You’re hired! Trump’s mixed messages on rumoured cabinet picks

Republican mulling a mix of insiders and outsiders for top administration positions

Eric Jackman, a Donald Trump impersonator from New Hampshire, recorded this video message to the people of Ireland at a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire on the eve of Trump's election victory. Video: Simon Carswell

 

Topped with a yellow wig and dressed in an ill-fitting suit, white shirt and power-red tie, Eric Jackman did a mean impersonation of Donald Trump at the Republican’s penultimate rally of the US presidential campaign.

In his message to my “Paddy green friends” in Ireland, he promises to name Colin Farrell as ambassador to Dublin and calling Chris de Burgh’s Lady In Red “one of the greatest songs ever written”.

The Trump impersonator, who works in a car dealership, is looking at a bumper four years ahead after Trump’s stunning election victory on Tuesday.

“I do corporate gigs, I do birthday parties, celebrations, political rallies. You name it, man, if the money’s there I’ll go,” he said at Trump’s rally in Manchester, New Hampshire on Monday night.

“I figure out who my audience are and I deliver to what the audience wants, so I can be pro-Trump, anti-Trump, in the middle. I can be whatever the people hiring me are looking for.”

Joking aside, Jackman (30) explained he voted for Trump because many of his generation served in the Iraq war, a conflict he described as “a total fraud cooked up” by the Bush-Cheney neoconservatives.

“Flash forward to 2016, most of those guys have endorsed Hillary Clinton and they are on board with her. That is a huge red flag to me,” he said.

“Donald Trump doesn’t have any of the neocons… so to me right there, he is not perfect, he is not a great candidate, he is not my first choice, but I think we should give him a shot to see what he could do.”

As the country and the world digests the extraordinary election of the first non-politician to the presidency since General Dwight Eisenhower, Jackman and others will be watching closely to see who Trump appoints to his cabinet and in particular to the key posts of the secretaries for state, defence and the treasury.

For a campaign that was long on bluster and short on detail, the businessman’s hiring will signpost how much he intends to follow through on his plans to retrench America from the world and how deep of a nationalistic, protectionist and isolationist hole the Trump administration will climb into.

Assymetric campaign

A frenzy of speculation about who the president-elect might choose to surround himself with after his inauguration on January 20th has already sent out mixed signals, consistent with the free-swinging Trump’s asymmetric campaign.

Among those said to be in the running for secretary of state are former House of Representatives speaker Newt Gingrich, Tennessee Republican senator Bob Corker and former ambassador to the UN John Bolton.

Gingrich has been a member of the outward-looking Council on Foreign Relations for more than 20 years. Corker, chairman of the powerful Senate foreign relations committee, played a critical role in helping Barack Obama push the Iran nuclear pact over the line, an agreement that Trump has called “the worst deal ever negotiated” and has promised to rip up.

Bolton served under George W Bush, whom Trump accused in February of lying about the Iraq war. He is a leading member of that neocon war fraternity.

The outsider Trump bottled electoral lightning during his campaign by promising to “drain the swamp” of Washington politics, yet there are a host of Beltway insiders being lined up for other top administration roles.

Texas congressman Mike McCaul, chairman of the House homeland security committee, could get secretary of homeland security, according to NBC News-sourced speculation.

Former Michigan congressman Mike Rogers, who chaired the House intelligence committee until he retired last year, is embedded in Trump’s presidential transition team and is apparently on the shortlist for CIA director.

Tax reform

Given Trump’s plans for corporate tax reform, the possible picks for US treasury secretary - Trump campaign finance chair and Wall Street bigwig Steve Mnuchin, Texas congressman Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the House financial services committee, and even JP Morgan chief Jamie Dimon - should be high on the list of next-calls-to-make for Irish Government officials and diplomats leading Ireland’s lobbying efforts.

Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, a one-time prosecutor, is in the mix for attorney general, as is New Jersey governor Chris Christie, although he may be too toxic to touch since the Bridgegate scandal.

The most alarming people under consideration are former Alaska governor Sarah Palin as secretary of the interior - the mind boggles - and Steve Bannon, the alt-right provocateur behind the Breitbart website and the strategic mastermind behind Trump’s stunning victory, as White House chief of staff.

He would be the man Trump sees first thing in the morning and the last person he sees at night.

Like his impersonator, Trump’s ground-shifting election victory has created extraordinary job opportunities for the most unlikely of people.

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