Headline of the day
I have to laugh. When you have an f-ing moron at the top the drain has been wide open from the start.
President Donald Trump once presided over a reality show in which a key cast member exited each week. The same thing seems to be happening in his White House.
Trump’s West Wing has descended into a period of unparalleled tumult amid a wave of staff departures, yet the president insists it’s a place of “no Chaos, only great Energy!” The latest to announce his exit is Gary Cohn, Trump’s chief economic adviser, who had clashed with the boss over trade policy.
Cohn’s departure has sparked internal fears of an even larger exodus, raising concerns in Washington of a coming “brain drain” around the president that will only make it more difficult for Trump to advance his already languishing policy agenda.
Multiple White House officials said the president has been pushing anxious aides to stay on the job.
“Everyone wants to work in the White House,” Trump said during a news conference Tuesday. “They all want a piece of the Oval Office.”
The reality is far different.
Vacancies abound in the West Wing and the broader Trump administration, with some jobs never filled and others subject to repeat openings. The position of White House communications director is soon to be empty again after the departure of its fourth occupant, Hope Hicks.
Top economic adviser Gary Cohn is leaving the White House after breaking with President Donald Trump on trade policy, the latest in a string of high-level departures from the West Wing. (March 6)
“They are left with vacancies atop of vacancies,” said Kathryn Dunn-Tenpas of the Brookings Institution who tracks senior-level staff turnover. Her analysis shows the Trump departure rate has reached 40 percent in just over a year.
“That kind of turnover creates a lot of disruption,” she said, noting the loss of institutional knowledge and relationships with agencies and Congress. “You can’t really leave those behind to your successor.”
Turnover after a year in office is nothing new, but this administration has churned through staff at a dizzying pace, and allies are worried the situation could descend into a free-fall.
One White House official said there is concern about a potential “death spiral” in the West Wing, with each departure heightening the sense of frenzy and expediting the next.
Multiple aides who are considering departing, all speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters, said they didn’t have a clue about whom the administration could find to fill their roles. They said their desire to be team players has kept them on the job longer than planned. Some said they were nearing a breaking point.
“You have situations where people are stretched to take on more than one job,” said Martha Joynt Kumar, director of the White House Transition Project.
She cited the example of Johnny DeStefano, who oversees the White House offices of personnel, public liaison, political affairs and intergovernmental affairs. “Those are four positions that in most administrations are each headed by an assistant to the president or a deputy assistant,” Kumar said.
The overlap between those qualified to work in the White House and those willing to take a job there has been shrinking too, according to White House officials and outside Trump allies concerned about the slow pace of hires.
Trump’s mercurial decision-making practices, fears of being drawn into special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and a stalled legislative agenda are keeping top-flight talent on the outside.
“Most of all, President Trump hasn’t demonstrated a scrap of loyalty to current and former staff, and everyone knows it,” said Michael Steel, a former aide to onetime Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., and ex-House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
Trump acknowledged that he is a tough boss, saying he enjoys watching his closest aides fight over policy.
“I like conflict,” he said Tuesday.
Since his days on the campaign, Trump has frequently and loudly complained about the quality of his staff, eager to fault his aides for any mishaps rather than shouldering responsibility. His attacks on his staff have sharpened in recent weeks, and he has suggested to confidants that he has few people at his side he can count on, according to two people familiar with his thinking who were not authorized to discuss private conversations publicly.
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This "I like conflict" line is an obvious talking point crafted by someone in the PR department. It makes him sound like he's an emperor watching a gladiator fight and giving thumbs up and thumbs down after the battle is over.
This is nonsense. It's what happens when an ignorant, egomaniac is over his head and has no idea what to do. Right now he's falling back on the idiotic ideas he first took on back in the 1980s because it's all he knows. And unfortunately he's learning that he can do a whole lot of things even if both parties are against him. The presidency is a very powerful position.
What he doesn't understand is that there are reverberations to his decisions that he cannot control. I'm not sure that would stop him. He'll just blame others as he always does.
This is a critical moment. But then they all are.