The Trump Administration — already behind in making political appointments — now finds itself unable to fill important jobs connected to the Justice Department because attorneys, mindful of their reputations, want nothing to do with the scandal-plagued White House.
According to Politico, the President’s staffers are are coming up empty when it comes to tracking down legal minds interested in working for the president.
“They were dealing with a pool that had already shrunk and, now, of course, some people will be avoiding it like the plague,” one GOP lawyer who worked in President George W. Bush’s administration told Politico. “The lesser-known folks are wondering if they’re going to take a huge reputational hit if the president of the United States starts tweeting about them. … There’s definitely some poisoning of the well going on in terms of who would take a job at this point.”
At issue: Trump’s abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey — who he also referred to as a “nut job” — and fear of being caught up in the looming Russian scandal that could bring the whole administration down and lead to Trump’s impeachment.
Politico notes that the pool of candidates the White House had to choose from was extraordinarily small to begin with, as many mainstream conservative attorneys signed “Never Trump” pledges prior to the 2016 elections — which could also prove a hindrance since the White House has pushed for appointees to make a “loyalty pledge” to the president.
As it stands now — as Trump enters the fifth month of his presidency — the administration has yet to fill scores of seats on the federal bench and 93 U.S. attorney posts around the country sit empty after the president demanded the immediate resignation of all attorneys appointed by his predecessor, President Barack Obama.
Additionally the Trump administration has also found it difficult to find a replacement for Comey with potential nominees wondering how they’ll last working for a volatile president currently under investigation by the same department.
“It certainly doesn’t help when the stated basis for firing your predecessor is that he was a ‘nut job,’” suggested Paul Rosenzweig, a lawyer who served under President George W. Bush. “I look around at people considering going into the Trump administration and the same names come up for every open job…It’s the same six names for every open job—the people who are both qualified and willing to serve.”
One anonymous Trump adviser said that the hiring problems at the Department of Justice aren’t as bad as they seem and that things are actually worse at the State Department.
“That’s been a bit of a problem for the administration, but not as much at DOJ,” the adviser said. “That’s been a very serious problem over at the State Department. A lot of the conservative foreign policy establishment were ‘Never Trumpers…’ The proportion is much higher at the State Department and the White House.”