May 12, 2016


Trump's empty administration (DARREN SAMUELSOHN and BEN WHITE 05/09/16, Politico)

[T]he absence of policy veterans in a new administration would have a substantive effect on the running of government.

POLITICO interviewed nearly five dozen Republicans over the past two weeks -- people with experience working in government and who understand how Congress can enact, or shred, a new president's agenda -- and heard the same sentiment expressed repeatedly. If Trump doesn't change his tune or extend much longer olive branches, many of these government veterans say they intend to cede highly coveted administration posts to less-experienced competitors.

"I would never serve in a Trump administration," said James Capretta, a former Office of Management and Budget official under George W. Bush. "The person at the top is unfit for the presidency. He's made that very clear with his behavior."

Added Matt McDonald, another Bush OMB veteran: "I wouldn't vote for Trump, much less work for him. I don't agree with half his ideas, and the other half I don't really believe what he said."

One former Republican official who worked in the Environmental Protection Agency put it this way: "You'd have to worry about your future career and the way you're perceived in these things. You just kind of think of how he deals with people. Would you really want to work for him?"

The lack of interest in serving Trump extends from the energy and financial services sectors to defense and foreign policy. And while the reluctance of former officials to join a Trump administration may spark a good-riddance response from the candidate himself, the absence of experienced professionals at the assistant-secretary level could have profound consequences on the government.

"The bottom line is Trump will be able to fill these jobs because there is a whole class of people who want these titles so badly it doesn't matter who is president," said a former senior George W. Bush administration official. "But these are B- or C-level people. They are honorable, but not very good. The A-level people, and there are not that many of them to begin with, mostly don't want to work for Trump. He will cut the A-level bench of available policy talent at least in half, if not more."

Building an administration from scratch requires filling more than 3,000 high-level federal jobs, starting with a Cabinet and trickling down to the scores of deputies, undersecretaries and assistant administrators who actually make the U.S. government tick.

It's a herculean task for any new president, but would, perhaps, especially be so for Trump, who has taken anti-Washington campaigning to new heights.

Posted by at May 12, 2016 6:14 PM