Trump adds women to his cabinet with DeVos, Haley and McFarland

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

President-elect Donald Trump is finally adding some women to his cabinet. On Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 23, 2016, Trump nominated “charter school advocate and businesswoman” Betsy DeVos for education secretary. Earlier in the day, Trump named South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, R-S.C. as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Both positions need to be confirmed by the Senate. On Friday, Nov. 25, Trump announced that he is naming Fox News analyst KT McFarland as his deputy national security advisor and his lawyer throughout the campaign and transition Don McGahn as assistant to the president and White House counsel. Trump’s transition team made the announcement as the president-elect is spending the Thanksgiving holiday and weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, without giving the press access.

Trump met with the “billionaire donor and conservative activist” at his new Jersey Golf Club over last weekend as part of his marathon interviews to fill cabinet and upper-level White House posts. Trump praised DeVos in his statement announcing his decision, saying, “Betsy DeVos is a brilliant and passionate education advocate. Under her leadership, we will reform the US education system and break the bureaucracy that is holding our children back so that we can deliver world-class education and school choice to all families.”

DeVos also commented in the Trump Transition’s official statement, “I am honored to accept this responsibility to work with the President-elect on his vision to make American education great again. The status quo in education is not acceptable. Together, we can work to make transformational change that ensures every student in America has the opportunity to fulfill his or her highest potential.”

DeVos is facing almost immediate criticism from the nation’s largest teacher’s union, The National Education Association, for supporting school vouchers and charter schools. While Conservative are criticizing her involvement with a group that supports Common Core education standards, which Trump vowed to obliterate. According to CNN “DeVos chairs the American Federation for Children,” which “promotes charter school education,” and she “also served on the board of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, “ a pro-Common Core group. DeVos quickly distanced herself, saying in a website post “Have organizations that I have been a part of supported Common Core? Of course. But that’s not my position.”

Earlier in the day, Trump picked a less controversial pick for the U.S. ambassador to the UN in choosing Haley; however, Haley has a controversial past with the president-elect. Haley is a second-generation American born to Indian parents and a rising star in the Republican Party. Haley supported Florida Senator Marco Rubio in the primary and was a frequent critic of Trump immigration policies, including building a wall on the Mexican border and the Muslim ban. Haley even criticized Trump in her 2016 State of the Union response calling him one of “angriest voices” that “throw stones.” Now, Trump seems to want to reach out to some of his biggest critics in the Republican Party and consider them for cabinet posts including 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney for Secretary of State.

In the official statement, Haley explained why she chose to accept Trump’s offer. Haley said, “When the President believes you have a major contribution to make to the welfare of our nation, and to our nation’s standing in the world, that is a calling that is important to heed. The second is a satisfaction with all that we have achieved in our state in the last six years and the knowledge that we are on a very strong footing.” Haley will remain the South Carolina’s governor until the Senate confirms her. Continuing Haley said, “We still have much to do in South Carolina, and my commitment to the people of our state will always remain unbreakable, both while I continue to hold this office, and thereafter.”

Trump in his official transition statement announcing the appointments commended McFarland, “I am proud that KT has once again decided to serve our country and join my national security team. She has tremendous experience and innate talent that will complement the fantastic team we are assembling, which is crucial because nothing is more important than keeping our people safe.” Trump’s choice for national security advisor, former Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn also praised his deputy in a tweet on Friday, writing, “So proud & honored to have KT McFarland as part of our National Security team. She will help us #MAGA.”

Kathleen Troia McFarland ran in the 2006 Republican primary for a Senate seat in New York. McFarland is a Fox News national security analyst. She formerly was “an aide in the administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan,” and she was an adviser to Henry Kissinger on the National Security Council.

McGahn’s addition to the White House staff is even more significant, as he has been with Trump through the campaign and transition, and will be responsible for Trump handing over his business empire to his children and ensure there is no conflict of interest. McGahn currently is a partner at the Jones Day law firm and previously served as the chairman of the Federal Election Commission, where he “loosened regulations on campaign finance.”

President-elect Trump praised his lawyer profusely in his statement announcing his appointment. Trump expressed, “Don has a brilliant legal mind, excellent character and a deep understanding of constitutional law. He will play a critical role in our administration, and I am grateful that he is willing to serve our country at such a high-level capacity.”

Trump is returning Monday, Nov. 28 to New York and will continue meeting with another eight possible candidates for his cabinet. Trump is still in limbo in deciding whom he will choose for the coveted Secretary of State slot. His transition team is torn between his two major candidates, Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and 2012 GOP nominee and Trump critic Mitt Romney, with Giuliani being his team ‘s favorite because of his loyalty and views on foreign policy.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. Ms Goodman is an expert inpresidential campaigns and election history and she has been covering American elections as a journalist since 2004.

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