judge in Ohio justifying the practice of "vote caging" in the presidential election. Vote caging is when private citizens challenge the eligibility of African American voters, which is widely seen as a Republican strategy to disenfranchise voters.[51] In 2008, an investigation by the Justice Department's inspector general discovered problems with hiring practices and case assignments in the civil rights division (which Acosta headed). The investigation showed that hiring and case assigning were being based on political affiliation, and Acosta was found to have ignored the warning signs.[52]

Profiles of Confirmed Appointments

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats

Dan Coats has been nominated for Director of the Office of National Intelligence (DNI), which is in charge of 17 intelligence agencies, collectively known as the Intelligence Community (IC), and serves as the primary liaison between the IC and the White House.[53] Coats is a former Senator for Indiana, serving from 1989 to 1999 and again from 2011 to 2016; he did not seek reelection for 2017. He is also a former ambassador to Germany.[54] When in the senate, Coats he was a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, where he called for even stronger sanctions against Russia after it invaded Crimea. This earned him the distinction of being officially banned from Russia.[55] Coats, in contrast with Trump, is an outspoken critic of Russia and Vladimir Putin.[56] Regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election, he asserted that he would not allow any White House efforts to politicize the investigation. He also promised to share any relevant information with the Intelligence Committee.[57]

Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney

Mick Mulvaney, former Republican congressman from South Carolina, will serve as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, a cabinet-level agency that is tasked with enacting the President's policies across all agencies and that administers the federal budget.[58] Mulvaney will thus be responsible for guiding the GOP replacement for the Affordable Care Act.[59] As a member of Congress he represented the far-right rejection of most government spending, and in 2013 imperiled emergency spending in the wake of Hurricane Sandy with a proposed amendment to require a cut in spending to match the $50.7 billion needed in New Jersey.[60] He also failed to pay more than $15,000 in payroll taxes for the woman hired to care for his triplets.[61]

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke

Ryan Zinke, one-term Republican congressman for Montana, is Trump’s Secretary of the Interior.[62][63] The Department of the Interior is responsible for managing 500 million acres of US land; this means the Department of the Interior has vast power over the environment across the entire continent.[64][65] In addition to managing the US's national parks, grasslands, forests, and wildlife refuges, the Department of the Interior also manages historic battlefields and much of the National Mall in Washington, DC.[66] The Department of the Interior also houses several agencies devoted to scientific research that benefits all Americans.[67] The Department of the Interior also represents the US government in its relations with indigenous peoples of the continental US and Alaska and Hawaii; both those living on the more than 300 reservation lands and all enrolled members.[68]There are vast reserves of fossil fuel on land reserved for indigenous people, predominantly in the Western States, resulting in a collision or collusion between natural resource exploitation, sovereignty rights and economic conditions on most reservations.[69]

Zinke has flipflopped on many of his earlier views on the environment, including the level of threat posed by climate change. In 2010 he cosigned a letter to call on Congress to pass comprehensive legislation on climate change and to promote clean energy.[70] Zinke now says that climate change science is unsettled.[71][72] He supports increasing extractive industries (e.g., timber, oil, and coal mining) on public lands and reservations.[73][74] He opposed a rule to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases during fracking, and opposed a rule that would have stalled new coal leasing on public land.[75] He spoke out in favor of a flawed report that showed that fracking had no impact on drinking water.[76] Zinke will be an ally in the polluter-friendly administration and Congress.[77] He has earned a 3% rating by the League of Conservation Voters.[78] In 2015 he cosponsored a bill, the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015, which provides an overview of his views: the bill proposed making timber harvesting a major priority.[79][80][81]

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson

Ben Carson, MD, after declining to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services because he didn’t know how to run a department of government, accepted the position of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).[82] Carson emerged on the Republican political scene in 2013, when he spoke at the annual National Prayer Breakfast.[83] He has no government experience, despite running for president in 2016, and will take on leadership of a department that includes 9,000 employees and a nearly $40 billion budget.[84] Carson was not able to promise that HUD spending would not directly benefit Trump.[85]

HUD's stated mission is “to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business.”[86] Carson has vocally opposed new federal fair housing regulations, and once described fair housing programs as “Communism.”[87][88] Carson has represented and defended Trump on TV, echoing the two major themes of the Trump campaign and Trump's early days in office: that African Americans all live in crime-ridden urban centers that threaten the rest of America; and the threat posed by Muslims and American Muslims, refugees and immigrants.[89][90][91]

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry

James Richard "Rick" Perry runs the Department of Energy, a department he pledged to abolish on the 2012 Presidential campaign trail.[92] Perry is a veteran of the United States Air Force and was the longest-serving governor of Texas. [93] He mounted two campaigns for the Republican nomination for president in 2012 and 2016. Perry holds a bachelor's degree from Texas A&M University in animal science and previously served as the Texas Commissioner of Agriculture.[94] Perry initially believed that the role of Secretary of Energy would be a "global ambassador for the American oil and gas industry," learning only after he accepted that he would actually be responsible for the development and maintenance of the country's nuclear arsenal.[95]

Perry has described climate change as "a contrived, phony mess."[96] Earlier this year, President Trump's transition team circulated a 74-point questionnaire on climate change at the Department of Energy, leading many to speculate that the administration plans to scrap climate-change research and clean energy programs in favor of nuclear power and commercialized research.[97]

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross

Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce, is an investor who made his billions buying and reviving companies in failing industries, such as steel, coal, telecommunications, foreign investment, and textiles.[98] He worked as a bankruptcy adviser on Wall Street for 24 years before starting his own firm in 2000, and has since acquired more than $3 billion in assets and wealth.[99] Though he was a Democrat early in life, he became an economic adviser to Trump during the 2016 Presidential campaign. He signed a letter in support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in 2015, [100] but he has since been an advocate for trade restrictions: he vocally opposed free trade on an interview with Lou Dobbs on August 8, 2016.[101] Although the position of Secretary of Commerce is not high-profile, the fact that Ross was a primary contributor to Trump’s policy on trade during the election[102] would imply that he will have a major influence over future policy and proposals.

Conflicts of Interest

Wilbur Ross plans to keep millions of dollars invested in offshore entities whose value could be affected by policies that he will implement as commerce secretary.[103]

Russian Connections

Wilbur Ross bought a significant interest in the Bank of Cyprus in 2014 which was managed by a Russian who once worked with Vladimir Putin in the KGB (the spy agency during the days of the USSR) and five other Russian oligarchs.[104]


Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt

Scott Pruitt is the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt has repeatedly opposed the EPA, claiming that the EPA "stretches" its authority beyond the boundaries of the Clean Air Act.[105]

The EPA was created by Richard Nixon in 1970 to enforce environmental protections. It administers one of the first environmental laws, the Clean Air Act. The EPA also oversees most of the country’s environmental laws. Among them are the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).[106]

Pruitt has filed 14 lawsuits against the EPA.[107] These include a suit over the Clean Power Plan, which aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector.[108] He also filed suit against other state attorney generals over EPA regulations seeking to curb emissions of ketamine and other powerful greenhouse gases.[109] He has also sided with fossil fuel industries and delayed votes meant to protect citizens from pollution, mercury, and other public safety concerns.[110] He has defended ExxonMobil after they did not disclose information regarding climate change.[111] Pruitt was also involved in a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act,[112] on the grounds that the mandate for religious employers to offer coverage on contraception was unconstitutional.[113] Pruitt is also currently involved in a lawsuit against Dodd-Frank reform.[114]

Pruitt has received funding from the Judicial Crisis Network, the US Chamber of Commerce’s Institute of Legal Reform, Sheldon Adelson, Koch Industries and Murray Energy, a leading coal mining company.[115]. Supporters of his nomination claimed that he would be an excellent choice and uphold the safety of the environment first.

Pruitt is a former attorney general of Oklahoma. Oklahoma ranked fifth in the nation in onshore crude oil output in 2014, has five oil refineries, and is the home of Cushing oil storage and trading hub. Oklahoma’s output accounts for 10% of the nation’s total. There are 73 drilling rigs in operation.[116]

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has worked for his entire adult life at ExxonMobil, a company with a record of human rights abuses and destruction of the environment. Interviewed in 2015 about the possibility of working for the US government, Tillerson replied, “Probably not qualified.”[117] When asked how he had dealt with other world leaders as the head of Exxon, Tillerson stated, “I am not here to represent the United States’s government interests. I’m not here to defend it, nor am I here to criticize it. That’s not what I do. I’m a businessman.”[118] Tillerson is currently in negotiations to divest his holdings in Exxon, and is looking to gain a massive tax break through this agreement. [119]

Tillerson also has a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and has numerous ties to Russian interests. In 2013 Tillerson was awarded the Order of Friendship by Vladimir Putin.[120] Tillerson has questioned the effectiveness of US sanctions against Russia. These sanctions directly impact ExxonMobil's ability to profit from Russian oil. As such, Rex Tillerson would stand to benefit directly from the US's lifting sanctions against Russia.[121]

Tillerson’s worldview—specifically his positions toward science and risk assessment—has been shaped by his time in the private sector. He has expressed skepticism toward the science of climate change, explaining in 2016 that “Words like climate consensus don’t mean anything to us… that’s an oxymoronic statement. You can’t have scientific consensus… Anyone who says they know is giving you an opinion.”[122] Tillerson has explained his position on climate change in terms of risk management: “We view it as a risk management problem… The question is how far do you want to go in mandated policy when the truth of the matter is that model could be wrong… I don’t think wrecking economies with what I consider to be extreme policies on which the basis is somewhat questionable [is advisable].”[123]

Tillerson has also been an open advocate of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), and one of his first jobs at Exxon in 1975 was setting up fracking procedures in Carthage, Texas.[124] In a March 2015 conversation, Tillerson stated, “We know of no documented cases” of contaminated freshwater from hydraulic fracturing.[125] Nearly a year earlier, USA Today reported on contaminated groundwater cases in four states.[126]

Russian connections

He has a close personal relationship with Vladimir Putin who awarded him the Order of Friendship, one of the highest honor Russia awards to foreigners.[127]In 2011 Vladimir Putin was present when Rex Tillerson signed a partnership deal, to exploit oil reserves in the Arctic, between ExxonMobil and Rosneft, in which the Russian government has a %75 interest; part of the deal included giving Rosneft access to Exxon holdings in the US.[128]

Secretary of Defense James Mattis

Secretary of Defense General James Mattis is seen as a check on Trump’s unstable temper and pro-torture tendencies,[129] and was a potential voice of resistance against National Security Adviser Michael Flynn before his resignation.[130][131] Despite having earned the unofficial nicknames “Mad Dog,” “Warrior Monk” and “Chaos” for his tough approach in leading combat operations,[132] Mattis has spoken in favor of diplomacy as a guard against unnecessary military intervention.[133][134]

Mattis believes in the power of appearances, and thinks that aggressive rhetoric and posturing is an important diplomatic tool that should be used prior to force.[135] He believes in the importance of developing an overall strategy in the Middle East, rather than responding to individual threats on a case-by-case basis.[136] Following his confirmation as Secretary of Defense, Mattis visited Asia and pledged to defend Japanese islands in the East China Sea from Chinese aggression, sparking threats from China.[137] In contrast to Trump, Mattis has spoken strongly in favor of the NATO alliance and against Russian aggression.[138]

Mattis’s anti-Iran inclinations are well-documented, and he has repeated that the three biggest threats facing the US are “Iran, Iran, Iran.”[139] He has articulated that he believes that Iran and ISIS are directly linked, and President Obama relieved him of his duty as commander of the US Central Command for his hawkish tendencies in the Persian Gulf and insubordinate tone toward Obama’s national security adviser.[140] He believes that Iran will eventually be a nuclear power, and has already considered confrontational military tactics in response to Iranian support of Houthi rebels.[141]

Because the Secretary of Defense position is traditionally one of civilian oversight, Mattis needed to obtain a waiver from Congress to serve, given his recent role in the military.[142] Observers of civil-military relations have suggested that Mattis’s personality and temperament will limit the militarization of the office, but critics have been concerned that Mattis has not had the training or experience to handle the bureaucratic nature of the post.[143]

Mattis is known as a quintessential marine, with the reputation of being an intellectual and heavy reader of military history.[144] Along with General David Petraeus, Mattis wrote the counterinsurgency manual used in Iraq, has taught at Stanford University,[145] and has been known to carry a copy of Marcus Aurelius’s “Meditations” into battle.[146]

Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security John F. Kelly

Since his confirmation, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security John F. Kelly has overseen the worst practical aspects of Trump’s Muslim ban, including ICE raids in sanctuary cities,[147] privacy violations at the borders,[148] and new “extreme vetting” tactics, including border security questioning over religion[149] and political loyalties.[150]

Prior to his confirmation, Kelly served in the military as a four-star general, and was known for his candor and directness in speaking truth to power.[151] He was the highest-ranked military officer to have lost a child in the service, and after his son died fighting in Afghanistan, he gave a widely respected speech praising those who serve in the armed forces.[152] He worked under Leon Panetta and Robert Gates in the Department of Defense, and most recently served as leader of the US Southern Command, which includes Central and South America and the Caribbean.[153][154] Prior to his appointment, Kelly was most documented in the press for his support of Guantanamo detention[155] and his questioning of women serving in military combat roles.[156] Having served in the military, Kelly was, until recently, afforded the benefit of having served in nonpolitical positions.[157]

During his confirmation hearings, Kelly maintained his pragmatic positions on issues such as a Muslim ban (“I don’t agree with registering people based on ethnicity or religion”) and the border wall (“A physical barrier in and of itself will not do the job”).[158] Kelly’s positions were not directly aligned with those of President Trump, and in the confirmation process he promised that “I have never had a problem speaking truth to power, and I firmly believe that those in power deserve full candor and my honest assessment and recommendations.”[159] During the initially botched rollout of the Muslim ban executive order, Kelly refused to take orders from Steve Bannon to defy the courts and keep enforcing the order, but indicated that he would do so if instructed by Trump.[160]

Since his confirmation in the DHS position, Kelly seems to have reverted to the military chain of command, voicing his opposition (if any) in private, and publicly carrying out the orders of his commander, President Trump.[161] This includes having taken full responsibility for the initially botched implementation of the Muslim ban executive order.[162] It was initially reported that Kelly had been unaware of the executive order until after it was signed.[163]

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley

Nikki Haley, UN Ambassador, previously served as a South Carolina state representative and governor and has no prior experience in international diplomacy.[164] Since being named to the post, Haley has telegraphed intended support for Israel,[165] reiterated that the US does not recognize a Palestinian state and will not recognize Palestinian leaders,[166] and stated that the US will not remove sanctions on Russia until Russia withdraws from the Crimea in Ukraine.[167] Beyond these remarks, Haley’s public statements on social media have mostly focused on her tastes in music and movies.[168]

In her confirmation hearings, Haley had stated that she does “not think we need to pull money from the UN,” but after being confirmed she quickly telegraphed cuts in UN funding, saying that “anything that seems to be obsolete and not necessary, we are going to do away with.”[169] In her first speech after confirmation, Haley also stated that “For those that don’t have our backs, we’re taking names.”[170]

Haley rose to national prominence when she took a stand against the legacy of Southern racism by removing the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina State Capitol following a horrific racially motivated mass murder in Charleston.[171][172] Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, Haley was a strong voice against Trump, speaking out in particular against his divisive rhetoric in the Republican response to Obama’s final State of the Union address.[173] In response to her disapproval, Trump tweeted, “The people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley!” to which Haley responded simply, “Bless your heart.”[174]

Haley, South Carolina’s first Indian American and first female governor, was once considered a promising figure in the GOP, and proudly referred to her own ethnicity as evidence that South Carolina, and the GOP, were no longer racist.[175][176]

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos's track record in education has several red flags. DeVos founded and directed All Children Matter, a PAC in Michigan that advocated charter school expansion. All Children Matter still has an unpaid fine of $5.3 million for breaking Ohio state laws in 2008. It illegally channelled $870,000 in contributions from its Virgina PAC to its Ohio arm, violating a law capping contributions from a single source at $10,000.[177] She has also compared her work in education to a biblical battleground where she wants to "advance God's kingdom," and she supports the use of millions of dollars toward private and religious schools.[178]

DeVos and her family are known for having generously contributed to antiequality groups such as Focus on the Family, a group that has pushed for conversion therapy and whose founder described the fight against LGBTQ+ rights as a “second civil war,” according to Human Rights Campaign and the Southern Poverty Law Center.[179][180][181] Despite indications that she does not speak out against equality directly,[182] civil rights groups worry that DeVos will strike down civil rights protections for LGBTQ+ students, including urging schools to extend anti-bullying policies to cover LGBTQ+ students; calling on schools to allow LGBTQ+ student groups on campuses; and citing Title IX (a federal law prohibiting discrimination based on sex) to protect transgender students’ right to use the bathroom and locker rooms fitting their gender identity. These policies, many extended by the Obama administration, could be rescinded easily, as well as struck down by the courts, as many states have sued the Obama administration over them. The Supreme Court was going to take up the case of a Virginia transgender student seeking to use the boy’s bathroom at his high school, but after the guidance was rescinded, the Supreme Court sent the case back to a lower court for reconsideration.[183][184]

Conflicts of Interest

  • Betsy DeVos, now Secretary of Education, and her family members are major donors to many of the senators who voted on her confirmation.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions's record on civil rights is in direct conflict with the responsibility of promoting justice and equality for all Americans.

First, his record on voting rights raises many questions. Sessions has fueled the myth of voter fraud on CNN, calling into question the US Presidential Election of 2000.[185] He Sessions used his position as US Attorney for Alabama to target civil rights activists who registered black voters. In 1985, he charged civil rights activists Albert Turner, Evelyn Turner, and Spencer Hogue, known as the Marion Three, with mail fraud for sending in elderly black voters' absentee ballots. It took just three hours for a jury to return a not-guilty verdict on all counts. More recently, Sessions cheered the Supreme Court's decision in Shelby v. Holder, which gutted and took the teeth away from the Voting Rights Act. He claimed, "Now if you go to Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, people aren't being denied the vote because of the color of their skin."[186]

Just four months after charging the Marion Three, Jeff Sessions was nominated by President Reagan for a federal judgeship. His confirmation hearings made his poor civil rights record clear. Coretta Scott King, an activist and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s wife, wrote a letter opposing Jeff Sessions's appointment as a federal judge based on his record opposing voting rights.[187] Thomas Figures, a black assistant US attorney under Sessions, testified that Sessions joked about the Ku Klux Klan, saying he was "OK" with the KKK until he found out that some of them smoked marijuana. Figures also testified that Sessions claimed that civil rights organizations including the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference are "un-American" and taught "anti-American values."[188] J. Gerald Herbert, a Justice Department lawyer, also testified that "Sessions told him the NAACP and ACLU were 'un-American' and 'Communist-inspired.'"[189] The Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10–8 against Sessions's nomination.[190] Sessions's track record on voting rights shows that he is not committed to enforcing civil rights protections for all.

Sessions also has an alarming track record on LGBTQ+ equality. In 2013, he voted against a bill that would have prohibited workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity,[191] and in 2009 he voted against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act,[192] which expanded federal hate crime protections to people under threat because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. Sessions has also voted in favor of a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality[193] and against the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." As Attorney General, Sessions could, and most likely will, refuse to litigate states and officials who impose anti-LGBTQ+ laws on their constituents—what previous Attorney General Loretta Lynch referred to as "state-sponsored discrimination."[194]

Jeff Sessions's voting record as an Alabama senator also raises red flags. Sessions voted against the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act of 2001 and against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act in 2013. Sessions was a sponsor of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. He also opposed the bipartisan immigration reform that passed the Senate in 2013 and the DREAM Act. He fought against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.[195][196]

Russian connections

He has made numerous pro-Russian statements; “I think an argument can be made there is no reason for the U.S. and Russia to be at this loggerheads."[197]Jeff Sessions met with Russian Ambassador Kislyak on 9/8/2017 and spoke with him by phone a week later. [198][199][200]Sessions stated, under oath, that he had had no contact with the Russian government during the course of Trump's campaign.[201][202][203]

CIA Director Mike Pompeo

Former Kansas Representative Mike Pompeo, also a former Army tank officer, is now the director of the Central Intelligence Agency.[204] As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, Pompeo was sharply critical of Hillary Clinton: following the committee's report that found "no evidence of wrongdoing" in the Benghazi incident, Pompeo wrote a 48-page report in which he claimed that the State Department was “seemingly more concerned with politics and Secretary Clinton’s legacy than with protecting its people in Benghazi.”[205] Pompeo has also been highly critical of the Iran nuclear deal. In a since-deleted tweet, he referred to the agreement as a "disastrous deal" and referred to Iran as "the world's largest state sponsor of terrorism."[206] Pompeo has expressed disapproval over President Obama's desire to close Guantanamo Bay, his decision to shut down CIA black sites, and his requirement that interrogations adhere to the rules of the Army Field Manual.[207]

Pompeo is also a vocal supporter of expanding the government's surveillance powers.[208] In an editorial for the Wall Street Journal, Pompeo detailed a plan for removing "impediments to surveillance," declaring that "Congress should pass a law re-establishing collection of all metadata, and combining it with publicly available financial and lifestyle information into a comprehensive, searchable database."[209] In an earlier editorial for the National Review, Pompeo criticized Republicans who oppose expanded surveillance as "weak," saying that "Those who today suggest that the USA FREEDOM Act, which gutted the National Security Agency’s (NSA) metadata program, enables the intelligence community to better prevent and investigate threats against the U.S. are lying."[210]

Pompeo graduated first in his class at West Point and was deployed in Germany during the Cold War. Upon his return, he attended Harvard Law School and was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.[211] He was elected to the House of Representatives in 2011 as part of the Tea Party movement.[212]

Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao

Elaine Chao, the former Secretary of Labor under George W. Bush and wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has been confirmed to lead the Department of Transportation.[213] Chao has been on the board of Wells Fargo since 2011 and stands to receive about $5 million in cash payouts for deferred stock options from the company.[214] Chao received bipartisan support in her Senate confirmation, with only six Democratic senators voting against and her husband voting "present."[215]

Chao worked for Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and the Heritage Foundation and was a frequent commentator on Fox News. She also sits on the board of directors for Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.[216] Upon her departure from the Labor Department in 2009, Chao faced mixed reviews for her work. Chao and her supporters noted that workplace fatalities and injuries had declined, while union representatives criticized the lack of new workplace protections enacted under her tenure.[217]

Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price

Tom Price, an orthopedic surgeon for 20 years, was sworn in as Secretary of Health and Human Services after a long series of Committee appearances.[218] The Department of Health and Human Services administers Medicaid, Medicare, and Affordable Care Act (ACA) coverage, and oversees the the National Institute of Health (NIH), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).[219]

Price has an estimated net worth of $15 million, and much of that wealth has been generated by heavy investing in stock trades in the health care industry, an industry he will now oversee.[220] He has been accused, although not charged, of the crime of insider trading as a government official.[221]

Price's view of health care in America is that of a believer in the free market. He promotes deregulation, removal of important oversight into medical care and standards of care, and limiting liability when doctors make a mistake.[222] He is a member of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), which opposes Medicare (which provides health insurance for senior citizens), going so far as to teach doctors how to opt out of that system; they also oppose mandatory immunization, because they view vaccines as improperly researched.[223] Price is a known critic of Medicaid, a program providing limited health care for, among others, people on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).[224]

As a six-term Republican Representative for Georgia, Price is on the record as being anti–women's rights. He repeatedly attempted to defund Planned Parenthood (which provides a wide range of free health care, such as mammograms, prenatal care and testing), in spite of the fact that Planned Parenthood is already banned from using federal funds for abortion services.[225] He has argued against including coverage for birth control in the ACA, because it violates religious freedom and every woman can afford birth control, according to him.[226]

Price has repeatedly expressed anti–LGBTQ+ equality views: he voted against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr Hate Crimes Act, which includes sexual orientation and gender identity in the federal definition of hate crimes; stated that the idea that transgender people should have equal access to public facilities is an "abuse and overreach of power"; opposed the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy; and sponsored legislation to forestall the recognition of same-sex marriages in Washington, DC.[227]

Conflicts of Interest

  • Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price may have violated the STOCK (Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge) Act when he was a member of the House of Representatives for purchasing a stock and then introducing legislation to help it.[228] Update, 1/30/17: It appears that Price received a privileged offer to buy the (biomedical) stock at a discount, which is contrary to earlier testimony that he gave this month.[229]

Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin

Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury, "failed to disclose nearly $100 million of his assets" to the Senate Finance Committee. He also did not mention "his role as a director of an investment fund located in a tax haven."[230]

Critics have also pointed to Mnuchin's time as CEO of OneWest, which was called a "Foreclosure Machine," as proof he will not be a Treasury Secretary for all Americans. OneWest earned this reputation by being responsible for 39% of all foreclosures nationwide between 2009 and 2014.[231] During Mnuchin's time as CEO, OneWest foreclosed on 36,000 families in California and 24,000 other families across the country, according to third-party studies.[232] OneWest entered into a "loss-share" agreement with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC), which meant "the agency would partially reimburse the bank for handling foreclosures." A Freedom of Information Act (FIOA) request showed that the FDIC paid OneWest more than $1 billion for at least 36,000 foreclosures. After purchasing OneWest for $1.9 billion from the FDIC, Mnuchin and his fellow investors turned their predatory practices into profit and sold OneWest for $3.4 billion in 2015.[233]

In addition to his aggressive foreclosures on Americans' homes, Mnuchin advocates changes that will make it tougher for American families to own homes in the future. He has stated that the federal government should give up control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. However, a Forbes article notes that Fannie and Freddie's current practice of buying up banks' mortgage loans keeps Americans' mortgage rates low and "allows borrowers to finance homes at fixed rates for as long as thirty years… Any significant change to that special guarantee relationship could send U.S. home financing costs higher."[234]

Profiles of Appointments

Chief Strategist Steve Bannon

Stephen Kevin Bannon is the Chief Strategist in the White House[235] and is directing the most aggressive elements of Trump’s administration.[236][237] Bannon was the main author of Trump's Inauguration address, including the portion of the speech that took a particularly negative view of the United States: “mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”[238] These negative views align with reporting during the campaign stating that Bannon held radical views about government leadership: for example, he said, "I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”[239]

There are also reports that Bannon, along with Stephen Miller, were the chief architects of the executive order that created a travel ban impacting people from seven majority-Muslim countries.[240][241] The reporting also states that Bannon attempted to pressure Homeland Security Secretary Kelly not to create an exception for green-card holders that was announced a few days after the initial executive order.[242] Restrictions on immigration are in accordance with Bannon's nativist and white supremacist views.[243][244] Bannon's extreme Islamophobia has been developing for over a decade, and was first apparent in public in a draft of a documentary-style film he wrote in 2007 titled "Destroying the Great Satan: The Rise of Islamic Fascism in America."[245][246] Bannon also noted repeatedly on his radio show that "we're at war" with radical jihadis in places around the world, and that this is "a global existential war" that likely will become "a major shooting war in the Middle East again."[247]

Prior to working for President Trump, Steve Bannon was the executive chairman of Breitbart News, which, under his tenure, became "reliably and openly anti-women, anti-Semitic, anti-progress, anti-immigrant, and anti-nonwhites."[248] Last summer at the Republican National Convention, Bannon proudly told a reporter that Breitbart served as a "platform for the alt-right."[249] The alt-right is a political ideology that supports white supremacy and male superiority (also known as patriarchy) and considers immigrants not to be real Americans (also known as nativist ideology).[250][251] The website is infamous for publishing articles including “Gay Rights Have Made Us Dumber, It’s Time to Get Back in the Closet,” “Kids Raised By Same-Sex Couples Twice As Likely To Be Depressed, Fat Adults” and “Day Of Silence: How The LGBT Agenda Is Hijacking America’s Youth.”[252] A former writer affirmed that even if he did not believe that Bannon personally shared racist and anti-Semite beliefs, he is "happy to pander to those people and make common cause with them in order to transform conservatism into European far-right nationalist populism."[253][254] As a result, Bannon's appointment to White House staff was met with a petition from the Southern Poverty Law Center.[255]

Senior Adviser Stephen Miller

Stephen Miller, age 30, is a Senior Adviser to the President for Policy, a position occupied by the President's most important advisers.[256] President Trump has been known to refer to Steve Bannon and Steve Miller as "my two Steves."[257] Bannon and Miller represent extreme right-wing views that are anti-Muslim, anti-immigration, anti-woman, anti–people of color, anti-environment and anti-regulation.[258] The Inaugural Address in which Trump described the United States as standing at the brink of disaster was co-authored by Bannon and Miller.[259] They have written several Executive Orders, including the Muslim Ban, that reflect their extreme views.[260]

Steve Miller is one of many White House staffers who came directly from Jeff Sessions’s office.[261]. Miller played a major role in crafting Session's successful scuttling of comprehensive immigration reform in 2013.[262] Miller also worked for Representative Michele Bachman (R-[[Minnesota|MN] 06), who is also known for her extreme right-wing views.[263]

Vice President Mike Pence

Mike Pence, former governor of Indiana, was selected by Donald J. Trump to serve as his Vice-President. Pence has asserted that the rights of the American people come not from the Constitution, but from God.[264]

Pence is aggressively homophobic and anti-LGBTQ+, and has opposed laws requiring the protection of this group’s civil rights.[265] In 2015, he signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act[266] into law, which allowed private businesses in Indiana to discriminate against LGBTQ+ customers based on religious preferences. In 2010, Pence railed against the repeal of the US Military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy, which prohibited gay and lesbian people from serving openly, falsely claiming that the repeal would turn the military into “a backdrop for social experimentation."[267] During his tenure as House Representative, Pence voted twice to add an amendment to the Constitution defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman, and while running for Congress in 2000 he advocated in favor of diverting funding allocated to HIV toward programs providing "assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior," a euphemism for conversion therapy.[268]

Pence is also aggressively anti-woman, and as governor of Indiana signed some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation, including one that prohibited women from terminating a pregnancy because of profound fetal illness or disability.[269] He supports the National Rifle Association’s pro-gun interpretation of the Second Amendment.[270] Pence, like Donald Trump, is also anti-worker, and has supported eliminating the minimum wage, diminishing the power of labor unions, and reducing the power of collective bargaining.[271] [272] [273]

Senior Adviser Jared Kushner

Jared Corey Kushner is a senior adviser to President Trump[274] and has been married to Trump's older daughter, Ivanka, since 2009. Kushner is a real-estate developer and CEO of Kushner Companies,[275] and owner of the paper the New York Observer. It is unclear whether Kushner has stepped down from either of his jobs now that he works in the White House.[276] In marrying Ivanka Trump, Kushner joined together two real estate empires.[277] By conservative estimates, the Kushner family—Jared and his brother Josh and father Charles—are worth $1.8 billion.[278] Because he is the President’s son-in-law, there has been debate over whether or not his position violates laws against hiring relatives, known as antinepotism laws; he did receive clearance from the Department of Justice.[279] Kushner is another member of the White House staff with no experience in government.[280]

As a Senior Adviser to the President, Kushner has enormous influence over the entire Trump administration.[281] Kushner advises the President on foreign policy issues, including the relationship between the US and Israel; Trump believes that Kushner is the only person capable of bringing peace to the Middle East.[282]

Russian Connections

Jared Kushner met with Ambassador Kislyak, in a meeting also attended by Michael Flynn, at Trump Tower in December. While meetings between incoming administrations and other nations are common, this meeting occurred at a time when the US was taking action against Russia for interfering with the 2016 election.[283]

Chief Counselor Kellyanne Conway

Kellyanne Conway, Chief Counselor to the President, is a pollster who founded the polling company WomanTrend in 1995.[284] Conway’s work in polling has served her well as she creates the messaging strategy for the Trump administration.[285] She also was president of a far-right super PAC, where she worked with Robert and Rebekah Mercer.[286] She also has enormous influence over Donald Trump, as she has pioneered a new way to get messages across to the President via her own media appearances.[287] On February 10, she announced that she is adding her own Chief of Staff, which will expand her influence in the White House.[288] Conway is anti-woman and rejects feminism, asserting that it has become toxic.[289]

Ivanka Trump

Ivanka Marie Trump is the daughter of the President and the wife of his Senior Adviser, Jared Kushner. She is a socialite who has used her last name to build her own brand.[290] Although she has resigned as CEO of her company and the Trump Organization, she and the rest of the Trump family continue to violate federal laws prohibiting anyone in public office from profiting from that position.[291] She graduated from the Wharton School with a degree in real estate, she has said.[292] Her K-12 years were spent at an elite private boarding school, Choate Rosemary Hall, which currently costs $55,780 per year.[293] Ivanka has been said to have enormous influence over Trump’s policies. While much has been said about her advocacy for the environment, women’s issues, and family issues, the President’s Executive Orders on all these areas are decidedly anti-environment, anti-woman, and anti-family.[294][295][296]

Chief of Staff Reince Priebus

Priebus was the Chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) for several years before joining the Trump administration.[297] As Chair of the RNC, Reibus worked on the Republican Party’s rebellion against Trump, which only ended at the convention.[298] Priebus is a lawyer, and his work for the RNC engineered its successful resistance to the Obama administration through a massive buildup of data gathering, digital mobilization, and positioning the Republican Party as unwilling to work on any bipartisan effort.[299] His appointment to the White House gave hope to Republicans that Trump’s worst tendencies would be reigned in.[300] But when Trump formally announced his top picks for his White House, he named Chief Strategist Steve Bannon before Priebus, setting up two competing power bases.[301] It has become clear that Bannon is exerting far more influence over the Trump administration than either Preibus or Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who represent the RNC.[302]

Press Secretary Sean Spicer

Sean Spicer is both Press Secretary and Communications Director, appointed when Jason Miller withdrew his acceptance of that position because of rumors that he cheated on his wife.[303][304] Spicer graduated from college in 1993 with a degree in government, then joined the Navy Reserve in 1999; he achieved the rank of commander and joined the Joint Staff’s naval reserve.[305] In 2012 graduated from the Naval War college with a degree in National Security.[306] Since he graduated in 1993 he has worked extensively in politics, either on campaigns, in the Republican National Committee, or in federal government positions.[307] He joined the Trump administration after serving as the media and communications strategist for the RNC, developing and controlling the RNC’s media presence.[308][309]

In his very first appearance as Press Secretary, two days after the Inauguration, Spicer attacked the press for falsely reporting on the size of the Inaugural crowds, then lied about the number of people who attended a speech given by Trump to the CIA.[310][311] In the first three weeks of the administration, Spicer has continued this pattern of accusing the media of lying.[312]

Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland

Katherine Troia “K.T.” McFarland serves as Deputy National Security Adviser to the Trump administration. Her appointment was announced by Michael Flynn via Twitter in November 2016.[313] She served in various positions involved in national security within the Nixon, Ford, and Reagan administrations.[314]Before joining the Trump administration, McFarland was a Fox news analyst hosting programs including “DEFCON 3.”[315] Despite her early experience in the world of national security, intelligence and defense, her absence for the last three decades leaves her out of touch with a radically changed technological and geopolitical world.

Her views on national security and the fight against terrorism and the assertion that political correctness hampers national security align with the Trump administration.[316] She is also a hardliner on Iran, advocating that the US bomb them to prevent their acquisition of nuclear weapons, rather than use diplomacy.[317] McFarland also aligns with the White House’s admiration for Vladimir Putin, stating that he deserved the Nobel Peace Prize rather than Obama.[318] She is a member of various extreme right-wing organizations and think tanks, including the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.[319]

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster

H.R. McMaster is career military and a three star general, and as active military was required to accept the position of National Security Advisor when asked to serve by his Commander in Chief, President Trump.[320] His views on Islam differ dramatically from the Trump administration and he is more in line with the views of past President Obama and President Bush.[321]In his first staff meeting McMaster reaffirmed this position by stating, “that the label “radical Islamic terrorism” was not helpful because terrorists are “un-Islamic,” according to people who were in the meeting.[322]

Commissioner Food and Drug Administration Scott Gottlieb

Gottlieb has deep connections to the pharmaceutical industry, otherwise known as Big Pharma, and has served on the board of directors of major drug companies.[323]He was a fellow of the far-right American Enterprise Institute.[324]

Russia Connections

Gottlieb is a partner of New Enterprise Associates (NEA), a venture capital fund with ties to Russia.[325]

Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Thomas D. Homan

Thomas D. Homan, Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had been the head of the division that carries out deportations and has 30 years of experience in “immigration enforcement”.[326]His appointment, and the hiring of hundreds of additional ICE deportation agents, is part of Trump’s very concrete plan to deport thousands of people living in the US.[327]

Asst. Attorney General, Civil Rights Division John M. Gore

John M. Gore, deputy assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights division of the Justice Department, has defended redistricting to maximize Republican representation in congress by disadvantaging voters of color, also known as gerrymandering.[328]He has also defended voter ID laws that reduce voter participation by people of color.[329]He was part of the law firm, Jones Day, which represents numerous efforts to restrict voting by communities of color.[330]Trump has appointed a dozen lawyers from Jones Day to posts in his administration.[ http://www.nationallawjournal.com/id=1202777272340/12-Jones-Day-Lawyers-Take-Key-Posts-in-Trump-Administration?slreturn=20170217185347]

Deputy Assistant for Strategic Initiatives

Sebastian Gorka is deputy assistant to the president for the Strategic Initiatives Group, a new White House organization that appears to function as a shadow National Security Council, where he specializes in counter terrorism focused on defeating ISIS. [331][332]His appointment by President Trump has come under scrutiny every since his appointment on Inauguration Day, but recently criticism has focused on his possible membership in Vitezi Rend.[333]Vitezi Rend is a still active organization in Hungary that operated under the direction of the Nazi government during WWII.[334]The organization has claimed that Gorka is a current member having sworn a life-long oath of loyalty and he was seen wearing a Vitezi Rend medal.[335][336]If this is true, then he lied on his immigration application he submitted in which he would have had to answer a question about such an affiliation.[337]Recent requests for comment from himself, President Trump or the administration have gone unanswered, and Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) has sent a letter to the President requesting a copy of his immigration forms.[338] [339]

Resigned Appointments

Michael T. Flynn

On February 13, 2017, at approximately 11 pm EST, Michael Flynn tendered his resignation as national security adviser, less than four weeks after Trump's inauguration. In the days leading up to his resignation, the Washington Post confirmed via nine sources that he had discussed eliminating sanctions on Russia with Russian Ambassador Kislyak prior to Trump's inauguration. This conversation represented a violation of the Logan Act, a never-before-prosecuted but treasonous offense.[340].

Mike Flynn was appointed by President Trump to serve as his National Security Adviser.[341] He achieved a rank of Lt. General in the Army, before retiring after more than 30 years of service.[342] He served President Obama from 2012 to 2014 as his director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.[343] He was abruptly fired because of his extremist views on Islam and his disruptive management style.[344] Flynn, like Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, sees Islam as posing a threat to the very existence of the United States—an existential threat more serious than the threat of all-out nuclear war.[345][346] Also like Bannon and Miller, Flynn believes we are already fighting a failing war against imperial Islam, and turning the tide of this war will require an all-out focused effort on many fronts, which are described in his book "The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies" (2016, St. Martin's Press, NY).

In July 2016, Flynn told ABC News's Martha Raddatz about undocumented immigrants that "if it's illegal, it's illegal...are they here illegally? If they're here illegally, it's illegal...we cannot allow the rule of law to break down."[347]

Flynn has flip-flopped on whether he discussed the US sanctions on Russia while President Obama held office; sanction were instituted because of Russian interference with the 2016 election, and Flynn urged the Russian government not to respond because the Trump administration would lift them.[348] Flynn was in contact with Russian officials long before the election, and this violates a federal law prohibiting unauthorized citizens from interfering in US disputes with foreign countries.[349]

Flynn has close ties to Russian government officials, and was paid to appear at a gala hosted by Vladimir Putin honoring RT, the state-sponsored propaganda “news” organization.[350] RT was involved in efforts to undermine the 2016 election.[351] The payment to Flynn would represent a violation of the Emoluments Clause.[352]

Prior to his appointment as national security adviser, Flynn campaigned heavily for Donald Trump throughout the 2016 campaign, and was known for making conspiratorial statements not founded in fact and leading rally crowds in anti-Clinton chants of "lock her up."[353] Before joining the Trump campaign as a surrogate, Flynn ran Flynn Intel Group with his son Michael G. Flynn. Flynn Intel Group was employed by Turkish interests with direct connections to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to lobby American legislators for pro-Turkey policies.[354].

Mike Flynn's appointment caused alarm to many people in the national security community because of his conspiracy-inspired views, such as his belief that the US is threatened by Sharia law's infiltrating schools and local governments.[355][356] Flynn believes that one element of this war is to use social media like Twitter and Facebook in psychological warfare, or psy-ops.[357]

Russian Connections

Flynn was paid to speak in Moscow by RT, Russian Television, with is owned and controlled by the Russian government.[358] In 2015, Flynn delivered remarks at a Moscow gala honoring RT, Russia’s propaganda arm, where he was seated next to Putin and led a standing ovation for the Russian leader. Flynn was paid for this speech by RT, and did not correctly report the payment, thus concealing payment from a foreign government, and possibly violating the law in the meantime.[359]Flynn continued to appear on RT as a foreign policy analyst Michael Flynn has made numerous pro-Russian statements; “How do we combine the United States’ national security strategy along with Russia’s national security strategy.”[360]Before the election in November 2016 Mike Flynn was involved in on going discussions with Russian agents. [361]On 12/29/2016 US intelligence agencies picked up communications between Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador to the US, Sergey I. Kislyak, officials who have read the transcript of the conversations state that Flynn discussed responses to sanctions against Russia.[362][363]While working for the Trump campaign and transition, Michael Flynn was a paid Foreign Agent working for Turkey which has a pro-Russian regime.[364][365]

Withdrawn Nominees

Andrew Puzder

Andrew Puzder is the CEO of CK, which owns Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s fast food restaurants. Like all of Trump’s other appointees he is very wealthy, with an estimated net worth of $25,000,000, and is a political donor to conservatives and their causes.[366][367] As an attorney he represented Carl Karcher, the founder of Carl’s Jr., when he came under investigation by the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the late 1980s for insider trading.[368] Like all those in the Trump administration, he is not a true conservative; rather, he is a radical believer in near-total deregulation within the agency to which he was nominated.[369] Department of Labor employees presented a letter to the Senate expressing their concerns with Nominee Pudzer.[370]

The Department of Labor has broad reach, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which protects workers; the Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs; and other worker safety and fair treatment programs.[371] Puzder has a limited view of the American labor force that comes only from his experience in the fast food industry, which is dominated by poor working conditions, low pay, and few opportunities to advance. In addition, most employees in the industry work part time, and the industry takes advantage of the taxpayer to pick up the slack in supporting low wage earners.[372] Puzder is profoundly anti-worker, having gone so far as to suggest that he would prefer robots to humans as workers in the fast-food industry—an industry that today employs nearly 4 million people, nearly all of whom work at low wages.[373][374] Puzder has been outspoken in his dislike of minimum-wage laws and has argued against inflation-adjusted increases, stating, “But there's no way in the world that scooping ice cream is worth $15 an hour, and no one ever intended it would ever be something that a person could support a family on.”[375] In real terms, the federal minimum wage actually peaked in 1968 at $1.60 an hour, which would be $11.00 in today’s dollars; yet today’s minimum wage is actually only $7.25.[376]

Conflicts of Interest

  • Now-withdrawn Labor Secretary nominee, Andrew Puzder, owes millions to a convicted bank that's seeking a Labor Department waiver.[377][378]
  • Now-withdrawn Labor Secretary nominee Andrew Pudzer had said he will divest from more than 200 investments if confirmed. Puzder said in his ethics agreement that he would step down as CEO of CKE Restaurants, sell his ownership in the company, and possibly forgo a bonus.[379]