The Chosen Departed: Who Trump Is Putting in Removing from Fired Now Has in Power

by Rob Weychert, Kyle Edwards and Anjali Tsui

The administration of President Donald Trump has established a record for turnover among cabinet secretaries and senior advisers during a president’s first term, according to a Brookings Institution study. Here’s an updated guide to who’s in and who’s out.

Cabinet Positions in the Line of Succession

Rex Tillerson

Secretary of State
Confirmed by the Senate (56-43)

Secretary of State

Rex Tillerson

Feb. 1, 2017 — March 22, 2018

After a rocky tenure, Tillerson learned he was being ousted when he was shown a presidential tweet announcing his replacement.

Mike Pompeo

April 26, 2018 — Present

Survivor Series

Steve Mnuchin

Secretary of the Treasury
Confirmed by the Senate (53-47)

Secretary of the Treasury

Steve Mnuchin

Feb. 13, 2017 — Present

James Mattis

Secretary of Defense
Confirmed by the Senate (98-1)

Patrick Shanahan

Acting Secretary

Secretary of Defense

James Mattis

Jan. 20, 2017 — Dec. 31, 2018

Mattis resigned after opposing President Trump’s plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, then expressed multiple disagreements with Trump.

Patrick Shanahan

Acting Secretary
Jan. 1, 2019 — June 23, 2019

Shanahan withdrew from consideration for confirmation after articles resurfaced decade-old domestic violence incidents within his family.

Mark Esper

July 23, 2019 — Present

Esper was acting secretary from June 24, 2019, until his nomination was submitted on July 15, 2019.

Jeff Sessions

Attorney General
Confirmed by the Senate (52-47)

Matthew Whitaker

Acting Attorney General

Attorney General

Jeff Sessions

Feb. 9, 2017 — Nov. 7, 2018

Facing long-running presidential criticism since recusing himself from oversight of the Mueller investigation, Sessions resigned at Trump’s request after the 2018 elections.

Matthew Whitaker

Acting Attorney General
Nov. 7, 2018 — Feb. 14, 2019

William Barr

Feb. 14, 2019 — Present

Ryan Zinke

Secretary of the Interior
Confirmed by the Senate (68-31)

Secretary of the Interior

Ryan Zinke

March 1, 2017 — Jan. 2, 2019

Having been the subject of more than 15 ethics inquiries during his tenure, Zinke “resigned under pressure,” according to the New York Times.

David Bernhardt

April 11, 2019 — Present

Bernhardt was acting secretary from Jan. 1, 2019, until he was confirmed by the Senate on April 11, 2019.

Survivor Series

Sonny Perdue

Secretary of Agriculture
Confirmed by the Senate (87-11)

Secretary of Agriculture

Sonny Perdue

April 25, 2017 — Present

Survivor Series

Wilbur Ross

Secretary of Commerce
Confirmed by the Senate (72-27)

Secretary of Commerce

Wilbur Ross

Feb. 28, 2017 — Present

Andrew Puzder

Secretary of Labor
Withdrew as nominee

Secretary of Labor

Andrew Puzder

Puzder withdrew after articles revealed he’d employed an undocumented immigrant as a housekeeper and revived claims of spousal abuse (which his ex-wife had recanted).

Alexander Acosta

April 28, 2017 — July 19, 2019

Acosta resigned following controversy over the way he handled a sex crimes case against Jeffrey Epstein when Acosta was a federal prosecutor in Florida a decade earlier.

Eugene Scalia

Sept. 30, 2019 — Present

Tom Price

Secretary of Health and Human Services
Confirmed by the Senate (52-47)

Secretary of Health and Human Services

Tom Price

Feb. 10, 2017 — Sept. 29, 2017

Price stepped down under pressure after a series of articles, by Politico and others, revealed he had spent more than $400,000 on chartered flights.

Alex Azar

Jan. 29, 2018 — Present

Survivor Series

Ben Carson

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Confirmed by the Senate (58-41)

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

Ben Carson

March 2, 2017 — Present

Survivor Series

Elaine Chao

Secretary of Transportation
Confirmed by the Senate (93-6)

Secretary of Transportation

Elaine Chao

Jan. 31, 2017 — Present

Rick Perry

Secretary of Energy
Confirmed by the Senate (62-37)

Secretary of Energy

Rick Perry

March 2, 2017 — Dec. 1, 2019

Perry’s resignation had been expected but came amid questions about his involvement in the administration’s machinations in Ukraine.

Dan Brouillette

Dec. 11, 2019 — Present

Brouillette was acting secretary from Dec. 2, 2019, until he was confirmed by the Senate nine days later.

Survivor Series

Betsy DeVos

Secretary of Education
Confirmed by the Senate (51-50)

Secretary of Education

Betsy DeVos

Feb. 7, 2017 — Present

David Shulkin

Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Confirmed by the Senate (100-0)

Secretary of Veterans Affairs

David Shulkin

Feb. 14, 2017 — March 28, 2018

Shulkin clashed with the administration over VA privatization, a dispute exacerbated by his travel spending, and was fired (he claims) or resigned (the White House claims).

Robert Wilkie

July 30, 2018 — Present

John Kelly

Secretary of Homeland Security
Confirmed by the Senate (88-11)

Kevin McAleenan

Acting Secretary

Chad Wolf

Acting Secretary

Secretary of Homeland Security

John Kelly

Jan. 20, 2017 — July 31, 2017

Kelly departed the Department of Homeland Security to replace Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff.

Kirstjen Nielsen

Dec. 6, 2017 — April 10, 2019

Nielsen resigned after becoming the target of criticism from both the public (for being too harsh) and Trump (for being too lax) in carrying out the administration’s zero-tolerance policy.

Kevin McAleenan

Acting Secretary
April 11, 2019 — Nov. 13, 2019

Chad Wolf

Acting Secretary
Nov. 13, 2019 — Present

Cabinet-Rank Positions

Reince Priebus

Chief of Staff
No Senate confirmation required

John Kelly

Mick Mulvaney

Acting Chief of Staff

Chief of Staff

Reince Priebus

Jan. 22, 2017 — July 28, 2017

Priebus was ousted after six months as chief of staff, during which he was criticized for failing to quell chaos in the White House.

John Kelly

July 31, 2017 — Dec. 31, 2018

The former Marine general was initially praised for imposing order in the White House but went on to clash with his boss.

Mick Mulvaney

Acting Chief of Staff
Jan. 2, 2019 — Present

Survivor Series

Mick Mulvaney

Director of the Office of Management and Budget
Confirmed by the Senate (51-49)

Director of the Office of Management and Budget

Mick Mulvaney

Feb. 16, 2017 — Present

Mulvaney continues to lead OMB while serving as acting White House chief of staff. (He also served a temporary stint as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.)

Scott Pruitt

Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
Confirmed by the Senate (52-46)

Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency

Scott Pruitt

Feb. 17, 2017 — July 5, 2018

Pruitt resigned, according to the Washington Post, “after controversies over his lavish spending, ethical lapses and management decisions eroded the president’s confidence” in him.

Andrew Wheeler

Feb. 28, 2019 — Present

Wheeler was acting administrator from July 7, 2018, until he was confirmed by the Senate on Feb. 28, 2019.

Survivor Series

Robert Lighthizer

Trade Representative
Confirmed by the Senate (82-14)

Trade Representative

Robert Lighthizer

May 15, 2017 — Present

Nikki Haley

Ambassador to the United Nations
Confirmed by the Senate (96-4)

Jonathan Cohen

Acting Ambassador

Ambassador to the United Nations

Nikki Haley

Jan. 25, 2017 — Dec. 31, 2018

Haley’s resignation surprised many in the administration, according to press accounts. She cited a desire to return to the private sector.

Jonathan Cohen

Acting Ambassador
Jan. 1, 2019 — Sept. 12, 2019

Kelly Craft

Sept. 10, 2019 — Present

Linda McMahon

Administrator of the Small Business Administration
Confirmed by the Senate (81-19)

Chris Pilkerton

Acting Administrator

Administrator of the Small Business Administration

Linda McMahon

Feb. 14, 2017 — April 12, 2019

McMahon stepped down, according to Politico, to become chair of the super PAC America First Action, which supports Trump’s reelection.

Chris Pilkerton

Acting Administrator
April 13, 2019 — Jan. 15, 2020

Jovita Carranza

Jan. 15, 2020 — Present

Other Top Positions

Steve Bannon

Senior Counselor and Chief Strategist
No Senate confirmation required

Senior Counselor and Chief Strategist

Steve Bannon

Jan. 22, 2017 — Aug. 18, 2017

Bannon departed after multiple conflicts with Trump and others. His position was not filled.

Dan Coats

Director of National Intelligence
Confirmed by the Senate (85-12)

Joseph Maguire

Acting director, pending Senate confirmation

Director of National Intelligence

Dan Coats

March 16, 2017 — Aug. 15, 2019

Coats and Trump, according to press accounts, had a fraught relationship and disagreed over Russia, North Korea and Iran. Coats eventually stepped down.

Joseph Maguire

Acting director, pending Senate confirmation
Aug. 16, 2019 — Present

Mike Pompeo

Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
Confirmed by the Senate (66-32)

Director of the Central Intelligence Agency

Mike Pompeo

Jan. 23, 2017 — April 26, 2018

Pompeo left the CIA directorship to become secretary of state.

Gina Haspel

May 21, 2018 — Present

Survivor Series

Jay Clayton

Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission
Confirmed by the Senate (61-37)

Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission

Jay Clayton

May 4, 2017 — Present

Mike Flynn

National Security Adviser
No Senate confirmation required

H.R. McMaster

John Bolton

Robert O’Brien

National Security Adviser

Mike Flynn

Jan. 22, 2017 — Feb. 13, 2017

Flynn resigned less than a month into his tenure and later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations he had with the Russian ambassador before taking office.

H.R. McMaster

Feb. 20, 2017 — April 9, 2018

McMaster and Trump, according to numerous press accounts, never developed a personal rapport, leading to McMaster’s departure just over a year after he arrived.

John Bolton

April 9, 2018 — Sept. 10, 2019

Bolton and Trump sparred over policy on Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan. Ultimately, Trump tweeted that he had fired the adviser; Bolton insisted that he resigned.

Robert O’Brien

Sept. 18, 2019 — Present

Donald McGahn

White House Counsel
No Senate confirmation required

Pat Cipollone

White House Counsel

Donald McGahn

Jan. 20, 2017 — Oct. 17, 2018

Trump announced McGahn’s voluntary departure but denied media reports suggesting the exit was accelerated because of McGahn’s cooperation with special counsel Robert Mueller.

Pat Cipollone

Dec. 10, 2018 — Present

Survivor Series

Stephen Miller

Senior Policy Adviser
No Senate confirmation required

Senior Policy Adviser

Stephen Miller

Jan. 22, 2017 — Present

Survivor Series

Kellyanne Conway

Counselor
No Senate confirmation required

Counselor

Kellyanne Conway

Jan. 22, 2017 — Present

Thomas Bossert

Homeland Security Adviser
No Senate confirmation required

Douglas Fears

Peter Brown

Homeland Security Adviser

Thomas Bossert

Jan. 22, 2017 — April 10, 2018

Bossert was pushed out by national security adviser John Bolton, according to press accounts.

Douglas Fears

June 1, 2018 — July 2019

Fears left the position for family reasons, Bloomberg reported, and returned to the Coast Guard, where he has spent much of his career.

Peter Brown

Summer 2019 — Present

Survivor Series

Peter Navarro

Trade Czar
No Senate confirmation required

Trade Czar

Peter Navarro

Jan. 20, 2017 — Present

Sean Spicer

Press Secretary
No Senate confirmation required

Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Stephanie Grisham

Press Secretary

Sean Spicer

Jan. 22, 2017 — July 21, 2017

Spicer resigned abruptly after Trump appointed Anthony Scaramucci above him as communications director. (Scaramucci held the job for 10 days.)

Sarah Huckabee Sanders

July 21, 2017 — July 1, 2019

Sanders resigned to be with her family in Arkansas, ending a tenure marked by confrontations with reporters and the cancellation of the daily White House press briefing.

Stephanie Grisham

July 1, 2019 — Present

Sean Spicer

Communications Director
No Senate confirmation required

Michael Dubke

Sean Spicer

Acting Director

Anthony Scaramucci

Hope Hicks

Bill Shine

Stephanie Grisham

Communications Director

Sean Spicer

Jan. 22, 2017 — March 6, 2017

Spicer, initially named both press secretary and communications director, was seen as overwhelmed by the dual roles, according to press accounts, and was replaced as communications director.

Michael Dubke

March 6, 2017 — June 9, 2017

Dubke, portrayed as an outsider entering a maelstrom in the early months of the Trump White House, resigned after three months.

Sean Spicer

Acting Director
June 9, 2017 — July 21, 2017

Spicer was replaced as communications director and then resigned as press secretary immediately afterward.

Anthony Scaramucci

July 21, 2017 — July 31, 2017

Scaramucci’s tenure as director ended soon after a profane interview, in which he disparaged a number of colleagues, in The New Yorker.

Hope Hicks

Aug. 16, 2017 — March 29, 2018

Hicks, widely seen as having a rapport with Trump that others lacked, stabilized the role before leaving and then taking an executive position at 21st Century Fox.

Bill Shine

July 5, 2018 — March 8, 2019

Shine, who lacked chemistry with Trump and did little to improve the president’s news coverage, colleagues told The New York Times, resigned to work on Trump’s reelection campaign.

Stephanie Grisham

July 1, 2019 — Present

Survivor Series

Jared Kushner

Senior Adviser
No Senate confirmation required

Senior Adviser

Jared Kushner

Jan. 22, 2017 — Present

Carl Icahn

Special Regulatory Adviser
No Senate confirmation required

Special Regulatory Adviser

Carl Icahn

Jan. 20, 2017 — Aug. 18, 2017

Icahn left shortly before the publication of a New Yorker article that suggested he had used the role to benefit himself, an accusation that Icahn denied.

Correction, Jan. 16, 2020: This guide originally misstated the date Mike Pompeo became secretary of state. It was April 26, 2018, not May 2, 2018.

Correction, Jan. 17, 2020: This guide originally misstated the year Jovita Carranza was appointed. It was 2020, not 2019.

Rex Tillerson photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images; Mike Pompeo photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call; Steve Mnuchin photo by Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images; James Mattis photo by Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images; Patrick Shanahan photo by Martin H. Simon - Pool/Getty Images; Mark Esper photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images; Jeff Sessions photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images; Matthew Whitaker photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images; William Barr photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images; Ryan Zinke photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call; David Bernhardt photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images; Sonny Perdue photo by Jason Getz/Getty Images; Wilbur Ross photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images; Andrew Puzder photo by Joe Kohen/Getty Images; Alexander Acosta photo by AP Photo/Evan Vucci; Eugene Scalia photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images; Tom Price photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images; Alex Azar photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images; Ben Carson photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call; Elaine Chao photo by Wang He/Getty Images; Rick Perry photo by Fred Lee/ABC via Getty Images; Dan Brouillette photo by Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images; Betsy DeVos photo by Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call; David Shulkin photo by Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images; Robert Wilkie photo by Oliver Contreras/SIPA USA via AP Images; John Kelly photo by Dina Rudick/The Boston Globe via Getty Images; Kirstjen Nielsen photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images; Kevin McAleenan photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images; Chad Wolf photo by Alex Brandon/AP Photo; Reince Priebus photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images; Mick Mulvaney photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call; Scott Pruitt photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AFP/Getty Images; Andrew Wheeler photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images; Robert Lighthizer photo by Skadden; Nikki Haley photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images; Jonathan Cohen photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images; Kelly Craft photo by Selcuk Acar/NurPhoto via Getty Images; Linda McMahon photo by Richard Messina/Hartford Courant/MCT via Getty Images; Jovita Carranza photo by Susan Walsh/AP Photo; Steve Bannon photo by Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images; Dan Coats photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call; Joseph Maguire photo by Marcus Tappan/AFP via Getty Images; Gina Haspel photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images; Jay Clayton photo by Sullivan & Cromwell, LLP via YouTube; Mike Flynn photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images; H.R. McMaster photo by AP Photo/Susan Walsh; John Bolton photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images; Robert O’Brien photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images; Donald McGahn photo by Mary Altaffer/AP Photo; Pat Cipollone photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images; Stephen Miller photo by Paul Sancya/AP Photo; Kellyanne Conway photo by Chris Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images; Thomas Bossert photo by Atlantic Council; Peter Navarro photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images; Sean Spicer photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images; Sarah Huckabee Sanders photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images; Stephanie Grisham photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images; Michael Dubke photo by AP Photo/Andrew Harnik; Anthony Scaramucci photo by Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images; Hope Hicks photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images; Bill Shine photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic; Jared Kushner photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images; Carl Icahn photo by Heidi Gutman/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images.


Rob Weychert is an editorial experience designer at ProPublica.

Kyle Edwards is a Lorana Sullivan senior business reporting fellow.

Anjali Tsui was a senior reporting fellow at ProPublica.


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