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Senate Republicans Are Now in the Mix for Top Posts in a Trump Presidency

After Donald J. Trump was elected president in 2016, he came to the Senate looking for just one high-ranking member of his administration, choosing Jeff Sessions of Alabama as attorney general and rewarding the first senator to support him while several other Republicans retained his position. Filter at arm's length.

The list of eager Senate candidates for a job in a second Trump administration could be much longer if Trump wins this year. Unlike 2016, when many Senate Republicans viewed Trump as an unknown figure, almost all are fully on board and might jump at the chance to take on an administrative position — even if they're just new to the Senate .

At least two Senate Republicans — J.D. Vance of Ohio and Marco Rubio of Florida — are on the vice presidential shortlist, with Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina also being considered. The other Republican Party. There is talk of senators filling the top positions in the Trump White House. It’s a marked change from 2016, when Mr. Trump and his advisers turned to the House, where Mr. Trump’s enthusiasm ran much deeper, for political appointments.

“The Republican Conference, from top to bottom, is an all-star team right now,” said Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, the No. 3 Republican candidate. "These people are smart and they're legislatively aggressive. I think it would be natural for President Trump to take advantage of all of these talents."

The Senate has long been a place presidents turn to when seeking to build a leadership team, with benefits both for a White House gaining knowledge and connections in Washington and for senators seeking a different way to to have an impact or simply to have dignity. Exit from Congress and its countless frustrations.

According to the Senate Historical Office, more than 40 senators resigned their cabinet positions, the first of them being Samuel Dexter of Massachusetts, appointed Secretary of War by President John Adams in 1800. The State Department was l he most popular ruling, followed by the Departments of Treasury and Justice and Interior.

The election of Barack Obama in 2008 created several vacancies in the Senate, including Mr. Obama's seat in Illinois, Joseph R. Biden Jr.'s seat in Delaware with his election as vice president and Hillary Clinton's headquarters in New York after her confirmation. as Secretary of State. The state and Ken Salazar's seat in Colorado with his appointment as Secretary of the Interior.

Senator John Kerry followed them after his confirmation to replace Mrs. Clinton at the State Department in 2013.

“Just three decades after the people of Massachusetts first elected me, the people I work with in the Senate removed me from office,” Kerry joked in his farewell after the Senate approved a overwhelming majority his nomination.

But in 2017, Mr. Trump turned to the House of Representatives rather than the Senate for his inner circle. Representative Tom Price of Georgia was chosen to be Secretary of Health, Representative Ryan Zinke of Montana was chosen to be Secretary of the Interior, and Representative Mike Pompeo of Kansas was chosen to be Secretary of the CIA. Director then Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Additionally, Trump's vice president, Mike Pence of Indiana, worked in the House of Representatives before becoming governor of Indiana. Mr. Trump also expressed regret over the choice of Mr. Sessions, who recused himself from the Justice Department's investigation into Russia's ties to the Trump team, angering the president.

Today, while some House members, like Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, the fourth-ranking Republican in the House, are seen as picks for a future Trump administration, the Senate is getting far more attention than during Mr. Trump's first campaign. .

Some of Trump's appointees had just arrived in Washington and had barely set up their offices before talking about leaving. It’s a turnaround, considering that some of his colleagues disdainfully viewed Mr. Obama as a “passing” senator because he ran for president after only four years in the Senate.

Besides Mr. Vance, other newly elected Republicans who have appeared in discussions about joining the Trump administration include Senators Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, elected in 2020 after serving as Mr. Trump's ambassador to Japan, and Eric Schmidt of Missouri, which he was elected in 2020. 2022 after taking office as state attorney general. Mr. Schmidt recently participated in a small meeting in Washington with Mr. Trump to discuss policy issues ahead of Mr. Trump's debate with President Biden.

Mr. Vance has perhaps most expressed interest in nominating Trump's running mate, although he was sworn into the Senate less than two years ago, leaving him little time to establish a balance sheet. Although he would happily run for vice president, he says his goal is not to lose office after such a short time.

“I would love to be a senator,” Mr. Vance said recently on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “I'm not trying to leave the United States Senate. It is an honor to serve the people of Ohio. And honestly, if you ask me, that’s where I expect to be in six months; This is where I hope to be in a few years.

Even if Mr. Rubio is not chosen as vice president, he should be a strong candidate for the cabinet post given his experience in the Senate on foreign policy and intelligence over three terms – although he ran against Mr. Trump in the Republican presidential primary. Appointed in 2016.

Topping the list of Republican senators seen as responsible for a future administration is Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, an Army veteran with a hawkish bent. Mr. Cotton, who was elected in 2014, is running to join the Republican leadership in the Senate, but he may prefer a Cabinet position as a quicker route to influence rather than the difficulties of rising to power in the Senate. Senate.

Although poaching the Senate could lead to personnel changes and unexpected campaigns, all senators considered represent red states that are unlikely to provide opportunities for Democrats.

Anyone interviewed should certainly give it serious thought, Mr. Barrasso acknowledged.

“If this is the president of the United States and his duty demands it, any senator will have to take that into account,” he said.

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