First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Trump’s cabinet, by the numbers
With NBC News confirming that former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue is President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Agriculture secretary, Trump’s cabinet selections are now complete. And here’s a look at his cabinet by the numbers:
- 13 of the 15 traditional cabinet selections are men (87%)
- 13 of 15 are white (87%)
- 9 of 15 are those who’ve never been elected officials or have run for office (60%)
- 6 of 15 are politicians or former political candidates (40%)
- 2 of 15 are women (13%)
- 1 of 15 is African American (7%)
- 1 of 15 is Asian (7%)
- 0 are Latinos (0%)
- 0 are Democratic politicians (0%)
RELATED: Everyone In Donald Trump’s Cabinet
Indeed, as the Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe writes, Trump’s picks -- if confirmed -- mean it will be the first time since the Ronald Reagan Era where a cabinet didn’t include a Latino. And it will be the first time in a generation where a politician from the opposing party wasn’t part of the cabinet (Bush 43 had Norm Mineta, Obama had Ray LaHood). And if you expand Trump’s cabinet picks to include positions beyond the traditional cabinet with cabinet-rank status in the Obama administration -- so OMB director, U.S. trade representative, UN ambassador, EPA administrator, and Small Business Administration administrator -- you get two more women (Nikki Haley and Linda McMahon) and another minority (Haley).
Trump’s Cabinet Picks:
- Secretary of State: Rex Tillerson OFFERED
- Attorney General: Jeff Sessions OFFERED
- Treasury: Steve Mnuchin OFFERED
- Defense: JamesMattis OFFERED
- Homeland: John Kelly OFFERED
- Interior: Ryan Zinke OFFERED
- HHS: Tom Price OFFERED
- HUD: Ben Carson OFFERED
- Education: Betsy DeVos OFFERED
- Commerce: Wilbur Ross OFFERED
- Transportation: Elaine Chao OFFERED
- Labor: Andy Puzder OFFERED
- Agriculture: Sonny Perdue OFFERED
- Energy: Rick Perry OFFERED
- Veterans Affairs: David Shulkin OFFERED
- *OMB Director: Mick Mulvaney OFFERED
- *U.S Trade Representative: Robert Lighthizer
- *UN Ambassador: Nikki Haley OFFERED
- *Environmental Protection Agency: Scott Pruitt OFFERED
- *Small Business Administration: Linda McMahon OFFERED
- (asterisk denotes position that currently has cabinet rank in Obama administration)
Oops, the Energy Department is more about the nation’s nuclear stockpile, not oil and gas
Speaking of Trump’s cabinet picks, two have confirmation hearings today -- Rick Perry for Energy secretary and Steven Mnuchin for Treasury secretary. Here’s the New York Times on Perry: “When President-elect Donald J. Trump offered Rick Perry the job of energy secretary five weeks ago, Mr. Perry gladly accepted, believing he was taking on a role as a global ambassador for the American oil and gas industry that he had long championed in his home state. In the days after, Mr. Perry, the former Texas governor, discovered that he would be no such thing — that in fact, if confirmed by the Senate, he would become the steward of a vast national security complex he knew almost nothing about, caring for the most fearsome weapons on the planet, the United States’ nuclear arsenal.” More: "Two-thirds of the agency’s annual $30 billion budget is devoted to maintaining, refurbishing and keeping safe the nation’s nuclear stockpile; thwarting nuclear proliferation; cleaning up and rebuilding an aging constellation of nuclear production facilities; and overseeing national laboratories that are considered the crown jewels of government science.”
Mnuchin under fire over foreclosures
The other Trump pick in today’s spotlight, Treasury nominee Steven Mnuchin, who has come under fire for running a bank that foreclosed on people’s homes. "Owners who lost their homes to mortgage foreclosures by a bank previously run by Steven Mnuchin urged the Senate on Wednesday to reject his nomination as President-elect Trump's Treasury secretary,” USA Today says. “Christina Clifford said she paid the mortgage for her $162,000 condominium in Whittier, Calif., on time from 2001 until 2008 when her acupuncture business foundered along with the national economy. Although Clifford said she followed the bank's instructions for seeking a lower monthly repayment, OneWest twice said it had not received her paperwork — even though the documents had been included with payment checks the bank cashed. OneWest foreclosed in 2009."
Upcoming confirmation hearing schedule, per NBC’s Frank Thorp
- Energy: Rick Perry – Jan 19 / 9:30 am ET
- Treasury: Steven Mnuchin – Jan 19 / 10:00 am
- HHS: Tom Price – Jan 24 / 10:00 am
- Labor: Andrew Puzder – Feb 2 / Time TBD
Team Trump with a slow start in filling the rest of the government
According to the Washington Post, of the 690 administration positions requiring Senate confirmation, Team Trump has announced picks for just 28 of them -- or 4%. And here’s the New York Times on Trump’s slow start in filling his national-security team: “Less than three days before President Obama turns the keys to the White House, and the nuclear codes, over to President-elect Donald J. Trump, Mr. Trump’s transition staff has barely engaged with the National Security Council below the most senior levels. His designated national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, has met four times with his Obama counterpart, Susan E. Rice, most recently on Tuesday afternoon. But the chronic upheaval in Mr. Trump’s transition, a delay in appointing senior National Security Council staff members, and a dearth of people with security clearances have deprived the Trump team of weeks of prep work on some of the most complex national security issues facing the country.”
The “unprecedented” contrast between Obama and Trump
“President Barack Obama will be replaced on Friday by a man who is his opposite in many obvious ways — party affiliation, upbringing and ethnicity. But the differences between the two men on tone and temperament are the most polarizing of all,” one of us writes. “It continues a familiar pattern in modern times in which the new president presents a clear contrast to the person he's succeeding. Think about it: In 1992, the Democrat from Hope, Ark., Bill Clinton, replaced the patrician Republican George H.W. Bush. In 2000, born-again George W. Bush succeeded the famously unfaithful Clinton. And in 2008, Barack Obama - who campaigned for ‘Hope’ and ‘Change,’ as well as against the Iraq war - replaced the brash Bush, who started that war. But the change from Obama to Trump might be the biggest of all, and it will have a far-reaching impact in domestic policy, foreign relations and even ceremonial functions.
- It's No-Drama Obama vs. Drama-All-The-Time Trump.
- Obama's "Dreams from My Father" vs. Trump's "Art of The Deal."
- The former community organizer vs. the real-estate mogul.
- The nation's first African-American president vs. the man who led the so-called birther campaign against him.
- "Yes We Can" vs. "Make America Great Again."
“‘It's safe to say the contrast between Obama and Trump is the most pronounced we've seen in modern times,’ says NBC News presidential historian Michael Beschloss. ‘Many presidents are elected as a reproof to the president who preceded them - we've never seen one elected who had for years accused his predecessor of having deceived the American people about being born in the United States.’ George C. Edwards III, a political scientist at Texas A&M University, agrees. ‘The contrast between Trump and Obama is unprecedented.’”