NEW YORK – US President-elect Donald Trump has appointed the first two women to his incoming administration. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was nominated as US envoy to the UN and Betsy DeVos as education secretary.
Both are former critics of Trump, with Haley once saying she was “not a fan”, and DeVos branding the Manhattan tycoon an “interloper”.
Mr Trump’s presidential primary rival Ben Carson also hinted he would soon be named for a post.
“An announcement is forthcoming about my role in helping to make America great again,” Carson wrote on Facebook.
Trump tweeted on Tuesday that he was “seriously considering” Carson for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“Eye-catching though her political career has been, little is known about Nikki Haley’s views on foreign affairs and the United Nations. Diplomats here have been Googling her to find out more. When her nomination was announced I was with a senior diplomat, who had expected President-elect Trump to downgrade the job of UN ambassador so that it was no longer a cabinet-level position,” BBC’s Nick Bryant, at the UN said.
He was heartened that Trump had selected a “political heavyweight”, and viewed it as an early indication than the incoming administration will take the UN more seriously than he’d supposed.
Many UN diplomats fear a Trump presidency and there’s relief here that he hasn’t appointed an outspoken UN-basher.
The appointments of Haley and DeVos will need to be approved by the Republican-controlled Senate.
Trump called Haley “a proven dealmaker, and we look to be making plenty of deals”.
“She will be a great leader representing us on the world stage,” he added.
Haley said she was “moved” to accept the assignment and would stay on as South Carolina governor, pending her congressional confirmation.
During the Republican primaries, she supported Florida Senator Marco Rubio and then Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
Haley also strongly attacked Trump’s proposal to ban Muslim immigrants, describing it as “un-American”. In response, Trump had called her “very weak on illegal immigration” and said people in South Carolina were “embarrassed” by her.
Haley, 44, is the first minority and female governor of South Carolina. Born Nimrata “Nikki” Randhawa to Indian parents, she was raised in a Sikh household and now identifies as a Christian.
DeVos said she was honoured to accept her appointment. But the billionaire Republican donor from Michigan once described Mr Trump as an “interloper” who “does not represent the Republican Party”.
DeVos also contributed to Trump’s rivals – Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush – during the election race.
Trump, however, said DeVos would be “a brilliant and passionate education advocate”.
Her husband is heir to the Amway fortune, with a wealth estimated by Forbes at $5.1b.
More announcements are expected after the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday weekend.