U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Friday announced his first cabinet picks, nominating U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions to serve as Attorney General and U.S. Congressman Mike Pompeo to be the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Sessions and Pompeo had previously been reported as having been offered the jobs, but Trump did not confirm the nominations until Friday morning, just 1.5 week after he unexpectedly won the presidential election. Both nominees will first have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
"It is an honor to nominate U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions to serve as Attorney General of the United States," Trump said in a statement. "Jeff has been a highly respected member of the U.S. Senate for 20 years .. Jeff is greatly admired by legal scholars and virtually everyone who knows him."
Sessions, in his statement, said he was "humbled" to have been asked to serve as the next Attorney General. "I love the Department, its people and its mission. I can think of no greater honor than to lead them," he said, adding that he embraced Trump's "commitment to equal justice under law."
Trump also praised Congressman Pompeo, saying that he will be "a brilliant and unrelenting leader" for the American intelligence community. Pompeo, who is a member of the Tea Party movement, has previously advocated torture and said he wants to roll back surveillance reforms that were passed in the wake of Edward Snowden's revelations.
"I am honored to have been given this opportunity to serve and to work alongside President-elect Donald J. Trump to keep America safe," Pompeo said. "I also look forward to working with America’s intelligence warriors, who do so much to protect Americans each and every day."
Also on Friday, Trump announced the appointment of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. "I am pleased that Lieutenant General Michael Flynn will be by my side as we work to defeat radical Islamic terrorism, navigate geopolitical challenges and keep Americans safe at home and abroad," Trump said.
After Flynn was rumored to be Trump's national security adviser over the past few days, the retired general came under fire for his previous remarks about Islam, which he has gone as far as calling a "cancer", claiming that the Muslim faith is not a religion but a political ideology.
In a tweet earlier this year, Flynn also posted a link to a YouTube video that suggested that people should fear all Muslims. "Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL: please forward this to others: the truth fears no questions," he wrote in late February.
Trump himself has also come under fire for his remarks about Muslims and said in December 2015 that he would ban Muslims from entering the United States. While he downplayed his proposal in recent months, saying that it would only apply to some countries, he has yet to present his exact policies for foreign visitors and immigrants.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will hold a press conference at 4 p.m. ET after it emerged he had conversations with Russia's ambassador during the presidential campaign, despite telling Congress under oath that he had not.