In the months leading up to every presidential election, the major-party candidates make early transition plans, not because they assume they’re going to win, but because they want to be prepared in case they’re elected. The point is to hit the ground running – because putting an expansive team in place between early November and mid-January isn’t easy.
There’s already been some scuttlebutt about possible Hillary Clinton cabinet picks – Vice President Biden was reportedly in the running for Secretary of State, though he quickly said he expects to retirefrom public service after his term – and yesterday, NBC News’ Katy Tur and Benjy Sarlin offered one of the first real looks at the team Donald Trump might turn to if he wins.
Donald Trump’s cabinet-in-waiting is taking shape in the final days of the race, as aides eye a number of Trump loyalists for major posts should he win on Tuesday.
Among the names being considered, according to conversations with three campaign advisers who requested anonymity to speak freely: Rudy Giuliani for attorney general, Newt Gingrich for secretary of state, retired Lt. Gen Michael Flynn for defense secretary or national security adviser, Trump finance chairman Steve Mnuchin for Treasury secretary, and Republican National Committee finance chair Lew Eisenberg for commerce secretary.
The same report added that RNC Chairman Reince Priebus is being eyed as a possible White House chief of staff, with CNN’s Corey Lewandowski in the running to replace Priebus at the Republican National Committee.
Though scandal-plagued New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is ostensibly the head of Trump’s transition efforts, giving him a key role over personnel decisions, the NBC report added that the governor “has drifted from the campaign.”
Instead, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) of Alabama has reportedly “taken a major role managing the transition effort,” with the far-right Heritage Foundation and vice presidential nominee Mike Pence playing key roles.
None of these names or posts are especially surprising, but the lineup nevertheless tells us something important about Team Trump’s thinking.
These possible staffing moves appear to be based less on merit and more on reciprocity: folks like Giuliani, Flynn, and Gingrich have been loyal partisans throughout the campaign, routinely telling Trump what he wants to hear, and therefore they’re positioned to be rewarded should Americans actually make Trump the leader of the free world.
At the same time, however, this is the kind of list that should also serve as an 11th-hour motivational boost to Democratic voters unsure of their Election-Day plans. How many progressive Americans want Newt Gingrich to be the nation’s chief diplomat and Rudy Giuliani to be the top law-enforcement official?