President-elect Donald Trump will officially be sworn into office on January 20, 2017. Before he takes office, however, he must choose individuals to eventually be part of his cabinet. This means picking a Secretary of Defense, a Secretary of State, and numerous other positions that will help shape every facet of the United States’ executive branch, foreign policy, and countless issues for the next four years.
During the transition process, however, Trump started selecting individuals with little to no political background whatsoever for some fairly powerful positions. While no one wants Trump and his future cabinet to fail (as it would be bad for America), Democrats and Republicans alike are taking issue with some of Trump’s choices due to their backgrounds or ties to Russia.
What’s especially concerning to some people is that Trump is choosing CEOs, not politicians, to fill these positions. While these CEOs will inevitably have to step down from their posts to help run the country, they will still likely have some sort of financial stake in their soon-to-be-former companies.
So who are these powerful CEOs primed to become even more powerful? Let’s take a look.
Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State
Rex Tillersoon is the current CEO and Chairman of ExxonMobil, the biggest oil company fifth-largest company in the world. He has a sizable investment in ExxonMobil, and has a good relationship with Russian president Vladimir Putin. If he is able to improve the relationship between Russian and the U.S., then ExxonMobil could, in fact, get permission to drill for oil in previously unavailable lands, which would only benefit the company further.
Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury
Mnuchin is the former chairman and CEO of OneWest Bank, and worked for Goldman Sachs for over 17 years. He is often criticized for foreclosing on many families during the housing crisis last decade.
Andrew Puzder, Secretary of Labor
Andrew Puzder is the CEO of the privately held CKE Restaurants, owners of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s. While the company has succeeded in the last decade-plus, Puzder previously spoke out against raising the minimum wage and overtime pay. He is also in favor of increasing automation, which would inevitably lead to fewer jobs.
Linda McMahon, Administrator of the Small Business Administration
Linda McMahon has no previous political experience, though she did run (unsuccessfully) twice in hopes of becoming a Senator for Connecticut. She previously served as the CEO of the WWE, which employs its wrestlers as independent contractors instead of employees despite the often dangerous work involved in professional wrestling.
One hopes that these four individuals and all others selected for Trump’s cabinet work hard and make the best possible choices for the American people. At the same time, history proves that politicians with conflicts of interest could stand to profit from certain choices made in their favor during their time in power. Let’s see if these soon-to-be-former CEOs make safe, sound decisions that benefit everyone, not just their former employers.