College reacts to President-elect Trump’s cabinet selections


Flickr\Saint Anselm College

Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and moderator Martha Raddatz at the ABC Republican debate.

Samantha Jette, Crier Staff

President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet nominations have sparked an outpouring of debates, particularly regarding his decision to appoint Stephen Bannon as Chief Strategist and senior counselor. Bannon, a Harvard graduate, is well known for his past as a main executive of Breitbart, a right-wing news and opinion outlet. Bannon’s political views are said to reflect “a more controversial wing of conservatism”, according to CNN.

It was also reported that his work with Breitbart News provokes fear that the Trump administration will promote the extreme xenophobic views of the alt-right. However, The Boston Globe reports that his classmates at Harvard Business School do not remember him as racist, but as a “brilliant thinker” and a successful businessman with proud conservative beliefs, despite coming from a Democratic family. Since the Chief Strategist position does not require approval from the Senate, Bannon’s appointment is definite.

As Cabinet decisions continue to unfold, Saint Anselm students and faculty expressed their opinions on the nominations. Many of their focuses reflect that of the rest of the country, including immigration, climate change, and healthcare issues.

Freshman Rebecca Rondeau, a criminal justice major, states that having Bannon in such a high position makes her “nervous as a woman in society. After reading some of the things [Breitbart] has said about women and how they need to ‘get off the internet’, I am worried he will back track everything women have worked for so far.” Despite her fears, she does have hope for Bannon, claiming that “we do have to give him a chance.”

Jillian Petrillo, a freshman Elementary Education major, states, “although the appointment [of Bannon] may seem controversial, I believe his years of experience in the media have prepared him for analyzing, planning and communicating as the Chief Strategist.”

The Chief of Staff selection, Reince Priebus also does not need to be approved by the Senate. In the past, Priebus has acted as the Republican Convention leader and is said to represent the traditional Republican establishment. CNN reports that “The pick [of Priebus] signals that Trump may look to build bridges in Washington and keep continuity with longtime Republican agendas, as opposed to make waves from the beginning.”

It is reported that Priebus and Bannon will maintain similar roles as they held during Trump’s election campaign. On the working relationship between the two, Trump stated, “Steve and Reince are highly qualified leaders who worked well together on our campaign and led us to a historic victory. Now I will have them both with me in the White House as we work to make America great again.”

Trump has also nominated several other members for Cabinet positions, and is awaiting approval from the Senate before their appointment is official. Among these is Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as the Attorney General. Sessions is a strong proponent of strict immigration enforcement, reduced spending and tough-on-crime measures. While he worked as the chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, Sessions assisted Trump in creating a new immigration plan that they hope will prevent immigrants from entering the country by illegal means.

The New York Times reports that Sessions was nominated for federal district judgeship in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan, but was rejected from this position due to his past racially charged comments and actions. The Times speculates whether or not this will continue to be an issue for Sessions as he awaits the Senate’s decision to appoint him. If appointed, Sessions will become the head of the Department of Justice as the top law enforcement officer and lawyer for the government.

Additionally, Trump has nominated Mike Pompeo, Representative from Kansas, as his CIA Director. Pompeo is a former army officer who was a critic of Hillary Clinton during the investigation of the Benghazi attacks. The New York Times stated his role in the investigation is believed to have given him an upper-hand in acquiring Trump’s nomination.

Steven Mnuchin is the Treasury Secretary nominee. The former Goldman Sachs executive worked as the finance chairman for Trump’s election campaign. After becoming a partner at Goldman Sachs, Mnuchin left the company to become a financier of Hollywood films. NBC News reports that Mnuchin showed limited interest in politics during his career, and mostly worked “behind the scenes” during Trump’s campaign.

The Secretary of State position has not yet been determined. It is reported that Trump is considering four candidates for this spot, two of which are 2012 Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney, and former mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani.

The Cabinet includes the Vice President, the Attorney General and the secretaries of 15 departments — Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs. Additionally, there are several Cabinet-level officials, including the Chief of Staff, Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Management and Budget, Trade Representative, Mission to the United Nations, Council of Economic Advisors and Small Business Administration. The Cabinet members are responsible for advising the President on any issue that relates to their respective department.

Rondeau states that the Trump’s nominee selections will foreshadow his time in office. She has noticed a trend in all of his nominees in that, “they are all people that share his views or that he has worked with in the past, including Bannon. I don’t think he is being open-minded. I will give him credit for selecting people that are not all white men, though.” She refers to his nominees such as Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Nikki Haley as the United Nations Ambassador and Elaine L. Chao as Transportation Secretary, who represent a variety of races and genders.

Petrillo also praises this variety, stating Trump has chosen “many people who can represent our diverse nation quite well.” Petrillo states that as a college student who hopes to one day become a teacher, she “feels comforted in the fact that we will have a female Education Secretary [Betsy DeVos]. She makes me more excited and more passionate for my future career.”

In response to Trump’s selections, President Obama is reported to have said “It’s important for us to let him make his decisions. The American people will judge over the course of the next couple of years whether they like what they see.”