1st Cabinet in 30 years without Latino; Trump’s spokesman says ‘It’s not just about skin color or ethnic heritage’

Posted at 1:02 PM, Jan 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-19 13:02:11-05

WASHINGTON — Incoming White House spokesman Sean Spicer defended President-elect Donald Trump’s commitment to diversity, saying that highlight the fact that the new Cabinet will be the first in 30 years without a Latino is “a very narrow way to look at it.”

“It is a priority but I think it is a very narrow way to look at it to say: ‘If you don’t appoint people to this particular position that’s a problem,’ ” Spicer said Thursday at a news conference. “The No. 1 thing that I think Americans should focus on is, ‘Is he hiring the best and the brightest? Is he hiring people that are committed to enacting real change?'”

Trump kicked off his campaign by labeling undocumented Mexican immigrants criminals and “rapists” and vowed to deport all undocumented immigrants living in the US during his campaign.

Trump interviewed several Latinos for the two final Cabinet posts he sought to fill — leaders for the Departments of Agriculture and Veterans Affairs — but landed instead on white men for both posts.

Thirteen of Trump’s picks to form his official 16-member Cabinet are white men.

But Spicer said 5,000 appointed positions still needed to be filled and Americans could expect more diversity in those lower level appointments.

“I guarantee you that as we continue to announce this, that problem will be something people look at and respect the level of diversity throughout his entire administration,” he said.

Only two of Trump’s Cabinet appointees are ethnic minorities: Ben Carson, Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development is black and his choice for transportation secretary, Elaine Chao, is Asian. Trump also tapped Nikki Haley, the Indian-American governor of South Carolina, to serve as UN ambassador, which is a Cabinet-rank post, but not an official member of the Cabinet.

Latinos have served in Cabinet positions in every presidential administration since 1988.

Spicer said the Trump administration will be focused on multiple types of diversitcy.

“What you’re seeing and you’re going to continue to see not just through the Cabinet but through the entire thing is a diversity in gender, diversity in thinking diversity of ideology,” he said. “It’s not just about skin color or ethnic heritage, but you look at the totality of this Cabinet — an Indian-American, an African-American, an Asian-American, it’s about a lot of things.”