President Donald Trump’s chaotic, sparsely-staffed administration is being roiled by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s drive to fill the remaining positions left unfilled by the president.
According to Politico, the beleaguered White House’s decision to leave key federal positions unstaffed — including top-tier jobs at Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s State Department and the Department of Homeland Security — has left the administration hobbled and beset by problems of its own making.
Kelly has granted Cabinet secretaries more autonomy to hire employees, reversing former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus’ orders that all appointments must be routed through the West Wing for the president’s approval.
This has been a priority of Kelly’s, said two sources to Politico’s Nancy Cook, since he was the head of Homeland Security and was frequently at odds with the White House over his choices of personnel.
Trump’s tangled snarl of grudges, grievances, past insults and petty political differences with other Republicans slowed hiring for the Trump administration to a crawl. Now, Kelly is reportedly trying to loosen that bottleneck, but not everyone is pleased.
“Look, everyone in the White House is upset,” said former Speaker of the House Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA) — a longtime Trump booster whose wife Callista was appointed U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican. It’s both a problem of getting candidates through the bureaucracy and through the Senate. Of course Kelly is upset. The whole system is totally screwed up.”
Many Republicans who would have been primed to serve in a GOP administration found themselves alienated from the Trump administration after the bruising Republican primaries. Others shied from working for a presidency led by a feckless, thin-skinned chief executive who frequently undermines his own staff.
Hundreds of jobs remain unfilled at multiple levels of the federal government, a situation that the president seems perfectly comfortable with.
“I’m generally not going to make a lot of the appointments that would normally be — because you don’t need them,” Trump told Forbes magazine last week. “I mean, you look at some of these agencies, how massive they are, and it’s totally unnecessary. They have hundreds of thousands of people.”
Compounding the issue are the number of high-profile firings and resignations from the Trump administration, including fired National Security Adviser Mike Flynn and fired White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, as well as high-profile resignations like Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who resigned after racking up extravagant travel fees through his use of chartered private jets.