The Trump administration is increasingly having a difficult time attracting qualified candidates for key positions within the administration, including the White House.
Potential candidates’ concerns are continuing to multiply as they watch Trump’s behavior and his treatment of senior officials — most recently his staunch longtime supporter Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and handpicked Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — according to a Washington Post report. Qualified Republicans now cite a multitude of reasons as Trump displays a pattern which ultimately makes it untenable for many to serve.
While White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer claimed to have “people knocking down my door to talk to the presidential personnel office,” that does not seem to match up with nearly 30 sources which the Post interviewed. Still, Spicer added that “there is a huge demand to join this administration.” The comment seemed illogical when comparing the mercurial Trump who is increasingly embroiled in a Special Counsel investigation — at a stage in his presidency which is unprecedented in modern American history.
“Trump is becoming radioactive, and it’s accelerating,” said Bill Valdez, former Energy Department official who is now president of the Senior Executives Association, representing some 6,000 top federal leaders.
“He just threw Jeff Sessions under the buss,” Valdez adds, referring to recent reports that Trump is furious with Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia probe, causing so much rift between the two that Sessions at one point offered to resign.
“If you’re working with a boss who doesn’t have your back, you have no confidence in working with that individual,” Valdez noted.
In fact, despite the White House’s claims to the contrary, the situation is so bad that Republican leaders wrote a letter to White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus about the administration’s “leadership vacuum.”
“We remain very concerned over the lack of secondary and tertiary executive-level appointments,” the letter, which was signed by 25 prominent conservatives said.
Many candidates have turned down senior positions in the administration for reasons ranging from damaging their reputations, to lack of job security, to the threat of finding themselves under investigation, to having to expend untold sums for having to retain counsel in order to deal with Trump’s problems — which Trump, himself, keeps making worse.
“You can count me out,” said one lawyer who served in the George W. Bush administration, and who has turned down multiple senior level posts at several agencies. Pointing to the mounting reasons for avoiding the Trump administration, he made a noteworthy analogy: “You sit on the tarmac for quite some time, you see smoke coming out of the engine and you say, ‘I’m going back to the gate.'”
The increasing difficulty in hiring only adds to the slow hiring pace from which the administration has suffered from the outset — including the transition period. So far, Trump has only 43 confirmed appointees to senior jobs. At the same point in their presidencies, Barack Obama and George W. Bush had 151 and 130 confirmed appointees, respectively.