Between Sean Spicer’s increasingly frustrating performance as press secretary and the White House communications director’s resignation, Donald Trump has his hands full trying to fully staff his administration. To make matters worse, the ongoing investigation into possible ties between Trump’s White House and Russia — which recently focused on his personal attorney — is proving more cumbersome than not on the federal job front. Turns out all the negative press about the Russia probe is deterring potential (and qualified) candidates from accepting, or even discussing, appointments.
According to Politico, four people who have advised persons under consideration for executive branch positions claim their clients “are having second thoughts” about federal employment because of Russia. “It’s an additional factor,” notes Partnership for Public Service head Max Stier, “that makes what was an already complicated process of staffing the government even harder.” A lawyer representing three potential employees who dropped out adds, “There’s no doubt in my mind that people are being very cautious, to put it mildly. You’re going to have a situation where they’re going to have trouble getting A-list or even B-list people to sign up.”
Compared to George W. Bush and Barack Obama’s administrations, Politico reports, the Trump White House’s 117 announced nominees (of the 559 “most important” positions requiring Senate confirmation) is half of what either accomplished in the same amount of time. What’s more, additional reporting by BuzzFeed News indicates the general morale of those being vetted (or anyone who might be vetted) is quite low. When asked if he’d consider filling the recently vacated White House communications director gig, one Republican exclaimed, “Hell no!” Why? Because “that would be career suicide.”
Aside from Mike Dubke’s newly available position, there are lots of important appointments the president and his advisors have failed to announce or pursue. Major posts at the Agriculture, Education and Veterans Affairs departments, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, have been filled. As for their second-in-commands, however, no names have been offered up for public and Senate scrutiny.