US & Canada

Trump picks Nikki Haley and Betsy DeVos as first women for cabinet

Nikki Haley, left, and Betsy DeVos Image copyright AP
Image caption Nikki Haley, left, and Betsy DeVos will need Senate approval

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 Mr Trump, with Mrs Haley once saying she was "not a fan", and Mrs 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," Mr Carson wrote on Facebook.

Mr Trump tweeted on Tuesday that he was "seriously considering" Mr Carson for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Diplomats relieved - BBC's Nick Bryant, at the UN

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.

He was heartened that Mr 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. Certainly, she's no John Bolton, the US ambassador during the Bush administration who famously remarked that it would not make much of a difference if the UN headquarters in New York lost its top 10 floors - where the organisation's most senior figures, including the secretary general, have their offices.

Many UN diplomats fear a Trump presidency and there's relief here that he hasn't appointed an outspoken UN-basher.

The appointments of Mrs Haley and Mrs DeVos will need to be approved by the Republican-controlled Senate.

Mr Trump called Mrs 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.

Mrs 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.

Mrs Haley also strongly attacked Mr Trump's proposal to ban Muslim immigrants, describing it as "un-American".

Image copyright BEHAR ANTHONY/ POOL
Image caption Ben Carson was a visitor to Trump Tower in New York on Tuesday

In response, Mr Trump had called her "very weak on illegal immigration" and said people in South Carolina were "embarrassed" by her.

Mrs Haley, 44, is the first minority and female governor of South Carolina.

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Born Nimrata "Nikki" Randhawa to Indian parents, she was raised in a Sikh household and now identifies as a Christian.

Mrs Haley was praised by members of both parties in 2015 when she ordered the Confederate battle flag to be removed from the grounds of the state capitol.

Mrs 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".

Mrs DeVos also contributed to Mr Trump's rivals - Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush - during the election race.

She previously supported the Common Core education standards that Mr Trump and many conservatives have pilloried.

Mr Trump, however, said Mrs DeVos would be "a brilliant and passionate education advocate".

Her husband is heir to the Amway fortune, with a wealth estimated by Forbes at $5.1bn (£4.1bn).

So far Mr Trump has appointed Jeff Sessions for Attorney General, Mike Pompeo for CIA director, Reince Priebus for Chief of Staff for his top team.

More announcements are expected after the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

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