Donald Trump makes further hardline cabinet picks

President-elect Donald Trump has yet to pick a secretary of state. Picture: AP
President-elect Donald Trump has yet to pick a secretary of state. Picture: AP
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Donald Trump has appointed new cabinet officers whose backgrounds suggest he is set to follow through on his tough campaign rhetoric on immigration and the environment..

Retired Marine general John Kelly has been selected to head the department of homeland security, and Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt, a climate-change denier whose policies have helped fossil fuel companies, is to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

Mr Trump named the former chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment, Linda McMahon, to head the small business administration - and may have breathed new life into the candidacy of a secretary of state contender.

Mr Trump said he planned to name his choice for the key Cabinet post next week and insisted that former rival Mitt Romney still had a chance. Mr Trump, who has met twice with the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, denied he was stringing Mr Romney along to make him pay for earlier remarks that Mr Trump was unfit to be president.

“No, it’s not about revenge. It’s about what’s good for the country, and I’m able to put this stuff behind us – and I hit him very hard also,” Mr Trump said in a telephone interview on NBC.

Three sources close to the selection process said Mr Romney’s stock is on the rise again within Mr Trump’s circle after a period in which the celebrity businessman had cooled on the candidacy of the former Massachusetts governor.

But Mr Trump has changed his mind repeatedly throughout the process and has expanded the pool of contenders beyond the previously identified final four of Mr Romney, former New York City mayor 
Rudy Giuliani, Senate foreign relations chairman Bob Corker and former CIA director David Petraeus.

Mr Trump’s long presidential campaign was in large part defined by searing rhetoric and his steadfast promises to build an impenetrable wall on the border with Mexico and crack down on immigrants living in the US illegally. But he struck a softer tone after he was named Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” this week.

“We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud,” Mr Trump said.