Trump’s Squad II

Time for the second installment of Trump’s Squad.  Check out the first installment here.  Trump has been naming people to his cabinet for weeks now, but some of his recent nominations have really stirred things up.  We’re going to cover a couple of those today.

Secretary of State – Rex Tillerson


Rex Tillerson is Trump’s choice for Secretary of State.  This is another big position.  The Secretary of State is in charge of the Department of State and United States Foreign Service, and is the outward-facing cabinet member for foreign policy.  As Secretary of State, Tillerson will be the primary negotiator with other countries.  Like I said, big position.

Tillerson is currently the chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil.  As an initial matter, Tillerson has never held public office.  He has worked for Exxon since 1975 in various capacities, and has been CEO since 2006.  Since Tillerson has never held public office, it’s difficult to get a sense of where is politics lie.  He has been a longtime supporter of the Republican party, has expressed his impatience with government regulation, has stated that he does not support sanctions, and although he has acknowledged that climate change is happening, has stated that it is not yet clear “to what extent and therefore what you can do it about it.”

The most we know about Tillerson is his connection to Putin.  Apparently the two are pretty close.  Tillerson has known Putin since 1999, when he began representing Exxon’s interests in Russia.  There’s a quote that’s making the rounds from John Hamre, the President and CEO of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.  Tillerson is on the board of that organization.  Hamre has said that Tillerson “has had more interactive time with Vladimir Putin than probably any other American, with the exception of Dr. Henry Kissinger.”

As a representative of Exxon, Tillerson has worked closely with Putin.  In 2011, he struck a deal with Russia which gave Exxon access to Arctic resources.  In 2013, the Kremlin presented Tillerson with the country’s Order of Friendship.  The Order of the Friendship rewards foreign nationals whose work, deeds, and efforts were aimed at bettering the relations between foreign nations and Russia.  If you want a refresher on why connections with Putin might be bad, check out my previous post on this topic.

Russia might be a big issue for Tillerson during the committee and Senate hearings.  Tillerson will have to be approved by a majority of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and then a majority of the Senate.

The Foreign Relations Committee includes:

  • Bob Corker (R-TN)
  • Ben Cardin (D-MD)
  • James Risch (R-ID)
  • Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
  • Marco Rubio (R-FL)
  • Bob Menendez (D-NJ)
  • Ron Johnson (R-WI)
  • Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
  • Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
  • Christopher Coons (D-DE)
  • Cory Gardner (R-CO)
  • Tom Udall (D-NM)
  • David Perdue (R-GA)
  • Chris Murphy (D-CT)
  • Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
  • Tim Kaine (D-VA)
  • Rand Paul (R-KY)
  • Edward Markey (D-MA)
  • John Barrasso (R-WY)

If you’ve been counting, that is 10 Republicans to nine Democrats.  Rubio has already come out saying he has serious concerns about Tillerson as Secretary of State.  If Tillerson’s not for you, start making your calls!  It only takes one Republican to cross the line.  As always, you can contact your senators for the main vote.

Labor Secretary – Andrew Puzder


Trump  has nominated Andrew Puzder for Labor Secretary.  Labor Secretary is in charge of protecting the nation’s workers, determine how to distribute benefits to unemployed Americans, and is runs unemployment and jobs reports.  Puzder also has never held a political office, and is currently the CEO of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.

Puzder has criticized the Affordable Care Act, argued against raising the federal minimum wage beyond $9 an hour, and worked for years as an anti-abortion lawyer in Missouri.  Under Puzder’s leadership, Carl’s Jr. has led an aggressively disgusting campaign of scantily clad women eating burgers.  He stands by that decision – he just “like[s] beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis.”

I’m personally disgusted by this guy, and I’m nervous about what he means for workers across the country.  If you feel the same, way, here’s what you can do.  Puzder first needs to receive a majority vote from the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and then a majority vote in the Senate.

The Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee includes:

  • Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
  • Patty Murray (D-WA)
  • Michael Enzi (R-WY)
  • Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
  • Richard Burr (R-NC)
  • Bernie Sanders (D-VT)
  • Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
  • Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA)
  • Rand Paul (R-KY)
  • Al Franken (D-MN)
  • Susan Collins (R-ME)
  • Michael Bennet (D-CO)
  • Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
  • Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
  • Mark Kirk (R-IL)
  • Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
  • Tim Scott (R-SC)
  • Christopher Murphy (D-CT)
  • Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
  • Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
  • Pat Roberts (R-KS)
  • Bill Cassidy (R-IA)

You’ll probably notice that some of the listed senators will no longer hold their position in next iteration of the Senate.  Once the new senators begin in early January, the Senate will reallocate some positions.  I will update as that becomes available.  In the mean time, feel free to start calling!  There are 12 Republicans and 10 Democrats on the committee, but we have some heavy hitters (Murry, Sanders, Warren).  For Republicans that may be easier to convince, I would reach out to Rand Paul, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski, but feel free to contact whomever you want.

As always, you can contact your senators for the main vote, in which Puzder will need a majority as well.

Treasury Secretary – Steven Mnuchin


If you’re keeping track, this is our second Steve and our eighth white male!  Mnuchin is tapped for Treasury Secretary, the position in charge of establishing economic policy, tax policy, financial policy, and any financial sanctions against foreign nations.  Mnuchin, like all others listed today, has never held political office.  He was the national finance chairman of Trump’s campaign, and worked in the banking world, including Goldman Sachs, prior to joining Trump’s campaign.  He was active in the residential lending market and bought several failed banks from 2008-2009.  In a bizarre aside, Mnuchin also has worked in Hollywood.  His production company has produced The Devil Wears Prada, Avatar, Gravity, The Lego Movie, and Magic Mike XXL.

Mnuchin has actually supported both Democrats and Republicans in the past, but has been a staunch Trump supporter since spring of 2016.  Since Trump announced Mnuchin as his pick for Labor Secretary, Mnuchin has faced some public criticism, mostly relating to his background in the finance industry.  He has been criticized for profiting off of the financial crisis and for his role on finance in the midst of anti-Wall Street sentiments.

Not your guy?  Mnuchin has to be confirmed by the Senate Committee on Finance by a majority vote before he goes to the entire Senate for a vote.

The Senate Committee on Finance includes:

  • Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
  • Ron Wyden (D-OR)
  • Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
  • Charles Schumer (D-NY)
  • Mike Crapo (R-ID)
  • Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
  • Pat Roberts (R-KS)
  • Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
  • Michael Enzi (R-WY)
  • Bill Nelson (D-FL)
  • John Cornyn (R-TX)
  • Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
  • John Thune (R-SD)
  • Thomas Carper (D-DE)
  • Richard Burr (R-NC)
  • Benjamin Cardin (D-MD)
  • Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
  • Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
  • Rob Portman (R-OH)
  • Michael Bennet (D-CO)
  • Patrick Toomey (R-PA)
  • Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA)
  • Dan Coats (R-IN)
  • Mark Warner (D-VA)
  • Dean Heller (R-NV)
  • Tim Scott (R-SC)

If you’re counting, that’s 14 Republicans and 12 Democrats.  This might be a tough one – there are valid issues with Mnuchin but so far he wouldn’t be the one I’d target primarily, and the Republicans on this committee are pretty solidly conservative.  But please do reach out if this guy is not for you, and as always please contact your senators!

By leahkcasto

Full time lawyer, part time blogger.

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