Donald Trump’s Cabinet Picks Deepen Division Between Anti-Establishment and Traditional Republicans


As President-elect Donald J. Trump fills his cabinet with people of wealth and power, he is rekindling animosity between his anti-establishment supporters and more traditional Republicans, a rift that could test the endurance of his new political coalition.

Some supporters, including those closest to Mr. Trump, are warning him that after running for president as a disrupter of the political and ruling classes, he risks charges of hypocrisy by bringing into his administration the kinds of people he vowed to drive out of Washington.

“It’s a delicate dance,” said Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins added that no one fully knew what to expect from the new president or his cabinet, or what the role of the conservative movement would be for the next four years.

“Part of this is just establishing what those relationships and those boundaries are going to be like,” he said. “It’s imperative that the Trump administration walks in lock step with the Trump campaign in terms of how their policies match their promises.”

Those expressing unease with Mr. Trump’s appointments, or potential appointments, include two factions on the right. There are the traditional conservatives, like Mr. Perkins, who would prefer hard-liners and are particularly unhappy that Mitt Romney is being considered as secretary of state. And there are the nationalists who are chiefly focused on immigration and trade and recoil at the prospect of Mr. Trump’s being surrounded by Wall Street figures.

Mr. Trump announced on Tuesday that he would nominate Elaine L. Chao — a cabinet secretary under President George W. Bush, a member of many corporate boards, and the wife of the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell — to be his transportation secretary. On Wednesday morning, his picks were Wilbur Ross, the billionaire investor, for commerce secretary and Todd Ricketts, an owner of the Chicago Cubs and one of the president-elect’s most important fund-raisers, as deputy commerce secretary.

Then, to lead the Treasury Department, Mr. Trump named Steven Mnuchin, a former banker at Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street firm he pilloried during his campaign as the epitome of a rigged financial system. During the Republican primary contest, Mr. Trump repeatedly brought up the fact that Heidi Cruz, the wife of one of his rivals, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, worked for Goldman.

The apparent contradictions do not seem to bother others on Mr. Trump’s team. Stephen K. Bannon, the president-elect’s chief strategist and the strongest populist voice among his advisers, is himself a wealthy former Goldman Sachs banker and has been supportive of elevating Mr. Mnuchin and Mr. Ross, whom he sees as Washington outsiders like him.

But the right-wing writer and filmmaker Mike Cernovich was not so sanguine — especially about Mr. Mnuchin, who not only has a stint at Goldman Sachs on his résumé but also once worked for George Soros, the billionaire financier who contributes to myriad liberal causes.

“Trump’s Treasury Secretary is former Goldman Sachs, former Soros employee,” Mr. Cernovich wrote on Twitter. “WTF is going on at @transition2017?”

“It’s ‘make the establishment and Goldman Sachs great again,’” said Mark Levin, a conservative talk radio host. “This is not Trump draining the swamp. This is the swamp draining Trump.”

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The New York Times