President-elect Trump cannot be accused of wasting any time in this transition period between incoming and outgoing presidents. Much like his overall business plan for his billion-dollar real estate empire, Trump is appointing the most competent people in their respective fields.
In the last week alone, the flamboyant president-elect has chosen the following people for various government positions:
– Chief of Staff and Executive Secretary of the National Security Council Retired Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg.
– Senior Director of Strategic Communications for the National Security Council, former Fox News contributor Monica Crowley.
Both Kellogg and Crowley have extensive foreign policy experience and their nominations were reported Thursday in the Washington Examiner. Like the bulk of Trump’s cabinet, staff and government appointment picks, the two are highly experienced professionals and conservative minds that fit well into Trump’s vision of where America is heading.
Mike Flynn, Trump’s national security advisor-designate said in a statement, “The United States is an exceptional country and these are two exceptional individuals who have agreed to fulfill the president-elect’s pledge of putting America first once again. I am honored to have General Kellogg and Dr. Crowley on the National Security Council team.”
– Interior Secretary Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) The official announcement came two days after sources close to Trump’s transition team said the freshman congressman had been offered the job. He will head the 70,000-employee Interior Department that is fitting for a man who hails from the American West and “Big Sky Country,” as Montana is known.
Zinke will oversee most of the United States’ federal land, along with wildlife, parks, offshore drilling, American Indian tribal relations and more. Trump said in a statement, “He has built one of the strongest track records on championing regulatory relief, forest management, responsible energy development and public land issues. As a former Navy SEAL, he has incredible leadership skills and an attitude of doing whatever it takes to win.”
Zinke said, “I will work tirelessly to ensure our public lands are managed and preserved in a way that benefits everyone for generations to come. Most important, our sovereign Indian Nations and territories must have the respect and freedom they deserve. I look forward to making the Department of Interior and America great again.”
He also said he would quickly stop the Interior Department’s moratorium on new coal-mining leases on federal land, a top target of Zinke’s in Congress and to stop the stream buffer zone rule for coal mining. His nomination was greeted with warm wishes from his Republican colleagues. The Independent Petroleum Association of American was confident Zinke would address the industry’s priorities.
– Secretary of State Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson. Senate Republicans on Thursday offered encouraging words for President-elect Trump’s pick to lead the State Department. There is little indication Tillerson’s ties to Moscow will threaten his confirmation. However, it should be noted in the more controversial picks of Tillerson and Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general, the straight majority of senators is enough to be confirmed and the Republicans have 52 seats in the new Congress.
There are more than a few Democrats, including incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, that rue the day outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid invoked the “nuclear option” that allowed a straight up or down vote on confirmations. It is now coming back to haunt the Democrats who smelled blood in the water prior to the stunning election results.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) announced their support, while Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who challenged Trump in the primary and is a frequent antagonist of GOP leadership, praised Tillerson’s “expertise” and “incredible career.”
Senior Republican aides say they expect the Senate to confirm Tillerson next month, citing the support he has from GOP foreign policy heavyweights. The Exxon CEO also has strong support from the business community and is well-versed in the art of congressional testimony, having appeared before lawmakers more than six years ago to testify about the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Foreign Relations Committee is gearing up to hold hearings on Tillerson in early January. Tillerson will need a majority vote to win confirmation. Special thanks go to an embittered Harry Reid and his limited vision of today’s senate. No GOP senators have come out to oppose Tillerson’s nomination.
As expected, incoming Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer is already directing fire at the nominee’s close relationship with Putin, as well as his opposition to Russian sanctions and the April international climate accord signed in Paris. Nothing more than talk is expected from the frustrated Schumer who had grand ideas of being the majority leader before the Hillary collapse in November.
– Energy secretary former Texas Governor Rick Perry. President-elect Donald Trump early Wednesday announced plans to nominate former Texas Gov. Rick Perry as Energy secretary. Perry famously forgot the name of the department he will lead if confirmed during a 2011 Republican presidential primary debate. In an attempt to list three federal departments he would eliminate, Perry named the departments of Education and Commerce, but then stumbled, saying, “The third one, I can’t. Sorry. Oops.”
There was no mention of that irony as Trump said, “As the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry created a business climate that produced millions of new jobs and lower energy prices in his state, and he will bring that same approach to our entire country as Secretary of Energy.”
Trump went on to praise Perry saying, “My administration is going to make sure we take advantage of our huge natural resource deposits to make America energy independent and create vast new wealth for our nation, and Rick Perry is going to do an amazing job as the leader of that process.”
Perry said in a statement, “As the former governor of the nation’s largest energy producing state, I know American energy is critical to our economy and our security. I look forward to engaging in a conversation about the development, stewardship and regulation of our energy resources, safeguarding our nuclear arsenal, and promoting an American energy policy that creates jobs and puts America first.”