Fact Check: Trump’s Cabinet Selections No Quicker Than Obama’s

At this point in 2008, Obama had filled all his Cabinet positions

President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a stop on his “USA Thank You Tour 2016" at the Orlando Amphitheater at the Central Florida Fairgrounds on Dec. 16. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a stop on his “USA Thank You Tour 2016" at the Orlando Amphitheater at the Central Florida Fairgrounds on Dec. 16. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Posted December 23, 2016 at 5:00am

After the election in 2008, it took President Barack Obama 45 days to name his choices to fill the Cabinet-level positions in his administration.

Today marks the same length of time for President-elect Donald Trump since his election. He still has two official Cabinet positions — Agriculture secretary and Veterans Affairs secretary — to fill, and two vacancies remaining among the seven Cabinet-level positions.

Trump’s team is fond of touting the speed at which he’s made his picks. Senior adviser Kellyanne Conway on Thursday said the transition team is setting a “record pace” of filling the Cabinet (she noted that’s what is keeping Trump from holding a post-election press conference).

Roll Call has been keeping a tally of how Trump’s Cabinet selection timing compares to the previous president’s pace, and for some positions, Conway is right. Trump named Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions as his pick for attorney general just 10 days after the election, while it took Obama almost a month to name his attorney general selection. Trump chose Betsy DeVos for secretary of Education just five days later — nearly 30 days faster than Obama’s pick for that role in 2008.

However, for five of the 15 formal Cabinet spots, Trump lags behind Obama’s 2008 transition speed as of this week. Obama named choices for Treasury, State, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs and Agriculture quicker than Trump did.

Another notable timing difference is how long it took Trump to name his secretary of State, who is fourth in line to the presidency. Trump chose Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson 35 days after the election, while Obama picked then-New York Sen. Hillary Clinton to lead the State Department in 27 days after his own presidential win.

Roll Call reached out to Trump’s staff for comment on the pace of the president-elect’s Cabinet picks, but the team has not responded. 

The Cabinet-level positions Trump has not yet filled are: U.S. Trade Representative and chair of the Council of Economic Advisers.

If Trump makes these decisions in the coming few days, he won’t be that far off of Obama’s timing.