US President Donald Trump’s administration – which has been through a rollercoaster of scandal, infighting and foul language – has required plenty of fine-tuning.

Alexander Acosta

  • Hispanic Born in Miami to Cuban parents, Acosta is the first Hispanic-American in Trump's Cabinet.
  • UBS Scandal A lawyer and longtime federal prosecutor, Acosta brought a case against UBS that resulted in the Swiss bank being fined more than $750 million and being ordered to hand over a list of American tax evaders.
  • Advocate for Muslims Unlike his White House boss, Acosta has, on several occasions, defended Muslims in the US. He has even criticised France for being too intolerant of Muslims.

Alex Azar

  • 'Big pharma personified'? Trump named Azar ostensibly to bring down drug prices. A curious choice; as president of Lilly USA, pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly's US division, Azar approved threefold price increases for some medications.
  • Ex-lawyer Azar has a law degree from Yale, once worked as a clerk for the late conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and later served in the US Office of the Independent Counsel during part of its Whitewater investigation.
  • Bush experience Azar is one of the rare players linked to the Trump administration with prior experience in government. He served as Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services for 18 months from 2005 to 2007 under George W. Bush.

Ivanka Trump

  • Working mom She may be in charge of employment issues, but the president's eldest daughter mainly appears during her father's official trips abroad. A mother of three, she is keen to trumpet issues related to working mothers.
  • Fashion A former model, Ivanka Trump also heads a fashion brand. The Chinese factories that manufacture her products have been accused of labour violations.
  • Ambition Media reports claim that Ivanka has presidential ambitions of her own. One persistent rumour has it that husband Jared Kushner has agreed to put his own dreams on hold to support her.

Jared Kushner

  • All in the family Married to Ivanka Trump, Kushner is the president's son-in-law. His and Ivanka's arrival in the West Wing elicited concern over nepotism in the White House.
  • Multitasker From the start, Kushner's portfolio has included solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ending the opioid crisis, making the US more innovative, overhauling the federal bureaucracy and building bridges with China.
  • Property magnate Like his father-in-law, Kushner is at the head of a real estate empire he inherited.

Kirstjen Nielsen

  • On guard Shortly before her nomination at the helm of America's domestic security, Nielsen was charged with filtering access to the Oval Office on Chief of Staff John Kelly's behalf.
  • Cyber A cyber security expert, Nielsen would have liked to head the cyber arm of US domestic security, but since Trump never made a nomination for that post, she applied to head up American domestic security as a whole instead.
  • 9/11 After the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, Nielsen served in the Transportation Security Administration and on George W. Bush's White House Homeland Security Council.

Ajit Pai

  • Net neutrality killer Pai made enemies online on December 14, 2017, the day he voted to reverse 2015 rules guaranteeing Net neutrality, a principal meant to protect consumers against a two-tier Internet.
  • Friend of Verizon It isn't all that surprising that Pai handed the end of Net neutrality to the telecom giants: He is one of their own. He served as Verizon's Associate General Counsel from 2001 to 2003.
  • Dude Pai's Twitter feed is rife with quotes from the 1998 cult movie "The Big Lebowski". His detractors deem it posturing to finesse his image with an online crowd that venerates the Coen brothers' classic.

Sarah Sanders

  • Precocious As a 10-year-old she worked on her father Mike Huckabee's campaign team when he was running for the Arkansas governor's office.
  • Believer Huckabee Sanders doesn’t hesitate to broadcast her Christian faith on social media and always reads a passage from a Christian devotional before press conferences.
  • Inured to gaffes Accustomed to Trump's incendiary remarks, Huckabee Sanders is notoriously unphased by them. After all, her father, too, was a professional provocateur. The elder Huckabee once advocated "isolating" people with AIDS and likened the Iran nuclear deal to the Holocaust, saying it would "march [the Israelis] to the door of the oven".

Rex W. Tillerson

  • Big oil He was the chairman and CEO of US oil giant ExxonMobil, which generated profits of $16 billion in 2015.
  • Russia President Vladimir Putin awarded him the 2013 Order of Friendship and he has extensive business experience in Russia. Tillerson also opposes economic sanctions against Russia.
  • Boy Scouts He led the US-based organisation from 2010 to 2012 and led the push to let openly gay boys join the group.
  • Climate Accepts that man-made climate change is occurring and argues for the introduction of a carbon tax.

James M. Mattis

  • 'Mad Dog Mattis' A nickname earned due to his outspokenness, including infamous comments such as, “it’s quite fun to fight…guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil”.
  • 'Warrior-monk-intellectual' Another moniker for the voracious reader with a personal collection of around 7,000 books on military history.
  • Hostile to Iran He opposes the nuclear deal with Iran, a country, that he believes seeks the nuclear bomb at all costs.
  • Obstacle He was a soldier just two years ago. A tacit rule is that the Defense Secretary has not been in the military for at least seven years.

Wilbur Ross

  • 'The king of bankruptcy' Nickname earned for his legendary knack of buying troubled companies cheap and selling them for profit, earning him an estimated $2.9 billion fortune.
  • History in casino business First encountered Trump in the 1990s when bondholders were gunning for the casino tycoon’s assets after Trump failed to pay back his loans. Ross helped Trump retain control of the Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City.
  • Disgruntled writer After his studies, he contemplated writing novels, but a Wall Street internship convinced him to pursue a career in finance.
  • Opportunistic After the 2008 financial crisis, he invested in several troubled banks in the UK, Greece and Cyprus.

John F. Kelly

  • John Kelly was named Chief of Staff to bring order to a White House shaken by the infighting between allies and foes of hardline right-wing Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, who would be ousted three weeks after Kelly's arrival.

Mike Pence

  • The Convert Born into an Irish Catholic family, he embraced Evangelical Christianity during his university years when he met his future wife. In politics, Pence also went against the family’s Democrat-supporting grain to become a Republican.
  • The Koch brothers The influential billionaire brothers made Pence one of their favorites. During his 2013 Indiana gubernatorial race, they contributed $300,000 to the ultra-conservative candidate’s campaign.
  • 'Pravda on the plains' As Indiana governor, Pence tried to start a “state-run taxpayer-funded news outlet that will make pre-written news stories” for the media. The project, dubbed “Pravda on the plains,” was abandoned.
  • Radio In the 1990s, he hosted the talk radio programme, “The Mike Pence Show”.

Scott Pruitt

  • Climate change sceptic He said the debate on global warming “is far from settled”.
  • Anti-EPA A self-described “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda,” he has sued the agency four times as Oklahoma’s attorney general.
  • Friend of the energy lobby CHis close ties to energy lobbyists is well-known. A 2014 New York Times investigation found energy lobbyists had drafted letters that Pruitt sent to various departments highlighting the economic hardship caused by environmental regulations.
  • Baseball fan He was co-owner of the Oklahoma City RedHawks team.

Betsy Devos

  • Billionaire’s daughter Her father, Edgar Prince, was the founder of the Prince Corporation, the giant automobile parts supplier.
  • Billionaire’s wife She is married to Dick DeVos, multi-billionaire heir to the Amway direct sales fortune, estimated at $5.4 billion.
  • Controversial brother Erik Prince, a former US Navy Seal and founder of Blackwater, the private mercenary company that played a substantial, controversial role in the Iraq War.
  • Education Her four children are enrolled in private religious institutions.

Tom Price

  • An estimated $400,000 worth of private charter flights at taxpayers' expense -- when his predecessors flew commercially -- cost Tom Price his Cabinet post.

Steven Mnuchin

  • Campaign financier He led Trump’s campaign fundraising efforts.
  • Financier in real life A Wall Street veteran, former Goldman Sachs banker and hedge fund co-founder.
  • Cinema mogul He has invested in several Hollywood films, including “Avatar”.
  • 'White saviour' fiancée He is engaged to Scottish actress Louise Linton whose self-published memoir, “In the Congo’s Shadow”, about her gap year in Zambia was slammed for its patronising “jungle narrative” inaccuracies.

Linda McMahon

  • The Wrestler Her husband, Vincent McMahon, is the co-founder of WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment). She served as WWE CEO from 1997 to 2009.
  • Unmatched generosity She donated $6 million to support Trump's candidacy, making her a major campaign contributor.
  • Political failures She ran for Senate in 2010 and 2012 from Connecticut under the Republican ticket, but failed both times.
  • Criticism of Trump She felt during the campaign, Trump did not help “to put women in the best light”.

Jeff Sessions

  • President Donald Trump requested the resignation of his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, in the immediate aftermath of the November 6 midterm elections. Trump never forgave Sessions for recusing himself from overseeing the investigation into potential links between Trump's campaign and Russia in March 2017.

Elaine L. Chao

  • From Bush to Trump Served as George W. Bush’s Labour Secretary.
  • The Immigrant Born in Taiwan, Chao arrived in the US aged 8.
  • The Murdoch empire She is a frequent commentator on the conservative Fox News channel and sits on the News Corp board of directors.
  • Political insider A Washington DC insider, she is married to Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican for Kentucky and majority leader.

Mike Pompeo

  • Pro-NSA An ardent defender of the NSA's spying powers, he deems it “vital to defeat radical Islamist terrorism”.
  • Cavalry in Berlin After graduating from West Point, he served as a cavalry officer patrolling the Berlin Wall before its 1989 fall.
  • Hostile to Iran He is a fierce critic of the Iran nuclear deal and supports regime change in Tehran.
  • From business to politics He founded Thayer Aerospace and Private Security, which he sold in 2006. He then became president of an oilfield equipment company before being elected three times to the House of Representatives.

Andrew F. Puzder

  • Dogged by domestic violence allegations, the scandal-prone businessman finally withdrew from consideration for the Labor Secretary post conceding that he for years employed an undocumented immigrant as a housekeeper.

Reince Priebus

  • Considered too meek for the Chief of Staff post at a time when West Wing infighting was all-too-often headline news, Priebus was evicted in favour of the far more commanding retired general John Kelly.

Nikki Haley

  • Indian origin Daughter of Indian Sikh immigrants, she was born Nimrata Randhawa.
  • Entered the national spotlight In 2010 when she became the first woman to be elected governor of South Carolina.
  • Anti-Trump A Marco Rubio supporter on the campaign trail, she called Trump’s anti-immigrant discourse “irresponsible” and added, “I will not stop until we fight a man that chooses not to disavow the KKK”. She did stop however.
  • Inspired by Hillary Clinton She has said she decided to enter politics after hearing a 2003 speech by the Democrat.

Michael Flynn

  • The former general is for the time being the only victim of the inquiries into potential Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. He stepped down from his post as National Security Adviser on February 13, 2017, after revelations about his contact with Russia's ambassador to the US during the campaign.

Ben Carson

  • Failed bid He ran against Trump for the 2016 Republican presidential candidacy.
  • Respected surgeon He became director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital at 33.
  • Serial blundering While defending the right to bear arms, he said, “the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed”.
  • Cinema The TV movie “Gifted Hands” is based on his life from 1961 to 1987.

Steve Bannon

  • Right-wing hardliner Steve Bannon, the populist devil on Trump's shoulder, had by August 2017 become a thorn in his side. The president's one-time éminence grise was on the wrong side of Ivanka Trump and presidential son-in-law/senior advisor Jared Kushner and made the mistake of criticising Trump's policy on North Korea.

Rick Perry

  • Anti-Energy Department When he was candidate for the 2011 Republican primary, the former Texas governor declared he would abolish the Energy department. He even forgot the department’s name during a debate.
  • Flip-flopper He began his career as a Democrat before becoming a Republican. He was among the first to jump on the Tea Party bandwagon.
  • Rebooting His cowboy boots, nicknamed “liberty” and “freedom”, have earned media fame.
  • Cheerleader He was a cheerleader in Texas A&M University’s all-male team. Their final act was to squeeze their private parts so as to share the players’ pain.

Dan Coats

  • Berlin, 2011 He was appointed US Ambassador to Germany three days before September 11, 2001. He remained there until 2005.
  • Anti-Putin He is a virulent critic of Moscow, unlike Trump. In 2014, he was among a group of Congressmen banned from Russia due to US sanctions. “I won’t be able to go on vacation with my family in Siberia,” he joked.
  • Washington Veteran He won his first Congressional election in 1980 and has served in both houses of parliament.
  • Gays in the army He was one of the authors of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that required LGBT soldiers to remain discreet about their sexual orientation.

Ryan Zinke

  • Military service He served as a US Navy Seal for 23 years, doing tours in Iraq and winning awards for meritorious service in combat zones.
  • Pro-Keystone pipeline He is in favor of the controversial TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline, which was blocked by President Barack Obama.
  • Flip-flopper In 2010, he argued that global warming would have a "catastrophic" effect on the global economy. In 2014, he became a climate change skeptic.
  • Shady check In 2014, his Congressional election campaign received a $500 donation from Earl Holt, a white supremacist and suspect in the Dylan Roof murder case. He later donated the sum to a fund for victims of the Charleston shooting.

Robert Lighthizer

  • Anti-China In 2011, he accused Beijing of “manipulating exchange rates” and “intellectual property theft”.
  • Anti-WTO Trump’s pick to defend the US in the World Trade Organization once claimed “anti-American bureaucrats” ran the institution.
  • Déjà vu He is one of the few on the Trump team with government experience. He was Ronald Reagan's deputy trade representative in the early 1980s.
  • Lawyer He is a specialist in negotiating trade agreements for major groups, such as the US steel industry.

Herbert Raymond McMaster

  • A thinker Before his appointment, the three-star general was in charge of planning and preparing US forces for future armed conflicts.
  • Field experience He made a name for himself during the first Gulf War, Desert Storm, in 1991, but also in Afghanistan in 2010. He is known for showing local populations deep respect.
  • Politically independent He has no known political leanings. He has criticised the US military strategy employed in Vietnam as well as the 2003 US military campaign in Iraq.
  • Second choice President Donald Trump nominated former vice-admiral Robert S. Harvard as his top pick for the job, but Harvard turned the offer down, citing family and financial reasons.

Sean Spicer

  • Sean Spicer became a late-night comedy icon from his first surly moments on the job. His halting, woolly responses to the White House press corps finally cost him the post in July 2017.

Anthony Scaramucci

  • Considerably more sure of himself than Sean Spicer, successor Scaramucci nevertheless racked up an impressive series of faux pas during his six short days as the White House's spokesperson. The worst among them? Calling Reince Priebus a "paranoid schizophrenic" and suggesting Steve Bannon, the president's then chief strategist, enjoyed performing fellatio on himself.


Journalist Sébastian Seibt - France 24
Design and development Studio Graphique France Médias Monde
Photos AFP