This critical problem facing President Trump, should he be reelected, is how to structure his new administration so that he has people loyal to his agenda in critical positions.
As I’ve written before, the problem Trump faced upon his inauguration in 2017 was that he was taking control of a bureaucracy that was (and is) essentially a fiefdom of the Democrat party; a bureaucracy that loathed both Trump and his supporters; a bureaucracy that contributed millions of dollars to the Democrat party and openly cavorted with Democrat politicians. Let’s not forget that the éminence grise behind the Mueller investigation, the famously vicious and amoral and not-very-competent Andrew Weissmann, spent election night at Hillary Clinton’s “victory” party and that Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe openly flouted the Hatch Act by participating in his wife’s campaign for a Virginia state senate seat as a Democrat.
The problem facing Trump is not new. Reformers elected without the support of the existing power structure usually find themselves in a “home alone” situation. To staff an administration once they are victorious, they are forced to draw upon the services of the same people who opposed them tooth and nail and who have a vested interest in retaining the status quo.
With the Trump Administration, the problem was magnified. The Trump campaign did not include a lot of people who you’d want in government; he was inaugurated under a cloud of Russian collusion generated by a smear campaign sponsored by large swaths of the federal intelligence and law enforcement community, his first tranche of cabinet secretaries were mostly chosen for press appeal (Mattis, Tillerson). The loyalists were deeply inept (Sessions) or had character failings that made them easy pickings for a hostile bureaucracy trying to rid themselves of an outsider (Price).
Now, should he win a second term, President Trump has the ability to create an administration that is not actively trying to push him out of office. The first step in this will be to decide who of the current cabinet is signed for a new season and who is put on waivers. According to Jonathan Swan at Axios, a lot of those decisions have been made. Swan is pretty accurate and has the least developed case of TDS in the major media; the title alone makes the story worth reading Scoop: Trump’s post-election execution list.
If President Trump wins re-election, he’ll move to immediately fire FBI Director Christopher Wray and also expects to replace CIA Director Gina Haspel and Defense Secretary Mark Esper, two people who’ve discussed these officials’ fates with the president tell Axios.
The big picture: The list of planned replacements is much longer, but these are Trump’s priorities, starting with Wray.
- Wray and Haspel are despised and distrusted almost universally in Trump’s inner circle. He would have fired both already, one official said, if not for the political headaches of acting before Nov. 3.
This strikes me as true. Wray has coddled and abetted the FBI officials who bastardized the FISA system to carry out political espionage on the Trump campaign. The people who went along with the fraudulent Steele dossier’s insertion into the intelligence stream remain employed. Wray has been at Ground Zero in whitewashing the Antifa (they are an “idea,” donchaknow?) and playing up the specter of white supremacist/white nationalist violence that never seems to materialize. In short, whatever good qualities Wray may have brought to an FBI what had been turned into a partisan hit squad by James Comey have been more than offset by the degree to which he has become a creature of the FBI bureaucracy and an enabler of the worst parts of the FBI culture.
Haspel, one must note, was CIA station chief during the time that Steele was creating his dossier and Halper was creating a fictitious liaison between Mike Flynn and a Russian Ph.D. candidate, and when Downer and Mifsud were acting as agents provocateur with Papadopoulos and Page. It beggars the imagination to think that she was unaware of, if not actively involved in, this sorry episode of the CIA trying to interfere in a US election.
Esper is obviously out of his depth at Defense. Like Wray, any good qualities he may have brought to the job have been overshadowed by the alacrity with which the Defense bureaucracy assimilated him.
According to Swan:
Chris Liddell, Trump’s deputy chief of staff for policy coordination, is heading the White House’s transition effort, including vetting potential new Cabinet officials, two White House officials told Axios.
He’s working closely with White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Johnny McEntee, who runs the Office of Presidential Personnel and has been conducting “loyalty tests” to weed out “Never Trumpers” from the administration.
That should be the one sure litmus test for anyone being offered a policy role in Trump 2.0. If you have Rick Wilson or Jonah Goldberg or Bill Kristol in your smartphone contacts, you should be barred from holding any position, no matter how minor.