Donald Trump to pick Elaine Chao, a well-connected establishment figure, as Transportation secretary
President-elect Donald Trump plans to name Elaine Chao – a former Labor secretary married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) – as his Transportation secretary, according to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield).
Chao’s establishment ties conflict with Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington and promote outsiders to lead his government. But Chao’s connections could be an asset in Trump’s plan to promote a major infrastructure proposal that could face resistance from within his party.
Trump has decried the state of the nation’s airports, bridges and roads and promised to make their revitalization a major part of his jobs program aimed at helping working-class Americans whose votes helped propel him to victory. Chao, who served as Labor secretary through the entire George W. Bush administration, could play a central role in negotiating an infrastructure spending bill while her husband leads the Senate.
Trump’s spokesman Jason Miller did not confirm the pick on a conference call with reporters but said that Trump had “taken people who’ve been successful in all different walks of life” – including business, government, and military – to fill a Cabinet that Miller called a “true dream team.”
The Taiwan-born Chao also exemplifies the type of immigrant success story that became the subject of debate during Trump’s campaign, which promised to crack down on illegal immigration and labeled many of those entering the country illegally from Mexico as criminals, drug dealers and rapists.
Chao is one of four sisters who attended Harvard Business School. Her family donated $40 million to the institution in 2012.
Start your day right
Sign up for Essential California for news, features and recommendations from the L.A. Times and beyond in your inbox six days a week.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.