President-elect vowed to drain the swamp in Washington but critics say key roles for business upper-clas is not the way

Earlier this month, Donald Trump utilized a thank-you rally in Des Moines, Iowa, to give his supporters further insight into the deal-making team he intends to build in Washington. As president-elect, Trump has so far nominated a number of billionaires, three Goldman Sachs bankers and the chief executive of the worlds largest petroleum firm to senior stances. Answering to liberal consternation at the sheer wealth of the prospective appointees, Trump told his audience: A newspaper[ the New York Times ] criticised me and said: Why cant they have people of modest entails? Because I want people that made a luck. Because now they are negotiating for you, OK? Its no different than a great baseball player or a great golfer.

Trumps cabinet, which is not yet fully filled, is already said to be worth a combined $14 bn the richest White House top table ever assembled. His team if all are confirmed by the Senate will be worth 50 days the $250 m blended wealth of George W Bushs first cabinet, which the media at the time dubbed the team of millionaires. For Trump, those figures are simply a verification of competence: in Trumpian politics, the richer you are, the better you must be at cutting a bargain. And deal-making is what the next White House will be all about.

Throughout his campaign, Trump repeatedly returned to the theme of the terrible deals cut by previous administrations, from the North American Free Trade Agreement trade deal to the nuclear deal with Iran.

He described the Nafta with Canada and Mexico as the worst trade bargain perhaps ever; the Iran nuclear pact was a disaster and the most difficult bargain ever negotiated, and “wouldve been” ripped up. China, was a big abuser through artificially depressing its currency to give its exports a boost at the expense of US jobs. The implication was that, under the direction of Trump, America Inc would ultimately begin to punch its weight in the market of global diplomacy.

According to Peter Henning, a constitutional law professor at Wayne State University, appointing business leaders to top political positions has become the norm in American politics, but Trumps nominations were unique in the volume of people with minimal, if any, government experience.

I am always wary of people who say we have to run the country like a business industries arent responsible for defense or caring for the elderly, he said. Business are driven with one guiding principle to attain the most money and that should not be the role of the government.

Secretary of state-designate Rex Tillerson speaks in Washington. Photo: Evan Vucci/ AP

The backlash has begun in earnest. The criticism Trump objected to in Des Moines came from a New York Times editorial questioning the Trump administrations seeming lack of interest in vetting nominees for potential conflicts of interest. Top Democrats and leading ethics and constitutional law experts have also raised concerns about Trumps selection process.

Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator who campaigned for the Democratic nomination and promised that, if elected, he would redistribute the vast wealth of the 1% to poorer households, has dubbed Trumps top team the cabinet of billionaires.

I guess they have a few poor millionaires on it but, largely, it is billionaires, Sanders said. He accused Trump of going back on his pledge to lead an anti-establishment revolution and drain the inundate. If the cabinet he appointed of billionaires and millionaires is anti-establishment, boy, I would hate to ensure what the establishment looks like, Sanders said on NBCs Late Night with Seth Meyers . Maybe I am not ensure something here, but you dont appoint the head of ExxonMobil to be secretary of state. That is not quite taking on the establishment.

It is the selection of Exxons chief executive, Rex Tillerson, whom Trump described as one of the genuinely great business leaders of the world in an early morning tweet announcing his appointment as secretary of state, that has caused the most upset on both sides of the aisle.

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