Unsuccessful nominations to the Cabinet of the United States
Members of the Cabinet of the United States are nominated by the president and are then confirmed or rejected by the Senate. Listed below are unsuccessful cabinet nominees—that is, individuals who were nominated and who either declined their own nomination, failed the confirmation vote in the Senate, or whose nomination was withdrawn by the president.
To date, nine nominations to the cabinet have been rejected by the Senate. In addition, 15 nominations have been withdrawn, either by the president or by the nominee. President John Tyler holds the record for most cabinet nominees rejected by the Senate; four of his nominees failed to win confirmation.
- 1 Rejected by the Senate
- 1.1 Andrew Jackson
- 1.2 John Tyler
- 1.3 Andrew Johnson
- 1.4 Calvin Coolidge
- 1.5 Dwight Eisenhower
- 1.6 George H. W. Bush
- 2 Withdrawn nominations
- 2.1 John Adams
- 2.2 James Madison
- 2.3 Andrew Johnson
- 2.4 Bill Clinton
- 2.5 George W. Bush
- 2.6 Barack Obama
- 2.7 Donald Trump
- 3 Table
- 4 See also
- 5 References
Rejected by the Senate
Roger B. Taney
In 1833, President Andrew Jackson used a recess appointment to name Roger B. Taney, who was serving as United States Attorney General, as the United States Secretary of the Treasury. Jackson wanted Taney to help him dismantle the Second Bank of the United States. He helped Jackson draft a statement on the veto of the bank's renewal, and agreed to withdraw money from the bank. In an ensuing fight, the Senate rejected Taney by a vote of 28–18 in 1834.
President John Tyler nominated Caleb Cushing for Secretary of the Treasury. Tyler had a contentious relationship with the Senate over his vetos of legislation, and the Senate refused to confirm Cushing for this office on March 3, 1843. Tyler renominated Cushing twice more that day, and both times the Senate rejected his nomination.
David Henshaw became Secretary of the Navy in July 1843, following a recess appointment by Tyler. He was formally nominated in December 1843, and his nomination was rejected by a vote of 34–8 on January 15, 1844, after Navy officers, including Admiral David Farragut, objected to Henshaw's plans to combat sectional divisions within the Navy by assigning Northerners to Southern naval posts and Southerners to Northern naval posts.
James S. Green
James Madison Porter
Henry Stanbery served as Attorney General for President Andrew Johnson. Stanbery resigned in 1868 to defend Johnson during his impeachment trial. After Johnson was acquitted, he nominated Stanbery to resume his tenure as Attorney General, but the Senate rejected the nomination, 29–11.
Charles B. Warren
President Calvin Coolidge nominated Charles B. Warren, a Michigan attorney, as Attorney General. The nomination was rejected on March 10, 1925, by a vote of 41–39. The lengthy and contentious debate on Warren's nomination consumed the first few days of the new Congress, as "Democrats and insurgent Republicans united to oppose the confirmation on the ground" that Warren's close association with the Sugar Trust made him unsuitable to enforce federal antitrust laws. The nomination originally stood at a 40–40 deadlock, but Vice President Charles Gates Dawes did not arrive in the Senate chamber in time to use his casting vote before Senator Lee S. Overman of North Carolina switched his vote. Coolidge resubmitted the nomination to the Senate, but Warren was again rejected on March 16, by a vote of 46–39.
In 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower nominated Lewis Strauss as Secretary of Commerce in a recess appointment. Strauss had made enemies in the Senate during his tenure as Chair of the United States Atomic Energy Commission. Strauss lost the confirmation vote, 49–46. In July 1959, Strauss resigned.
George H. W. Bush
In 1989 President George H. W. Bush nominated John Tower, a former United States Senator, to be Secretary of Defense. He was investigated over claims of drunkenness, womanizing, and ties with defense contractors. The Senate rejected Tower by a vote of 53–47.
Lucius Horatio Stockton
President James Madison nominated Henry Dearborn as Secretary of War in 1815. He had previously held the same position from 1801 to 1809 under Thomas Jefferson. However, Dearborn had failed as a general in the War of 1812. The Senate rejected Dearborn's nomination, but allowed him to withdraw.
In 1868, President Andrew Johnson forced Edwin Stanton, a Radical Republican who had served as Secretary of War since 1862, to resign from his cabinet, in violation of the 1867 Tenure of Office Act. Johnson then nominated Thomas Ewing. The Senate refused to consider Ewing's nomination, while they moved to impeach Johnson.
In 1993, President Bill Clinton nominated Zoë Baird to become his Attorney General. Before she could have a confirmation hearing, it became known that she had hired undocumented workers for her household, which became known as the "Nannygate" affair. Baird paid a civil penalty levied by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and Clinton withdrew the nomination.
Kimba Wood became Clinton's second choice for Attorney General. She also hired an undocumented worker, though she did so before it was made illegal by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. She withdrew from consideration.
Bobby Ray Inman
Clinton selected Bobby Ray Inman to become his Secretary of Defense on December 16, 1993. Inman withdrew his nomination during a press conference on January 18, 1994, in which he accused William Safire, a columnist for The New York Times, of recruiting Senator Bob Dole to attack him, and claimed that Dole and Trent Lott intended to "turn up the heat" on his nomination. Dole and Lott denied this.
Clinton nominated Anthony Lake to become the Director of Central Intelligence in December 1996. He withdrew in March 1997, after questioning by the United States Senate Intelligence Committee turned contentious.
Hershel W. Gober
Clinton nominated Hershel W. Gober to become the United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs in 1997. When it became clear that the United States Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs intended to use the confirmation hearings "to explore circumstances surrounding the exoneration of Mr. Gober after he was accused of sexual misconduct in 1993," Clinton withdrew the nomination.
George W. Bush
In 2001, President George W. Bush nominated Linda Chavez for Secretary of Labor. She withdrew from consideration after it was revealed that she had given money to a one-time undocumented immigrant who lived in her home more than a decade earlier. Chavez withdrew her nomination, but stated she never felt pressure from Bush's political team to do so.
On December 3, 2004, President Bush nominated Bernard Kerik to become United States Secretary of Homeland Security. On December 10, Kerik withdrew from the nomination, after acknowledging that he had unknowingly hired an undocumented worker as a nanny and housekeeper.
While still President-elect of the United States, Barack Obama chose Tom Daschle to be his United States Secretary of Health and Human Services. He withdrew in February 2009 over $140,000 in unpaid taxes.
On December 3, 2008, Obama chose Bill Richardson to be his Secretary of Commerce. On January 4, 2009, Richardson withdrew his name from consideration because of a federal grand jury investigation into pay-to-play allegations. Later that year, the investigation ended and Richardson and his staff members were cleared of any wrongdoing.
Following Richardson's withdrawal, Obama nominated Judd Gregg to be his Secretary of Commerce. On February 12, 2009, Gregg withdrew his name from consideration for the position, citing disagreements with Obama on issues surrounding the United States Census and the stimulus bill.
On December 8, 2016, President-elect Donald Trump nominated Andrew Puzder as his Secretary of Labor. Puzder had difficulty divesting himself from his company, CKE Restaurants. Puzder also was alleged to have committed wage theft and sexual harassment against his employees, hired an undocumented worker as a nanny and did not pay taxes for her, and spousal abuse against his first wife. Oprah Winfrey shared a tape with members of the U.S. Senate of a March 1990 episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, in which Puzder's ex-wife described the abuse. His former wife subsequently "fully" withdrew those allegations in 1990 and has been adamant that Puzder was "not abusive" and that she would "most definitely confirm to anyone who may ask that in no way was there abuse." In a letter dated Jan. 18, 2017 that she sent to Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Sen. Patty Murray, she stated: "Let me be clear. Andy is not and was not abusive or violent. He is a good, loving, kind man and a deeply committed and loving father." She acknowledged that she was "misled by faulty advice of someone I trusted" and noted that "[t]he fact that my attorney used 'adult abuse' as a vehicle to gain leverage in our divorce proceedings has haunted me as well as our children to this day." On February 15, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell informed the Trump administration that Puzder did not have the votes required to be confirmed. That day, Puzder withdrew himself from consideration.
President Trump fired David Shulkin as Secretary of Veterans Affairs on March 28, 2018, and nominated Ronny Jackson, serving as Physician to the President, to succeed him. Senators expressed skepticism of the nomination due to Jackson's lack of management experience.
Current and former employees on the White House Medical Unit accused Jackson of creating a hostile work environment, excessively drinking on the job, and improperly dispensing medication Amid these reports, the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs postponed Jackson's confirmation hearings on April 23. Senator Jon Tester told CNN on April 24 that Jackson was known as "the candy man" inside the White House, according to around 20 people that brought these concerns to the Veterans' Affairs Senate Committee. He would allegedly hand out Ambien, Provigil, and other prescription drugs "like they were candy". CNN also reported that during an overseas trip in 2015, an intoxicated Jackson loudly knocked on the hotel room door of a female employee, so noisily that the United States Secret Service reportedly stopped him to prevent him potentially waking up then-President Barack Obama. President Trump responded during a news conference the next day, defending Jackson as "one of the finest people that I have met", but also implying that Jackson may withdraw from being considered for the position.
Jackson withdrew his nomination on April 26.
- Robert A. Nowlan, The American Presidents, Washington to Tyler: What They Did, What They Said, What Was Said About Them, With Full Source Notes (MacFarlan & Co., 2012), p. 378.
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- Lawrence Sondhaus, Navies in Modern World History (Reaktion Books, 2004), p. 119.
- Robert A. Waller, "Charles Gates Dawes" in Vice Presidents: A Biographical Dictionary (ed. L. Edward Purcell).
- "Solons to Hold Up Strauss Approval". The Spokesman-Review. March 18, 1959. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
- Oreskes, Michael (March 10, 1989). "Senate Rejects Tower, 53-47; First Cabinet Veto Since '59; Bush Confers On New Choice". The New York Times. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
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- "Strauss Quits Cabinet Post". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Pressdate=July 1, 1959. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
- "John Tower's Rocky Road". Los Angeles Times. February 9, 1989. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
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- "Clinton's Choice for Justice Dept. Hired Illegal Aliens for Household". The New York Times. January 14, 1993. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
- Krauss, Clifford (January 17, 1993). "The New Presidency: Justice Department; Nominee Pays Fine for Hiring of Illegal Aliens". The New York Times. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
- Kelly, Michael (January 22, 1993). "Settling In: The President's Day Cancels Baird Nomination For Justice Dept". The New York Times. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
- Berke, Richard L. (February 6, 1993). "Judge Withdraws From Clinton List For Justice Post". The New York Times. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
- "Inman Withdrawal from Defense Secretary". C-SPAN. January 18, 1994. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
- Apple Jr., R. W. (January 19, 1994). "Inman Withdraws As Clinton Choice For Defense Chief". The New York Times. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
- "Experienced Player Who Shuns Spotlight: Anthony Lake". The New York Times. December 5, 1996. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
- Mayer, Jane (March 31, 1997). "Tony Lake Is Missing". New Yorker. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
- "Anthony Lake Withdraws his Nomination as CIA Director". PBS.org. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
- DAVID E. ROSENBAUM (October 25, 1997). "Clinton Withdraws Nomination For Secretary of Veterans Affairs". The New York Times. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
- Schmitt, Eric; McLean, Renwick (February 8, 2001). "Onetime Illegal Immigrant Sheltered by Chavez Recalls Painful Past". The New York Times. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
- Simon, Roger (January 12, 2001). "Chavez was not straight with Bush". Ellensburg Daily Record. p. A4. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
- Fournier, Ron (January 9, 2001). "Chavez Withdraws As Labor Nominee". The Washington Post. Associated Press. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
- "Bush nominates Kerik for Homeland Security". CNN.com. December 3, 2004. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
- "Homeland Security Nominee Kerik Pulls Out". Washington Post. December 10, 2004. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
- Zeleny, Jeff (February 3, 2009). "Tom Daschle Withdraws as Health Nominee". The New York Times. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
- "Obama to nominate Richardson for Cabinet". CNN. December 2, 2008. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
- "Richardson to withdraw as Commerce secretary". MSNBC. January 4, 2009. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
- Bill Richardson Cleared in Fed's Probe, Associated Press/CBS News (August 27, 2009).
- James C. McKinley Jr., No Charges for Governor After Inquiry Into Contract, New York Times (August 27, 2009), A11.
- Cillizza, Chris (February 12, 2009). "Gregg Withdraws as Commerce Nominee". Washington Post. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
- "Labor nominee Puzder is facing complications separating himself from his fast-food chain". Washington Post. February 1, 2017. Retrieved February 15, 2017.
- "Workers' group attacks labor nominee with fresh harassment and wage-theft complaints". January 27, 2017. Retrieved February 15, 2017 – via Reuters.
- Puzzanghera, Jim (February 7, 2017). "Labor nominee Puzder admits to employing a housekeeper who was in the U.S. illegally". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 15, 2017.
- Everett, Burgess; Levine, Marianne (February 13, 2017). "Oprah gives tape with Puzder abuse allegations to Senate". Politico. Retrieved February 15, 2017.
- Wallace, Christopher. "Ex-wife lashes out at Puzder critics as Labor nominee faces tough hearing". Politics. Fox News. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
- O'Keefe, Ed; Marte, Jonnelle (February 15, 2017). "McConnell to White House: Andrew Puzder lacks the votes to win confirmation". Washington Post. Retrieved February 15, 2017.
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- Fandos, Nicholas; Haberman, Maggie (March 28, 2018). "Veterans Affairs Secretary Is Latest to Go as Trump Shakes Up Cabinet". The New York Times. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
- Kim, Seung Min (April 1, 2018). "Senate Republicans express concerns about Trump's choice to lead Veterans Affairs". Retrieved April 26, 2018.
- Kim, Seung Min; Rein, Lisa; Dawsey, Josh (April 23, 2018). "Senate to postpone confirmation hearing for Ronny Jackson to head Veterans Affairs, White House officials told". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 23, 2018.
- Tatum, Sophie (April 24, 2018). "Sen. Tester: VA nominee handed out prescriptions 'like candy'". CNN. Retrieved April 25, 2018.
- Summers, Juana; Raju, Manu (April 25, 2018). "VA nominee drunkenly banged on female employee's door during trip, sources say". CNN. Retrieved April 25, 2018.
- Fandos, Nicholas; Shear, Michael D. (April 24, 2018). "After Trump Hints V.A. Nominee Might Drop Out, an Aggressive Show of Support". New York Times. Retrieved April 25, 2018.