A band of billionaires: Trump Cabinet may be richest, says analyst

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 06 2016 07:13 PM | Updated as of Dec 07 2016 09:50 AM

Analyst says Trump Cabinet may be the richest Cabinet ever

President-elect Donald Trump's appointments in key positions may spur a shift in priority in Asia, an analyst said Tuesday.

Speaking on [email protected], foreign relations expert Richard Heydarian noted that two of Trump's appointees were former officials of the Obama administration.

General James Mattis and General Michael Flynn, who were appointed Defense Secretary and National Security Adviser respectively, worked under outgoing President Barack Obama but "were essentially fired," according to Heydarian. 

Eventually, they became critics of Obama. Mattis and Flynn had the same point of disagreement with the president: they felt Obama was soft on certain Middle Eastern powers.

According to The New York Times, Mattis, now retired, led a Marine division to Baghdad during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and led the United States Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, from 2010 to 2013.

Likewise, Heydarian said, Flynn indicated in his latest book a "strong conviction [sic] against Islamic extremism or radicalism."

Heydarian also noted, there may also be a conflict of interest with Flynn, seeing as to he is involved in some consultancy jobs with Russians among others, and is seen as close to President Vladimir Putin "in one way or another."

"The concern for some people is that under the Trump administration, despite all the tough talk on China, despite all the tough talk on South China Sea, we may essentially go back to the Bush era of global war on terror 2.0 probably on steroids because Trump will be even more aggressive," he said.

Meanwhile, Trump has offered the post of Central Intelligence Agency Director to Congressman Mike Pompeo from Kansas, who had heavily criticized the Iran nuclear deal.

"None of these people--either Michael Flynn, or Pompeo, or Mattis as far as I have checked--have identified the South China Sea issue or China as a major security threat. For them, the number one issue is the Middle East," he said.

"My concern is you may see a pivot to the Middle East under the Trump administration as far as geopolitics and military affairs are concerned," he added.

It is in this light then that the next person to be named Secretary of State would be important.

One candidate for the position is former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Heydarian said some fear that "Romney is being toyed around," considering that he was one of Trump's biggest critics in the campaign period, calling him a "phony" at one point. The Republican nominee then had said Romney was choking like a dog.

No matter how vicious those barbs traded were, the two seem to be "coming together," and Heydarian believes it is to "consolidate" the Republican party.

"I think the political calculation there is if Romney is part of the team, then it's easier for Donald Trump to consolidate power over the Republican party, which is not very much on his part during the campaign period," he said.

However, Romney is not the only one in the running to be the next Secretary of State--there are former ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton and the New York City Mayor during the 9/11 attack, Rudolph Giuliani. Both served under President George W. Bush.

There is also former Utah Republican Governor Jon Huntsman, who was Obama's first ambassador to China.

Then there's also David Petraeus, who also served under Obama, but was fired for leaking confidential information to a mistress who was a journalist.

Heydarian noted, if Trump picks Petraeus, then he would be having three former military officials in his Cabinet.

He added, the most interesting thing about the Trump administration is that he ran on the campaign of anti-establishment, "yet he has assembled the most billionaire-filled, richest cabinet not only perhaps in US history, but in human history."

"You have multiple billionaires there. I'm not sure if Romney's a billionaire yet, but if Romney is there, the net worth of that cabinet could be several billion dollars--as big as the economy of some small countries," he said.

According to The New York Times, like Mattis and Pompeo, the following are pending Senate confirmation: 

- Steven Mnuchin to Treasury
- Elaine L. Chao to Transportation
- Tom Price to Health and Human Services
- Wilbur Ross to Commerce
- Betsy DeVos to Education
- Nikki Haley as Ambassador to the United Nations
- Ben Carson to Housing and Urban Development
- Jeff Sessions as Attorney General

Meanwhile, Reince Priebus and Stephen K. Bannon have been appointed as Chief of Staff and Chief strategist respectively and would not require Senate confirmation, like Flynn.