September 2017

By Jeremiah J. Baronberg

After new presidential elections in the United States, incoming U.S. administrations make numerous changes to key personnel across the federal government. These include the president's political appointment of thousands of high ranking officials to serve in a host of policy and strategy positions to implement the new administration's agenda.

For the new Trump administration, the pace of nominations has been decidedly slower when compared to previous changes in administrations, with the fewest nominations in 40 years. Of the more than 1,100 positions requiring confirmation, President Trump has nominated only 277, according to the nonprofit nonpartisan organization that assists in federal government transitions. Of those 277 appointments, less than half have been confirmed by the Senate.

One area where President Trump has outpaced his predecessors is on nominations of federal judges and U.S. attorneys for states across the country, which serve as the top federal prosecutor and the government's chief civil lawyer in their district. Mr. Trump has also announced candidates to serve as Comptroller of the Currency, the top regulator of national banks, and the Vice Chair of Supervision at the Federal Reserve, both of which are expected to play key roles in the president's agenda to reshape the U.S. financial regulatory system.

Following the August Congressional recess, the Trump administration announced 42 new appointments, including nominees for positions in the Departments of Justice, Agriculture, and Defense, executive agencies such as NASA, and key White House officials.

When it comes to implementing the administration's foreign policy, President Trump recently named candidates for ambassadors to countries such as Germany, India, Croatia, Estonia, and Switzerland. However, U.S. envoys to other countries such as Argentina, Australia, Austria, Cuba, Egypt, Finland, Ireland, Jordan, Norway, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Sweden, and Turkey and to international representative bodies such as the EU, OAS, OECD, OSCE, and UNESCO are still awaiting nominations.

Among Cabinet-level departments, just 20 percent of nominated positions are now filled, with agencies such as the Departments of Energy, Agriculture, and Labor at less than 10 percent. At the Department of State, only 46 nominations have been submitted for 131 appointees. Notably, neither the State Department nor the Department of Defense has an assistant secretary for Asian and Pacific affairs, which are seen as vital posts considering the current tension in that region.

The following are among the more high profile posts that have been recently nominated by President Trump:

Department of Justice

Solicitor General—Noel Francisco

Antitrust Division, Assistant Attorney General—Makan Delrahim

Civil Rights Division, Assistant Attorney General—Eric Dreiband

Criminal Division, Assistant Attorney General—Brian Benczkowski

National Security Division, Assistant Attorney General—John C. Demers 

Executive Branch

General Services Administration, Administrator—Emily Webster Murphy

Environmental Protection Agency, General Counsel—Matthew Z. Leopold

Department of Agriculture, General Counsel—Stephen Alexander Vaden

Comptroller of the Currency—Joseph Otting

Federal Reserve, Vice Chairman of Supervision—Randal Quarles

Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Administrator—Paul Trombino III

White House, National Drug Control Policy, Director—Representative Tom Marino

NASA, Administrator—Representative James Bridenstine

Department of Commerce, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property; and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office—Andrei Iancu

Department of State

Legal Adviser—Jennifer Gillian Newstead

Assistant Secretary of State, Economic and Business Affairs—Manisha Singh

Ambassador to NATO—Kay Bailey Hutchison

Ambassador to Afghanistan—John R. Bass

Ambassador to Croatia—W. Robert Kohorst

Ambassador to Denmark—Carla Sands

Ambassador to Estonia—Admiral Edward Masso

Ambassador to France and Monaco—Jamie McCourt

Ambassador to Germany—Richard Grenell

Ambassador to Haiti—Michele Jeanne Sison

Ambassador to India—Kenneth Ian Juster

Ambassador to Russia—Jon Huntsman Jr.

Ambassador to Spain and Andorra—Richard Duke Buchan III

Ambassador to the Swiss Confederation and to Liechtenstein—Edward T. McMullen, Jr.