Trump Cabinet

Updated at 1:48 p.m. ET

President Trump is nominating a former pharmaceutical executive to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, the agency that, among other things, regulates prescription drugs.

The nomination comes at a time when rising drug prices have become a hot political issue.

With President Trump's announcement that he plans to nominate Kirstjen Nielsen as homeland security secretary, he still has one more Cabinet post to fill — health and human services secretary. A president having to find replacements for two Cabinet secretaries this early in an administration is unprecedented. But observers are more alarmed by the less visible vacancies at the sub-Cabinet level: hundreds of positions without a nominee, and a president who says he has no intention of filling many of the jobs.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wrapped up a meeting of the world's wealthiest nations with the assertion that the United States reserves the right to be protectionist.

At a news conference in Bari, Italy, where finance ministers from the Group of Seven nations gathered, Mnuchin said, "We do not want to be protectionist but we reserve our right to be protectionist to the extent that we believe trade is not free and fair."

Updated at 3:15 p.m. ET

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein were interviewing four candidates Wednesday to serve as interim FBI director, following the firing of James Comey.

A reporter in West Virginia was arrested and charged with a crime Tuesday after he repeatedly attempted to question Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

Price was walking through a hallway in the state Capitol, which he was visiting with Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway as part of a "listening tour" on the opioid crisis. Several protesters were gathered in the hallway, as was Dan Heyman, a reporter for the Public News Service.

The final member of President Trump's Cabinet — secretary of labor — was confirmed by the Senate Thursday in a bipartisan vote of 60-38.

Alexander Acosta, 48, will be the Cabinet's first Latino member. Acosta is dean of the Florida International University College of Law in Miami.

Acosta was assistant attorney general in the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division under President George W. Bush, who later appointed him U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

If confirmed Monday agriculture secretary nominee Sonny Perdue confronts an industry in search of stability.

The farm economy is declining, trade with vital global markets is in disarray and immigration policy is in flux. In his initial budget, Trump suggested a 21 percent cut to USDA's discretionary spending, so Perdue would want to jump into Washington policy discussions quickly.

Perdue would find a desk at USDA piled high with priorities and will be one of the last members of President Donald Trump's cabinet to be seated.

Updated at 10:35 p.m. ET

The White House says President Trump will attend a NATO meeting on May 25 in Brussels, and "looks forward to meeting with his NATO counterparts to reaffirm our strong commitment to NATO, and to discuss issues critical to the alliance, especially allied responsibility-sharing and NATO's role in the fight against terrorism."

The statement follows criticism of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's announced intention to visit Russia in April, but not take part in a NATO foreign ministers meeting, which is also next month.

Updated at 5:10 p.m. ET

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the U.S. doesn't want to take military action against North Korea, but "all of the options are on the table" if a serious threat arises. Tillerson made his frank remarks in a visit to South Korea on Friday, a day after saying diplomatic efforts "have failed" to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.

Tillerson's Asia tour began in Japan and will end in China. The top American diplomat is traveling without a press contingent.

President Trump's head of the Environmental Protection Agency says he does not believe that carbon dioxide is a major cause of global warming.

"I would not agree that [CO2] is a primary contributor to the global warming that we see," Scott Pruitt said Thursday in an interview with CNBC's Joe Kernen.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is now the 14th U.S. Secretary of Energy, despite having once pledged to eliminate the Department of Energy.

Or at least, he tried to pledge to eliminate the department — including once when he couldn't think of its name.

Perry was confirmed Thursday by the Senate in a 62-37 vote.

Updated at 4:56 p.m. ET

Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he will recuse himself from any investigations into possible Russian involvement in the 2016 elections.

"Let me be clear: I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign," Sessions reiterated during an afternoon news conference in response to reports that he had met twice with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. last year.

"I should not be involved in investigating a campaign I had a role in," Sessions said.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has been confirmed as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, by a 58-41 Senate vote.

Six Democrats and one Independent joined with the Republicans to approve the nomination — mostly Democrats who are up for re-election next year and represent states that voted for President Trump, NPR's Arnie Seipel reports.

"Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who received blowback from liberals for voting for Carson in committee, voted against his nomination today," Arnie says.

Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross was confirmed as President Trump's secretary of Commerce on Monday night by a vote of 72 to 27 in the U.S. Senate.

Ross will divest from the private equity firm he founded, WL Ross & Co., as part of his ethics agreement upon entering government service. He will retain other financial interests but has pledged not to take any action as commerce secretary that would benefit a company in which he holds a stake.

With Secretary Betsy DeVos rolling up her sleeves at the Education Department and, at one point this week, joining Donald Trump at the White House to talk with educators and parents, Washington, D.C., is making a lot of education news these days.

For those of you struggling to keep up, the NPR Ed Team is trying something new: a weekly recap of the latest national education news.

Editor's Note: This story was updated Saturday afternoon to reflect DeVos' interview with Townhall and the subsequent response by Jefferson Academy in Washington, D.C.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has been confirmed as the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, an agency Pruitt has long criticized.

The Senate approved Pruitt on a 52-46 vote Friday afternoon, with two Democrats — Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota — voting for his nomination. Republican Susan Collins of Maine voted no.

Updated with announcement

President Trump has named R. Alexander Acosta as his replacement for labor secretary nominee. Trump's earlier pick, fast-food executive Andrew Puzder, withdrew his nomination on Wednesday afternoon after losing support on both sides of the aisle.

Updated at 4:15 p.m. ET

Fast-food executive Andrew Puzder withdrew his nomination to head the Labor Department on Wednesday as his support on Capitol Hill faltered. Facing criticism from both sides of the aisle, Puzder became the first Trump Cabinet pick whose nomination failed.

Puzder put out a statement on Wednesday:

The Senate voted to confirm Steven Mnuchin as President Trump's Treasury secretary in a 53-47 vote Monday.

Mnuchin's approval came over the objections of some Democratic senators who pointed to Mnuchin's business record running a bank that hastily foreclosed on homeowners. It also drew fire from those who say that with the appointment of Mnuchin and other former bankers to key roles close to the White House, the administration is going back on its promise to get tough on Wall Street.

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Of all President Trump's Cabinet choices, only one currently seems at serious risk of being denied confirmation by the Senate.

The confirmation of Betsy DeVos as education secretary is a question mark after two Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, announced they plan to vote against her.

If the last few years are any guide, one group that may find itself in the crosshairs of Rep. Tom Price, President Trump's pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, is an influential panel of medical experts.

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, a group of mostly physician and academics from top universities, reviews medical practices to see whether they are supported by research and evidence.

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Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., tried to test whether President Trump's nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget believed in facts or "alternative facts" during a confirmation hearing on Tuesday.

With the incoming Trump administration repeating falsehoods about the size of crowds at the president's inauguration, Merkley asked Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., to look at two side-by-side photos — taken at roughly the same time during former President Obama's inauguration in 2009 and Trump's just last week — to gauge which, in fact, was bigger.

President Trump's inner circle got one more member — CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

The Senate confirmed the former Kansas congressman's nomination to the post Monday night. It came after Trump went to CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., Saturday to laud the spy agency and blast Democrats for delaying a vote on Pompeo's nomination. (That was the same event where the president said he was at "war" with the media and falsely claimed to have 1 million to 1.5 million people in attendance for his inauguration.)

Evan Vucci / The Associated Press

A high priority for President Donald Trump is getting his cabinet nominees approved by the U.S. Senate. Late last week, he named his one remaining choice: former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue as secretary of agriculture.

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