US President-elect Donald Trump
has started forming his cabinet, appointing three army veterans to the key posts in his government, report say.
A member of Trump’s transition team announced the appointments on Friday. He said in a statement that retired US General Michael Flynn would serve as national security adviser, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions as US attorney general and Representative Mike Pompeo as CIA director.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said all the three appointees had accepted Trump’s offer for the posts.
Flynn, a retired three-star army general, was assistant director of national intelligence under President Barack Obama and served as director of intelligence for Joint Special Operations Command from July 2004 to June 2007.
The 57-year-old was fired from the US Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014, purportedly due to his lack of management skills and leadership style.
The retired lieutenant general and now the candidate for national security adviser is known for making incendiary remarks about Islam and Muslims. Flynn claims that it is “rational” to fear Muslims.
An aide to Trump said that Flynn would be a “fantastic” candidate for the position.
Donald Trump (L) jokes with Michael Flynn as they speak at a rally at Grand Junction Regional Airport on October 18, 2016 in Grand Junction Colorado. (Photo by AFP)
Sixty-nine-year-old Sessions is a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and formerly served as US attorney as well as attorney general in the US state of Alabama.
According to informed sources, Sessions’ hard-line and at times inflammatory statements on immigration are similar to those of the US president-elect and that he has already expressed opposition to any path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Sessions has been declared as an enthusiastic supporter of Trump’s proposal to build a wall on the US border with Mexico.
“Jeff has been a highly respected member of the US Senate for 20 years, he is a world-class legal mind and considered a truly great Attorney General and US Attorney in the state of Alabama. Jeff is greatly admired by legal scholars and virtually everyone who knows him,” Trump was quoted as saying in the Friday statement.
Sessions also said he was “humbled” to have been chosen for the job.
“My previous 15 years working in the Department of Justice were extraordinarily fulfilling. I love the Department, its people and its mission. I can think of no greater honor than to lead them,” he said.
In 1986, Sessions was denied confirmation as a federal judge after allegations that he had made racist remarks.
US Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama talks to the media at the Trump Tower in New York on November 17, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Pompeo, a US House lawmaker, who is to replace current CIA Director John Brennan, is considered as a serious and hawkish member of the Republican national security establishment.
The 52-year-old congressman from Kansas was on the House of Representatives intelligence and energy and commerce committees. He also served in a committee that launched a probe in the 2012 attack on the US government facilities in the Libyan city of Benghazi.
“He has served our country with honor and spent his life fighting for the security of our citizens,” Trump said of Pompeo in the Friday statement.
“I am honored and humbled to accept the President-elect’s nomination to lead the Central Intelligence Agency,” Pompeo said in response.
Pompeo (pictured above) has been a strong critic of Obama over the Iran nuclear agreement and has backed Trump in opposing the deal.
The Friday appointments by Trump are seen by many as a violation of the president-elect’s campaign promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington. Swamp is a reference to the group of elite insiders who have ruled America for decades.
Trump propelled himself as the president-elect by framing himself as an anti-establishment outsider, despite the fact that his campaign had been hit with many controversies since its inception in early 2015.
The New York businessman made several controversial remarks, including a call to ban all Muslims from coming to America as well as forced deportation of Mexican migrants by building a long wall along the US-Mexico border.
He has also sought a database to track Muslims across the United States
and said that the US would have “absolutely no choice” but to close down mosques.
A Gallup poll released Thursday found that only 27 percent of Americans are satisfied with the state of their nation, a decline of 10 percentage points compared to a previous survey before the November 8 election, in which Trump won 290 of the total 538 electoral votes, compared to his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s 232.
Trump, a Republican, has been more unpopular than any of the past three US presidents when they ran for the White House.