Following the leader: New Yorkers joining the Trump administration

Following the leader: New Yorkers joining the Trump administration

Following the leader: Which New Yorkers are joining the Trump administration?
January 27, 2017

For weeks, Donald Trump ran his presidential transition out of Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan. Now that he has been sworn in as president, he has made the move to the White House – and he’s taking part of New York with him.

While son Barron and first lady Melania Trump are staying in New York City for now, there are a number of New Yorkers who have joined the new president on the big move down to Washington, D.C.

Some of them are longtime friends and associates of the 45th president, or even family, in the case of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Some are wealthy Wall Street executives who will be charged with overseeing the nation’s financial and banking sectors. Others are political veterans tapped for their expertise, or major donors selected for their past support.

“There’s a lot of talent here in New York and Donald Trump’s from New York,” said Ed Cox, the chairman of the state Republican Party. “There are a number of people ... from New York here who will be playing roles, and this state is going to be very important to Trump’s administration.”

The Senior Aides and Cabinet Members

Jared Kushner, Senior adviser for strategic planning

The favored son-in-law, Kushner had to get a special ruling from the U.S. Department of Justice to see if his appointment would violate federal nepotism laws. The DOJ’s go-ahead gave Ivanka Trump’s husband clearance to stay in Trump’s ear, keeping a key advising role he had throughout the campaign. Kushner has his own New York real estate empire, running a firm founded by his father owning everything from high rises to East Village walk-ups, but he’s known in media circles as owner and publisher of the New York Observer – which he plans to sell off.

Steve Bannon, Senior counselor and chief strategist

As chief strategist, Bannon will be one of the president’s most influential aides. One of a handful of high-profile Goldman Sachs alums, he left the Wall Street powerhouse in 1990 to form his own firm. He racked up quite the résumé since, producing politically conservative documentaries praising the tea party and denigrating Hillary Clinton before serving as executive chairman of Breitbart News Network LLC, which he called “the platform for the alt-right,” and managing Trump’s campaign.

Steve Mnuchin, Treasury secretary

The former Goldman Sachs chief information officer, who left the company in 2002, is awaiting Senate confirmation. Though he’s a New Yorker born and raised, Mnuchin could bring some Hollywood glitz to Washington, D.C., after backing movies like “Avatar” and “American Sniper.” He was criticized for the foreclosure practices during the financial crisis of OneWest Bank, where he was CEO, and for failing to disclose millions in assets, including homes in Manhattan and the Hamptons.

Wilbur Ross Jr., Commerce secretary

Dubbed the “king of bankruptcy,” Ross has made a career in distressed industries, including handling Trump’s struggling casino business in the 1990s along with Carl Icahn. Lawmakers are expected to confirm Ross, once a major donor to Democrats. The billionaire was married to Betsy McCaughey when she was lieutenant governor under Gov. George Pataki and Trump attended their wedding, but the couple divorced in 1998.

The Goldman Sachs Crew

Trump claimed that Goldman Sachs “owns” Ted Cruz and a campaign ad said the investment bank’s CEO “robbed the working class,” so it’s striking that he has tapped Goldman alumni for senior positions – spurring protests against “Government Sachs.” Goldman has a reputation for sending executives into government, but thanks to Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi, it’s better known as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”

Gary Cohn, National Economic Council director

The Goldman Sachs president has been described as “big,” “abrasive” and “intimidating.” Trump liked his style enough to pick him to lead the National Economic Council, where he’ll work on cultivating private sector support for White House policies. Cohn has worked at Goldman since 1990, and will be getting some $284 million by selling off stock as he enters the White House.

Dina Habib Powell, Senior counselor for economic initiatives

Powell had been with Goldman since leaving the Bush administration in 2007, most recently as president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation. There, she led the firm’s 10,000 Women initiative and advised Ivanka Trump on women’s issues. Born in Cairo and fluent in Arabic, she’ll give a rare perspective in the Trump Cabinet as senior counselor for economic initiatives.

Anthony Scaramucci, Director of the Office of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs

Long Island-born and Wall Street-bred, Scaramucci worked at Goldman from 1989 to 1996 and has since earned a reputation as a Wall Street gadfly and talking head while working a day job managing the investment firm SkyBridge Capital. Known as a schmoozer, he’ll be stepping into Valerie Jarrett's role as director of the Office of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs.

Jay Clayton, Securities and Exchange Commission chairman

Clayton, a financial industry insider and partner at the Manhattan law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, specializes in mergers and IPOs and has represented a number of Wall Street institutions, including Goldman Sachs and Bear Stearns in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

West Wing

Carl Icahn, Special adviser on regulatory reform

Icahn, the billionaire known for hostile corporate takeovers, was named special adviser on regulatory reform. The investor and founder of New York City-based Icahn Enterprises, is older and wealthier than Trump – and has reportedly influenced the selection of other top administration posts.

K.T. McFarland, Deputy national security adviser

McFarland didn’t even get through a 2006 GOP primary in a bid to knock out then-U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, but now she’s in the White House and Clinton’s not. Trump tapped her for a key national security post after her stints in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations, although she reportedly exaggerated her role in writing President Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” speech. She also worked as a national security analyst at Fox News.

Rudy Giuliani, Cybersecurity adviser

The former New York City mayor, an early and outspoken Trump supporter, did not land the secretary of state post he wanted, but his consolation prize is a role developing government responses to cyber attacks. A presidential frontrunner himself in 2008 before fizzling out, Giuliani reportedly will continue running his consulting firm, Giuliani Partners, and won’t actually leave New York.

Chris Liddell, Director of strategic initiatives

The former Microsoft and General Motors chief financial officer joined the administration as director of strategic initiatives. Liddell, a New Zealand native who led former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s transition team, has been living in New York.

Hope Hicks, Director of strategic communications

Perhaps Hicks’ modeling work helped her jell with the former beauty pageant executive. While at Hiltzik Strategies, Hicks worked with the Trump Organization, and then transitioned in-house to handle press for Ivanka Trump’s fashion line and some resorts. Impressed by the Greenwich, Connecticut, native, Trump tapped her as campaign press secretary and convinced her to stay on in the administration.

Dan Scavino, Director of social media

While a high schooler at a Hudson Valley country club, Scavino made a hole-in-one, at least in terms of his career, when he caddied for Trump. They hit it off, and Scavino went on to work as general manager of Trump National Golf Club. Later, he joined Trump’s campaign, transition and administration.


David Friedman, Ambassador to Israel

Friedman was named to one of the most important ambassadorships, and the role could be even more consequential in this administration, given the hard-line views he shares with the president. Friedman, the son of an influential rabbi on Long Island, represented Trump as a bankruptcy lawyer. He has pledged to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, a provocative move that would shake up – and perhaps undermine – the peace process.

United Kingdom

Woody Johnson, Ambassador to the United Kingdom

Johnson, a Trump donor, will be traveling across the pond to ensure that “the special relationship” doesn’t go south, and if the Brexit is any indication, the political winds are blowing the same direction in the U.K. Johnson’s technically a New Jersey resident, but he’s close enough to count as a New York representative – kind of like his team, the New York Jets.

Jeff Coltin
Jeff Coltin
is a staff reporter at City & State. He covers New York City Hall.
Jon Lentz
is City & State’s editor-in-chief.
Sarina Trangle