President Donald Trump has politicized everything he touches since taking office — including traditionally apolitical aspects of the federal government, like intelligence operations.
This has had profound consequences for his administration. According to NPR, the National Security Council, an office of the White House once considered one of the most prestigious places for an executive branch official, is becoming a no-go zone for career professionals — because everyone is afraid that working for Trump will damage their reputation.
“There is a school of thought that it can be risky for your career — sometimes being there puts you in a position where you have to say no to ambassadors and other senior officials, and they may remember that when you return,” said a senior foreign policy official who rejected an NSC.
Part of the reason so few people are serving at the NSC is that Trump has reduced its size, in keeping with his personal belief that he knows what’s best to begin with. But it is also that foreign policy is so chaotic under him that intelligence experts don’t think they can keep up with the administration’s official position.
Trump has burned through several National Security Advisers since taking office. His first, Michael Flynn, resigned amid revelations he lied to investigators about his contacts with Russia, and is awaiting sentencing in connection with former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. His second and third advisers, H. R. McMaster and John Bolton, were fired for ideological disputes with the president. His new acting National Security Adviser is Robert O’Brien.