At his last rally in Pensacola, Fla., President-elect Donald Trump used the phrase “drain the swamp” in reference to kicking the establishment out of Washington D.C. With his new cabinet member selections, many are wondering if he is going to stick with his original plan of draining the swamp, or will he, in turn, become the establishment?
While Trump picked several anti-establishment members such as Steve Bannon and Michael Flynn, the majority of his picks are part of the establishment. Reince Priebus, Nikki Haley, and Rex Tillerson are all heavily enshrouded by the establishment.
Trump did not appoint the anti-establishment choices to actual cabinet positions, only advisory positions. He gave the cabinet positions to Priebus, Haley, and Tillerson.
Trump’s first establishment pick was Reince Priebus for Chief of Staff. Priebus currently serves as Chairman of the Republican National Committee and will assume his new position on January 20, 2017. Priebus is known for successfully merging the Wisconsin Tea Party movement with the establishment Republicans and bringing conservative Republicans like Speaker Paul Ryan and Governor Scott Walker into the spotlight. After Mitt Romney’s loss to President Barack Obama in 2012, Priebus took drastic measures to change the GOP’s ground game. He successfully steered the Party to massive victories in both the 2014 mid-term election, and the 2016 general election.
Priebus was very critical of Donald Trump during the campaign season, especially during the Captain Kahn controversy. Although Priebus criticized Trump, he still stood by him throughout the election and did his best to win over the Republicans who were part of the “Never Trump” movement.
While he may have originally been a part of the Tea Party movement, Priebus is the establishment. As leader of the GOP, Priebus has the power to influence campaigns, and time and time again has helped establishment types such as Paul Ryan. Now, he will have the power to control the White House and influence the president himself.
Governor Nikki Haley will be Trump’s new Ambassador to the United Nations. Haley is the daughter of Indian immigrants and the first female governor of South Carolina. Before being chosen for the ambassador position, she was also being vetted for Secretary of State. While she will be serving in the Trump administration, she has not always been a supporter of Trump.
During the election season, Haley strongly opposed Trump for the longest time, endorsing his biggest rival, Ted Cruz. Both Trump and Haley criticized each other over the course of the election, only to come together in the end. One of the main points Haley and Trump differ on is immigration. While Trump proposed bans, checks, and walls, Haley supported what Trump and his supporters characterized as “amnesty.” Trump went as far to say in a tweet that Haley is an embarrassment to South Carolina.
Haley will continue to serve as governor until the Senate approves her appointment to the State Department. She is expected to pass the nomination process.
Rex Tillerson is one of Trump’s most controversial picks to date. Tillerson is the current CEO of Exxon Mobil. While he may not be in politics, Tillerson is part of the establishment due to the fact he is part of the big oil business. Trump has come under fire for nominating several Goldman Sachs executives as well.
Tillerson’s confirmation will be the hardest battle yet. Both Republican and Democratic senators are opposed to Tillerson, primarily because of his extremely controversial relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Not only are they friends, but Exxon Mobil has strong holds in Russia and would benefit from ending sanctions against Russia. Several top Republican senators like Sens.Rubio, McCain, and Graham have raised their voices in opposition to Tillerson.
“While Rex Tillerson is a respected businessman, I have serious concerns about his nomination,” Sen. Rubio said in a statement Tuesday. “The next secretary of state must be someone who views the world with moral clarity, is free of potential conflicts of interest, has a clear sense of America’s interests, and will be a forceful advocate for America’s foreign policy goals to the president, within the administration, and on the world stage. I look forward to learning more about his record and his views. I will do my part to ensure he receives a full and fair but also thorough hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.”
“Trump has nominated career politicians, big bank and big oil executives, and career generals..”
While the Trump transition team is fully backing Tillerson, they will have an uphill battle during the nomination process. If only a few Republican senators join the Democrats (who are all expected to oppose Tillerson), he will be rejected, and Trump would be forced to choose someone else.
The past month has been an eye opener for those who thought Trump would “drain the swamp.” Trump has nominated career politicians, big bank and big oil executives, and career generals. He has done nothing to “drain the swamp,” but instead is polluting the waters even more. There are still a few cabinet positions to be picked, and both supporters and opponents of Trump alike are anxious to see who he will choose.