Thursday 21st June, 2018
72 ℉ | 85 ℉Annapolis

WASHINGTON, U.S. - A grand vision, a ‘great’ leader and a plan to Make America Great Again - why won’t anyone want such a role? 

For some Republicans, considered to be potential candidates to fill key roles in the Trump administration - the offer also comes with an unwritten certainty of causing permanent damage to their reputation.

Hence, key positions in the country’s administration continue to remain vacant, even months after Trump assumed Presidency. 

The White House is swarmed with both legal and political troubles, with more recent problems related to the escalating probe into Russian interference in the presidential election even threatening to topple the Trump presidency. 

The troubles were compounded for the country’s governance after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey last month, leading to a damaging testimony and a probe that has only expanded, now to reportedly include the President himself. 

Meanwhile, reports are now pointing out that the stream of struggles that the White House is facing, has also meant that it is failing to fill out top ranks of the government.

According to a report in The Washington Post, that quoted former federal officials, party activists, lobbyists and candidates who Trump officials have tried to recruit - Republicans are turning down job offers citing the volatile temperament of the man in charge of running America.

The report that examined the reasons for the slowdown in the recruitment of political appointees revealed that Republicans approached for top roles in the government have reportedly sought help from head-hunters to know if their reputations could suffer permanent damage.

Experts said that potential candidates are also closely watching Trump’s behaviour and monitoring his treatment of senior officials. 

Bill Valdez, a former senior Energy Department official who is now president of the Senior Executives Association, which represents 6,000 top federal leaders was quoted as saying, “Trump is becoming radioactive, and it’s accelerating. He just threw Jeff Sessions under the bus,” referring to recent reports that the president is furious at the attorney general for recusing himself from the Russia investigation. 

Valdez added, “If you’re working with a boss who doesn’t have your back, you have no confidence in working with that individual.”

Reports pointed out that the Trump team has filled some senior posts that do not require Senate approval, and has managed to quickly confirm people for mid- and entry-level jobs.

It has hired hundreds of young Republican staffers into positions that are résumé-builders.

In addition to those reluctant to even put their names down for the role - the constant pace of people withdrawing their names from consideration for senior roles too has largely delayed recruitment.

Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke, who was being considered for an assistant secretary position at the Department of Homeland Security, became the latest person to withdraw his name from consideration on Saturday.

Potential candidates are reportedly also pondering whether they could make a lasting contribution in an administration whose policies often change directions. 

They are worried that anyone in the White House, even in a mid-level post, faces the possibility of sizable legal bills serving on a team that is under investigation. And all this is topped by another bigger issue - Trump’s tweets.

However, when confronted, the White House disputed the notion that the administration has a hiring problem and Trump has blamed Senate Democrats for blocking his nominees.

It argued that its candidates must be vetted by the FBI and the Office of Government Ethics before being announced publicly, and pointed out that this is contributing to the perception that there is a delay in filling key posts.

In fact, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said, “I have people knocking down my door to talk to the presidential personnel office. There is a huge demand to join this administration.”

The hiring challenge has complicated the already slow pace at which Trump is filling senior leadership jobs across government.

Following Trump’s inauguration on January 20 and the end of April - the White House advanced 59 candidates for Senate confirmation.

During the month of May and the first half of June, the White House is seen to have picked up the hiring pace, particularly for positions needing confirmation and advanced 92 candidates for Senate confirmation.

Now, as his most devastating week in power comes to an end, Trump has 43 confirmed appointees to senior posts and the Senate has just 25 working days until it breaks for the August recess. 

The White House has said that currently about 200 people are being vetted for senior-level posts.

In comparison, data tracked by The Post and the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service’s Center for Presidential Transition showed that President Barack Obama had 151 top political appointees confirmed by mid-June during his first term and President George W. Bush had 130.

The data reported further showed that for Cabinet posts, the median wait between nomination and Senate vote for Trump was 25 days - while Obama’s nominees faced a median wait of two days, George W. Bush had a median wait of zero days and Bill Clinton had a median wait of one day.

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