Trump’s Cabinet: Part Two

Pictured above is the cabinet room in the White House, where Trumps cabinet will meet as a group with the president. WSPNs Kevin Wang and Matt Karle give a brief overview of each of Trumps nominees. In this edition, they discuss Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and White House Chief of Staffs Reince Priebus.

Credit: By White House photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Pictured above is the cabinet room in the White House, where Trump’s cabinet will meet as a group with the president. WSPN’s Kevin Wang and Matt Karle give a brief overview of each of Trump’s nominees. In this edition, they discuss Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and White House Chief of Staffs Reince Priebus.

Kevin Wang and Matt Karle

Credit: US Department of Education (02092017 – SBD – Howard University-122) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons












Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos

Nomination & Confirmation to Cabinet

Betsy DeVos was nominated as then President-elect Donald Trump’s Secretary of Education on Nov. 23, 2016. DeVos had her Senate confirmation hearing on Jan. 17, 2017. On Feb. 7, she was confirmed by the Senate in a 51-50 vote, with Vice President Mike Pence providing the tiebreaker necessary for her confirmation. In addition to the 48 Senate Democrats and two Independents, Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska) voted against DeVos. This was the first time that a Cabinet confirmation tiebreaker was decided by the Vice President, since 1945 when Vice President Harry Truman casted a tie-breaking vote in favor of confirming Secretary of Commerce Henry Wallace.

Other Notable Candidates for Cabinet Position:

  • Michelle Rhee, former chancellor of Washington, D.C. public schools
  • Scott Walker, Governor of Wisconsin

Career Accomplishments & Events

DeVos has been an active participant in the political scene for decades. DeVos joined the Michigan Republican Party in 1982 and served as the organization’s chairwoman from 1996 to 2000.

DeVos’ husband, Richard “Dick” DeVos, is a multibillionaire whose father is the founder of the marketing company Amway and the owner of the NBA’s Orlando Magic. Since 1989, the DeVos family has contributed an excess of $17 million dollars toward conservative political campaigns and committees. DeVos herself raised $150,000 for George W. Bush’s 2004 presidential campaign.

DeVos is generally known as an advocate of schools vouchers and charter schools. Charter schools function and operate privately similarly to a traditional private school, but receive government funding just like ordinary public schools.

Opposers of charter schools claim they will siphon funds that are supposed to be allocated toward public schools, and therefore weaken the success and strength of the traditional public school system.

Credit: Office of the President-elect [CC BY 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons













Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

Nomination & Confirmation to Cabinet

Rex Tillerson was officially nominated for Secretary of State on Dec. 13, 2016. Tillerson had his confirmation hearing on Jan. 11. On Jan. 23, the Senate Committee for Foreign Affairs voted on his confirmation, approving him with 11 votes in his favor and 10 against. The Senate confirmed Tillerson on Feb. 1, with all 52 Republicans voting in his favor, along with three Democrats and one Independent. He was sworn in later that day.

Other Notable Candidates for Cabinet Position

  • Rudy Giuliani, former Mayor of New York City
  • Jon Huntsman, former Governor of Utah
  • John Bolton, former United Nations Ambassador

Career Accomplishments & Events

Tillerson, 64, began his career as an engineer, receiving a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Texas and joining ExxonMobil (then Exxon) in 1975. He became a general manager in 1989 and vice president of Exxon Ventures in 1998. By 2001, he was senior vice president of ExxonMobil, and in 2006 he was elected chairman and CEO of Exxon, succeeding former CEO Lee Raymond.

Tillerson, while not having held a political position previously, has been externally involved in politics for years. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Tillerson has spent tens of thousands of dollars on political donations to Republican groups and candidates, including Jeb Bush during the 2016 Republican primaries. Federal Election Commission filings reveal that Tillerson also donated $50,000 to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. These same records do not indicate any donations to Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Tillerson has faced some controversy regarding his relationship with Russia and Vladimir Putin. Tillerson worked with Exxon put him in charge of interests in Russia during the 1990s, and in 2011 he personally signed an agreement with Russia for drilling in the Arctic. In 2013, he was awarded the Order of Friendship by Putin. In 2014, Tillerson expressed his opposition towards sanctions on Russia that were in response to the Russian annexation of Crimea. However, in 2017 Tillerson stated that the annexation was illegal and advocated for a “muscular” response to Russian aggressions.

Credit: Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons











White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus

Confirmation to Cabinet

Republican Reince Priebus was appointed as then President-elect Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff on Nov. 13, 2016. Although the Chief of Staff is a cabinet-level position, it does not require Senate confirmation. Along with the White House Chief Strategist, the Chief of Staff is generally considered to be the highest ranking White House employee. Among other responsibilities and capabilities, Priebus selects, supervises, and organizes the structure of the staff of the White House. He also controls who is allowed to hold audience with the president and manages the president’s schedule.

Other Notable Candidates for Cabinet Position

  • Stephen K. Bannon, White House Chief Strategist and former chairman of Breitbart News

Career Accomplishments & Events

The 44-year old Priebus has been involved in politics since 2004, when he was defeated in his campaign for a seat in the Wisconsin State Senate. However, three years later, Priebus was elected as chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party. Priebus served in this position until 2010, when he decided to make a bid for chairman of the Republican National Committee.

After seven rounds of voting, Priebus was successfully elected to office. He accrued the plurality of votes throughout every round and won the overwhelming majority in the seventh.

The RNC had accumulated $23 million in debt under Priebus’ predecessor Michael Steele by the time he ascended to the office at the beginning of 2011. By the year’s end, Priebus had slashed the organization’s debt nearly in half.<

During the 2016 presidential election, Priebus criticized Trump on several occasions. Priebus expressed dissent with Trump’s proposed ideas of temporarily banning Muslims from entering the United States and the claim that illegal Mexican immigrants are “bringing drugs, crime and are rapists.” In May 2016, Priebus claimed Trump needed to “change his tone” if he wanted to win the election. Priebus also recommended that Trump pull out of the race after his Access Hollywood tape was leaked to the public.