Trump’s $6 Billion Cabinet: Mostly Men, Mostly White and Not Much Government Experience
Published: December 15, 2016 | Last updated: January 20, 2017

Donald Trump is building a cabinet in his own image. The first billionaire U.S. president has appointed two billionaires and at least a dozen millionaires, with a combined net worth of about $6.4 billion, to run government departments. Two appointees to cabinet or cabinet-level positions are former generals. And only half have any prior government experience. Many of Trump's nominees have close ties to Wall Street and corporate America. Altogether, his cabinet is shaping up to look a lot different from his predecessors.

Donald Trump is building a cabinet in his own image. The first billionaire U.S. president has appointed two billionaires and at least a dozen millionaires, with a combined net worth of about $6.4 billion, to run government departments. Two appointees to cabinet or cabinet-level positions are former generals. And only half have any prior government experience. Many of Trump's nominees have close ties to Wall Street and corporate America. Altogether, his cabinet is shaping up to look a lot different from his predecessors.

      Male White Government experience Former generals Billionaires
Image of George W. Bush George W. Bush First confirmed cabinet 83% 74% 96% 4% 0%
Image of Barack Obama Barack Obama First confirmed cabinet 65% 52% 87% 4% 0%
Image of Donald Trump Donald Trump Nominees as of Jan. 19, 2017 82% 86% 55% 9% 9%

The expansive corporate connections, collective wealth and varied policy goals of Trump's cabinet-level picks say a lot about the priorities set to shape his administration. Here are Trump's cabinet nominees so far, in order of their succession to the presidency.

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  Net worth Male White Government experience Former general Billionaire
Image of Mike Pence Mike Pence Vice President $635K Check mark Check mark Check mark

Trump's choice of Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate was a nod to the socially conservative wing of the Republican Party and to the Rust Belt, a region that proved crucial to their election victory. Pence, who served 12 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, will provide a channel to Congress for the new administration. The former radio talk-show host has championed limited government and social causes, such as opposition to abortion.

Age on Inauguration Day: 57

$174,000
Most recent annual compensation
Corporate board notes
  • Has never served on a corporate board
Image of Rex Tillerson Rex Tillerson Secretary of State $385M Check mark Check mark

Exxon Mobil Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson will be America's top diplomat -- if he wins confirmation in the Senate, where lawmakers from both parties are questioning his almost two decades of dealings with Russian President Vladimir Putin. An Exxon lifer, Tillerson would have to sell his 2.6 million shares of the company's common stock, which had a value of about $240 million as of Dec. 14. He's stepping down as CEO and chairman at the end of the year.

Age on Inauguration Day: 64

Confirmation hearing: Jan. 11; Foreign Relations Committee

$27,300,000
Most recent annual compensation
Corporate board notes
  • Has served as chairman of Exxon Mobil's board since 2006
Image of Steven Mnuchin Steven Mnuchin Treasury Secretary $621M Check mark Check mark

Former Goldman Sachs partner and hedge fund manager Steven Mnuchin would bear the burden of executing Trump’s pledges to tackle tax reform and confront China over its currency. Mnuchin, whose father served on Goldman Sachs's management committee, would be the third alum of the New York investment bank in three decades to serve as Treasury chief. He's expected to face tough questions at confirmation about OneWest Bank, which carried out more than 36,000 foreclosures during the six years he ran the Southern California lender.

Age on Inauguration Day: 54

Confirmation hearing: Jan. 19; Finance Committee

$6,621,000
Most recent annual compensation
Recent corporate boards
  • Sears Holding ($60,000)
  • CIT Group ($6,561,000)
  • Relativity Media
Corporate board notes
  • Resigned from boards of CIT Group and Sears Holdings in December
  • Was co-chairman of Relativity Media's board until 2015
Image of James Mattis James Mattis Defense Secretary $7.2M Check mark Check mark Check mark

Retired General James Mattis would have to deliver on Trump’s pledge to wipe out Islamic State. He'd also have to run a sprawling bureaucracy with an annual budget of more than $590 billion under a president who has promised a bigger military while demanding savings in costly weapons systems such as the F-35 fighter. Mattis, who retired in 2013 after a 41-year career in the Marines, will need a waiver from a rule barring former officers from heading the Pentagon within seven years of leaving military service.

Age on Inauguration Day: 66

Confirmation hearing: Jan. 12; Armed Services Committee

$392,000
Most recent annual compensation
Recent corporate boards
  • General Dynamics ($242,000)
  • Theranos ($150,000)
Corporate board notes
  • Served on Theranos board with Henry Kissinger, George Shultz and Richard Kovacevich
  • Joined board of defense contractor General Dynamics in 2013
Image of Jeff Sessions Jeff Sessions Attorney General $7.4M Check mark Check mark Check mark

Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions, an immigration hard-liner and former federal prosecutor, was one of the few lawmakers to defend Trump after he proposed a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. His 1986 nomination for a federal judgeship was derailed by a Senate committee after former colleagues said he referred to the NAACP and other civil rights groups as “un-American organizations with anti-traditional American values." Sessions denied being a racist.

Age on Inauguration Day: 70

Confirmation hearing: Jan. 10 & 11; Judiciary Committee

$174,000
Most recent annual compensation
Corporate board notes
  • Has never served on a corporate board
Image of Ryan Zinke Ryan Zinke Interior Secretary $865K Check mark Check mark Check mark

The selection of Ryan Zinke, a Republican congressman from Montana, continues the tradition of putting Western politicians in charge of an agency that oversees energy development, grazing, recreation and other activities on more than 500 million acres of land. Zinke, a former member of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team Six who was awarded two Bronze Stars for missions in Iraq, has gotten low marks from environmental groups but has bucked his party to protect public land from sale.

Age on Inauguration Day: 55

Confirmation hearing: Jan. 17; Energy and Natural Resources Committee

$208,000
Most recent annual compensation
Corporate board notes
  • Has never served on a corporate board
Image of Sonny Perdue Sonny Perdue Agriculture Secretary $2.2M Check mark Check mark Check mark

Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue would oversee a department that directs about $140 billion in programs, employs about 100,000 people and has a presence in almost every U.S. county. Perdue, who's no relation to the family of the poultry producer with the same name, would have to deal with the 2018 version of the farm bill. Trump's campaign pledges to get tough on China over trade could affect U.S. exports of crops and other farm goods, adding a degree of complexity to the job.

Age on Inauguration Day: 70

Confirmation hearing: Not yet announced

N/A
Most recent annual compensation
Corporate board notes
  • Has never served on a corporate board
Image of Wilbur Ross Wilbur Ross Commerce Secretary $2.9B Check mark Check mark Check mark

Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, who made his fortune acquiring and restructuring troubled companies, would be responsible for carrying out Trump’s promises to get tough with China on trade, scrap the Trans-Pacific Partnership, rework the North American Free Trade Agreement and penalize U.S. companies that move jobs abroad.

Age on Inauguration Day: 79

Confirmation hearing: Jan. 18; Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee

$568,000
Most recent annual compensation
Recent corporate boards
  • Bank of Cyprus ($130,000)
  • Diamond S Shipping Group
  • Exco Resources ($190,000)
  • Sun Bancorp ($68,000)
  • ArcelorMittal ($180,000)
Corporate board notes
  • On Bank of Cyprus board with former Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackermann
  • Joined board of steelmaker ArcelorMittal in 2007
Image of Andrew Puzder Andrew Puzder Labor Secretary $110M Check mark Check mark

Fast-food magnate Andrew Puzder would have the opportunity to roll back Obama administration policies he opposed, including efforts to raise the minimum wage and expand the number of workers eligible for overtime pay. Puzder, chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants, which owns the Hardee's and Carl's Jr. chains, was an economic adviser to Trump during the campaign.

Age on Inauguration Day: 66

Confirmation hearing: Not yet announced

$2,330,000
Most recent annual compensation
Recent corporate boards
  • CKE
Image of Tom Price Tom Price HHS Secretary $18.7M Check mark Check mark Check mark

The Trump administration's effort to roll back Obamacare would have a spirited advocate in Tom Price, who led House Republicans' efforts to repeal President Barack Obama's signature domestic achievement. The Georgia congressman, an orthopedic surgeon before entering politics, favors giving Medicare recipients a fixed sum to let them shop for private coverage. Those positions are expected to spark objections from Democrats to his nomination.

Age on Inauguration Day: 62

Confirmation hearing: Jan. 18; Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee

$174,000
Most recent annual compensation
Corporate board notes
  • Has never served on a corporate board
Image of Ben Carson Ben Carson HUD Secretary $15.8M Check mark

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who has never held elected office, would carry out Trump's campaign promise of urban renewal. Carson, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, rose to national prominence for the successful 1987 separation of twins conjoined at the head at the John Hopkins Hospital. His memoir, "Gifted Hands," became a movie starring Cuba Gooding Jr. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi called him a "disturbingly unqualified choice."

Age on Inauguration Day: 65

Confirmation hearing: Jan. 12; Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee

$3,113,000
Most recent annual compensation
Recent corporate boards
  • Costco Wholesale ($328,000)
  • Kellogg ($50,000)
  • Vaccinogen
Corporate board notes
  • Was on board of Costco Wholesale with Berkshire Hathaway's Charlie Munger
  • Served on board of Kellogg, now feuding with Breitbart News
Image of Elaine Chao Elaine Chao Transportation Secretary $25.6M Check mark

For Elaine Chao, this would mark her second stint in a presidential cabinet. She served eight years as President George W. Bush's Labor secretary and was the first Asian-American woman in a cabinet job. Chao is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican. As transportation secretary, she'll play a critical role in executing the $1 trillion infrastructure plan promised by Trump for highways, bridges and other projects.

Age on Inauguration Day: 63

Confirmation hearing: Jan. 11; Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee

$1,075,000
Most recent annual compensation
Recent corporate boards
  • Ingersoll-Rand ($224,000)
  • Vulcan Materials ($264,000)
  • News Corp. ($295,000)
  • Wells Fargo ($291,000)
Corporate board notes
  • Joined Well Fargo's board in 2011
  • Served on board of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. since 2012
Image of Rick Perry Rick Perry Energy Secretary $1.1M Check mark Check mark Check mark

As governor of Texas, Rick Perry viewed energy policy as a tool for economic development, with investments in renewable wind power as well as traditional fossil fuels. The selection of Perry would put the vast Energy Department, also responsible for policies on the safe handling of nuclear material, in the hands of a man who once vowed to shut it down but forgot its name during a presidential debate.

Age on Inauguration Day: 66

Confirmation hearing: Jan. 19; Energy and Natural Resources Committee

$1,084,000
Most recent annual compensation
Recent corporate boards
  • Energy Transfer Partners ($237,000)
  • Sunoco Logistics Partners ($128,000)
Corporate board notes
  • On board of Energy Transfer Partners, which is building Dakota Access Pipeline
Image of Betsy DeVos Betsy DeVos Education Secretary $890M Check mark

Betsy DeVos favors using taxpayer money to give parents vouchers for private schools. She also supports the expansion of charter schools, a stance that has drawn objections from teachers' unions. Her father-in-law Richard DeVos has a net worth of $4.8 billion, thanks mostly to his ownership of direct-seller Amway.

Age on Inauguration Day: 59

Confirmation hearing: Jan. 17; Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee

N/A
Most recent annual compensation
Recent corporate boards
  • Windquest Group
Image of David Shulkin David Shulkin Secretary of Veterans Affairs $16.7M Check mark Check mark Check mark

David Shulkin would oversee the scandal-plagued veterans' health system with a budget of $180 billion that has struggled with treatment delays, mismanagement and falsified records. He is currently chief executive of the Veterans Health Administration, a position he was appointed to by President Obama, leading the system’s 1,700 hospitals, clinics and other sites for medical care. Shulkin, an internist with a degree from the Medical College of Pennsylvania, previously served in executive roles including president and chief executive officer of New York’s Beth Israel Medical Center, chief medical officer of the University of Pennsylvania Health System and chairman of medicine at Drexel University College of Medicine.

Age on Inauguration Day: 57

Confirmation hearing: Not yet announced

N/A
Most recent annual compensation
Corporate board notes
  • Has not recently served on a corporate board
Image of John Kelly John Kelly Homeland Security Secretary N/A Check mark Check mark Check mark

Retired Marine General John Kelly would be responsible for building the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico that Trump promised voters. As commander of the U.S. Southern Command, Kelly was in charge of military operations in Central and South America and the Caribbean. His son Robert was killed in Afghanistan in 2010.

Age on Inauguration Day: 66

Confirmation hearing: Jan. 10; Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

$254,000
Most recent annual compensation
Corporate board notes
  • Has never served on a corporate board
Image of Reince Priebus Reince Priebus Chief of Staff N/A Check mark Check mark

Reince Priebus, who served as chairman of the Republican National Committee, is a longtime friend and ally of House Speaker Paul Ryan, a fellow Wisconsin politician. As White House chief of staff, Priebus will play a key role in signaling that the administration is ready to work with Congress.

Age on Inauguration Day: 44

$220,000
Most recent annual compensation
Corporate board notes
  • Has never served on a corporate board
Image of Scott Pruitt Scott Pruitt EPA Administrator $600K Check mark Check mark Check mark

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is a reliable friend of the energy industry and a foe of the agency he would run. A climate-change skeptic, Pruitt sued the Environmental Protection Agency to overturn President Barack Obama’s sweeping regulations to cut carbon emissions from power plants. The Republican’s website proclaims him "a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda."

Age on Inauguration Day: 48

Confirmation hearing: Jan. 18; Environment and Public Works Committee

$133,000
Most recent annual compensation
Corporate board notes
  • Has never served on a corporate board
Image of Mick Mulvaney Mick Mulvaney Office of Management & Budget Director $2.5M Check mark Check mark Check mark

As head of the White House budget office, fiscal conservative Mick Mulvaney would lead administration efforts to rein in spending, though doing so may be a challenge as Trump and congressional Republicans are calling for more investment in the military. Elected to Congress in 2010 as part of the Republican Tea Party wave, the South Carolinian co-wrote a measure passed by the House that would have cut spending while conditioning a $2.4 trillion debt-ceiling increase on passage of a constitutional amendment to balance the budget.

Age on Inauguration Day: 49

Confirmation hearing: Jan. 24; Budget Committee

$174,000
Most recent annual compensation
Corporate board notes
  • Has never served on a corporate board
Image of Robert Lighthizer Robert Lighthizer U.S. Trade Representative N/A Check mark Check mark Check mark

Lawyer Robert Lighthizer would head an office with a crucial role in fulfilling the Trump administration's pledge to get tough on China over trade. Lighthizer, who has accused China of unfair trade practices, was deputy trade representative during the Reagan administration. As a partner with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, he has handled trade matters on behalf of manufacturing, agricultural, technology and financial services companies.

Age on Inauguration Day: 69

Confirmation hearing: Not yet announced

N/A
Most recent annual compensation
Corporate board notes
  • Has never served on a corporate board
Image of Nikki Haley Nikki Haley UN Ambassador N/A Check mark

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants and a onetime Trump critic, would champion a foreign policy that members of the world body may consider provocative. Trump’s interest in better U.S. relations with Russia, and in confronting China on trade, may play out in the Security Council, where all three nations wield veto power. Haley, a Republican, won national attention when she ordered the Confederate flag removed from the statehouse grounds after a racially motivated massacre in a black church.

Age on Inauguration Day: 45

Confirmation hearing: Jan. 18; Foreign Relations Committee

$106,000
Most recent annual compensation
Corporate board notes
  • Has never served on a corporate board
Red circle Council of Economic Advisers Chair

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Age on Inauguration Day:

Confirmation hearing: Not yet announced

Most recent annual compensation
Image of Linda McMahon Linda McMahon Small Business Administration $1.4B Check mark Check mark

Small businesses would have a deep-pocketed advocate in their corner with Linda McMahon, who co-founded World Wrestling Entertainment and shares a net worth of at least $1.35 billion with her husband, Vince. She spent $97 million on two failed bids to win a U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut and gave an additional $7.5 million to the Trump campaign.

Age on Inauguration Day: 68

Confirmation hearing: Jan. 24; Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee

N/A
Most recent annual compensation
Corporate board notes
  • Has not recently served on a corporate board